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Poet, lover, liar: ‘Lachrimae’ (1975)

Poet, lover, liar: ‘Lachrimae’ (1975)

(p.27) 3 Poet, lover, liar: ‘Lachrimae’ (1975)
Acceptable Words
Jeffrey Wainwright
Manchester University Press

Robert Southwell (1561–95), Catholic martyr and poet from whose work Geoffrey Hill takes his epigraph for his 1975 sonnet sequence ‘Lachrimae or Seven tears figured in seven passionate Pavans’ wrote in his posthumous work St Peter's Complaint (1595) of what he saw as his contemporaries' abuse of their poetic talents: ‘a poet, a lover and a liar are by many reckoned but three things with one signification’. ‘Lachrimae’ is a ‘religious’ work in that it twitches the mantle of devotional verse, but it also explores the nature of the discourse of religion by both adopting and parodying its traditional figures and vocabulary.

Keywords:   Robert Southwell, Geoffrey Hill, Seven tears, poetic talents, St Peter's Complaint

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