“Priestess or sacrifice?” Domestic Tasks and Poetic Craft in Eavan Boland’s poetry


  • Virginie Trachsler Université Sorbonne Nouvelle




Eavan Boland, Poetry, Houseworking, Painting


This article looks at the relationship between housework and poetry in Eavan Boland’s poetry. Like many other women poets of her generation, Boland had an ambivalent relationship to the domestic, as she was well aware of the dangerous tendency to confine women’s poetry to the domestic realm. My intention in this article is to show how she modified the woman’s poet relationship to the “domestic muse”. Drawing on poems taken mainly but not exclusively from her two collections published in the early 1980s, In Her Own Image and Night Feed, and placing her poetry in dialogue both with her critical writing of the time and with two of her main American influences, Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich, this article argues that Boland considered domestic routine as enabling her poetic craft rather than hindering it. Housework provided a model for poetic work and allowed the poet to bridge the gap between poetic craft and other crafts, such as painting, which was linked to her artist-mother. Eavan Boland’s aim was to make the domestic poem political and, by doing so, she changed the landscape of Irish poetry and women’s poetry.

Author Biography

Virginie Trachsler, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle

Virginie Trachsler is a PhD candidate at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, she is preparing a dissertation under the supervision of Professor Clíona Ní Ríordáin. Provisionally entitled “Ambassadors to the silent worlds: the writing of objects in the poetry of Irish women poets”, this research project focuses on the poetry of Eavan Boland, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paula Meehan, Vona Groarke, Sinéad Morrissey and Doireann Ní Ghríofa. She completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, while also spending a year as a Language Assistant at Trinity College Dublin and one as a French Lectrice in Oxford.


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How to Cite

Trachsler, V. (2021). “Priestess or sacrifice?” Domestic Tasks and Poetic Craft in Eavan Boland’s poetry. ABEI Journal, 23(2), 161-176. https://doi.org/10.37389/abei.v23i2.197760