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‘Beauty is difficult’: Speech! Speech! (2000)

‘Beauty is difficult’: Speech! Speech! (2000)

(p.95) 8 ‘Beauty is difficult’: Speech! Speech! (2000)
Acceptable Words
Jeffrey Wainwright
Manchester University Press

‘Beauty’ might be said to be a problem for many twentieth-century artists. In his essay on Ezra Pound's ‘Envoi (1919)’, Geoffrey Hill quotes Pound's assertion ‘Beauty is difficult’, a quotation from the first of the ‘Pisan Cantos’, LXXIV. This chapter examines the bridge between two sections in Hill's Speech! Speech!, sections 80 and 81. This passage begins with one of those moments when Hill responds to our desire for naturalisation, and for ‘the poetic’: a clear, lyrical evocation of natural beauty. But then he moves into an equally perfectly observed ugliness as the waterscape resolves into the stains of pollution.

Keywords:   Ezra Pound, beauty, Geoffrey Hill, Pisan Cantos, natural beauty

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