18: Eclogue


Eclogue: A brief, dramatic pastoral poem, set in an idyllic rural place but discussing urban, legal, political, or social issues. – poetryfoundation.org

A Homecoming Eclogue

A: What brings you back to native countryside,
to these verdant fields that cushioned
your childhood’s feet?

B: With long sojourning in a foreign land,
my heart grew heavy.
Among strangers I was always a stranger
and the skies were not my own,
the stars and winds and rain
unfamiliar to my soul. I have returned
to rest in the shadow of the mountain
that oversaw my birth.

A: And will not you stay, then, having rested?
Why do you leave us again for the city,
for nights loud with sirens and skies dirty
with light that hides these homelike stars
and stains the clean clouds? I wonder,
perhaps, if is love of a pretty face that draws you hence.

B: No, although there are many pretty faces
in the city, it is not love that makes me to abandon
these sheep-tracked hills and this mist-breeding bush.
For what is left here for me now
– how could I earn my living
when here we scrape by with farming and tourists?

Eclogues are weird. I don’t feel like really got a handle on what they do exactly or why, even after reading around. But this is my attempt anyway. The reading around was fun too – beyond Virgil, I found Percy Shelley’s “Rosalind and Helen, a Modern Eclogue,” which fit perfectly with the gothic novel kick I’m on, and Louis MacNiece’s wonderfully strange eclogues.




2 thoughts on “18: Eclogue

  1. It is a strange form, isn’t it? I like the homecoming aspect of your eclogue and the slightly odd feeling of not quite knowing when this is set – whether this is your own experience of cities with the sirens etc or whether this is set in some ancient or at least older time, when words like soul and verdant and hence would be more likely in a poem.
    I wondered whether there is an equivalent to the innocent, outsider’s pastoral experience today still, would it be a child? Even children are not the pastoral innocents they used to be.

    • I don’t know – I was talking to someone who grew up in the middle of nowhere in Ohio and who remembers being amazed by see skyscrapers in person for the first time.

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