Essay on Poetry of Eavan Boland
Boland’s powerful poetry has a profound effect on our own reflections and perceptions of life through evocative imagery and emotions. Reflections on our personal relationships as well as questioning our deeply embedded beliefs. In the poems “This Moment”, “Love” and “The Shadow Doll”, Boland explores different relationships such as motherhood and marriage using vivid imagery and emotions to impact and change our beliefs. In “The War Horse” and “Child of our time”, Boland speaks about the abhorrent effects of war and violence on innocents through appalling images as well as inviting us to revise our ignorance and complacency in regards to the terrible events that rip apart the world to this day. I found this stark evaluation of human relationships and behaviour to be simultaneously fascinating and disturbing.
“This Moment” is a brief poem of love and beauty lingering on the ephemeral moments of perfection in motherhood.Taking place in “a neighbourhood at dusk”, this poem gives universal significance to seemingly uninspiring suburban life at a liminal time of transition. There is something very familiar and safe about this scene presented to us. An atmosphere of anticipation is established as “things are getting ready to happen”. Time seems to slow as the typically imperceptible event of “rinds slanting around fruit” becomes visible in this moment.
The contrast between “one tree is black, one window is yellow as butter” adds to the powerful emotion of intimacy and seclusion that has been simmering throughout the poem as it reaches its emotional climax. As “A woman leans down to catch a child”, this emotion reaches a shuddering peak and Boland celebrates the beauty of such a simple yet profound moment in motherhood. I found the simplicity of this poem to be its most moving aspect, as well as the addition of powerful emotions of warmth and love between a mother and child. To see how powerful a simple moment can be, inspired me to cherish the time spent with love ones in my own life.
“Love” is a quasi-epic poem that conflates the speakers life with ancient myth and discusses her deteriorating relationship with her husband. Boland uses extraordinary and powerful emotions inspired by the myths of Aeneas and Odysseus to convey what the experience of love was for them. “Love had the feather and muscle of wings”, feeling almost supernatural, their love created a living entity with the essential elements of fire and air. In the past, the speaker saw her husband as “a hero in a text – the image blazing”.
The power of their love seemed to rival that of ancient mythological figures and this emotional intensity is almost palpable to us as readers through the passionate emotion Boland presents here. However something that burns so brightly cannot last and this is reflected in the speakers plain, monotonous language; “We love each other still across day-to-day and ordinary distances”. While their love still exists, it has inevitably faded and the poet recollects with nostalgia on a time that cannot be recaptured.
A poignant sense of regret and longing is established in the final lines of the poem as the speaker admits “But words are shadows and you cannot hear me. You walk away and I cannot follow”. Although the couple “hear each other clearly”, the speaker wishes to return to the past but knows it is impossible and so, is condemning them to a life of living alone together. I found the passionate depiction of love in this poem to be compelling and emotional, yet simultaneously tragic.