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Best Famous Eavan Boland Poems

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Written by Eavan Boland | Create an image from this poem

My Country in Darkness

 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.

Written by Eavan Boland | Create an image from this poem


 Against the enormous rocks of a rough coast
The ocean rams itself in pitched assault
And spastic rage to which there is no halt;
Foam-white brigades collapse; but the huge host

Has infinite reserves; at each attack
The impassive cliffs look down in gray disdain
At scenes of sacrifice, unrelieved pain,
Figured in froth, aquamarine and black.
Something in the blood-chemistry of life, Unspeakable, impressive, undeterred, Expresses itself without needing a word In this sea-crazed Empedoclean Strife.
It is a scene of unmatched melancholy, Weather of misery, cloud cover of distress, To which there are not witnesses, unless One counts the briny, tough and thorned sea holly.
Written by Eavan Boland | Create an image from this poem


 Flesh is heretic.
My body is a witch.
I am burning it.
Yes I am torching ber curves and paps and wiles.
They scorch in my self denials.
How she meshed my head in the half-truths of her fevers till I renounced milk and honey and the taste of lunch.
I vomited her hungers.
Now the ***** is burning.
I am starved and curveless.
I am skin and bone.
She has learned her lesson.
Thin as a rib I turn in sleep.
My dreams probe a claustrophobia a sensuous enclosure.
How warm it was and wide once by a warm drum, once by the song of his breath and in his sleeping side.
Only a little more, only a few more days sinless, foodless, I will slip back into him again as if I had never been away.
Caged so I will grow angular and holy past pain, keeping his heart such company as will make me forget in a small space the fall into forked dark, into python needs heaving to hips and breasts and lips and heat and sweat and fat and greed.
Written by Eavan Boland | Create an image from this poem

Outside History

 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.
Written by Eavan Boland | Create an image from this poem


 In the worst hour of the worst season
 of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking-they were both walking-north.
She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.
In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold.
Of hunger.
Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.
Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory: Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered.
How they lived.
And what there is between a man and a woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

Written by Eavan Boland | Create an image from this poem

The Harbour

 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 weed 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.
Written by Eavan Boland | Create an image from this poem

That the Science of Cartography Is Limited

 —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 will not be there.
Written by Eavan Boland | Create an image from this poem

The Black Lace Fan My Mother Gave Me

 It was the first gift he ever gave her,
buying it for five five francs in the Galeries
in pre-war Paris.
It was stifling.
A starless drought made the nights stormy.
They stayed in the city for the summer.
The met in cafes.
She was always early.
He was late.
That evening he was later.
They wrapped the fan.
He looked at his watch.
She looked down the Boulevard des Capucines.
She ordered more coffee.
She stood up.
The streets were emptying.
The heat was killing.
She thought the distance smelled of rain and lightning.
These are wild roses, appliqued on silk by hand, darkly picked, stitched boldly, quickly.
The rest is tortoiseshell and has the reticent clear patience of its element.
It is a worn-out, underwater bullion and it keeps, even now, an inference of its violation.
The lace is overcast as if the weather it opened for and offset had entered it.
The past is an empty cafe terrace.
An airless dusk before thunder.
A man running.
And no way to know what happened then— none at all—unless ,of course, you improvise: The blackbird on this first sultry morning, in summer, finding buds, worms, fruit, feels the heat.
Suddenly she puts out her wing— the whole, full, flirtatious span of it.
Written by Eavan Boland | Create an image from this poem

More Than Suspect

 The oaks are stricken by a serious illness
They dry up after having let go
Into the glow of a sump at sunset
A whole throng of generals' heads
Written by Eavan Boland | Create an image from this poem


 Here is the city—
its worn-down mountains,
its grass and iron,
its smoky coast
seen from the high roads
on the Wicklow side.
From Dalkey Island to the North Wall, to the blue distance seizing its perimeter, its old divisions are deep within it.
And in me also.
And always will be.
Out of my mouth they come: The spurred and booted garrisons.
The men and women they dispossessed.
What is a colony if not the brutal truth that when we speak the graves open.
And the dead walk?