An Irish monk watching the Black Death edging towards him; a priest at Delphi lamenting the passing of an era; an Assyrian extispicist receiving more inspiration than is good for him – these are some of the voices in James Harpur’s third collection. Drawing on legend, myth and sacred traditions, his poems explore universal forces – seen and unseen, personal and cosmic – shaping people’s destinies, and the signs by which their patterns are revealed. These central issues coalesce in Dies Irae, a long poem in which a Dark Age churchman tries to reconcile his mission to save souls in a sinking world with his own sickness, both physical and spiritual.
James Harpur. Paperback, 96 pages, 2001.