What do we know about knowing? A lot, thanks to this poem, "That the Science of Cartography is Limited." It's all about Irish history, but maybe even more importantly, it's about how people can know, understand, and even inhabit that history. It focuses on two main ways we know stuff, and how these ways relate to each other. First, there's our sensory experience of the world around us. Second, there's the type of knowledge that we get from history books. Which of these ways is "better"? Well, that's up for you to decide. Certainly, history books represent history; they are not direct experiences. So the poem really calls into question how we choose to represent and pass on our experiences to future generations. If the science of cartography is limited—and it is—what other forms or representations of knowledge are more accurate?
Cartography may fail the speaker, but she seems to think poetry is a pretty spiffy way of representing a nation's history… in a personal way.
Sensory and experiential learning are sometimes more valuable than the type of knowledge that comes from books and maps.