Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Necessity for Irony by Eavan Boland

Painting by Toulouse Lautrec.


The Necessity for Irony
By Eavan Boland

On Sundays,
when the rain held off,
after lunch or later,
I would go with my twelve year old
daughter into town,
and put down the time
at junk sales, antique fairs.

There I would
lean over tables,
absorbed by
lace, wooden frames,
glass. My daughter stood
at the other end of the room,
her flame-colored hair
obvious whenever—
which was not often—

I turned around.
I turned around.
She was gone.
Grown. No longer ready
to come with me, whenever
a dry Sunday
held out its promises
of small histories. Endings.

When I was young
I studied styles: their use
and origin. Which age
was known for which
ornament: and was always drawn
to a lyric speech, a civil tone.
But never thought
I would have the need,
as I do now, for a darker one:

Spirit of irony,
my caustic author
of the past, of memory,—

and of its pain, which returns
hurts, stings—reproach me now,
remind me
that I was in those rooms,
with my child,
with my back turned to her,
searching—oh irony!—
for beautiful things.

"The Necessity for Irony" by Eavan Boland, from The Lost Land.
I highly recommend Ms. Boland's anthology, "New Collected Poems" which is where I read this perfect poem just last week.  Her poetry is spectacular.  Ironically, I heard it read on the "Writer's Almanac" segment on NPR this morning, too, so I assumed it wanted to be here.  Synchronicity for a rainy morning. 
I awoke after dreaming that I had died and my body was being cremated (as I so wish) and letters, words, sentences, stories were wafting up into the sky (instead of smoke) from my body.  It was a spectacular dream, with no fear or sadness.  Every book, poem, word that I had read was floating into the sky and my spirit with them.  :-)  I love that dream supremely.  It made me very happy.  xo
"Let life be as beautiful as summer flowers
And death as beautiful as autumn leaves."
~Rabindranath Tagore
I love you all,
Books I'm reading this week:
"Offshore" by Penelope Fitzgerald
"The Shining" by Stephen King (a re-read before starting the sequel, "Doctor Sleep").
"New Collected Poems" by  Eavan Boland
"The Weight of Small Things" by Sherri Wood Emmons


erin said...

gorgeous dream, marion. perfection)))

and the poem. why is it that it is so difficult to know (to KNOW) in the moment what it is that we need to know? tonight my children are ten kinds of crazy, demanding of me audience in all sorts of acrobatics. at one point i had to escape for a moment. i drove out of town and stopped alongside the river. it was purity there. silence. and then i listened to a choir song on my way home and repeated it, putting my head back on the car's seat and listening to it once more in my driveway. out my children tiptoed in sock feet. click. in the car with me. stifling laughter.

i want to KNOW what it is i have and i fear even though i do, it is not nearly enough knowledge.


James Owens said...

I love the poem and, as always, Boland's perfect sense of balance -- just enough irony for poignancy, but never enough to feel strained (and I gave her New Collected Poems to erin for her birthday :-)

... but that's not what I want to talk about. You're getting ready for Doctor Sleep!! (And what a wise idea, re-reading The Shining in preparation.) This book is an event, one I've been on hooks for for months -- and I am half-afraid it will go awry somehow ... but I am planning a full day for it next week -- I'll have snacks and drinks and an otherwise empty slate for the day and spend hours immersed and lost to myself, hoping for the same sort of entry into a vivid and different world that King used to give me thirty years ago. And now, I will think of you stepping through the same door. Maybe I'll see you in Derry! :-) I'd love to know what you think of it.

Kelly said...

What a fascinating dream!!

I'm currently into the James Herriot books. Loving them!

Serena said...

Oh, my gosh, what a beautiful piece of poetry that is! And your dream -- nothing less than spectacular. I think I wouldn't mind "going" if I could go out like that. Amazing!