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Thread: Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.

  1. #1

    Default Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.



    Quarantine
    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 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 a woman.
    And in which darkness it can best be proved.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.

    Great poem, PM. I may have mentioned this but, I saw her once give a reading, and it was very powerful to hear the poetry live, more so than reading from the pages.

    I read his one as being about an Irish couple, since the author is, and there may be some significance to 1847--the potato famine?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:S...ato_famine.JPG

  3. #3

    Default Re: Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.

    Your literary background amaze me Matclone.

    I enjoy studying the biographical records of the poet whom I?m reading but admit I haven?t done so yet with Boland, so I know very little (even less than Coleridge). I think your inference of 1847 relating to the potato famine is probably correct based upon her heritage and other work that discusses it ( for example ?That the Science of Cartography Is Limited?). I am quite fond of the voice and choice of themes in her work. I felt ?Quarantine? was a strikingly beautiful but haunting love poem. That is why I posted it. It is particularly compelling as one considers the struggle of a people senselessly forced into build the famine roads.

    How did your hearing her read come about? It must have been a moving experience.

    Thank you for contributing to this thread. It is always a pleasure and always informative.

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    Default Re: Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.

    Your literary background amaze me Matclone.

    Thanks, PM-01. I don't think my literary knowledge is that great, especially not with respect to poets. But I did major in English and have probably retained a few things.

    How did your hearing her read come about? It must have been a moving experience.

    Drake University in Des Moines holds a poetry festival each Spring. About 7 or 10 years ago, I went to the one with Boland. Marvin Bell was another better known poet there and I bought one of his books. But the most memorable moment was her reading of "The Necessity for Irony" which I've posted here before. http://www.turksheadreview.com/libra...sityirony.html

    I'd not read it before. In reciting the poem, she's telling a story about her daughter who's grown-up now and is no longer beside her as she once had been, when the author was rummaging about for "beautiful things". When she did the last stanza, and the import of what was saying hit me, I think I fairly gasped, or that's it felt anyway, and I sensed that reaction in the rest of the audience, although, of course, that's just my subjective impression. According to Wikipedia, she teaches at Stanford.

    I can see the similarities with that poem to "Quarantine" and like them for reasons you mentioned.
    Last edited by matclone; 07-31-2007 at 06:23 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.

    Thank you for the link, matclone. Despite my affection for the classical masters I have a strong affinity for (some) contemporary poets and non-metrical poetry. The more exposure to Boland that I have the more curious I become. This may be a risky statement but the ease of Boland's lines reminds me of Mary Oliver (whose style I'd say most resembles a romantic naturalist.) Due to this conversation I am most interested in reading more of Boland's work...my many thanks.

    Just for fun...being an English major you might be familar with this bit of silliness.

    After Emily Dickinson's death her sister was cleaning Emily's bedroom and came across a large trunk. In opening the trunk she found Emily had placed almost her complete work of poetry in neat little stacks and bound them with lace. As a matter of fact, Dickinson never named her poems either. The sister that discovered them poured over the poems and titled most them herself--usually for ease using the first line as its title.

    Now for the fun part. No doubt Dickinson's poems are like traditional hymns and we can imagine she was deeply influenced by those regular rhythm and rhyme patterns of the hymns she heard often. In fact, you can sing most of her poems to the tune of the theme from "Gilligan's Island," which also follows the hymn pattern. If you haven't heard about this (which you might have), give it a try.

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    Default Re: Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.

    English is really a pretty broad field. I sort of wish I'd had more exposure to poets and poetry but then I wish I'd had more opportunities to take linguistics too. My one poetry writing class was a bit of a disappointment.

    No, I had not heard that story about Dickinson. I'm sure I have some of her poems somewhere, so will give the Gilligan test a try. Thanks.

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