Sunday, September 11, 2016

`Gravity's Everlasting Bedrock'

Geoffrey Hill dedicatesDe Jure Belli Ac Pacis (Canaan, 1996) to Hans-Bernd von Haeften, the German lawyer and diplomat who was part of the Kreisau Circle that resisted Hitler. Three days after the failed July 20 Plot, Haeften was arrested. On Aug. 15, 1944, he was put on trial for treason, and told the court: “Legally speaking, it is treason; actually it is not. For I no longer feel an obligation of loyalty. I see in Hitler the perpetrator of evil in history.” That same day he was found guilty, sentenced to death and hanged in Plötzensee Prison in Berlin. Hill writes in the fourth section of the poem:

“Evil is not good’s absence but gravity’s
everlasting bedrock and its fatal chains
inert, violent, the suffrage of our days.”

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