Friday, October 26, 2012

Poetry Friday--"Lace"

Eavan Boland signed a copy of her book, An Origin Like Water, Collected Poems 1967 - 1987 two weeks ago at the Dodge Poetry Festival. I've been slowly making my way through the volume and have found at least two that I've already shared on Poetry Fridays, either here, or at Random Noodling. But for today, I've chosen one that's new to me. It is one that recalled photographs from Lewis Hine in the Library of Congress's National Child Labor Committee Collection. The photos inspired me to write a poem and post, which you'll find here.

Captioned: Antoinette Fazzino, ten years old, makes Irish lace for collars and waists, after school. Her younger brother (by the stove) said, "Lace is too dam-cheap." Antoinette wears glasses. 303 E. 149th Street, N.Y. Location: New York, New York (State)
Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

by Eavan Boland

Bent over
the open notebook--

light fades out
making the trees stand out
and my room
at the back
of the house, dark.

In the dusk
I am still
looking for it—
the language that is


a baroque obligation
at the wrist
of a prince
in a petty court.
Look, just look
at the way he shakes out

the thriftless phrases,
the crystal rhetoric
of bobbined knots
and bosses:
a vagrant drift
of emphasis
to wave away an argument
or frame the hand
he kisses;
which, for all that, is still

what someone
in the corner
of a room;
in the dusk;
bent over
as the light was fading

lost their sight for.
Head over to the Round-Up being held at TeacherDance.



I'm Jet . . . said...

Oh my word.

I'm Jet . . . said...

Lace is fraught with so much meaning. In the 19th century, nuns in Ireland were as much social workers as anything.

They created schools (I'm thinking of Kenmare, in particular) where they taught boys to do decorative woodworking and plaster craft and taught girls to make lace.

Girls walked in from their farms and spent the day making lace in rooms with lots of windows (to save their eyesight). It lifted girls from their poverty gave them skills that they used to make their way in America, where many of them ended up. The nuns themselves hired artists to teach them artistic techniques, and the lace went on to win many notable awards.

Hand lace-making went away when machines started to do the job. In Kenmare, the craft is being saved from extinction by Nora Finnegan who learned it from the last Kenmare nun.

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

Such an introspective poem. One can feel as much as he/she can see with the words here...great job!

Mary Lee said...

Years ago, I took bobbin lace-making lessons. I can attest to the losing of sight!