Bodies of Water in the Poetry of Eavan Boland (IRE) and Rhian Gallagher (NZ)


  • Emer Lyons University of Otago



Irish, Diaspora, Poetry, Catholic, Lesbian


In the poetry of Eavan Boland and second-generation Irish poet Rhian Gallagher, bodies of water are summoned to enact the ritual or vocation towards embodiment in the lyric. In this article, I argue that a Catholic upbringing influences how a poet treats the subject in lyric poetry, particularly bodies of women. Boland travels towards the body of her dying mother in “And Soul”, permeating every drop of water she encounters with the possibility of enlivening her mother. In “Gaze”, Gallagher searches for “something” missing in the view outside her window, something she finds in the gaze and body of her lesbian lover. Both poems are set in liminal spaces, allowing for the ritual of lyric embodiment with subjects seeking immortality through bodies of water. 

Author Biography

Emer Lyons, University of Otago

Emer Lyons is a postdoctoral fellow in Irish Studies at the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Otago. Her critical and creative writing has been published worldwide in Meridians, College Literature, The Journal of New Zealand Literature, Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly and more.  


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How to Cite

Lyons, E. (2021). Bodies of Water in the Poetry of Eavan Boland (IRE) and Rhian Gallagher (NZ). ABEI Journal, 23(2), 147-159.