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Museum of Literature Ireland
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UCD Naughton Joyce Centre
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‘Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.’

1'21"

Eavan Boland’s poem ‘Quarantine’, published in her collection Code (Carcanet, 2001), addresses the horrors of the Irish famine of the 1840s through the tragic story of a husband and wife, and their final hours.

Written ‘as a reproach to the sentimental love poem’, the poem also reflects Boland’s belief that ‘one of the things that acquisition and the pursuit of wealth induces is amnesia’. Those who seek wealth, said Boland, ‘will not only forget, but want to forget, the levels of strength and survival and near-to-the-edge dispossession that we once had as a people’.

The poem, an extract of which features in MoLI’s Riverrun of Language, is read here by Nuala Whittle, a winner of the Poetry Aloud competition, which is organised annually by Poetry Ireland and the National Library of Ireland.

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