The following is an excerpt from an article in the New York Times:

No poet of our day has such a well-earned reputation for difficulty as the Englishman Geoffrey Hill, and there are few whose moral vision is so imperiously unsparing. Of late, however, the almost belligerent demands of Hill's severe and densely forbidding poetry have taken an improbable turn: part of what's become daunting about his work is simply keeping up with it all. ''The Orchards of Syon'' is Hill's fourth book in six years -- an ample output even for poets of sunny disposition, but for one of Hill's penitential austerity over the previous 50 years, it is something closer to a mutinous outburst.

I don't understand the sentence in bold. I've looked up the words one by one in the dictionary. But I still don't understand. Can anyone rephrase it with more accessible words?

2 Answers 2


The statement in bold simply means that the poet has a strict sense of what is "right".

The words "imperiously" and "unsparing" means a strong person in terms of vision and decision making when it is used for leaders, famous people etc.

  • I don't really see what leaders and and famous people have to do with this at all. Unsparing here means that he does not withold his opinions even if he knows they could cause some meaure of harm. Imperious carries a much different connotation than simply a "strong" person. Sorry, but -1
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 17:48

Imperious : marked by arrogant assurance

Unsparing : not merciful or forbearing

The author is saying that Hill is so sure of the validity and superiority of his own moral judgements that he casts his gaze about to comment on whatever he sees that does not meet his standards. And that there are not very many people who do this with as much arrogance and lack of regard for people's feelings or willingness to indulge other's views.

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