Beginning April 20th I'll be teaching a class on politics and poetry at the Hugo House. A full description is here, and I'm excited to explore contemporary as well as historical examples, beginning with Virgil's Eclogues, in which the shepherds have a complex relationship to Roman politics, but an equal—and not unrelated—devotion to song. Below is an example, translated by Nate Klug in Rude Woods:
"Kings and complex battles–starting out,
I only liked a certain kind of song.
But then Apollo got me by the ear:
A shepherd should keep the flock fat
but his lines refined, like exquisite thread.
So now I woo a rustic muse on this compacted reed.
Don’t worry, General Varus, you’ll find plenty
of poets begging to construct your epics;
it’s simply that I no longer sing
what doesn’t simply come to me."