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  • Writer's pictureNora Curry

Poem of the Week: The Lost Land

With St. Patrick's Day on the horizon, it seems a good time to share the beautiful work of Dublin-born poet Eavan Boland. Boland's work often lingers in Irish tableaus but also deals with the experience of being an Irish-born girl elsewhere, as well as with the difficult experience of Irish women. There is frequently an ache and feeling of loss in the way she writes of her native land. This sense of love, land, and loss is made palpable in her poem, "The Lost Land," where we have a sense of the poet as both mother of girls and daughter of a land.

The Lost Land

I have two daughters. They are all I ever wanted from the earth. Or almost all. I also wanted one piece of ground: One city trapped by hills. One urban river. An island in its element. So I could say mine. My own. And mean it. Now they are grown up and far away and memory itself has become an emigrant, wandering in a place where love dissembles itself as landscape: Where the hills are the colours of a child's eyes, where my children are distances, horizons: At night, on the edge of sleep, I can see the shore of Dublin Bay. Its rocky sweep and its granite pier. Is this, I say how they must have seen it, backing out on the mailboat at twilight, shadows falling on everything they had to leave? And would love forever? And then I imagine myself at the landward rail of that boat searching for the last sight of a hand. I see myself on the underworld side of that water, the darkness coming in fast, saying all the names I know for a lost land: Ireland. Absence. Daughter.

- Eavan Boland

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