Against Love Poetryby Eavan Boland
These powerful poems are written against the perfections and idealizations of traditional love poetry. The man and woman in these poems are husband and wife, custodians of ordinary, aging human love. They are not figures in a love poem. Time is their essential witness, and not their destroyer
A collection of poems about marriage by one of our most celebrated poets.
These powerful poems are written against the perfections and idealizations of traditional love poetry. The man and woman in these poems are husband and wife, custodians of ordinary, aging human love. They are not figures in a love poem. Time is their essential witness, and not their destroyer. A New York Times Notable Book and a Newsday Favorite Book of 2001.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.30(d)
Read an Excerpt
1. IN WHICH HESTER BATEMAN,
18TH CENTURY ENGLISH SILVERSMITH,
TAKES AN IRISH COMMISSION
Hester Bateman made a marriage spoon
And then subjected it to violence.
Chased, beat it. Scarred it and marked it.
All in the spirit of our darkest century.
Far away from grapeshot and tar caps
And the hedge schools and the music of sedition
She is oblivious to she pours out
And lets cool the sweet colonial metal.
Here in miniature a man and woman
Emerge beside each other from the earth,
From the deep mine, from the seams of rock
Which made inevitable her craft of hurt,
They stand side by side on the handle.
She writes their names in the smooth
Mimiery of a lake the ladle is making, in
A flowing script with a moon drowned in it.
Art and marriage: now a made match.
The silver bends and shines and in its own
Mineral curve an age-old tension
Inches towards the light. See how
Past and future and the space between
The semblance of empire, the promise of nation,
Are vanishing in this mediation
Between oppression and love's remembrance
Until resistance is their only element. It is
What they embody, bound now and always.
History frowns on them: yet in its gaze
They join their injured hands and make theirvows.
II. AGAINST LOVE POETRY
We were married in summer, thirty years ago. I have loved you
deeply from that moment to this. I have loved other things as well.
Among them the idea of women's freedom. Why do I put these
words side by side? Because I am a woman. Because marriage is not
freedom. Therefore, every word here is written against love poetry.
Love poetry can do no justice to this. Here, instead, is a remembered
story from a faraway history: A great king lost a war and was paraded
in chains through the city of his enemy. They taunted him. They
brought his wife and children to himhe showed no emotion. They
brought his former courtiershe showed no emotion. They brought
his old servantonly then did he break down and weep. I did not
find my womanhood in the servitudes of custom. But I saw my
humanity look back at me there. It is to mark the contradictions of
a daily love that I have written this. Against love poetry.
III. THE PINHOLE CAMERA
solar eclipse, August 1999
This is the day
and in preparation
you punch a hole
in a piece of card.
You hold it up against
a sheet of paper
the simplest form
of a pinhole camera
and put the sun
on your right shoulder:
A bright disc
appears on your page.
It loses half its diameter.
And more than half
in another minute.
the reason for the red berries
darkening, and the road outside
darkening, but did you know
that the wedding
of light and gravity
The sun is in eclipse:
if this were legend
the king of light would turn his face away.
A single shadow
would kill the salmon-rich
rivers and birdlife
and lilac of this island.
But this is real
how your page records
the alignment of planets:
In other words,
a mutual influence:
are flowing north.
The sycamores are a perfect green.
The wild jasmine
is a speaking white.
The sun is coming back. As
it will. As it must.
You track its progress.
I stand and watch.
For you and I
such science holds no secrets:
We are married thirty years,
woman and man.
Meet the Author
Eavan Boland is the author of more than a dozen volumes of poetry and nonfiction. A professor and the director of the creative writing program at Stanford University, she is the winner of a Lannan Foundation Award. She lives in Stanford, California, and Dublin, Ireland.
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