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Eavan Boland
Home | Eavan Boland--a Revolutionary for Feminism | It's a Woman's World | Themes | Works Cited | Interview on her latest work | Schmidt Interview | Achievements | Criticism | Author Biography | Thoughts on Eavan Boland | Time Period | Samples of Author's Works | The Pomegranate | Influential Factors | Pictures
It's a Woman's World Analysis

Our way of life
has hardly changed
since a wheel first
whetted a knife.

Maybe flame
burns more greedily
and wheels are steadier,
but we're the same:

we milestone
our lives
with oversights,
living by the lights
of the loaf left

by the cash register,
the washing powder
paid for and wrapped,
the wash left wet:

like most historic peoples
we are defined
by what we forget

and what we never will be:
It's our alibi
for all time:

as far as history goes
we were never
on the scene of the crime.

When the king's head
gored its basket,
grim harvest,
we were gristing bread

or getting the recipe
for a good soup.
It's still the same:

our windows
moth our children
to the flame
of hearth not history.

And still no page
scores the low music
of our outrage.

Appearances reassure:
that woman there,
craned to
the starry mystery,

is merely getting a breath
of evening air.
While this one here,
her mouth a burning plume -

she's no fire-eater,
just my frosty neighbour
coming home.
Poem Analysis   
  "It's a Woman's World" by Eavan Boland is a poem encouraging women to  embrace their strengths. Boland desires for women to awaken to their passion for equality in intelligence, respect, and love. Accordingly, the fire imagery exemplified in the flame that burns greedily and the fire-eaters symbolize the passion for equality within women and their potential power. Therefore, the lines, "our windows moth our children to the flame of hearth not history," portrays the strength and power of women since they are the ones that their children run to in need of refuge. Consequently, it is implied that women have an eternal flame for equality and the desire to overcome societal limitations.
     In addition to the flame imagery, there is also symbolism of the wheel. This is demonstrated in the lines, "Our way of life has hardly changed since a wheel first whetted a knife." The wheel symbolizes all of the aspects within women through its spindles. Consequently, women are mothers, wives, sisters, friends, and so on. Thus, it is the woman acts as the center of the wheel, holding the spindles together. Consequently, it is the woman who keeps the world moving and holds it together.
     Moreover, the urgent tone of the poem exemplified in, "she's no fire-eater,
just my frosty neighbour coming home," refers to the wheel's symbolism. Just as the wheel is circular and moves in a continuous cycle, if women do not make efforts to strive for equality, then they will also be like the frosty neighbor. Accordingly, if women do not strive for influence and equality, then they will find themselves trapped in a traditional and restricting society.

  2004 by Janet Lam. All rights reserved