The Lost Land

The Lost Land

By: Eavan Boland


I have two daughters.


They are all I ever wanted from the earth.


Or almost all.


I also wanted one piece of ground:


One city trapped by hills. One urban river.

An island in its element.


So I could say mine. My own.

And mean it.


Now they are grown up and far away


and memory itself

has become an emigrant,

wandering in a place

where love dissembles itself as landscape:


Where the hills

are the colours of a child’s eyes,

where my children are distances, horizons:


At night,

on the edge of sleep,


I can see the shore of Dublin Bay.

Its rocky sweep and its granite pier.


Is this, I say

how they must have seen it,

backing out on the mailboat at twilight,


shadows falling

on everything they had to leave?

And would love forever?

And then


I imagine myself

at the landward rail of that boat

searching for the last sight of a hand.


I see myself

on the underworld side of that water,

the darkness coming in fast, saying

all the names I know for a lost land:


Ireland. Absence. Daughter.


About the Author:

(Excerpt is taken from;


Eavan Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland. Over the course of her long career, Eavan Boland emerged as one of the foremost female voices in Irish literature. Throughout her many collections of poetry, in her prose memoir Object Lessons (1995), and in her work as a noted anthologist and teacher, Boland honed an appreciation for the ordinary in life. The poet and critic Ruth Padel described Boland’s “commitment to lyric grace and feminism” even as her subjects tend to “the fabric of domestic life, myth, love, history, and Irish rural landscape.” Keenly aware of the problematic associations and troubled place that women hold in Irish culture and history, Boland always wrote out of an urge to make an honest account of female experience.

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