A Journey with Two Maps.

Author:Scollon, Teresa
Position:Book review

Eavan Boland (author); A JOURNEY WITH TWO MAPS; W.W. Norton & Co. (Nonfiction: Essays) 15.95 ISBN: 9780393342321

Byline: Teresa Scollon

"There is hardly anything so elusive," writes the celebrated Irish poet Eavan Boland, "as the way in which a poetic inheritance is sifted and re-arranged from one generation to the next." This collection of essays tracks and illuminates poetic inheritance, specifically the legacy of women poets and poetry that transcends or speaks back to poetic convention.

Boland shares her own poetic development freely, and her open tone makes it easy for the reader to accompany her as she explores poet after poet, excavating the intersections of personal and cultural history that created both the poet and her place in the canon. She translates a poem by the German poet Elizabeth LanggA[currency]sser, for example, and in the process tracks down the searing experiences that inform the poem's leaps. Her reexamination of the work and historical treatment of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and EibhlA-n NA- Chonaill results in a richer understanding of the poets, their work, and the process of translation that can hide poets from modern view.

In the second half of the book, the essays focus on particular poets, including those who seem to have been lost or discounted -- Edna St. Vincent Millay and Charlotte Mew. She illuminates lesser-known aspects of poets like Adrienne Rich, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, Denise Levertov, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Paula Meehan.

Boland is searching for a context for her own poetry, for a vocabulary that will articulate the sources of beauty and mystery in an ordinary life and not only in the sublime. She needs to...

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