1944 -/Irish Eavan Boland (born 1944) is an Irish poet and feminist.
Boland was born in Dublin. Her father was a career diplomat and she was educated in London and New York as well as in her native city, graduating from Trinity College.
Her first books, In Her O
—and not simply by the fact that this shading of forest cannot show the fragrance of balsam, the gloom of cypresses, is what I wish to prove.
When you and I were first in love we drove to the borders of Connacht and entered a wood there.
Look down you said: this was once a famine road.
I looked down at ivy and the scutch grass rough-cast stone had disappeared into as you told me in the second winter of their ordeal, in
1847, when the crop had failed twice, Relief Committees gave the starving Irish such roads to build.
Where they died, there the road ended
and ends still and when I take down the map of this island, it is never so I can say here is the masterful, the apt rendering of the spherical as flat, nor an ingenious design which persuades a curve into a plane, but to tell myself again that
the line which says woodland and cries hunger and gives out among sweet pine and cypress, and finds no horizon
This harbour was made by art and force. And called Kingstown and afterwards Dun Laoghaire. And holds the sea behind its barrier less than five miles from my house.
Lord be with us say the makers of a nation. Lord look down say the builders of a harbour. They came and cut a shape out of ocean and left stone to close around their labour.
Officers and their wives promenaded on this spot once and saw with their own eyes the opulent horizon and obedient skies which nine tenths of the law provided.
And frigates with thirty-six guns, cruising the outer edges of influence, could idle and enter here and catch the tide of empire and arrogance and the Irish Sea rising
and rising through a century of storms and cormorants and moonlight the whole length of this coast, while an ocean forgot an empire and the armed ships under it changed: to slime **** and cold salt and rust.
City of shadows and of the gradual capitulations to the last invader this is the final one: signed in water and witnessed in granite and ugly bronze and gun-metal.
And by me. I am your citizen: composed of your fictions, your compromise, I am a part of your story and its outcome. And ready to record its contradictions.
After the wolves and before the elms the bardic order ended in Ireland.
Only a few remained to continue a dead art in a dying land:
This is a man on the road from Youghal to Cahirmoyle. He has no comfort, no food and no future. He has no fire to recite his friendless measures by. His riddles and flatteries will have no reward. His patrons sheath their swords in Flanders and Madrid.
Reader of poems, lover of poetry— in case you thought this was a gentle art follow this man on a moonless night to the wretched bed he will have to make:
The Gaelic world stretches out under a hawthorn tree and burns in the rain. This is its home, its last frail shelter. All of it— Limerick, the Wild Geese and what went before— falters into cadence before he sleeps: He shuts his eyes. Darkness falls on it.
These are outsiders, always. These stars— these iron inklings of an Irish January, whose light happened thousands of years before our pain did; they are, they have always been outside history. They keep their distance. Under them remains a place where you found you were human, and a landscape in which you know you are mortal. And a time to choose between them. I have chosen: out of myth in history I move to be part of that ordeal who darkness is only now reaching me from those fields, those rivers, those roads clotted as firmaments with the dead. How slowly they die as we kneel beside them, whisper in their ear. And we are too late. We are always too late.