Child of Our Time by Eavan Boland - Annotated Poem Summary

Child of Our Time by Eavan Boland - Annotated Poem Summary


We who should have known how to instruct (first outline of adult responsibility)

With rhymes for your waking, rhythms for your sleep (extension of the lullaby metaphor)

Names for the animals you took to bed,

Tales to distract, legends to protect, (evokes what is passed from adults to their children, then from generation to generation)

Later an idiom for you to keep

And living, learn, must learn from you, dead. (speaker again highlights the poem’s paradox: the child should have learned from life, from the adults whose task it was to protect them; instead, the adults are confronted with having to learn from the child’s death)


To make our broken images rebuild (‘broken’ suggests the pain and suffering experienced by the adults, that their hopes and dreams for the child are shattered)

Themselves around your limbs, your broken (‘rebuild’ hints at the adults’ need to find a way to come to terms with their loss, and move on from it; ‘around your limbs’ could create a violent image, that the child died as the result of an explosion)

Image, find for your sake whose life our idle

Talk has cost, a new language. Child (the speaker feels that the adults owe it to this child to make the world a better place, one this child would have thrived in, even though the child will not be able to experience it)

Of our time, our times have robbed your cradle. (the world these adults are responsible for, their way of life, is responsible for this child’s death)

Sleep in a world your final sleep has woken(further paradox: sense of speaker’s bitterness at the child prematurely having to ‘rest in peace’)

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