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Heroic

by Eavan Boland

Sex and history. And skin and bone.
And the oppression of Sunday afternoon.
Bells called the faithful to devotion.

I was still at school and on my own.
And walked and walked and sheltered from the rain.

The patriot was made of drenched stone.
His lips were still speaking. The gun
he held had just killed someone.

I looked up. And looked at hi again.
He stared past me without recognition.

I moved my lips and wondered how the rain
would taste if my tongue were made of stone.
And wished it was. And whispered so that no one
could hear it but him: make me a heroine


Eavan Boland

About this Poem:

In Boland's poem, the figure on the military monument stares past the female speaker "without recognition." The poem pays subtle tribute to the role of women in history, which too often goes unnoted and uncelebrated. In so doing, the poem suggests that we can all be heroes.

About the Poet:

Eavan Boland is one of the foremost voices in contemporary Irish literature. A native of Dublin, she currently teaches at Stanford University.

Eavan Boland, "Heroic" from The Lost Land (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1998). Copyright © 1998 by Eavan Boland. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
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