A Woman Without A Country

By Eavan Boland b. 1944 Eavan Boland
As dawn breaks he enters
A room with the odor of acid.
He lays the copper plate on the table.
And reaches for the shaft of the burin.
Dublin wakes to horses and rain.
Street hawkers call.
All the news is famine and famine.
The flat graver, the round graver,
The angle tint tool wait for him.
He bends to his work and begins.
He starts with the head, cutting in
To the line of the cheek, finding
The slope of the skull, incising
The shape of a face that becomes
A foundry of shadows, rendering —
With a deeper cut into copper —
The whole woman as a skeleton,
The rags of  her skirt, her wrist
In a bony line forever
                                        severing
Her body from its native air until
She is ready for the page,
For the street vendor, for
A new inventory which now
To loss and to laissez-faire adds
The odor of acid and the little,
Pitiless tragedy of  being imagined.
He puts his tools away,
One by one; lays them out carefully
On the deal table, his work done.

Source: Poetry (April 2013).

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2013
 Eavan  Boland

Biography

Eavan Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1944. The daughter of a diplomat and a painter, Boland spent her girlhood in London and New York, returning to Ireland to attend secondary school in Killiney and later university at Trinity College in Dublin. Though still a student when she published her first collection, 23 Poems (1962), Boland’s early work is informed by her experiences as a young wife and mother, and her growing . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Jobs & Working, Arts & Sciences, Painting & Sculpture, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Gender & Sexuality

POET’S REGION Ireland

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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