(Note that analyses can vary widely, hence these annotations must only be used in conjunction with your own analyses).

Annotations of Inheritance by Eavan Boland




Summary of the poem:

Title: Political/social connotations? Complicated laws. Material things always come up at first e.g. houses, wealth. But could also refer to genetic inheritance, or honour.

Tone: 1st POV, regret, reflective/pensive, personal experiences. 3rd and 4th stanzas lack ‘I’, to give a wider perspective. Not a declaration or protest, merely someone pondering.

Summary: The speaker considers her options of objects that may qualify as ‘Inheritance’ for her daughters, but realises she has very little material possessions to pass on. She compares this to history, when women lack the right to inherit wealth and were left totally vulnerable and dependent. But the speaker quickly realises her skill in nurturing her kids — portrayed by calming them down from a fever — is something she has picked up from her mother. The poem concludes by suggesting that the greatest inheritance may not be a physical object at all.

Structure: Irregular stanzas (could reflect confusion), loose structure could reflect nature — the ultimate inheritance. Open verse, speaking seemingly talks to herself

Devices used: Juxtaposition (wealth vs commonplace objects), alliteration (awake, alert, afraid), allusion to history, personification.

Themes: Gender roles, family/nurturing, history.

Links to other poems: Material (nurture), Effects (family), Genetics, Dover (something out of nothing?), Out of the Bag.


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