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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."

Poem of the Week: “Amber” by Eavan Boland

In “Amber,” Eavan Boland expertly distills the experience of grief and the memory of a loved one into one power-packed image. The amber which drops “through seasons and centuries to the ground” transforms “clear air” into “a flawed translucence,” the past refracted through time.


It never mattered that there was once a vast grieving:

trees on their hillsides, in their groves, weeping—
a plastic gold dropping

through seasons and centuries to the ground—
until now.

On this fine September afternoon from which you are absent
I am holding, as if my hand could store it,
an ornament of amber

you once gave me.

Reason says this:
The dead cannot see the living.
The living will never see the dead again.

The clear air we need to find each other in is
gone forever, yet

this resin once
collected seeds, leaves and even small feathers as it fell
and fell

which now in a sunny atmosphere seem as alive as
they ever were

as though the past could be present and memory itself
a Baltic honey—

a chafing at the edges of the seen, a showing off of just how much
can be kept safe

inside a flawed translucence.

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

"Amber" by Eavan Boland

Categories: Poem of the WeekTags: , , ,

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