"Poems with mischief and memory"
Review by Paul Perry, The Irish Times, Saturday 22nd November 2008
Maurice Harmon: has 'put an end to cursed tightlippedness'
Maurice Harmon exudes an empathetic warmth in his third collection The Mischievous Boy. After a distinguished career as an academic, Harmon has dedicated himself to writing poetry. But this is no po-faced scholar turnedpoet. Yes, Harmon is a serious poet, but one who employs a keen sense of mischief, memory and inventiveness.
From the hilarious "Dear Editor" where an aspiring poet reminds the editor that her husband "says he marked you when you played top of / the left for Louth // He says you were a 'dirty hoor.' / With best wishes // Yours sincerely, / Jasmine. / P.S. That's the name of a flower," to the laconic and heart-breaking "When Love is Not Enough", Harmon exercises exact control in his prosody, often using lucid blank verse.
In "A Wind-swept Spirit", the openingpoem and an ars poetica of sorts, Harmon confesses what writing poetry has meant to him, "To tell the truth ever since it started / I've never known peace, caught between / one doubt and another, one word and the next."
"When To the Sessions" is a tour de force in over one hundred lines. Like "The Gentle Years" Harmon displays an ability to combine tenderness and pathos with a fiercely unsentimental honesty. In fact, Harmon's distinctive talent is for the sustained narrative of memory. You see it in poems such as "The Unconstrained", "During the War" and, of course, in the rollicking title poem, which has been set to music by Derek Ball and is the subject of a stained glass window by Phyllis Burke.
The Mischievous Boy is a rich and rewarding book. In it Harmon "takes pleasure in sight touch and smell." A poet who will soon be entering his eighties, he has "put an end to cursed tightlippedness". He "wallows in joy." and he does it with style.
Paul Perry is currently writer in residence for DÃºn Laoghaire Rathdown public library service. His most recent collection of poetry is The Orchid Keeper.
Review: The Midwest Book Review, October 2009
There have been many samples of Irish poets over the years, and each one is more fascinating than the last. The Mischievous Boy
is a focus on Ireland in the twenty first century from Maurice Harmon,
a celebrated professor and man of literature from Dublin. His work
displays his knowledge of literature and poetry well, making for a fine
and exciting adventure in verse. The Mischievous Boy is an excellent
addition to any world poetry collection.
A Matter of Time
It is only a matter of time before leaves
loosen, roots drag from the earth
only a matter of time before we start
to query the fragility of air, the pace of blood
thrumming across the bone, once the evidence
shows, empty pews, missing voices
a friend hurried off in the night
only a matter of time before earth
closes about us and leaves turn to mould