Professor Terry Gifford
Bath Spa University and Universidad de Alicante
School of English
Wednesday 18 September 2019, 3-4 pm
O'Rahilly Building 2.12
Seamus Heaney titled a late essay ‘Eclogues In Extremis: On the Staying Power of Pastoral’ (2003) and thought of himself as writing in the pastoral tradition initiated by Virgil’s Eclogues in the third century BCE. Critics have also placed in this tradition poetry by Michael Longley, John Montague, Evan Boland, Peter Macdonald, Nula Nί Dhomhmaill and Medbh McGuckian, whilst Patrick Kavanagh’s The Great Hunger has been characterised as a work of anti-pastoral. But Raymond Williams in The Country and the City (1973) dismissed the pastoral as an idealised conservative distortion serving the land-owning class, Barrell and Bull (1974) declared the pastoral dead in English poetry and ecocritics such as Greg Garrard (2012) regard the pastoral as ‘outmoded’. This talk makes the case for the ‘post-pastoral’ and in particular the insights of ecofeminism in readings of the tensions between gender and nature, focussing upon the work of D. H. Lawrence. Passages from The Rainbow suggest that metaphor might be more causal than correlative as Lawrence intuits the agency of what has previously been regarded as organic symbol.