Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Poetry... What Does It Make You Think?

In my modern British Literature class we have been studying various authors, many novels and countless pieces of poetry.  As such I have had to analyze many a stanza this year.  I am submitting an assignment that is worth very little, just for bonus marks really, which has to do with a poem entitled "Anorexic" written by Eavan Boland.

I'd like to share this 300 word essay type paragraph with you along with the poem itself so that if you chose to do so you may analyze it yourself and let me know what you think of my critique.  Please don't be too harsh on me though :D  Remember to comment on here or e-mail me whatever responses to have to this piece of poetry and/or to my simple analysis. 

The question that was asked of me in this assignment was:  
Focusing on  Eavan Boland’s “Anorexic,” discuss how the speaker makes use of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. How and/or why does the poem rewrite Genesis? (Keep it in mind as you read the poem..)

Anorexic by  Eavan Boland
Flesh is heretic.
My body is a witch.
I am burning it.
Yes I am torching
her curves and paps and wiles.
They scorch in my self denials.
ow she meshed my head
in the half-truths
of her fevers
till I renounced
milk and honey
and the taste of lunch.
I vomited
her hungers.
Now the bitch is burning.
I am starved and curveless.
I am skin and bone.
She has learned her lesson.
Thin as a rib
I turn in sleep.
My dreams probe
a claustrophobia
a sensuous enclosure.
How warm it was and wide
once by a warm drum,
once by the song of his breath
                                   and in his sleeping side.                                   
Only a little more, 
only a few more days
sinless, foodless,
I will slip
back into him again
as if I had never been away.
Caged so
I will grow
angular and holy
past pain,
keeping his heart
such company
as will make me forget
in a small space
the fall
into forked dark,
into python needs
heaving to hips and breasts
and lips and heat
and sweat and fat and greed. 
My Assignment was to answer the above posted question about how the speaker uses Genesis and
 how and or why the author the author has re-written the story of Genesis. It is as follows:
Eavan Boland’s “Anorexic” and the Myth of Genesis
       In Eavan Boland’s “Anorexic,” the speaker makes use of Genesis, the first book of the Bible to equate this myth with the ever present history of female repression in society.  The use of language in the poem strongly alludes to the story of the fall and the original sin committed by Eve in the Garden of Eden.  In the lines “thin as a rib” and “in his sleeping side” it is shown that the speaker is envisioning their self as the rib out of which God created Eve, going back into Adams side.  The woman/rib wants to go back to the man, to have the thin bone renter the body as a way of changing the past and allowing women to become sinless again.  The author uses the lines “sinless, foodless” to describe the thoughts which accompany anorexia and as juxtaposition for the rest of the poem pushing forth the myth of women being held responsible for the “fall of man” due to eating forbidden fruit.  The author uses specific language to present the speakers wishes to forget “the fall/ into forked dark, into python needs” and to renounce the “hips and breasts and lips” that make her the embodiment of temptation and sin.  Boland in a way rewrites Genesis using the eating disorder Anorexia as a means to cast off the female body therefore ridding the female self of Eve’s original sin.  If she can become non-gendered then there is no temptation and man will not fall from grace.  This rewriting also demonstrates the universal and ever present self loathing that females are taught feel by religious dominator's as well as the struggle women have always faced to re-attain their equality with men that could only happen through the erasing of Original Sin and the replacement of the rib into the body.      

Works Cited: Boland, Eavan.  "Anorexic" Selected Poems.  Dublin: Carcanet, 1989. Print. 

So Please let me know what you all think of both the poem and my small analysis.. I know it isn't perfect or much of a piece to read but it will do for my TA and I hope it will do for you.  Feel free to comment on here and/or leave me an e-mail if you'd like to discuss it in further detail or you have something negative to say  
( because I would appreciate it if you did criticize me in private.. thanks :D). My e-mail address as always is



Anonymous said...

Like it! Neat poem, and I'm not one for much affinity towards poetry, usually.

once by a warm drum,
once by the song of his breath
and in his sleeping side.

literally in his rib cage, by his heart, by his lungs

python needs - reference to python, serpent, python needs - the wanting to sin?

and milk and honey - ok, so that's in Exodus, but still, very Pentateuch-y! Tell that one to Aia.

lots of love from us at 6:59am
A (&S who is still asleep)

Cristina Bilich said...

Tyler Pohrte- if and when you see this, feel free to e-mail me would love to stay in contact. just e-mail me at