The "Status of Woman" clause in the Irish Constitution, which clearly defines a woman's contribution to the state as that of a homemaker, added to the tensions that Boland encountered as a young writer. "The Irish Constitution is one of the very few in Europe that enshrined the woman's place as being in the home," she said. Thus, both state and societal expectations made it difficult for her to realize her dream early on.
However, this difficulty is not contained to specifically Irish women, Boland said. "For a lot of young women in my generation, that [tension] boded more difficulty for them to have this interior sense of permission to become the poet they wanted to." Yet this self-authorization, once confronted, led to a powerful voice. "I learned a lot from thinking that I wanted to put the life I lived into the poem I wrote and … from thinking what would happen if you didn't do that? You would end up writing someone else's poem and not honoring the life you lived in terms of creative expression..."
by Eavan Boland
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.