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This article is taken from PN Review 220, Volume 41 Number 2, November - December 2014.

Expressing the Source: Eavan Boland and Adrienne Rich Máighréa Medbh
I have always been affected by Eavan Boland, though we probably appear to be opposites. At a time when I was trying to strike out for what I saw as liberation by speaking of the intimate disaffections, she spoke of diurnal femininities too, but often with a noble, transformative acceptance or love of them. Even so, she was and still is a powerful voice for women’s freedom. She wrote suburban domesticity in a way that enabled other women to live it –

to wed our gleams
to brute routines:
solstices,
small families.
                                  (‘Monotony’)

The domestic world she presented was startlingly sparse and oddly adequate, even when she spoke of its irritations and complained, as many of us did, about the demands of motherhood that seemed to arrest our hopes of flight and tether us to repetition and the ministrations called love. I hadn’t read her work for some time when by chance I recently encountered one of her poems on a library shelf. ‘Indoors’ begins:

I have always wanted a world that is cured of the outdoors.

A household without gods.

My old responses were instantly recurried. A direct, honest voice, lines loaded with conceptual ramifications. The style is conversational but also lyrical. That is, it has prosaic syntax but a tone of deep contemplation. This intimate touch, the feeling of being spoken to from underskin to underskin is one of the things I value most in poetry.

I have two daughters.
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