Cultivating Peace

Cultivating Peace

Cultivating Peace

During the decades following the English civil wars, British poets seeking to make sense of lingering political instabilities turned to Virgil's Georgics. This ancient poem betrays deep ambivalences about war, political power, and empire, and such poets as Andrew Marvell, John Dryden, and Anne Finch found in these attitudes valuable ways of responding to the uncertainties of their own time. Composed during a period of brutal conflict in Rome, Virgil's agricultural poem distrusts easy stability, urging its readers to understand that lasting peace must be sowed, tended, reaped, and replanted, year after year. Like the ancient poet, who famously depicted a farmer's scythe suddenly recast as a sword, the poets discussed in Cultivating Peace imagine states of peace and war to be fundamentally and materially linked. In distinct ways, they dismantle the dream of the golden age renewed, proposing instead that peace must be sustained by constant labor.
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During the decades following the English civil wars, British poets seeking to make sense of lingering political instabilities turned to Virgil's Georgics. This ancient poem betrays deep ambivalences about war, political power, and empire, and such poets as Andrew Marvell, John Dryden, and Anne Finch found in these attitudes valuable ways of responding to the uncertainties of their own time. Composed during a period of brutal conflict in Rome, Virgil's agricultural poem distrusts easy stability, urging its readers to understand that lasting peace must be sowed, tended, reaped, and replanted, year after year. Like the ancient poet, who famously depicted a farmer's scythe suddenly recast as a sword, the poets discussed in Cultivating Peace imagine states of peace and war to be fundamentally and materially linked. In distinct ways, they dismantle the dream of the golden age renewed, proposing instead that peace must be sustained by constant labor.
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