The anagram on 'Rome', 'Love' &
Maro, Virgil's cognomen, has long intrigued me,
interlacing as it does themes of
Sicelides Musae, paulo maiora
('Muses of Sicily, let us sing
a bit greater songs')
says Virgil, challenging the traditional
to stretch at the opening of his
This so-called "Messianic eclogue"
was the subject of my doctoral dissertation
& proved a touchstone for my
ensuing discoveries of how epic & bucolic intertwine.
Since this particular poem turned
out to be so central for my work,
fate might almost be suspected
in the pun across languages
between the opening epithet for
the Muses ('of Sicily')
& my family name ('of siclen'
in its old Dutch form).