World Poetry Day – a dip into Poetry’s lucky-bag

It’s World Poetry Day!

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Time is not my friend today, so I thought I’d just pull something out of the poetic lucky bag, so to speak.

And here’s what I chose.  Virgil’s Aeneid.

Nope – not the recent posthumous translation of Book VI from Seamus Heaney. (I have my copy, but the Underworld has to wait for Easter, when I can get away from ‘work’ writing.)

During my Classics years at NUI Galway, I had great teachers. Amanda and Mark worked with us on The Aeneid. The translation I have is by Robert Fagles. His work on it, and The Iliad, has brought tears to my eyes; he never loses sight of the Masters’ poetry.

Aeneas leaving Dido by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli
Aeneas leaving Dido
by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli

Here are a few lines from BOOK IV – for all you star-crossed lovers out there:
But Aeneas
is driven by duty now. Strongly as he longs
to ease and allay her sorrow, speak to her,
turn away her anguish with reassurance, still,
moaning deeply, heart shattered by his great love,
in spite of all he obeys the gods’ commands
and back he goes to his ships.

……

Then Juno in all her power, filled with pity
for Dido’s agonizing death, her labor long and hard,
sped Iris down from Olympus to release her spirit
wrestling now in a deathlock with her limbs.
Since she was dying a death not fated or deserved,
no, tormented, before her day, in a blaze of passion –
Proserpine had yet to pluck a golden lock from her head
and commit her life to the Styx and the dark world below.
So Iris, glistening dew, comes shimmering down from the sky
on gilded wings, trailing showers of iridescence shimmering
into the sun, and hovering over Dido’s head, declares:
“So commanded, I take a lock as a sacred gift
to the God of Death, and I release you from your body.”

With that, she cut the lock with her hand, and all at once
the warmth slipped away, the life dissolved in the winds.

 

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What have we ever done for the Romans?

The title of this post paraphrases a famous line from The Life of Brian. 

romans life of brian

Well, here is someone who is doing something for the Romans … and the ancient Greeks.

Meet sixteen year old Oscar McHale – who had me smiling broadly as I drove into class this morning. Oscar was on the John Murray Show on RTÉ Radio 1 – talking Classics and all things classical. It was fantastic to hear someone of Oscar’s age make a case for Classics in the classroom at secondary level, and to echo comments common in the corridors of our universities right now: that most of the funding in education in this country focuses on science; to the detriment of the arts.

Oscar obviously adores the subject – he started lectures for friends who were interested in learning more about Classics. Now, there is a society for young Irish Classics fans – with support from Trinity College and Oscar’s teacher. Check them out on Twitter @CYSI_ and on their Facebook page.

And if you want something to make you smile in these dark days of the 1% majority and the dark deeds of global markets capitalism – listen to the podcast of today’s radio interview here

http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=9%3A20768420%3A4502%3A24%2D04%2D2015%3A

As someone who graduated in Classics and History, I was delighted to hear Oscar express such an interest in both subjects.  Best of luck to him in the years ahead. And good luck to the CYSI