Boland makes effective use of language and imagery to explore personal experiences and to confront harsh realities in society.

Boland uses effective language in her poetry to share personal experiences. This is evident in her poems “The Pomegranate”,” Love” and “This Moment”.She explores Nature throughout her poetry. Boland confronts the brutal realities in society. In her poem,” The Famine Road” she educates the reader about the treatment of the Irish and the opinions the British had towards them during the famine. Boland through the use of nature describes the consequences of idleness during the bombings in Northern Ireland.

Boland shares her personal experiences through her relationship with her family. She conveys the love she has towards both her husband and her children through the use of metaphors.

In the Pomegranate the love she has for her children is clearly evident.she is broken-hearted at the thought of losing her daughter but accepts the reality that she cannot prevent her daughter from leaving,” If I defer the grief,I will diminish the gift”.Here we see that she is filled with conflicting emotions. She is trying to fight her motherly instincts. The love for a child is present in the fear of losing her.

Similarly, in the poem Love, she is also filled with contrasting emotions. She compares her husband through the use of myths to Aeneas. We see that she pictures her husband as a hero in this simile,” I see you as a hero in a text-the image blazing and edges gilded”.She longs for the intense love they once shared. Their love changes from the love that “had the feather and muscle of wings” to mature and less passionate love. “We love each other still.” Love is being personified. In this sensuous image love is being imagined as a creature with “the feather and muscle of wings” that had in a very domestic phrase “come to live with us”. Here we can see through the use of personification she describes the passionate love they once shared. She is broken-hearted at the loss of their passion and fears never feeling that intensity again. “Will we ever live so intensely again”.Throughout the poem Boland is brimming with emotion and here I feel it reaches the climax,” But the words are shadows and you cannot hear me.” She is speaking directly to her ‘younger’ husband. She desires to ask the “epic question” if they will love intensely again. She is facing a conflict and through the use of a metaphor, she explains that she has to walk away from the memory of her younger husband, “you walk away and I cannot follow”.

Similarly, in the poem Pomegranate, we see that she again restrains herself and allows her daughter to make her own decisions. “I will say nothing”.Boland through the use of a rhetorical question explains that memories we give to our children are priceless and valuable. “But what else can a mother give her daughter but such beautiful rifts in time”.This metaphor clearly displays Boland’s, motherly love. Despite feeling broken-hearted Boland does not stop her daughter from leaving. Similarly in Love, Boland sacrifices her desires and emotions for her husband. She understands the changing nature of love is inevitable even though she desperately wants to hold on to the “blazing” image of her husband as the hero. Boland through the effective use of personification describes the beautiful connection she could have with her husband of the past. “So formidable at rest it offered us ascension  

Even to look at him”. She believes it would be heaven if she could have the chance. However just as she set aside her feelings for her daughter, she also sacrifices them for her husband.

Boland explores nature throughout her poetry. In poems Warhorse and The Famine Road, she employs nature and the use of assonance to convey destruction.

In the poem Warhorse, Boland through the use of Nature describes destructive images.”a crocus, its bulbous head, blown from growth, one of the screamless dead”. Boland through the use of assonance slows down the pace of the poem. The metaphor of the crocus conveys man’s inhumanity to each other.

Boland personifies plants to represent humans. “If a rose, a hedge, a crocus are uprooted like corpses?”. The poet again through the use of assonance slows down the pace and reveals the destructive effect of war.

Boland explores nature to convey the insignificant damage the horse has done,” No great harm is done.Only a leaf of our laurel hedge is torn”.Later on in the poem, we understand that she feels embarrassed and mocks herself. In the suburbs where she is “safe” the most fearful event is a horse strolling through their neighbourhood while up the north innocent people are being “mutilated”.

In the poem, The Famine Road Boland reveals the theme of innocence. The worker in the poem has a disease and is said to die soon. The metaphor “typhoid pariah” conveys the harsh reality that he has become an outcast.” His blood tainted” shows us that he is diseased. Boland refers to snow and the colour white to convey innocence. “No more than snow attends its own flakes”. Boland through the beautiful imagery of snow falling explains to us that nobody will pray for him. Death during this time was not uncommon, this man’s story was also the same for others. Through the use of metaphors and the red and white images, Boland reveals his innocence.. 

The theme of innocence is also evident in the poem Child Of Our Time. Boland in the child of our time conveys that the idleness of our attitude towards war has cost an innocent infant his life. Boland conveys the brutality of death through unambiguous language, “from the discord of your murder”. The word murder conveys the cruelty of killing an innocent child.

Boland through the use of symbols displays how we should instruct children. “With rhymes for your waking, rhythms for your sleep” and the “names for the animals you took to bed”.The symbols of protection express how the child should have been cared for and loved. The toddler did not deserve such cruelty. Boland believes that it is us who have failed and so the adult is now learning from the “dead” child, “must learn from you, dead”. The age of the young child and love he should have received conveys his innocence.

In the poem, The Famine Road Boland reflects on the famine, one of the darkest and most traumatic periods in Irish history. Boland reveals the harsh realities of the past in society.

The suffering endured by the Irish conveys the brutality and harsh conditions set upon them. In the opening lines,” Idle as trout in the light”, Boland employs assonance to slow down the reader and draw our attention to the stereotyping. Lord Trevelyan arrogantly dismisses the entire Irish nation as being “idle”. Boland through the use of a simile describes the cruel thoughts and opinions of the Irish the British had at the time.

Trevelyan rejects any idea of giving the starving people any kind of charity. “Give them no coins at all: their bones need toil, their characters no less”. He suggests that their bodies are weak and the work would be beneficial for them, so he makes them work “sick, directionless” and makes them use their bare hands. “Fork stick were iron years away”. This metaphor through the use of assonance slows the reader down and reveals to us the harsh and cruel mindset of Lord Trevelyan. In the past, this harsh thinking was common among the British.

The extreme brutal conditions are clearly displayed in the rhetorical question,” after all could they not...suck April hailstones for water and for food”. To intentionally not provide food and water conveys the extreme brutality of the conditions the Irish suffered. Boland employs unambiguous language to convey the cruel hardship of the Irish. The repeated k sounds in words like,” fork”,” stick”,” rock” and “suck” suggest the harshness of these officials. An image suggestive of cannibalism underlines the desperation of the starving people, “each eyed - as if at the corner butcher-the other’s buttock”. This simile once again shows us the mocking attitude the British had. The Irish considering cannibalism explains the desperation for food and the British officials were aware and still refused to give them food and water. The starvation the Irish faced conveys the harsh suffering the Irish faced at the time during the famine.

In conclusion, it is clearly evident that Boland values her family. Through her poetry, she conveys her love for both her husband and her children. Boland through the use of myths and legends describes her emotions and thoughts of times in her life. Eavan Boland conveys the destruction of war through nature and effective language.


This is an answer I wrote myself so do correct me if there are any mistakes or anywhere I can improve. Thanks :)