Eavan Boland


Her poems often record moments of conflict and violence and more importantly she explores the hurt, injustice and insensitivity that accompany these situations. In 'The War Horse', she captures how we fear involvment and try to opt out. When the horse moves on the speaker tells us that there is a relief 'our unformed fear of fierce commitment gone' and again when the neighbors 'use the subterfuge of curtains' to avoid the issue. Doing nothing is an option that Boland rejects in her poem 'Child of her Time'. she says we must 'find for your sake whose life our idle/Talk has cost, a new language'. In other words, violence has in part been contributed by our own carelessness and we must make sure that we make a stand for a new and more peaceful world. As a poet she moved 'to be part of that ordeal' to explor that darkness that is part of our human natures. Poetry has an important role to play in an Ireland scarred by violence.

In the War Horse, Boland recalls the many victims of war and at the end of that poem the whole visit of the traveller reminds her of 'daysof burned countryside, illicit braid'. That awareness of our troubled history forms the background to the poem 'The Famine Road', in it Trevelyan and Colonel Jones are exposedfor the cold heartless politicians they were, 'the wretches work till they are quite worn,/then fester by their work'. In this poem she records the feeling of terrible suffering of those on these so-called relief schemes and how people were dehumanised by the whole experience. Her focus is different from the narrow political approach normally takenin looking back on these events. Many have been kept 'outside history', she realises that the roads, fields and rivers or Ireland have born witness to a terrible suffering that went largely unrecorded, or at best was mentioned in passing as a cold statistic. Unfortunetly interventions to help the plight of the downtrodden often come too late, 'We are always too...