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How poet Eavan Boland expanded the horizon of Irish writing

Eavan Boland, who died this week, made domestic life an essential topic for modern poetry and turned herself into a role model for future generations, writes Rosie Lavan

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Inspiration: One of the many ways in which Eavan served poetry, tirelessly, was through teaching

Inspiration: One of the many ways in which Eavan served poetry, tirelessly, was through teaching

Great friend: Mary Robinson

Great friend: Mary Robinson

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Inspiration: One of the many ways in which Eavan served poetry, tirelessly, was through teaching

Eavan Boland knew what it meant to feel you don't belong. She was born in Dublin in 1944, but during her childhood, her father's work as a diplomat took the family to London, where he served as the first Irish ambassador to Britain, then to New York, where he was the Irish representative to the United Nations. Those early years away from Ireland left her with an exile's understanding of distance, detachment and loss.

One of her first homes was a "huge, compartmentalised" house in Belgravia, tucked in behind Buckingham Palace, where the Irish Embassy is based. "I never believed I belonged there," she recalled in an interview in 1993. That rootlessness was to become a source of some of the abiding concerns of her poetry. "Some of the feelings I recognise as having migrated into themes I keep going back to - exile, types of estrangement, a relation to objects - began there," she said.


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