Nicola Sturgeon asked people to listen to Joe Biden read a poem by Seamus Heaney about conflict and reconciliation.
The First Minister tweeted a link to the RTE news broadcast, and the US President chose to read the Irish poet’s The Care of Troy in his campaign video.
Here are words from Troy treatment quoted by Biden:
They torment each other.
They are painful and hard.
There is no poetry, no game, no song
A mistake can be completely corrected
Brought and endured.
History says, do not expect
On the side of the tomb, ‘
But, once in a lifetime
Longing for the tidal wave
There will be an upliftment of justice
And hope and history.
So expect a big sea change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that it is still a beach
You can reach from here.
Believe in miracles.
Heals and heals wells.
Call the miracle self-healing,
The double standard of emotion.
If there is a fire on the mountain
Lightning and storm
A God speaks from heaven
It means that someone is listening
Crying and birth cries
The duration of the new life.
It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise
And hope and history.
Nicola Sturgeon tweeted a link to the RTE news, in which the campaign video showed Biden reading a heinous poem.
She tweeted: “Take a moment to listen to this …”
Take a moment to listen to this … https://t.co/DGAggrXM6j
– Nicola Sturgeon (ic Nicola Sturgeon) November 7, 2020
Heaney’s poem is a translation of Sophocles’ Philochetis, which Biden used in a campaign video and turned to in his Democratic Party nomination acceptance speech in August.
Former US President Bill Clinton quotes part of the poem in his 1995 address to the people of Derry during the Northern Ireland peace process.
This poem speaks to the problems of Northern Ireland – where Heaney was born and raised.
At the time of its writing, however, the 1995 Nobel Prize-winning poet-racist regime had fallen and Nelson Mandela had been released from prison.
Sophocles’ play, first performed in 409 BC, is about how he overcame the sharp divide between the archer Philoctetus and a wounded man in Crete – a snakebite – and Odysseus who needed help in the Trojan War.
The words of the Greek playwright and Heaney’s interpretation resonate in the U.S. context today amid the nation’s deep divisions against race, inequality, Republicans and Democrats. During his campaign and after his election victory, Biden sought to give citizens a message of hope that the unity and calm that underlies these wounds could be restored.
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