Study Guide

A Hill

by Anthony Hecht

A Hill Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

“A Hill” opens with a vision, described in a tone of disgust for what appears—through contrasting images and language—as a gaudy European garage sale, with its “cheap landscapes” and “ugly religion”—a spiteful mercantile Italy. The scene is then turned over, upended, as it is again later, and done without textual representation. That is, there is no break in the lines when the shift of memory occurs, which creates a seamless transition and simultaneous blending of the former, a place whose “noises suddenly stopped,” with the suddenness of a “cold, close to freezing” boyhood hill in Poughkeepsie. As Hecht later confirmed, landscape in “A Hill” (and other works) is an expression of the desolation of soul, the bleakness, the forlornness, assembling and conveying deep despair.

A Hill Bibliography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

German, Norman. Anthony Hecht. New York: Peter Lang, 1989.

Lea, Sydney, ed. The Burdens of Formality: Essays on the Poetry of Anthony Hecht. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989.

Hoffman, Daniel. The Harvard Guide to Contemporary American Writing. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979.

McClatchy, J. D. White Paper: On Contemporary Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.

Perkins, David. A History of Modern Poetry: Modernism and After. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1987.

Spiegelman, William. The Didactic Muse: Scenes of Instruction in Contemporary American Poetry. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989.