Grieving in Amber by Eavan Boland

Grieving in Amber by Eavan Boland

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Eavan Boland’s poem “Amber” was published in the Atlantic Monthly in December of 2005. This poem starts off sad, talking about a death of a friend and how grieving seemed to last forever. Boland shows us this through lines one through five. It then goes on saying that if you think of all the good memories that the grieving process will pass and you can be happy when thinking about the lost friend. Boland’s poem “Amber” is showing us that grieving shouldn’t last forever and that memories can take away the horrible feelings and bring happiness when thinking about a lost loved one.
In the first five lines Boland presents the death of a friend and the writer is grieving “through seasons and centuries” (line 4), or in other words they are having a hard time getting over the grieving process. She then changes the mood by saying “On this fine September afternoon” (6). By putting the word “fine” in she is showing us that grieving is over. She starts talking about an ornament of amber that she is holding and that her friend gave this to her. By saying this she means that her friend gave her all of these memories and she is “holding” them, or keeping them in her memory. This ornament is the symbol of the memories the writer has of her lost friend. Then the writer is explaining that she has only memories because “The dead cannot see the living” (11) and vise versa.
Boland then brings three images of seeds, leaves and feathers to our minds to present them as memories of a lost friend. In the middle of the poem Boland describes these “memories” by saying “as it fell and fell,” (15 and 16). By using “it” this shows that all of these memories are clumped together as one which makes them stronger. After this she goes on by saying “which now in a sunny atmosphere seem as alive as they ever were” (17 and 18). This is saying that the memories now bring bright and happy feelings and they seem alive because the memories are so strong that they seem as if they are real. When the writer refers to a Baltic honey this is referring back to the ornament of amber and how she was holding it in her hand, as if memories could be held.
She then goes on to tell us a little about the friendship.

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She says “a chafing at the edges of the seen” (21). Chafing means that the ornament was worn and had imperfections. She is showing there was wear to the ornament, and that even though the friendship was precious, it wasn’t perfect. The last three lines of the poem show us that if someone can remember memories, even if they aren’t precise memories, and they can become happy when thinking about them than the grieving process is over. When she uses the words “flawed translucence” (23) this is implying that the memories can be seen and remembered in the mind, but they are flawed, not perfect.
In Boland’s poem “Amber” we learn that grieving shouldn’t last forever and that memories can take away the horrible feelings and bring happiness when thinking about a lost loved one. In this poem we can learn that even though grieving seems like it is going to last forever it will pass just like other things and memories will be bright and happy eventually. It also teaches us that if we continue to think of memories of a lost loved one that they will stay fresh in out mind and they will be kept forever. If we stop thinking about specific memories they will deteriorate and eventually become forgotten. We have learned a few things about grieving in this poem, and always remember when grieving: it will soon pass and memories will be bright again.
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