Eavan Boland

Rookie (1944 / Dublin)

Quarantine - Poem 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.

Comments about Quarantine by Eavan Boland

  • (8/23/2018 1:52:00 PM)

    This wonderful poem is based on the Buckley family of Derryry.leigh. My cousin An T-Athair Peadar O'Laoghaire wrote about the Buckleys in Mo Sceal Fein. An T-Athair Peadar was born and reared in Lioscarrigane, situated between Ballyvourney and Clondrohid. The Buckley children were buried in Carrignastaire Famine cemetery. A recently published book about An T-Athair Peadar was launched By another cousin, Cathal Mac Coille. (Report) Reply

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  • (5/20/2018 6:27:00 AM)

    niggarace new versace (Report) Reply

  • (4/3/2018 1:44:00 PM)

    Sad, yes but the truth of which darkness really binds is the moment of vision. (Report) Reply

  • (9/9/2016 9:25:00 AM)

    A sad tale from the Irish Famine I suspect. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, July 23, 2015

Poem Edited: Thursday, July 23, 2015

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