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The Lost Land: Poems

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"A poet at the peak of her power . . . one of Ireland's greatest and among the best writing in English anywhere."― Booklist In The Lost Land , Eavan Boland "is intensely engaged with the ancient bardic lineage of her homeland, giving her poems an ineluctable moral gravity. . . . Her poems offer a curative gift of merciful vision to a country blinded by its own blood and pain, as her narrators wait more or less patiently in their 'difficult knowledge' for the healing of their country's wounds" ( San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle ).

68 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1998

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About the author

Eavan Boland

70 books142 followers
Born in Dublin in 1944, Eavan Boland studied in Ireland, London and New York. Her first book was published in 1967. She taught at Trinity College, University College Dublin, Bowdoin College, the University of Iowa, and Stanford University. A pioneering figure in Irish poetry, Boland's works include The Journey and other poems (1987), Night Feed (1994), The Lost Land (1998) and Code (2001). Her poems and essays appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Kenyon Review and American Poetry Review. She was a regular reviewer for the Irish Times. She was married to the novelist Kevin Casey.

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5 stars
66 (34%)
4 stars
74 (39%)
3 stars
35 (18%)
2 stars
12 (6%)
1 star
2 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews
Profile Image for Kirsty.
2,689 reviews177 followers
January 8, 2018
I read this for my Around the World in 80 Books challenge, choosing it for the country of Ireland. To my knowledge, I had not read anything of Boland's before, but have heard only good things about her poetry. I found this collection, which encompasses the history and archaeology of Ireland, quite by chance online, and started it immediately. Each poem is quite different, but all are interlinked due to either themes or phrasing; the collection is thus wonderfully coherent, and builds a wonderfully rich picture of Ireland. I really enjoy Boland's writing if this is anything to go by.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,374 reviews2,246 followers
March 20, 2021

Head of a woman. Half-life of a nation.
Coarsely-cut blackthorn walking stick.
Old Tara brooch.
And bog oak.
A harp and a wolfhound on an ashtray.

All my childhood
I took you for the truth.

I see you now for what you are.

My ruthless images. My simulacra.
Anti-art: a foul skill
traded by history
to show a colony

the way to make pain a souvenir.

Profile Image for Darrell.
20 reviews
September 25, 2012
So I thought the first half of this collection where the speaker applies some of the symbol of Ireland to herself (not necessarily her upbringing) were really well rendered poems. "Imago" is my favorite poem in this collection as it turns the collection to a more visceral self exploration.

However, the collection loses bite in the second part "The Lost Land" where I feel the poems get a little too sentimental. Maybe it's just me, but the whole daughter and mother dichotomy (and of course the "motherland" to child dichotomy) was written well by Boland in "The Pomegranate" which gives a new perspective on the dichotomy.

I feel that the poems lament about the dichotomy a good 1/3 of the collection. It's a shame because the first part could've taken this collection to another place (rather than relationship). An interesting read.
Profile Image for Antonio Delgado.
1,372 reviews40 followers
September 16, 2021
Boland challenges the idea of nostos. Her poems express the sentiments of belonging to words, to literature. The past, part of that literature, is constantly transformed and created with the acknowledgement of its own mythologies.
Death still speaks even before they are born. Several generations of Boland’s family history entwined with the history of Ireland and its current present. Boland has a way to express time in historical terms through the lens of few representative places and life stages: the countryside, the city, the domestic life, childhood, travels, the real and mythological (which are bounded) and the imaginary.
Author 5 books3 followers
July 8, 2011
Not as strong as other collections I have read by her but still enjoyable for the subtly of her growing self-awareness and the power conferred by such awareness to challenge the influences that have shaped her. I appreciate her tenuous exploration of how colonization as one of those an influence still effects a sense of nostalgia and bitterness, and maybe sorrow and guilt. This small volume is instructive in how Boland inscribes herself in the history of Ireland as an inhabitant AND an emigrant, as one in the march of generations of daughters, an important perspective she develops more fully and adheres to in her later writings.
Profile Image for Casey.
722 reviews59 followers
May 14, 2007
This was one of my professors in college. When I lived in Ireland and told people this, it was like I said I once made out with Brad Pitt.

