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Against Love Poetry: Poems

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These powerful poems are written against the perfections and idealizations of traditional love poetry. The man and woman in these poems are husband and wife, custodians of ordinary, aging human love. They are not figures in a love poem. Time is their essential witness, and not their destroyer. A New York Times Notable Book and a Newsday Favorite Book of 2001.


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These powerful poems are written against the perfections and idealizations of traditional love poetry. The man and woman in these poems are husband and wife, custodians of ordinary, aging human love. They are not figures in a love poem. Time is their essential witness, and not their destroyer. A New York Times Notable Book and a Newsday Favorite Book of 2001.

30 review for Against Love Poetry: Poems

  1. 4 out of 5

    Domhnall

    Boland uses the first half of this collection to set out her thoughts on the nature of love, and the remaining poems display her mastery of diverse topics. She uses her Irish identity to good effect, as also her experience of migration, and it is always clear that the poet is a woman with things to say from that perspective; the collection as a whole has the air of a mature reflection over a life lived fully. Her poems are serious and often profound, her ideas are original and quite inspirationa Boland uses the first half of this collection to set out her thoughts on the nature of love, and the remaining poems display her mastery of diverse topics. She uses her Irish identity to good effect, as also her experience of migration, and it is always clear that the poet is a woman with things to say from that perspective; the collection as a whole has the air of a mature reflection over a life lived fully. Her poems are serious and often profound, her ideas are original and quite inspirational, her imagery is kaleidoscopic and she can tell fantastic stories in the most simple terms. She has a very accessible style: nothing is dry and many poems are light hearted. Most of all, her poetry is gobsmackingly effective. I am so delighted that I stumbled upon this beautiful collection.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    Published in 2001 and therefore stuck in my To Read pile for over a decade. Shame on me: it’s a fate the poems didn’t deserve. Against Love Poetry is a mere slip of a collection, divided into two sections, “Marriage” and “Code.” The first section is a single, eleven poem sequence. The second section holds sixteen individual poems thematically linked not just to each other but to “Marriage” as well. So, the title. Ms. Boland is against the feverish strand of romantic poetry that is all roman candl Published in 2001 and therefore stuck in my To Read pile for over a decade. Shame on me: it’s a fate the poems didn’t deserve. Against Love Poetry is a mere slip of a collection, divided into two sections, “Marriage” and “Code.” The first section is a single, eleven poem sequence. The second section holds sixteen individual poems thematically linked not just to each other but to “Marriage” as well. So, the title. Ms. Boland is against the feverish strand of romantic poetry that is all roman candle passion, that ignores the deep measure of love that history takes on a relationship. Similarly, she rejects the notion that some lives, as in most lives, are not fit subjects for poetry, lacking the integrity, reality, life that we seem to deny to mainstream lives—too conventional, too risk free, too boring. The code word for that is variations of suburban. But let’s stick to love and marriage. The first poem sets the tone: “Hester Bateman made a marriage spoon / And then subjected it to violence. / Chased, beat it. Scarred it and marked it. / All in the spirit of our darkest century.” Bateman is an 18th century English silversmith who made the spoon for an Irish couple. Later it states: “Art and marriage: now a made match.” The poem concludes: “History frowns on them: yet in its gaze / They join their injured hands and make their vows.” This sets up the second poem, the collection’s title poem, which concludes, “It is to mark the contradictions of a daily love that I have written this. Against love poetry.” What follows is a mix of portraits that shine under the frowning face of history—personal, national and cultural—that nonetheless provides testimony to love and love’s commitment. Here is one randomly chosen from the book’s second section called “Irish Poetry”: We always knew there was no Orpheus in Ireland, No music stored at the doors of hell. No god to make it. No wild beasts to weep and lie down to it. But I remember an evening when the sky was underworld-dark at four, when ice had seized every part of the city and we sat talking— the air making a wreath for our cups of tea. And you began to speak of our own gods. Our heartbroken pantheon. No Attic light for them and no Herodotus. But thin rain and dogfish and the stopgap of the sharp cliffs they spent their winters on. And the pitch-black Atlantic night: how the sound of a bird’s wing in a lost language sounded. You made the noise for me. Made it again. Until I could see the flight of it: suddenly the silvery lithe rivers of the southwest lay down in silence and the savage acres no one could predict were all at ease, soothed and quiet and listening to you, as I was. As if to music, as if to peace.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gharonk

    eavan boland - the genuine irish poet with the irish style of writing. we can found her irish mark-ups in several poems. she more than adequate to impress me in the first sentences. shamrock, the durrow, all are in compact shape unfinish us in final world. i thirsty of her words in the end of her poet. absolutely enigmatic

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Barry

    The perfect combination of what can be done with words and what can be said with words while seeming effortless and capturing the ordinary.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Worth it just to read "Once": "The lovers in an Irish story never had good fortune. They fled the king's anger. They lay on the forest floor. They kissed at the edge of death." Worth it just to read "Once": "The lovers in an Irish story never had good fortune. They fled the king's anger. They lay on the forest floor. They kissed at the edge of death."

