Eavan Boland Quotes
The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is
I can enter it anywhere. And have.
As a child in exile in
a city of fogs and strange consonants,
I read it first and at first I was
an exiled child in the crackling dusk of
the underworld, the stars blighted. Later
I walked out in a summer twilight
searching for my daughter at bed-time.
When she came running I was ready
to make any bargain to keep her.
I carried her back past whitebeams
and wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
But I was Ceres then and I knew
winter was in store for every leaf
on every tree on that road.
Was inescapable for each one we passed.
And for me.
It is winter
and the stars are hidden.
I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
my child asleep beside her teen magazines,
her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
The pomegranate! How did I forget it?
She could have come home and been safe
and ended the story and all
our heart-broken searching but she reached
out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
She put out her hand and pulled down
the French sound for apple and
the noise of stone and the proof
that even in the place of death,
at the heart of legend, in the midst
of rocks full of unshed tears
ready to be diamonds by the time
the story was told, a child can be
hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance.
The rain is cold. The road is flint-coloured.
The suburb has cars and cable television.
The veiled stars are above ground.
It is another world. But what else
can a mother give her daughter but such
beautiful rifts in time?
If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
The legend will be hers as well as mine.
She will enter it. As I have.
She will wake up. She will hold
the papery flushed skin in her hand.
And to her lips. I will say nothing.”
“Lines written for a thirtieth wedding anniversary
Somewhere up in the eaves it began:
high in the roof – in a sort of vault
between the slates and the gutter – a small leak.
Through it, rain which came from the east,
in from the lights and foghorns of the coast –
water with a ghost of ocean salt in it –
spilled down on the path below.
Over and over and over
years stone began to alter,
its grain searched out, worn in:
granite rounding down, giving way
taking into its own inertia that
information water brought, of ships,
wings, fog and phosphor in the harbour.
It happened under our lives: the rain,
the stone. We hardly noticed. Now
this is the day to think of it, to wonder:
all those years, all those years together –
the stars in a frozen arc overhead,
the quick noise of a thaw in the air,
the blue stare of the hills – through it all
this constancy: what wears, what endures.”
How will I know you in the underworld?
How will we find each other?
We lived for so long on the physical earth—
Our skies littered with actual stars
Practical tides in our bay—
What will we do with the loneliness of the mythical?
Walking beside ditches brimming with dactyls,
By a ferryman whose feet are scanned for him
On the shore of a river written and rewritten
As elegy, epic, epode.
Remember the thin air of our earthly winters?
Frost was an iron, underhand descent.
Dusk was always in session
And no one needed to write down
Or restate, or make record of, or ever would,
And never will,
The plainspoken music of recognition,
Nor the way I often stood at the window—
The hills growing dark, saying,
As a shadow became a stride
And a raincoat was woven out of streetlight
I would know you anywhere.”
“I began to watch places with an interest so exact it might have been memory. There was that street corner, with the small newsagent which sold copies of the Irish Independent and honeycomb toffee in summer. I could imagine myself there, a child of nine, buying peppermints and walking back down by the canal, the lock brown and splintered as ever, and boys diving from it.
It became a powerful impulse, a slow intense reconstruction of a childhood which had never happened. A fragrance or a trick of light was enough. Or a house I entered which I wanted not just to appreciate but to remember, and then I would begin.”
After a friend has gone I like the feel of it:
The house at night. Everyone asleep.
The way it draws in like atmosphere or evening.
One-o-clock. A floral teapot and a raisin scone.
A tray waits to be taken down.
The landing light is off. The clock strikes. The cat
comes into his own, mysterious on the stairs,
a black ambivalence around the legs of button-back
chairs, an insinuation to be set beside
the red spoon and the salt-glazed cup,
the saucer with the thick spill of tea
which scalds off easily under the tap. Time
is a tick, a purr, a drop. The spider
on the dining-room window has fallen asleep
among complexities as I will once
the doors are bolted and the keys tested
and the switch turned up of the kitchen light
which made outside in the back garden
an electric room -- a domestication
of closed daisies, an architecture
instant and improbable.”
- Date of birth: September 24, 1944
- Died: April 27, 2020
- Born: in Dublin, Ireland.
- Description: Born in Dublin in 1944, Eavan Boland studied in Ireland, London and New York. Her first book was published in 1967. She taught at Trinity College, University College Dublin, Bowdoin College, the University of Iowa, and Stanford University. A pioneering figure in Irish poetry, Boland's works include The Journey and other poems (1987), Night Feed (1994), The Lost Land (1998) and Code (2001). Her poems and essays appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Kenyon Review and American Poetry Review. She was a regular reviewer for the Irish Times. She was married to the novelist Kevin Casey.