I like the poems here. They are often so intimate that I feel as if I am intruding. The longer works are also great.
February 28, 2023
were these poems really good? yeah.
will this book forever be tainted by this god awful poetry project? double yeah.
3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Robert Beveridge.
2,402 reviews155 followers
January 22, 2008
Eavan Boland, The Lost Land (Norton, 1998)

Irish poet Eavan Boland may be one of the most critically acclaimed and much-lauded unknown poets in the world. She's served two terms as the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University, won the Lannan Award, curated poetry exhibits, published eight books of poetry and one of prose to the delight of critics everywhere, had poetry appear in all three of the great triumvirate of American poetry magazines (The New Yorker, Poetry, and The American Poetry Review), and yet, somehow, when the name comes up, even many of the most astute and well-read poets cock their heads like dogs trying to learn a new command. Why this is, I've no idea. But it could have something to do with the poetry itself.

Don't get me wrong. Obviously, if the editors of the Three Best Poetry Magazines in America™ are thrilled with Boland's poetry, the rest of us would be heathenish rabble to criticize. And yet, while reading through The Lost Land, it dawned on me that Boland likes to use short sentences. Very short. A lot. In every poem. (You get the idea.) Her subject matter is almost always thought-provoking and fresh, the presentation of them impressionist, minimal, and often sublime. But then some those short sentences that transform the thing from a gentle flow into the rapids.

"I have two daughters.

They are all I ever wanted from the earth.

Or almost all."
("The Lost Land")

It's as if Boland is trying to replicate a pattern of speech that grates on the nerves. Which, in small doses, can be a powerful statement, but in a book-length collection, where it's used frequently, it does get annoying.

Still, that's not a reason to completely disparage the book. Boland's work does have a compelling nature to it, a method of expression that keeps the pages turning and is, in fact, quite impressive. With a bit better flow control, this would be perfect stuff. ** ½
Profile Image for Susan.
1,452 reviews26 followers
October 24, 2018
Just as I was musing over Irish history and how similarities in language can disguise cultural differences, by chance I picked up this book with its poems of loss, dislocation, and longing. In particular, the twelve poems in the first section explore Irish history and identity from the poet’s perspective with insight, clarity, and delicacy. But my favorite was the extended, graceful metaphor of ‘The Blossom’ about her maturing daughter.

“What is a colony/ if not the brutal truth/ that when we speak/ the graves open. / And the dead walk?” Witness

“...But outside/ my window/ a summer day is beginning. Apple trees/ appear, one by one. Light is pouring/ into the promise of fruit.” Ceres Looks at the Morning

“‘Beautiful land’ I whispered. But the roads/ stayed put. Stars froze over the suburb./ Shadows iced up. Nothing moved./ Except my hand across the page. And these words.” Whose?
221 reviews6 followers
January 19, 2016
A beautiful collection of poems by Irish poet Eavan Boland. It explores the themes of nationality, identity, and colony, from both the point of view of the colonizer and the colonized. This collection should be read like a novel, starting at page one and proceeding to the end, as the poems really do build on one another. Though each works individually, the whole here is truly greater than the sum of its parts. I loved this book.
Profile Image for Christina M Rau.
Author 13 books26 followers
August 28, 2015
Reading Eavan Boland takes me into a world of lush greenery stuck in the rain. I always feel like I'm slogging through drizzle somewhere in Ireland, contemplating why words mean what they mean, how they go together, and how they fall apart. The Lost Land does this exactly. It is typical Boland, and I like the familiarity.
Profile Image for Elizabeth  .
387 reviews73 followers
March 10, 2010
Some really striking imagery, but it felt one-note/obsessive to me; the Irish colonization is an entire book's worth of pain? To a modern woman? (This was published in 1998 or so.) This is not me doubting her experience, this is me being surprised by her experience. Or something.
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,447 reviews66 followers
September 26, 2016
While I didn’t enjoy this collection as much as A Woman Without a Country, The Lost Land is still a beautiful, thoughtful collection of poems. They straddle that wonderful line of being both intimate and universal. Recommended.
Profile Image for katharine.
9 reviews
February 1, 2016
Far and away, Eavan Boland is my favourite living poet. This collection of hers about her Irish homeland and heritage is stunning. It is worth every word.
Profile Image for Jude-laure Denis.
5 reviews3 followers
February 25, 2013
I am in love with Eavan Boland. She is a masterful poet, whose images dig way down into my soul to connect me to her experience and view of the world around her.
1 review1 follower
May 15, 2013
Brilliant. I can't believe I haven't heard of her before now.
Profile Image for Sarah.
633 reviews3 followers
October 26, 2014
Not my favorite collection by the author, but lovely nonetheless. An interesting mix of Irish history, family history, and mythology.
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews

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