The features of the this poem are important to interpreting what Boland is saying, she uses end-rhyme. The tone of Bolands poetry must also be considered, the overall the tone is shocked, but that it is up to us to do something about it. There is a sense of deep hurt conveyed in the last line of the second stanza, ‘you dead’. The first stanza has a sad, regretful tone while there is anger in the use of the word‘murder’. The images of caring for a child in the second stanza are conveyed in a tone of tenderness. The background to the poem is that it was written in response to the death of a child killed in a Dublin bombing in May ’74.
Boland may also have been prompted by a newspaper photograph showing a fireman tenderly lifting a dead child from the debris "Sleep in a world your final sleep has woken. " This is the final line of the poem and it is one of hope and prayer. The initial image here is of the child waking up in a world where it will sleep peacefully and undisturbed, possibly heaven? As a poet she touches issues of concern and hopes that she can make a difference she cleverly points out that it is the adult’s job to teach the child, but in fact it is the child that has taught the adults a lesson.
We see a how Boland continues with the theme of war and violence "The war horse", this poem was written in the early 70's during the violence in northern Ireland. The context of this poem lies in the title. the war horse is a powerful horse ridden in war by a knight. In the poem the war horse is a large beast that has strayed from the traveller site. At first you may think that the poem is filled with bloody battles but the first two couplets eliminate the likelihood of this. She is comparing the horse to violence in Northern Ireland.
The horse intruding into the suburb she lives in, ‘like a rumor of war, huge, 'Threatening’ is like the intrusion of violence into Northern, and to a greater extent, Irish life. Boland even uses such words as ‘a maimed limb’ as comparisons to gardens uprooted to make the comparison more concrete. “I lift the window” As the poem continues Boland describes how she is left to observe the damage, "Only a rose which now will never climb.. only a crocus its bulbous head" The rose and crocus have both been destroyed, but the rose is ‘expendable’ life will continue with or without it.
We are able see what message Boland is trying to convey as she mentions the ‘Line of defence’ and the ‘volunteer’ that symbolise the rose and crocus. She is aware of having escaped violence and that she is now safe but she also knows that war involves ‘fierce commitment’. She speaks of a fear of commitment – a fear of the threat of war. Boland is making us ask the hard questions here, why should we care? Based on the above text it is clear to see how Boland is a valuable poet to Irish literature, she discusses relevant issues of the time and feels the need for change.
Boland's poetry is its link to her life. This including of a personal perspective in her poetry allows us to use her biographical details to understand and view the poem. In my own opinion that her views on life, war and death are relative to all eras, even though the poems are about the troubles the situations can be compared to war world wide whether its world war one, or the war in Iraq, everybody can learn from Bolands poetry. For these reasons I introduce you to the poetry of Eavan Boland.