What is there in my heart
that you should sue so fiercely for its love?
What kind of care brings you
as though a stranger to my door
through the long night and in the icy dew
seeking the heart that will not harbor you,
that keeps itself religiously secure?
At this dark solstice filled with frost and fire
your passion’s ancient wounds must bleed anew.
So many nights the angel of my house
has fed such urgent comfort through a dream,
whispered “your lord is coming, he is close”
that I have drowsed half-faithful for a time
bathed in pure tones of promise and remorse:
“tomorrow I shall wake to welcome him.”
Geoffrey Hill, Tenebrae
It is an excellent question to lay at the feet of Jesus, “What is there in my heart
that you should sue so fiercely for its love?” It mystifies us that there is something of worth in us to Him – the One who created the heavens and the earth, and yet remains so mindful of us, as Psalm 8 reveals.
“The purged cadences, the bitter medicine of his syntax appeals to the puritan in us: even when the poetry is difficult, obscure and painful to read, we know it is doing us good. It makes no concessions to our intellectual and moral self-esteem.” Hill himself has responded to the oft-leveled charge that his poetry is “difficult”:
‘In my view, difficult poetry is the most democratic, because you are doing your audience the honour of supposing that they are intelligent human beings. So much of the populist poetry of today treats people as if they were fools. And that particular aspect, and the aspect of the forgetting of a tradition, go together.'”