poem index

About this poet

Eavan Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland, on September 24, 1944. Her father was a diplomat and her mother was an expressionist painter.

At the age of six, Boland and her family relocated to London, where she first encountered anti-Irish sentiment. She later returned to Dublin for school, and she received her B.A. from Trinity College in 1966. She was also educated in London and New York.

Her books of poetry include New Collected Poems (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008), Domestic Violence, (2007), Against Love Poems (2001), The Lost Land (1998), An Origin Like Water: Collected Poems 1967-1987 (1996), In a Time of Violence (1994), Outside History: Selected Poems 1980-1990 (1990), The Journey and Other Poems (1986), Night Feed (1982), and In Her Own Image (1980).

In addition to her books of poetry, Boland is also the author of A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet (W. W. Norton, 2011), a collection of essays, which won the 2012 PEN Award; Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time (1995), a volume of prose, After Every War (Princeton, 2004), an anthology of German women poets, and she co-edited The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (with Mark Strand; W. W. Norton & Co., 2000).

Her awards include a Lannan Foundation Award in Poetry, an American Ireland Fund Literary Award, a Jacob's Award for her involvement in The Arts Programme broadcast on RTÉ Radio, and an honorary degree from Trinity.

She has taught at Trinity College, University College, Bowdoin College, and she was a member of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She is also a regular reviewer for the Irish Times.

Boland and her husband, author Kevin Casey, have two daughters, and she is currently a professor of English at Stanford University where she directs the creative writing program.

Atlantis—A Lost Sonnet

Eavan Boland, 1944
How on earth did it happen, I used to wonder
that a whole city—arches, pillars, colonnades, 
not to mention vehicles and animals—had all 
one fine day gone under?

I mean, I said to myself, the world was small then.
Surely a great city must have been missed?
I miss our old city —

white pepper, white pudding, you and I meeting 
under fanlights and low skies to go home in it. Maybe 
what really happened is 

this: the old fable-makers searched hard for a word
to convey that what is gone is gone forever and 
never found it. And so, in the best traditions of 

where we come from, they gave their sorrow a name
and drowned it.

"Atlantis—A Lost Sonnet", from Domestic Violence by Eavan Boland. Copyright © 2007 by Eavan Boland. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Eavan Boland

Eavan Boland

Eavan Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1944. Her father

by this poet

poem
The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is
I can enter it anywhere.  And have.
As a child in exile in
a city of fogs and strange consonants,
I
poem

And when I take them out of
the cherrywood box these beads are
the colour of dog-violets in shadow. Then
at the well of the throat where
tears start
they darken. Now I wear at my neck an old stress
of crystal: an impression of earthly housekeeping.
A mysterious brightness
poem
In the worst hour of the worst season
    of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking – they were both walking – north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
     He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and