Maurice Harmon’s sixth collection moves from the sunlit terraces of faith to the dismemberment of a rural estate and that mingling of the metaphorical and the realistic characterises much of the poetry. The decline of Catholic power and the losses that went with it is a kind of underlying event that drives much of the poetry. It permeates the portrait of the priest who is having a passionate affair, a boy’s desperate flight from boarding school, and a woman’s determined efforts to keep a marriage going.
Harmon responds with compassion and understanding to abusive priests, to the homeless and the hapless, and to disturbing events in his own life. He writes in a variety of forms, elegies, narratives, nature poems, villanelles, satires. His humane perspective enables him to write sensitively about individuals and to consider how we fail to understand and to interpret historical events, such as the sieges of Drogheda and Limerick. Hoops of Holiness is the product of a mature and intelligent imagination.