That the Science of Cartography Is Limited
by Eavan Boland
That the Science of Cartography Is Limited Memory and the Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
When you and I were first in love we drove
to the borders of Connacht
and entered a wood there.
Look down you said: this was once a famine road. (5-8)
In the middle of a lovely countryside vacation, the speaker and her lover run smack dab into a famine road. They're just two young'uns sharing a noodle of spaghetti (figuratively, of course), but they can't escape this trace of Ireland's tragic past. Cue the creepy music: this countryside is haunted by the past.
I looked down at ivy and the scutch grass
rough-cast stone had
disappeared into as you told me
in the second winter of their ordeal, in
1847, when the crop had failed twice,
Relief Committees gave
the starving Irish such roads to build. (9-15)
The speaker takes in the famine road with her senses, while her beloved rattles off factoids about it. And those factoids are pretty devastating. We basically learn, right along with the speaker, how horrible the so-called "Relief Committees" treated the starving Irish people. Not cool, dudes. These famine roads are a mark of human cruelty that still scars Ireland's beautiful landscape.
Where they died, there the road ended
and ends still (16-17)
In this quote, we see the past intersect with the present: the road is still exactly where it was over a century ago. And it's haunted by the memory of those who died right "there." That "there" makes us feel like we're present with the speaker, like we're looking at the famine road alongside her and her lover. Kinda gives you the chills, eh?