Analysis of poem Inheritance by Eavan Boland

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About the Author

  • Questions of indentity - as an Irish woman, mother poet and exile-give rise to much of herpoetry
  • she is recognised as one of the foremost female voices of Irish literature 
  • When her family relocated to London she first encountered anti-Irish sentiment 
  • Her early work is informed by her expeiences as a young wife and mother, and her gorwing awareness of the troubled role of women in Irish history and culture 
  • Irish myth and history have remained important sources of inspiration ,her poems offering fresh perspectives on traditional themes 
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The poem / first two lines

  • Can be compared to Seamus Heaney 's poem 'Out of the Bag' as both poems are about what can be passed on
  • Through her poem ' Inheritance Boland explores the difference between history and the past 
  • she incoporates geneartions of women, political /historical and feminist ideas 

                                              First two lines 

  • 'I have been wondering' - passing on /personal intimate reflection thoughtfullness / legacy introverted /places 
  • ' what i have to leave behind ,to give to my daughters'  - matriarchical line 
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Next four lines - verse two and three

  • 'No good offering the view' - futillity - beauty of landscape 
  • 'between here and Three Rock Mountain' -  human features outside Dublin 
  • 'The ground I stood on was never really mine' - idea that it cannot be owned also idea of British lands ( the Troubles) 
  • 'It might not ever be theirs.'

                                                   In the third 

  • 'And gifts that were passed through generations -' - luxury 
  • 'silver and the fluid light left after silk-never given here.' - no sense of ownership 
  • language /reference 
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Verse Four

  • 'This is an island of waters, inland distances, with a history of want and wmomen who struggled' - poverty , maybe it hit women the hardest throughout history
  • 'to make the nothing which was all they had into something they could leave behind.' - emigration , lost indentiy, forgot , culture wiped away
  • 'I learned so little from them : the lace bobbin with its braided mesh, its oat-straw pillow and hte wheat-coloured shawl kitted in one season' -crasts exist 
  • looking back details of tradition - handcrafts not her sense of crafts she feels they are no longer relevant  in a suburbun environment 

                                    break between verse  - enjambement 

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Fifth Verse and Sixth verse

  • 'are all crafts I never had' - where is her identity as a modern woman ? 
  • 'and can never hand on.But.. '- cesura herelds change
  • 'awake ,alert and afraid' - alliteration
  • 'who turned and turned ;sick ,freful.' - faltering sound

next verse 

  • 'When dawn came I held my hand over the absence of fever,' - healing
  • 'ove skin which had stopped burning as if I knew the secrets ' -searching to connection to mothers throughout generations
  •  ' as if i understood them' - search for inheritance
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Final verse

  • 'and listened to the silence'
  • and though, I must have laarned that somewhere.' 
  • positive end to poem- she realises she can pass on what she has learnt 
  • not tangiable but still valuable 

asks question - what is there in Irish culture for women? 

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