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Eavan Boland
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Poetry Analysis

The Pomegranate
 
The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is
I can enter it anywhere.And have.
As a child in exile in
a city of fogs and strange consonants,
I read it first and at first I was
an exiled child in the crackling dusk of
the underworld, the stars blighted.Later
I walked out in a summer twilight
searching for my daughter at bed-time.
When she came running I was ready
to make any bargain to keep her.
I carried her back past whitebeams
and wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
But I was Ceres then and I knew
winter was in store for every leaf
on every tree on that road.
Was inescapable for each one we passed.
And for me.
It is winter
and the stars are hidden.
I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
my child asleep beside her teen magazines,
her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
The pomegranate!How did I forget it?
She could have come home and been safe
and ended the story and all
our heart-broken searching but she reached
out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
She put out her hand and pulled down
the French sound for apple and
the noise of stone and the proof
that even in the place of death,
at the heart of legend, in the midst
of rocks full of unshed tears
ready to be diamonds by the time
the story was told, a child can be
hungry.I could warn her.There is still a chance.
The rain is cold.The road is flint-coloured.
The suburb has cars and cable television.
The veiled stars are above ground.
It is another world.But what else
can a mother give her daughter but such
beautiful rifts in time?
If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
The legend will be hers as well as mine.
She will enter it.As I have.
She will wake up.She will hold
the papery flushed skin in her hand.
And to her lips.I will say nothing.
Taken

From:  http://www.poemhunter.com/p/m/poem.asp?poet=12097&poem=175078

 
Analysis
 
     This poem reflects Boland’s insistence on feminism as well as her Irish nationalism. Consequently, the daughter and mother have several roles symbolically. In terms of feminism, the mother states how the daughter is becoming stronger, wiser, more assertive, and most importantly, more independent. Therefore, the mother’s metaphor  of “winter [being] in store for every leaf on every tree…” regarding to how she was ready to “make any bargain to keep [the daughter]” foreshadows her daughter’s gateway into adulthood and independence as she is able to survive by eating a pomegranate. Thus, the daughter picks the pomegranate as opposed to “[the mother’s] heart-breaking search.”
     Likewise, the daughter and mother symbolize Ireland and its motherland, England. Consequently, the mother laments about her daughter’s feminism and independence. This in turn, symbolizes the national tension and constant struggle between Ireland and England over the Irish’s attempts to gain independence. The mother, also known as England, acknowledges how “the legend will be hers as well as mine. She will enter it. As I have. She will wake up.” Thus, England admits to the inevitability of Ireland’s passion for freedom, happiness, and justice. Similar to a daughter growing up, England admits that once Ireland changes, the daughter’s fate of rebellion and freedom is inevitable. Like the mother, the daughter uses legend to restore history which symbolizes Ireland restoring its history and state.

2004 by Janet Lam. All rights reserved



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