No Longer Silent: Voicing Female Sexuality and Countering Irish Poetic Tradition in Eavan Boland's in her Own Image

Vesna Ukic Kosta


In her 1980 volume In Her Own Image, Eavan Boland tackles the “dark sides” of the female body such as anorexia, menstruation, striptease, or domestic violence. Boland‟s lyric speaker in these poems is burdened both by Catholic moral doctrines which condemn female flesh as sinful and the images of asexual and voiceless beauties of Irish poetic tradition. Nevertheless, she speaks out openly and shamelessly about her body and various issues linked to her sexuality. Articulating ”taboo” subjects that her speakers so intensely experience, Boland deconstructs the, up to that time, “appropriate” image of Irish womanhood in both Irish poetry and Irish society. Experimenting with short jagged lines and short elliptical sentences, the poet allows her female speaker much greater freedom in conveying her sexuality and expressing anger towards the limiting social norms of Irish society. Boland is thus not only ready to confront the taboos still rooted in Irish society towards the end of the 20th century but is also ready to subvert them via the assertive lyric “I” of her poems.

Keywords: Eavan Boland, In Her Own Image, female body, sexuality, Irish, poetic tradition.

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