The publication of Eavan Boland's previous book, Outside History: Selected Poems 1980-1990, established Boland as a significant presence in the contemporary American poetry world.
Boland follows her previous collection, Outside History: Selected Poems, 1980-1990 , by moving inside it with poems that plumb her individual history and that of Ireland. Arranged in three sections, the poetry describes an arc. The first poems capture moments rooted in the last century and, with their chronological distance, can seem remote. More immediate in tone and domestic in context are poems in the second section, where Boland seeks continuity in recollections of her childhood and experiences with her daughters: ``My hair was once like yours. / And the world / is less bitter to me / because you will retell the story'' (``Legends''). In the last poems, Boland examines her often conflicting perceptions of herself as woman and poet, observing in the long and well-sustained ``Anna Liffey'' that ``it will not matter / That I was a woman . . . / In the end / everything that burdened and distinguished me / will be lost in this: / I was a voice.'' In the best work here, exhibiting Boland's characteristic directness of syntax and emotion, the poet persuasively claims a place in a history, whether it is her country's, her family's or her own as a poet. (Apr.)