The second section titled "Maps" consists of critical pieces on women poets who gave her help and direction in questioning the tradition that she loves. There are essays here on Adrienne Rich, Elizabeth Bishop, Charlotte Mew, Sylvia Plath, Edna St, Vincent Millay, Denise Levertov, Anne Bradstreet, Gwendolyn Brooks and Paula Meehan. The most illuminating essay is on Bradstreet. Boland shows how the contemporary of Marvell and Milton wrote herself into a Puritan New Englander. There are few surprises in the other pieces, though the judgments are always sympathetic and persuasive. The writing is sometimes more obscure than necessary, but the obscurity is partly a result of desiring to be suggestive, not definitive.
The last section is made up of a single essay, a letter to an imaginary Young Woman Poet, in a conscious nod to Rilke. The letter exhorts the young poet to change the tradition, and not to change or curb herself to fit the tradition. As is the case in such missives, the letter-writer is writing mostly to her younger self. The final figure of friendship between generations is deeply humane and democratic.
Throughout the book Boland strives to recover the context of a poet's life in order to read the poet's text more deeply. It is an approach that runs counter to Pound's strictures against biographical criticism, also adopted by the New Critics. For Boland, however, the life is bigger than the poem, and too much is lost when the life is disregarded. This book provides Boland's life to go with her poetry.