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Campaign in bad poetry—govern with the consequences

Michael Gove’s love of Geoffrey Hill was probably not reciprocated

By Jeremy Noel-Tod   December 2019

English poet and Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford, Sir Geoffrey Hill (1932 - 2016), United Kingdom, 2015. (Photo by Eamonn McCabe/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

In his 1946 essay “The Constant Symbol,” Robert Frost proposes a startling analogy between poetry and politics. Imagining the path that leads to the White House, Frost sees it beginning with the “small commitment” of choosing between two parties, only to end “multifariously closed in on with obligations and answerabilities.” To be president, Frost proposes, is to resemble a poet who decides to write a sestina, a troubadour form in which the same…

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