, but with a sense that it is up to us to do something about it. There is a sense of deep hurt conveyed in the last line of the second stanza: ‘you dead’. The first stanza has a sad, regretful tone while there is anger in the use of the word ‘murder’. The images of caring for a child in the second stanza are conveyed in a tone of tenderness. The second stanza contains a sense of urgency about learning from the devastating atrocity. In the final stanza, the tone is pleading and positive. The poet accuses us all of robbing his [Aengus] cradle, but speaks softly of healing. Yet the repetition of the word ‘broken’ seems to carry an immense amount of grief.
The Child Of Our Time was killed in a ...view middle of the document...
Boland decides that she must make the ‘song[‘s]’ reason from the child’s ‘unreasoned end’. The word ‘discord’ is not used here for ease of rhyming, in fact the full meaning of the word discordant is: (of sounds) harsh and jarring because of a lack of harmony : bombs, guns, and engines mingled in discordant sound. Boland realises that something must be said about this incident and taking her poem’s rhythm from the ‘discord of your murder’ she is able to voice her protests and concerns and even speak for the child who can no longer ‘listen’. Another note of interest is the word ‘murder’ - if we were to go off on a tangent and use a similar-sounding word like mother - what images do we get if we consider of the discord of the child’s mother?
Even though Boland writes about a public catastrophe her tone is not distant, yes it is formal but the reason for this lack of distance is due to the fact that Boland also writes about the death of one of her friend’s children. The fact that Boland writes about the death of a child she has never known can account for the rhyme-scheme: they are slanted or half-rhymes and this prevents the poem from becoming melodious, given the subject-matter this is appropriate and quite intelligent on the poet’s half. Boland brings us, the readers, into the poem in the second stanza and as in The War Horse, she feels that we are all at fault for something:
We who should have known how to instruct
With rhymes for your waking, rhythms for your sleep,
Names for the animals you took to bed,
Tales to distract, legends to protect,
It is we (the adults, community, the public) who have failed to create a safe environment for our children. Boland instructs us on how best to create this world: with songs, lullabies, names for teddies and bed-time stories. But the reality is that this world that Boland speaks of would vanish in an instant if threatened, much like the world of the children who died, either by bomb or by cot death. Even though the poet is speaking on behalf of parents here, we can assume that the parents of the dead child did instruct their son or daughter in this way, and if we were to speculate more we could say that such things came up in the conversations between Boland and the parents of the child who suffered the cot death. Thus neither circumstance is safe; be it the child who was killed in an unexpected manner via the cot or the child who was involved in the bombing - the fact that we cannot guarantee safety makes this poem all the more frightening. Political beliefs about Ireland are based on violence: it is obvious that the ‘legends’ that the bombers believe in do not ‘protect’ the innocent.
Boland mentions an ‘idiom’ - the lullaby and the fairytales would later give way to a particular language, a way of speaking that the child would inherit and retain as he/she grew up:
Later and idiom for you to keep
And living, learn
The child’s right to life and speech, the natural course of events has been...