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March 8, 2019


#Ireland Eavan Boland (poet)

by N@ncy



The book is divided into 3 parts representing:

  1. the city Dublin (architecture, women, colony)
  2. the River Liffey (without the river there would be no city)
  3. the suburb Dundrum (treat the mundane life of a woman in
  4. the suburbs with children fairly)
  5. The book ends with a conversation
  6. that took place between Eavan Boland and Paula Meehan
  7. on her 70th birthday at the Abbey Theatre in 2014.



  1. Weak point:
  2. Part 3 – Suburban Dundrum
  3. Eavan Boland tries to capture the sense of
  4. living in the new Ireland….subrubia
  5. but the poems offered few opportunities to reflect.
  6. They did not generate emotional power
  7. …to help me connect to Boland’s words.


  1. Strong point:
  2. Part 1 and 2- The city of Dublin and The River Liffey
  3. There were difficult issues and experiences
  4. told with with a clear-eyed honesty, openess
  5. and much humanity.
  6. There were 3 poems about her mother
  7. (elegy, marriage and her death).
  8. Poems about Boland as a Trinity College
  9. student in Dublin.
  10. Part 2: The Gifts of the River
  11. …all these poems were very good
  12.  emphasizing the feeling of being a colony under
  13. the English….and the palpable joy of the
  14. beauty of the Grand Canal in Dublin or the
  15. carefree summer swimming hole at
  16. Blackrock Baths!


Last thoughts:

  1. This is a lovely way to discover a city.
  2. Not just pages of facts and figures….but feelings
  3. through the author’s poems.
  4. This book marks Eavan Boland’s 70th birthday,
  5. The poet has paired her poems about her native city Dublin
  6. with her own photographs.



My notes:


Once in Dublin

  1. Why did this poem put a smile on my face?
  2. The poem has emotion, idea, physical setting,
  3. language, image, rhythm…that brought back
  4. memories of my visit to Dublin years ago.
  5. In this poem we visit a Dublin of Boand’s past.


The Huguenot Graveyard at the Heart of the City

  1. I learned of the French Protestants
  2. who left Nantes France to settle in Dublin 1600s.
  3. This hidden cemetery is a place of shadow
  4. and remembrance.
  5. Nostalgic poem…that sparked my interest because
  6. some of the names on the cemetery plaque were familiar!
  7. Le Fanu:
  8. Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu
  9. was an Irish writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels.
  10. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century
  11. Another name….Becquett
  12. This was a relative of Samuel Beckett.
  13. Now that explains why Beckett felt at home in France.


The Doll’s Museum in Dublin

  1. This poem can be read in multiple ways by
  2. different audiences.
  3. The poem highlights Easter Day in Ireland.
  4. While there seems to be a gleeful mood in the air
  5. …the poem ends on a note that implies there is an
  6. underlying sadness:
  7. Easter Uprising 1916.


Heroic (Sonnet)

  1. As you walk through a city like Dublin your eyes gaze on
  2. bonze orators and granite patriots.
  3. Arms wide. Lips apart
  4. Eavan Boland is in her late teens, a student
  5. having recently returned to Dublin.
  6. She senses the powerful threat of heroism in the city during
  7. the turbulent years of The Troubles.
  8. Also she feels the growing awareness of the
  9. troubled role of women in Irish history and culture.
  10. There is no statue as she describes in the poem in Dublin
  11. (man with a gun) but was inspired by the statue
  12. of Robert Emmet (1778-1803) in St. Stephen’s Green.
  13. Irish nationalist and Republican, orator and rebel leader.
  14. He led an abortive rebellion against British rule in
  15. 1803 and was captured, tried and executed for high treason
  16. In this sonnet Boland imagines
  17. stone maleness – Irish history – heroism.
  18. She would you look at the statues of the Irish past
  19. and try to imagine heroism.
  20. Could she be heroic?


Anna Liffey

  1. This is an example of an Irish pastoral poem
  2. It s about the River Liffey in Dublin.
  3. and one of the few rivers in the world that
  4. is considered ‘female’.
  5. The Irish phrase Abhainn na Life means River Liffey
  6. The phrase has been Anglicanized to Anna Liffey.
  7. James Joyce included a character in Finnegin’s Wake
  8. called Anna Livia.
  9. Eavan Boland holds a conversation in a fragmented style
  10. with the river she can see from her doorway at home.
Read more from Ireland, poetry

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