POETRY: Canaan by Geoffrey Hill

Canaan by Geoffrey Hill


They march at God’s
pleasure through Flanders
with machine-pistols,
chorales, cannon
of obese bronze,
with groaning pushcarts,
to topple Baal. At
crossroads they hoist
corpses and soiled
banners of the Lamb.
The sun takes assize.
Aloof the blades
of oblation
rise, fall, as though they
were not obstructed
by blades of bone.


Fourier’s children
their steeds, kazoos,
the splashed fetlocks—
deliquescent manna
that most resembles
a sudden urban sleet—
shedding innocent blood
their ragged fusillade
a bit of a laugh
indifferent hatred
stained with their own works:
détentes of corpse-gas
furnaces of the spirit
sightings in Canaan:
fig trees and planted vines
and the groves
messuage for jackals.


Inquiry passes
and rectitude.
They do not spare
the sucking child nor are they
sparing with trumpets.
Now it is
Moloch his ovens
and the dropped babes naked
swung by an arm
or a leg like flails.

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