Following his acclaimed Pandemonium, Thomas McCarthy’s Prophecy dwells on childhood memory, romantic love and the varieties of human attachment. Still embodying his distinctive voice and craft, in these poems McCarthy risks more prophetic moods and themes. There are poems on illness and recovery, ageing and creativity.
From the community well of his childhood home in County Waterford to the holy well and pilgrim site of St Gobnait’s in County Cork, the poet finds that the act of remembering is an act of making and understanding. ‘All this / Metaphor and trauma and formal technique / I place in my canvas travel bag’, he writes, beginning his poetic journeys into formal Irish Gardens of Remembrance, field hospitals of the great War, the 1970s university campus of Iowa. ‘Along with Paul Muldoon,’ suggested Dennis O’Driscoll, McCarthy is ‘the most important Irish poet of his generation.’