The number of books I’ve read so far this year is embarrassingly small…like still in single digits. What I’ve lacked in quantity, I’ve been lucky enough to have made up for in the the quality.

Two poets I’ve never read before were brought to my attention. I read a collection of their work and now I think you should, too. They are Eavan Boland and Luise Glück.

Boland is an Irish poet and the collection I read, The Lost Land, was very much rooted in her heritage. I think her theme is centered in place and a type of mythology–or re-mythology of Ireland. As someone who already loves Ireland, it was easy to fall in love with, but it was her style that I connected to as well. It’s a sparse kind of narrative that I find simply captivating.

Here’s a poem from the collection:

The Lost Land by Eavan Boland

I have two daughters.

They are all I ever wanted from the earth.

Or almost all.

I also wanted one piece of ground:

One city trapped by hills. One urban river.
An island in its element.

So I could say mine. My own.
And mean it.

Now they are grown up and far away

and memory itself
has become an emigrant,
wandering in a place
where love dissembles itself as landscape:

Where the hills
are the colours of a child’s eyes,
where my children are distances, horizons:

At night,
on the edge of sleep,

I can see the shore of Dublin Bay.
Its rocky sweep and its granite pier.

Is this, I say
how they must have seen it,
backing out on the mailboat at twilight,

shadows falling
on everything they had to leave?
And would love forever?
And then

I imagine myself
at the landward rail of that boat
searching for the last sight of a hand.

I see myself
on the underworld side of that water,
the darkness coming in fast, saying
all the names I know for a lost land:

Ireland. Absence. Daughter.

Glück on the other hand seems to be in communion with God and nature and flowers and something else I could never quite put my finger on. Her collection The Wild Iris has a very otherworldly voice. Sometimes it’s like a person is speaking, other times it’s like nature is speaking and then it feels as if it’s God speaking. It did take me a second read through to really appreciate her style. What I’ve really come to appreciate about her work is the rhythms she creates in her poems.

Here’s a poem from the collection:

End of Winter by Louise Glück

Over the still world, a bird calls
waking solitary among black boughs.

You wanted to be born; I let you be born.
When has my grief ever gotten
in the way of your pleasure?

Plunging ahead
into the dark and light at the same time
eager for sensation

as though you were some new thing, wanting
to express yourselves

all brilliance, all vivacity

never thinking
this would cost you anything,
never imagining the sound of my voice
as anything but part of you—

you won’t hear it in the other world,
not clearly again,
not in birdcall or human cry,

not the clear sound, only
persistent echoing
in all sound that means good-bye, good-bye—

the one continuous line
that binds us to each other.

Have you discovered any new poets worth sharing?