"A Soldier's Son"

  1. What war(s) do you think the poem may be describing? What is the poem about?
  2. What is horrible and unexpected about the situation it describes?
  3. What are features of the poem's stanza form and rhythms? How do they represent its subject?
  4. What are some of the poem's images?
  5. Does the poem's difficult language have a purpose?

"The Gorgon Child"

  1. What is the poem's subject? To what myth does the title refer to?
  2. What happens in part I? How does the poet describe the experience of giving birth? What seems distressing or troubling to her?
  3. What change occurs in part II? Which images or descriptions convey the poet's point of view? What is the relation of mother and child in the final stanzas?
  4. How do parts I and II complement each other? What is the poem's stanza form? How does line length convey meaning?
  5. Why may the author have chosen not to employ rhyme? Are other features of repetition used in its place?
  6. Do you think this is a good poem? Is its subject matter or tone different from that of other poems you've read? Does anything about the poem's tone seem to reflect late-twentieth century tastes in expression?

"That the Science of Cartography Is Limited"

  1. What information does the poet's map fail to provide? Why does she blame a map for this omission rather than, say, a history book?
  2. What failures of omission does the poet consider relatively trivial? Which historical events trouble her?
  3. What is the significance of mentioning the period when the poet and her husband were first in love? What values do they seem to have shared?
  4. How would you describe the poem's rhythm? How does it differ from that of poems we have previously read? Why does the poem begin with a dash? What is the purpose of the single-line stanzas?

"The Dolls Museum in Dublin"

  1. What is represented by the metaphor of the "dolls museum"? What features of the dolls enable the poet to convey her view of Ireland's past?
  2. Describe the poem's stanza form, rhythm, and language. What is the effect of using commands? What are unusual features of the final stanza?
  3. What is meant by the claim that the dolls are "the hostages ignorance takes from time and ornament from destiny"? Why are the dolls "the present of the past"?
  4. What is the effect of claiming that the dolls do not feel or know this difference: "But not feel it. And not know it." What tone do these statements give to the poem's end?
  5. Why is the dolls' stoniness important? Can you infer from this and the preceding poem anything about Boland's view of history?

"The Pomegranate"

  1. What is the myth of the pomegranate? How has it previously affected the poet's life?
  2. How is the myth updated to apply to her adolescent daughter? What motivates the daughter to eat the fruit?
  3. Can you find a pattern to the poem's rhythm? Its balancing of words and lines?
  4. Why doesn't the speaker warn her daughter not to eat the fruit? What does the poet think is necessary in order to experience life fully? What seems to be her relation to her daughter?
  5. Do you think this is a good poem on motherhood? On the basis of "The Gorgon Child" and "The
  6. Pomegranate," what emotions do you think Boland felt parents were likely to experience?

Are there ways in which Boland's poems resemble others we have read so far? Which elements of her work are new?