I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Her Dance with History

Her Dance with History

Theo Dorgan
The Historians, by Eavan Boland, Carcanet, 80 pp, £10.99, ISBN: 978-1784109141 A great life in poetry came to a close this year with the passing of Eavan Boland. This is neither the time nor the place to offer an estimation of where her life’s work will come to rest in the long story of Irish poetry; suffice it to offer, here, my personal conviction that the work will endure, that it has radically changed how we come to think of that story, and that both in influence and achievement her poetry and her commentary on that poetry have already altered forever the topography of what has been done and what can, should and will be done. As well to invoke the shades and vagaries of history at the outset, then, since her life’s work was concerned with what history includes and excludes, with writing herself as a woman poet into history, with recovering from the darkness of exclusion and neglect so many lives that have flared and died outside history. Steadily, poem by poem and book by book, Eavan worked her way into the heart of darkness, not in the Conradian sense of course, but into the centre of those marginal, penumbral zones outside the spotlight of what was “officially” deemed worthy of being remembered. Hers was a double journey ‑ the poet finding her way into the self-granted warrant of her craft, the citizen struggling for the vindication of women, for a more amplified and more truthful narrative of Ireland. Her method was her purpose: in confronting exclusion, in the historical sense, she simultaneously chose to examine her own path into permission, into the poem, ever-present to herself, always questioning her step-by-step progress into her own gathering experience of making. And at the same time, not as a polemicist but as a citizen, she was attempting to formulate, or reformulate, a more ample and truthful vision of Ireland. By the time she had arrived at the pared back landscapes and poemscapes of Outside History and Against Love Poetry, it seems to me that she had succeeded in fusing her double quest: she had found a way to speak plainly of and for all those whom history had cast aside, a neglect, often deliberate, that was both political and moral; and at the same time she had found in herself a voice she could finally consider adequate to her subject and to the…

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