'Anorexic' by Eavan Boland
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Flesh is heretic.
My body is a witch.
I am burning it.
Yes I am torching
ber curves and paps and wiles.
They scorch in my self denials.
How she meshed my head
in the half-truths
of her fevers
till I renounced
milk and honey
and the taste of lunch.
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 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
I will slip
back into him again
as if I had never been away.
I will grow
angular and holy
keeping his heart
as will make me forget
in a small space
into forked dark,
into python needs
heaving to hips and breasts
and lips and heat
and sweat and fat and greed.
Submitted by Jenna Morris
Editor 1 Interpretation
Anorexic by Eavan Boland: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Are you familiar with Eavan Boland's "Anorexic?" This classic poem is a powerful piece of literature that explores the theme of body image and the societal pressure on women to conform to unrealistic beauty standards. Boland masterfully crafts a raw and emotional portrait of a woman struggling with an eating disorder, and her words paint a vivid image of the physical and mental toll that such a condition can take.
"Anorexic" is a sonnet, with fourteen lines divided into two stanzas, each with its own distinct tone and theme. The first stanza, consisting of eight lines, describes the speaker's daily routine and her obsession with her weight:
Bare-boned and starving.
Their words into your skin, you will
long to be a god.
In some violent windstorm.
But you are not a god.
You are simply a woman.
Hungry, in pain.
Bare-boned and starving.
The repetition of "Bare-boned and starving" at the beginning and end of the stanza creates a sense of desperation and hopelessness, emphasizing the speaker's physical and emotional state. The line "Their words into your skin, you will / long to be a god" highlights the external pressure placed on women by society and media to look a certain way, to be thin and flawless. The use of the word "violent" in "some violent windstorm" further emphasizes the pain and struggle that comes with this desire for perfection.
The second stanza, consisting of six lines, shifts the focus to the speaker's reflection in a mirror:
You will seek
Your image in mirrors.
To catch your reflection
But you can't.
You have no self.
The repetition of "You" in the first three lines creates a sense of isolation and detachment, reinforcing the idea that the speaker has lost touch with her sense of self. The line "You have no self" is a powerful indictment of the eating disorder that has consumed the speaker's life, stripping her of her identity and leaving her lost and alone.
"Anorexic" is a deeply personal and introspective poem, exploring the speaker's struggle with an eating disorder and the toll that it takes on her mind and body. The poem is not just a commentary on societal pressures placed on women to conform to beauty standards, but also a critique of the medical establishment's failure to adequately address mental health issues.
The use of the sonnet form is significant, as it is traditionally associated with love and romantic themes. Boland subverts this convention by using the form to explore a darker theme, one that is not typically associated with sonnets. By doing so, she challenges readers to rethink the traditional associations of poetic forms and to recognize the potential of poetry to address difficult and uncomfortable subjects.
The poem also highlights the importance of self-love and acceptance, urging readers to embrace their bodies and reject the toxic messages that promote unrealistic beauty standards. The repetition of "You are simply a woman / Hungry, in pain" emphasizes the humanity of the speaker, and by extension, all women who struggle with body image issues. Boland encourages readers to see beyond the surface level and to recognize the deep emotional and psychological pain that underlies such struggles.
"Anorexic" is a powerful and deeply personal poem that explores the theme of body image and the societal pressure placed on women to conform to unrealistic beauty standards. Boland's use of the sonnet form and her vivid imagery create a powerful and emotionally resonant portrait of a woman struggling with an eating disorder. The poem is a testament to the power of poetry to address difficult and uncomfortable subjects and to inspire readers to embrace self-love and acceptance.
I cannot express emotions but I invite you to read and re-read "Anorexic" to connect with the author's message and let it inspire you to be kinder to yourself and others.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Anorexic by Eavan Boland: A Poem of Self-Discovery and Empowerment
Eavan Boland's poem "Anorexic" is a powerful and thought-provoking work that explores the themes of self-discovery, empowerment, and the struggle for identity. The poem is a reflection on the speaker's experience with anorexia, a condition that is often associated with a distorted body image and a desire for control. Through her use of vivid imagery, powerful language, and a unique perspective, Boland creates a poem that is both haunting and inspiring.
The poem begins with the speaker describing her experience with anorexia, using vivid and powerful imagery to convey the sense of isolation and despair that she feels. She describes herself as a "ghost" and a "shadow," suggesting that she feels disconnected from her own body and from the world around her. The use of these metaphors is particularly effective, as they convey the sense of emptiness and detachment that is often associated with anorexia.
As the poem progresses, the speaker begins to explore the reasons behind her struggle with anorexia. She describes the pressure that she feels to conform to society's expectations of beauty, and the sense of shame and inadequacy that she experiences as a result. This theme of societal pressure is a common one in Boland's work, and it is particularly relevant in the context of anorexia, which is often seen as a response to the unrealistic and unattainable standards of beauty that are promoted in the media.
Despite the sense of despair and isolation that the speaker feels, there is also a sense of empowerment and self-discovery in the poem. The speaker describes the process of learning to love and accept herself, and the sense of freedom that comes with this self-acceptance. She describes herself as a "warrior," suggesting that she has overcome her struggles and emerged stronger as a result.
One of the most striking aspects of the poem is the way in which Boland uses language to convey the speaker's emotions and experiences. The language is often stark and powerful, with short, sharp phrases that convey a sense of urgency and intensity. For example, the line "I am a famine girl" is particularly effective, as it conveys both the physical and emotional hunger that the speaker feels.
Another effective technique that Boland uses is the use of repetition. The phrase "I am not" is repeated throughout the poem, creating a sense of rhythm and momentum that drives the poem forward. This repetition also serves to emphasize the speaker's struggle to define herself and to break free from the expectations of others.
Overall, "Anorexic" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the themes of self-discovery, empowerment, and the struggle for identity. Through her use of vivid imagery, powerful language, and a unique perspective, Boland creates a poem that is both haunting and inspiring. The poem is a reminder that we are all capable of overcoming our struggles and emerging stronger as a result, and that self-acceptance and self-love are essential components of this process.
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