Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday Poetry: "Histories," by Eavan Boland

Today's poem comes from Eavan Boland's 2007 collection Domestic Violence, and the poem itself comes from the title sequence.


That was the year the news was always bad
(statistics on the radio)
the sad
truth no less so for being constantly repeated.

That was the year my mother was outside
in the shed
in her apron with the strings tied
twice behind her back and the door left wide.


  1. Hi Pat,
    I remember reading this (in a class with Dr. Bowers, which I believe you were also in) just after the collection came out. I think it's a perfect example of Boland's work on the everyday lives of women and the crosscurrents of society that cut through them. Any thoughts from you on the poem?

  2. @Whitney
    Hi Whitney,
    I think that this title sequence is the strongest part of the collection and does exactly what you say. Boland's line breaks, for me, make this poem particularly haunting; Boland leaves emotional responses open until the next line hinges them shut. In the second stanza, this same technique tells us a lot about the struggles of Irish women in a society that at once places them outside any arena of influence while isolating them in a domestic space (pretty much defines the situation of any woman in a James Joyce story)--I'm thinking here of how the first line break happens after the speaker's mother is placed outside, before the brief second line "in the shed" can trap the speaker's mother in that enclosed space. I feel that Boland's poems appear simple, but her structures open up these poems and her message. Thanks for reading! :)