  6. 5 out of 5

    h

    "Code" is a standout for me. enjoyable, but hard to imagine myself coming back to these poems. "Code" is a standout for me. enjoyable, but hard to imagine myself coming back to these poems.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leesa

    Against Love Poetry: Poems proved to be a most enjoyable read. I am now looking forward to reading all the books by Eavan Boland and on a final note I believe that this story would also make an excellent movie.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Thomas

    Boland is a master at sparse language and deep emotion.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mable

    Against Love Poetry: Poems keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ludie

    I recommend this to readers who enjoy fast pace storyline and sensational feel.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Siria

    This is such a finely-crafted collection of poems, a meditation on the ordinariness of love, on the tension that exists between "womanhood" and the "servitudes of custom." Boland's observations are keen, picking apart not love but the conventions of love poetry, the expectations that lie behind relationships. 'Irish Poetry', 'Thanked Be Fortune' and especially 'Quarantine' are the stand-out poems for me—'Quarantine' startled me into near tears. I'm a generation or so further removed from the Fam This is such a finely-crafted collection of poems, a meditation on the ordinariness of love, on the tension that exists between "womanhood" and the "servitudes of custom." Boland's observations are keen, picking apart not love but the conventions of love poetry, the expectations that lie behind relationships. 'Irish Poetry', 'Thanked Be Fortune' and especially 'Quarantine' are the stand-out poems for me—'Quarantine' startled me into near tears. I'm a generation or so further removed from the Famine than Boland is, but it's still a part of the landscape I grew up in, and Boland's writing about it always has a fierce power for me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    courtney

    i love that this collection of poems about love and the transformations of love -- the surface and texture of it -- is entitled "Against Love Poetry" because it is. the collection stands against the thousands of poems about love and its evanescence, its fragility, and its fickleness. boland writes about the dangers of love and the risks of love, but more about the shifting, swaying, unlocatable, let alone undefinable center of love. it transforms and transforms. and boland shows us the passage o i love that this collection of poems about love and the transformations of love -- the surface and texture of it -- is entitled "Against Love Poetry" because it is. the collection stands against the thousands of poems about love and its evanescence, its fragility, and its fickleness. boland writes about the dangers of love and the risks of love, but more about the shifting, swaying, unlocatable, let alone undefinable center of love. it transforms and transforms. and boland shows us the passage of time and the transformations of life and love in small and powerful ways. a spoon, a plate, a desk, the color of her hair. beautiful. i read this woman's writing and i need to hug someone.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Delgado

    Boland knows how to subvert the conventions of love poetry. She positions herself outside the male gaze and desire into a historical place of invisibility and visibility at her own terms. ....................................................................................................... To love a person, a country, even when that gender and that country is oppressive becomes a paradox. For Bojan, it becomes a poetry exploration of ontological proportions.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Boland's poetry is always lovely, and this book is particularly rooted in "place." My favorite from this book is "Code," which says it is "An Ode to Grace Murray Hopper 1906-88 maker of a computer compiler and verifier of COBOL." I love the comparison between writing poetry and writing computer code, how both are creating a world. Boland's poetry is always lovely, and this book is particularly rooted in "place." My favorite from this book is "Code," which says it is "An Ode to Grace Murray Hopper 1906-88 maker of a computer compiler and verifier of COBOL." I love the comparison between writing poetry and writing computer code, how both are creating a world.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    senior thesis

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Loved this collection! "Quarantine" is a heartbreakingly beautiful poem and should be read by everyone. Loved this collection! "Quarantine" is a heartbreakingly beautiful poem and should be read by everyone.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mei

    Because I read her poems in this book, Eavan Boland has become my favourite poet.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    The poems about her marriage are particularly powerful.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    Update: 5 Stars. Reread this collection and appreciated it even more.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shaindel

    Beautiful, beautiful look at love, in all sorts of terms. Perhaps the most poignant poem in this book is "Quarantine." Gorgeous work. Beautiful, beautiful look at love, in all sorts of terms. Perhaps the most poignant poem in this book is "Quarantine." Gorgeous work.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mona

    3.5 stars. Favorites include: "Once"; "Thanked Be Fortune"; "Making Money"; and "Code". 3.5 stars. Favorites include: "Once"; "Thanked Be Fortune"; "Making Money"; and "Code".

  22. 5 out of 5

    Padraic

    To my mind, Ireland's (well, California's) premier poet. That includes Seamus. To my mind, Ireland's (well, California's) premier poet. That includes Seamus.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Read SQT's copy Read SQT's copy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joe Gitchell

  26. 5 out of 5

    Raymond Neal

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ian MacPherson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rinzu Rajan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kaija

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tom Falcone

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