Sunday, May 3, 2020

#124 / A Few Lines From A Poem

Eavan Boland, pictured above, died on April 27, 2020, at her home in Dublin. Boland was a poet, and the director of the creative writing program at Stanford University. Boland's poetry was frequently published in The New Yorker, whose tribute to her can be found by clicking this link. The picture above was published in The Washington Post, on April 29, 2020, accompanying its obituary. I learned of Boland's death from The New York Times, which published its obituary, and a tribute to Boland, on May 1st. 

What is the role of poetry? For me, it is to penetrate our inattention, and the routine rigidities that confine our lives and thoughts, and that wall us out from immediate contact with the absolute truth of our existence - the fears, the joys, the wonders of what our lives are really like, when we let the truth slip by the barriers. 

I found, in The New York Times, a few lines from a poem that Boland wrote in 2018, "Our Future Will Become the Past of Other Women." Written to honor "the grandmothers and great-grandmothers of the suffragists, women who had never had the chance to vote," this "woman's poem" spoke directly to me. It penetrated through and let in the light that illuminates everything that is, revealing the terrifying beauty and brilliance of what it really means to be alive. It is the possibility that we don't see, as Boland tells us in a few lines from her poem, that can burst into our history in a moment, transforming everything. After long struggles, after agony and anticipation, a new world is revealed.

It was true for those grandmothers and great-grandmothers. It is true for us, today: 
Ghost-sufferer, our ghost-sister
Remind us now again that history
Changes in one moment with one mind.

That it belongs to us, to all of us.
As we mark these hundred years
We will not leave you behind.

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