In an atmosphere of political cliches being bandied from one side of the party to the other, Democratic Sen. Barbara Buono today paraphrased a much-quoted poem by Irish bard Seamus Heaney as she reasserted her support for the presidential candidacy of Sen. Hillary Clinton.
"Hope and history can come in many forms," said Buono, not referencing Heaney in her press release. "They are not limited by race or gender. Rather, hope and history are defined by barriers broken, spirits raised and opportunities expanded. Being able to look at my three daughters and tell them that they really can grow up to be a president, a scientist or a basketball star if they work hard is not only remarkable- now it is realistic.
"Whether Senator Clinton wins or loses the nomination, one thing is clear- she is fearless and committed," Buono added. "We should all feel empowered by her courage."
Hope and history.
Those paired concepts come straight out of Heaney’s poem, "The Cure at Troy," which is based on the ancient Sophocles play, "Philoctetes."
Writes Heaney: "History says, Don't hope on this side of the grave./But then, once in a lifetime/ the longed for tidal wave/ of justice can rise up,/and hope and history rhyme."
Democrats have had an understated love affair with Heaney’s words for at least a decade, which has now apparently translated into unquoted appropriation.
Former President Bill Clinton penned an election year book in 1996 called "Between Hope and History," which used the Seamus Heaney poem. The quote dropped out of national circulation for a few years. Then Sen. Joe Biden leaned heavily on Heaney in his own presidential campaign last year as he described the son of Irish peat bog farmers-turned poet as his personal favorite, and regularly referenced the above lines from "The Cure at Troy."