Alan Hill was born and grew up in Birmingham. After leaving school he worked briefly in publishing, and then in 1953 went to Bristol to read Philosophy and English Literature. Thereafter he spent his working life in education, teaching English first at secondary level and then in tertiary education in England and Scotland. During a fully committed and always busy professional life, there was very little time for his own writing, but he found the Japanese tanka, an ideal form for anyone with little time, offering the possibility of a complete poem in thirty-one syllables. It concentrated his mind wonderfully. Early in his retirement he got some professional ideas off his chest, but education changed, and so did he. A walking holiday in France in his seventieth year turned into a kind of pilgrimage; thereafter he wrote for himself -- a late developer.
Resurrection in Pilrig Cemetery
Some certain feet from where I sit in a dappled moving leaf-light, more than a thought in a green shade the mortal remains of Hannah much loved wife and mother are laid. Now after so many years spent in time’s dark laboratory, that is leaves that was her hair, of her bones are timbers made. Nothing of her but it suffers change wrought by that slow sure chemist earth, new substance from old matter given birth. Summer leaf and winter twigs belie death, and lost voices whisper in the wind’s breath.