Irish Famine memorial tablets

Lockdown Lights: Eavann Boland tribute

Celebrated poet Eavann Boland passed away during 2020. To mark her passing and to the reflect the Coronavirus lockdown reegulations, we selected her poem, Quarantine, as one of two poems we asked people to record themselves reading and send back to us. The followin film was presented and debuted at the Festival’s digital #LIF2020 launch on 15 Oct 2020.

Quarantine

Eavan Boland, born Dublin, Ireland 1944-died Dublin, Ireland 2020.

In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking—they were both walking—north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

From New Collected Poems by Eavann Boland.
Copyright © 2008 by Eavann Boland.
Reprinted by permission of W.W. Norton.
All rights reserved.


Lockdown Lights is an open source project, collecting community stories about people’s experience of the lockdown during the 2020 Coronavirus restrictions. The project was funded by the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Programme Covid-19 relief fund. We would like to thank all the participants and the Irish Government for their support.

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