Luke Slattery reports on Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's use of James McAuley's poem 'The Ascent of Heracles' in the Federal Parliament on 19 October 2010. Gillard was speaking in the debate on Australia's involvement in the war in Afghanistan and used these lines from the poem: '... I never shrank with fear / But fought the monsters of the lower world / Clearing a little space, and time, and light, / For men to live in peace...'
Slattery notes comments from poet John Kinsella about the Prime Minister's 'use of poetry for that "heroic" purpose'. Kinsella disagreed with the poem's use, saying: 'Poetry certainly offers points of entry into a discussion in ways that no other text or speech can do. But it can also show the ironies of the position of him or her who quotes it, even if the text seems apt.'
[Note: Slattery gives the title of the poem as 'The Ascent of Hades'.]