Eavan Boland


Eavan Boland is a woman with an extraordinary talent. She was born with the ability to make people experience feelings through her words. Boland captures the reader with her personal and lyrical poetry. She articulates the pride of her individuality and the confidence of her shared humanity even from her


Nowhere can be found a land without violence. But nowhere but Ireland can be found a land with more violence. Eavan Boland uses the theme of violence in many of the poems that she writes. In some way, shape, or form, violence is incorporated and used to explain loss, grief, or exploitation. But it is when Boland contrasts this violence with another aspect of human life that we find the true meaning of the word, and the truly devastating results it can wreak on all existence. By contrasting


The poet examines the effect of history, specifically that of Ireland due to her heritage, on the development of the female poet and the evolution of poetry in general. One of the major themes within Boland’s poetry is that of an exploration of who she is as an individual through her personal and family history with a little bit of national history thrown in. She questions the importance of the accuracy of history and how much of a fictive, imaginative quality can slip in to the re-telling of it. The role of women in Irish society in both the past and present is often brought into question as is the role, or even the existence, of women poets. Language also plays a large part in her questioning of history; the idea being that language is on loan from history and results in "a connected act" that prevents the poet from ever being alone in his or her efforts.


Boland indicates her need to discover who she is through an examination of her past in the opening of Object Lessons with a re-creating of her Grandmother’s story. She knows very little about this family member, only that she died in the National Maternity Hospital, and tries to give the woman a story in an effort to give herself one as well. Boland writes:


This is the way we make the past. This is the way I will make it here
…Giving eyesight and evidence to a woman we never know and cannot
now recover. For all our violations, the past waits for us…Again and
again I visit it and reinvent it. But the woman who actually traveled it
had no such license. Hers was a real journey. She did not come back.
(Boland 1995, p.5)



Boland’s grandmother serves as a source of inspiration of a way in which to write and also to look at history. She may not know much about what actually happened but it is possible to create a story based on what she does know. This story can serve as a source of personal identity and strength. As she thinks about and constructs a story for her grandmother, she becomes intimately close to her. The lines between reality and imagination begin to blur to the point where the two cannot truly be separated into the "truth" of what really happened and the truth that has been created. There are other examples of this tendency to find the self in the creation of a past; Boland even mentions an essay by Maxine Hong Kingston in the book The Woman Warrior. In "No Name Woman," she talks about an aunt who was shunned by her family because she became pregnant which led to her subsequent suicide. In the closing of the essay, she writes:


My aunt haunts me – her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty


years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her, though not


origamied into houses and clothes. I do not think she always means me


well. I am telling on her, and she was a spite suicide, drowning herself


in the drinking water. (Kingston 1975, p. 16)


That both writers felt the need to create stories for those who they knew little about shows a deeper need to create a past and a history for themselves which then leads to a stronger present identity. It is as if