Eavan Boland Rest in Peace

by Eavan Boland

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 north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.


Episode 2 of Women and Words [2008] – Eavan Boland. Eavan Boland was one of Ireland’s finest poets and she is considered to be the pioneer who facilitated women’s stories, both domestic and internal, becoming part of the Irish literary tradition. Eavan shared her journey and poetry and her life now divided between Stanford, and its literary freedom, and her family home and life here in Ireland. In this feature Eavan talked about her work and shares it, while commentators, including Professor Gerardine Meaney of UCD, assess the significance of her stature as a poet and the nature of her work.

Eavan Boland died at her home in Dublin, Ireland Monday 27/04/2020
Producer Helen Shaw, Presenter Kay Sheehy