Eavan Boland

Rookie (1944 / Dublin)

That the Science of Cartography Is Limited

Poem by Eavan Boland

—and not simply by the fact that this shading of
forest cannot show the fragrance of balsam,
the gloom of cypresses,
is what I wish to prove.

When you and I were first in love we drove
to the borders of Connacht
and entered a wood there.

Look down you said: this was once a famine road.

I looked down at ivy and the scutch grass
rough-cast stone had
disappeared into as you told me
in the second winter of their ordeal, in

1847, when the crop had failed twice,
Relief Committees gave
the starving Irish such roads to build.

Where they died, there the road ended

and ends still and when I take down
the map of this island, it is never so
I can say here is
the masterful, the apt rendering of
the spherical as flat, nor
an ingenious design which persuades a curve
into a plane,
but to tell myself again that

the line which says woodland and cries hunger
and gives out among sweet pine and cypress,
and finds no horizon

will not be there.

Comments about That the Science of Cartography Is Limited by Eavan Boland

  • Agatha ElizaAgatha Eliza (3/31/2017 5:01:00 AM)

    The memory persists..it becomes inextricably linked to the land that once was a mute witness to the history and its traumatic events. It must be a painful experience for one to see the remnants of the Famine roads, and not to think about it as a turning point in history, or about the men who died of starvation and exhaustion while working hard on building these. The map Eavan Boland is depicting not an ordinary one; it is in fact not necessarily one pointing actual geographical locations and some spectacular landscapes..it is a map that was contoured by the blood, sweat and suffering of the unknown, ordinary people. The ruined roads, the stones and the woods are constant reminders of such troubled times, and the voices of the hungry keep linger on, echoing the through the woodland.(Report)Reply

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  • Bill Wright (9/9/2016 9:27:00 AM)

    A powerful piece of work about the Irish Famine.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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Poem Submitted: Monday, June 22, 2015

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