In Ipsley Church Lane 3

Poem: In Ipsley Church Lane 3
Poet: Geoffrey Hill
Link: Google Books

“Parables come to order,” Hill tells us toward the end of “In Ipsley Church Lane 3,” reflecting perhaps on the fact that the world comes to us always garbed in the shroud of our mood.

In this case, the parable is the scenery of Ipsley Church Lane, described for us twice already, albeit in different seasons, different moods. This time it is summer:

One solstice has swung past, the immeasurably
varied, unvarying, profusion of hedge-burgeon
stays richly dulled, immoveable for a while.

There is a choked quality about it all: “the close air is dove-grey” and forms a “shadow-reservoir.” Even more bluntly: “The day does not wear well, the well-kept grounds / of the new offices are uninviting.” About it all hangs “a kind of sullenness.”

But—it passes. And now we discover it is a parable:

…………………..It passes; will have passed:

not to speak of your heart, that rules and lies
in webs of heavy blood, a clobbering fetish.

The heart, too, passes. Summer becomes life, thus life becomes a kind of sullenness. The hurt of it “is mortal though endurances remain, / as they have to, insufferably so.” It is a bleak picture, to be sure, bleak enough to make the air close about one, stifling.



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