Beautiful Labors: Lyricism and Feminist Revisions in Eavan Boland’s Poetry

Christy BurnsThe College of William and Mary
Vol. 20, No. 2 (Fall 2001), 217-236

This essay finds in the work of Eavan Boland a refusal to iconicize the Irish female in the lyric, yet also an ability to negotiate the conflict between attraction to Irish lyricism and anti-lyrical feminist convictions. Critical of the romanticized images of women in the Irish lyric imagination, Boland is keenly aware of the risks of cliché and tethers her imaginative creations to the concrete details with which she herself is intimately familiar. This article pivots on the contradiction between women’s labor that adamantly is not beautiful and yet defiantly may be so. While seeking to avoid the romanticization produced by the lyric, Boland wishes to combine the beauties and seductions of lyric language with the sensate burdens of domestic lives.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]