Eavan Boland Poems
The poem “This Moment” sees Boland take her inspiration for ordinary everyday domestic and common place scenes. It is a poem of intense tenderness that takes an ordinary event of a child running into its mother’s arms and deems it worthy of artistic expression. Boland uses very short sentences to that culminate to the climax of the embrace between mother and child. She uses images that are sensual and language that is rich and suggestive. The speaker’s appreciation of the everyday extends even to ripening of an apple, a process so slow that almost nobody notices it. These are things that happen out of sight.
Boland uses the image of light to further this idea of things happening out of sight, as it is suggestive of people engrossed in their own activities. Perhaps, overall, this poem is a celebration of motherhood. It highlights the mysterious beauty of things we are usually too busy to notice such as moths swooping, stars rising and the beauty of the moment when a mother takes a child up in her arms. The entire poem is a series of images that lead up to this moment The Pomegranate In “The Pomegranate” Boland fuses together the universal truth of Greek myth to the modern day woman.
She draws on the legend of Ceres and Persephone to symbolise the poets own maternal instincts, that is the parental desire to protect and shield the child from any harm that may come their way. Her daughter’s uncut fruit leads her to recall the pomegranate. Boland cleverly creates her own physical environment which mirrors the mythological landscape of Hades “winter and the stars are hidden”. She uses images in a symbolic way, particularly the image of the pomegranate which is a fruit associated with temptation. In this poem, Boland uses overtones of the Garden of Eden.
She suggests that all those who eat this fruit are drawn into darkness. Boland then uses this motif of darkness to create a bleak atmosphere. It can be argued that the process that this poem deals with is that of sexual awakening. Boland uses the myth of Ceres and Persephone to provide an insight into the relationship between mother and daughter. She concludes with a terse promise that “she will say nothing”. She realises that the temptations that life will offer cannot be stunted by a mother’s love. “If I defer the grief, I will diminish the gift………. ut what else can mother give her daughter buts such beautiful gifts in time” Love “Love” is a beautiful poem which celebrates an intense moment of connection. This is an honest poem which deals with complex emotions. Much like “The Pomegranate” “Love” breeds new life into ancient mythology. It is a deeply personal expression of a powerful emotion. Boland cleverly uses simple and restrained language to mirror the theme of this poem. In the first stanza, the run-on lines mirror the emotional rush of the lovers’ first meeting.
Boland’s lack of punctuation allows the poem to become more honest and sincere. As with any of Boland’s poetry, she moves between the past and the present. This movement is reflected in Boland’s choice of tense. She opens in the past tense “Once we lived”, however she changes to the present “I am”. The sands of time are not allowed to settle. All of this adds to Boland’s appeal. What Boland does come to realise is that the past is but a shadow and for all of its passion, it can never be relived. The Shadow Doll This poem “The Shadow Doll” is a highly symbolic poem.
The glass dome that encases the shadow doll can be viewed as being symbolic of the expression that the institution of marriage represents for women. She opens the poem with an image of the wedding dress that is rich in detail. She comments on its blazing whiteness. Yet the speaker feels nothing but pity for the “glamorous doll” for all its glamour is an “airless glamour” as it remains contained beneath a glass dome. Boland imagines the doll having witnessed the intimate details of family life as a detached observer. She realises that the doll is a prisoner behind the glass.
It may never speak or express the things it has experienced. It is forced to remain forever “discreet”. Boland creates a powerful sense of claustrophobia in the final lines as she repeats the word “pressing” which emphasises her own sense of desperation and urgency. For Boland this motion of pressing down mirrors the confines and restraints and the pressure of marriage. The power of the word “locks” refers to the vows of marriage which are reinforced by tradition and society. For the speaker, these locks will soon click into place, trapping her in the marriages “airless glamour”. White Hawthorn in the West of Ireland
This poem draws on Irish superstitions. In essence the poem can be read as a beautiful and unique commentary about being Irish. In this poem Boland contrasts two very different worlds. She presents the west as an almost magical place where the ordinary rules of nature have been suspended. Boland’s language creates a haunting, mystical atmosphere “the hard shyness of Atlantic light………. under low skies have splashes of coltsfoot, the superstitious aura of the hawthorn” In contrast the world of the suburbs is presented as a cultured area, full of “lawnmowers” and “small talk”.
The poem celebrates the wild and magic west, as a refuge from the choking boredom of the urban way of life. For Boland it is almost sacriligous to constrain this wild and almost sacred plant; by bringing it indoors it was believed that it would be risking a terrible punishment from supernatural forces “a child might die perhaps, or a unexplainewd fever speckled heifers” In this poem the hawthorn serves as a link to our past and the journey the speaker undertakes is a journey back to the beay=uty of the west and its traditions.
Boland uses of run on lines serve both to capture her excitement as well as to mirror the growth and fluidity of the wild hawthorn. She concludes this poem by commenting on the language spoken by these people; that is the language of superstition which Boland finds both fascinating and enthralling. The War Horse In “The War Horse”, the horse becomes a poetic symbol for the violence that has characterised Irish history. The flowers become the victims of war. They are the “expendable” numbers who are crushed by the great machines of war, scarified for some greater cause.
The parallel between our casual reactions to the crocus’ death is designed to reflect our lack of concern with the endless tally of statistics in Northern Ireland. This poem is a highly crafted poem. Boland attempts to illustrate the carefree attitude of most people to the violence in the very structure of the poem itself as she is not confined or restrained by the rules of poetic verse. The poem is a graphic and vivid portrayal of the atrocities of war. She uses the damaged flowers in her garden to highlight the horrible and repulsive images of mutilated bodies throughout the poem.
Boland captures the attitude of indifference. She concludes this poem with a powerful image of a landscape destroyed by conflict. The Child of Our Time “The Child of Our Time” transcends into meaninglessness of death and violence to produce something beautiful. For a moment the beauty of this poem eclipses the bitterness and hatred that have dogged Irish history. Boland invites us to find a “new language” so that we can put an end to violence that has resulted in this tragedy. This is a very honest, sincere and loving poem.
Boland creates a sense of haunting finality in the simplicity of “you dead”. She employs words such as “we” and “our” to make us share some of the responsibility in the child’s death. The brutal meaninglessness of the killing is reflected in Boland’s choice of imagery. The image of “broken limbs” and “the empty cradle” serve to reinforce the tragedy. She concludes the poem with the effective use of alliteration. The soft sound of the S’s are tender and soothing “sleeping in a world, your final sleep has woken”