The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
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
an exiled child in the crackling dusk of
the underworld, the stars blighted.Later
I walked out in a summer
searching for my daughter at bed-time.
When she came running I was ready
to make any bargain to keep her.
carried her back past whitebeams
and wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
But I was Ceres then and I knew
in store for every leaf
on every tree on that road.
Was inescapable for each one we passed.
And for me.
and the stars are hidden.
I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
my child asleep beside her teen magazines,
can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
The pomegranate!How did I forget it?
She could have come home and been safe
ended the story and all
our heart-broken searching but she reached
out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
out her hand and pulled down
the French sound for apple and
the noise of stone and the proof
that even in the place
at the heart of legend, in the midst
of rocks full of unshed tears
ready to be diamonds by the time
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.
suburb has cars and cable television.
The veiled stars are above ground.
It is another world.But what else
mother give her daughter but such
beautiful rifts in time?
If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
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
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
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.