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Eavan Boland: a generous friend - to poets and poetry alike

Niall MacMonagle pays tribute to a poet of great humanity and curious energy

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LYRIC VOICE: Eavan Boland

LYRIC VOICE: Eavan Boland

LYRIC VOICE: Eavan Boland

Asked how she would like to be remembered in literary history, Eavan Boland replied: "I would rather be in the unidentified chapter ... Because it's more likely to be the human one." And she mentioned "a terrible chapter" in Thoreau's book Cape Cod [1865].

"In it he finds an Irish shipwreck on the beach. And he finds them putting them into coffins from one of the famine ships from Galway, Brid and her sister, and her sister's children ... that is the imaginative area I feel for: not for the individual, romantic intelligence."

When Eavan Boland died last Monday aged 75, beyond the terrible shock and sadness, I remembered her as a friend and, more importantly, a selfless, extraordinarily generous friend to poets and poetry. And above all, I remembered her humanity. She had no ego. Instead, she brought to every situation a focused, rigorous and curious energy. In her poetry and prose, her high intelligence shone.