Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Poetry, Revised Edition)
Eavan Boland typically confronts in her poems the themes of hearth and history, her sense of herself as a woman in relation to home and family, and her sense of nationality and of the Irish tradition that lies behind much of her work. In “Lace,” however, neither of these issues is engaged directly. The poem is set in “the house,” but that setting is never made problematic and becomes, by the end of the poem, rather a comfort, a curiously vital link with lost baroque creativity. The courtier whom Boland admires is male, his sex necessitated by the patriarchal nature of the poetic tradition from which, at the poem’s outset, Boland feels ostracized. Issues of gender are not at the core of the poem’s concern, however, and the courtier’s maleness is not called into question as it would have been in an earlier Boland volume such as In Her Own Image (1980) or Night Feed (1982).
Instead, “Lace” sets down a basis for creativity and poetic work that is, for Boland, independent of sex, nation, or historical period. The lyric deals with the struggle to see, to attain vision, and to liberate oneself, through poetry, from the confines of everyday life, which runs its course, metaphorically speaking, in dimness and perpetual dusk. Boland wants to make a poem something light, effortless, and beautiful, but wanting is not achieving, and she discovers that, despite appearances, poetry is made not from the seemingly crystalline,...
(The entire section is 390 words.)
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