Bann Valley Eclogue

Reading Virgil’s Eclogue IV (of 42 BC) Heaney spotted correspondences with the contemporary situation in Ireland 2000 years on. The poetic charge he felt resulted in an eclogue of his own, transposing the original into a contemporary Irish setting and focussing on the elusiveness of renewal. Whilst the original Virgil eclogues tend to feature humble rural folk depressed or repressed by injustices heaped on them from above and hoping for bards to make their public case, the Heaney version brings together two wise and learned men – POET (resembling Heaney himself) and VIRGIL. Their exchanges are conducted with due respect and deference. Heaney defines the seriousness of his eclogue using Virgil’s opening lines: Sicelides Musae, paulo malora canamus (‘Sicilian Muses, […]