The Riverbank Field

Heaney dips into literature, tracking back from 14th century Dante to Classical author Virgil around 30 BC. References to the Aenied provide Heaney with the opportunity to show-case his own translation. Heaney’s local riverbank field located firmly in County Derry is given a Virgilian mantle as the poet celebrates the similarities he perceives between his neighbourhood and Virgil’s Elysium. After consideration of a competing translation (what Loeb gives) Heaney indicates that his poem will be a fusion: I’ll confound the Lethe in Moyola. Chosen place-names are familiar to him:  Back Park … Grove Hill … Long Rigs. Virgil’s domos placidas are to be found in real-world Upper Broagh. The scene within his mind’s eye exudes all the serenity of the Elysian Fields where Aeneas came upon his father’s shade. […]