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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

In Memory of Eavan Boland

Poet Eavan Boland passed away on April 27, 2020, at the age of 75. We add ourselves to those who were changed by her work. In her memory, we offer “To Memory.”

To Memory

This is for you, goddess that you are.
This is a record for us both, this is a chronicle.
There should be more of them, they should be lyrical
and factual, and true, they should be written down
and spoken out on rainy afternoons, instead of which
they fall away; so I have written this, so it will not.
My last childless winter was the same
as all the other ones. Outside my window
the motherless landscape hoarded its own kind.
Light fattened the shadows; frost harried the snowdrops.
There was a logic to it, the way my mother loved astrology—
she came from a valley in the country
where everything that was haphazard and ill-timed
about our history had happened and so it seemed natural
that what she wanted most were the arts of the predetermined.
My child was born at the end of winter. How to prove it?
Not the child, of course, who slept in pre-spring darkness,
but the fact that the ocean—moonless, stripped of current—
entered the room quietly one evening and
lay down in the weave of the rug, and could be seen
shifting and sighing in blue-green sisal and I said
nothing about it, then or later, to anyone and when
the spring arrived I was ready to see a single field in
the distance on the Dublin hills allow its heathery color
to detach itself and come upstairs and settle in
the corner of the room farthest from the window.
I could, of course, continue. I could list for you
a whole inventory of elements and fixed entities
that broke away and found themselves disordered in
that season—assembling, dispersing—and without
a thought for laws that until then had barred
an apple flower from opening out at midnight
or lilac rooting in the coldest part of ocean. Then
it stopped. Little by little what was there came back.
Slowly at first; then surely. I realized what had happened
was secret, hardly possible, to be remembered always,
which is why you are listening as rain comes down,
restored to its logic, responsive to air and land
and I am telling you this: you are after all
not simply the goddess of memory, you have
nine daughters yourself and can understand.

Eavan Boland, from The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry (2011)

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