Eavan Boland’s unique poem, Patchwork, allows the reader to be privy to the private thoughts of a persona, presumably the author herself, as she struggles to answer the question of fate or destiny. Throughout the poem, while quilting alone late at night, the speaker puzzles over the randomness of the universe, utilizing the simple quilt metaphor to inspire a final epiphany.
Immediately revealing the central theme of the poem as well as alluding to the narrator’s apparent self-doubt, the first stanza is an imperative aspect of this piece. The speaker begins by stating that she has “been thinking at random on the universe, or rather, how nothing in the universe is random”. So commences her journey to solve the question: Is there a predetermined course of events, or do we hold the power to create our own futures? The author has subtly presented the question to the reader in a sentence that makes use of chiasmus, thus capturing the reader’s attention by invoking personal thought and reflection. In addition, through the chiasmus, Boland skillfully manages to both characterize the narrator as a reflective, introverted individual, as well as foreshadow her uncertain opinion on the matter at hand. Such chiasmus’, oxymorons, and contrasting stanzas are seen repeatedly throughout the piece. They are essential in establishing a light, reflective tone and mood which, coupled with the use of the first-person perspective, enables the reader to form an unquestioning, intimate connection with the speaker.
The insecurity of the narrator is further developed through the following transition phrase. Forcefully, she drags herself back to reality and hastily reprimands herself for attempting to understand an idea as complex and multifaceted as the universe, saying “there’s nothing like presumption late at night”. While the word “presumption” suggests the narrator believes her own opinion to lack validity, the condescending tone and use of sarcasm also convey a