Patterns and patterning – cellular, celestial, social, political and personal – spin and weave through Paula Meehan’s new collection of poems. From the mythic to the mundane, her attention is given over to the examination of interconnected lives – her own, the lives of her family, the human ecology of her native Dublin – and the unfolding of pattern-cycles in the non- human world.
Meehan’s familiar impulse towards blessing and empathy is shadowed in these poems with a clear-sighted understanding that the human perspective is neither privileged nor superior, an awareness that much if not most of existence is indifferent to our all-too-human dramas. Nevertheless, explorations of family, of her own mortality, of the lives of long-dead tenement dwellers, shift and shine in a web of stories that speak to a stubborn human endurance that is sometimes heroic, sometimes tragic – and occasionally transcendent.
As well as new poems, this collection integrates Museum (2019), a sequence commissioned for the Dublin Tenement Museum, and For the Hungry Ghosts (2022), a poem cycle responding to the Hades episode of Joyce’s Ulysses.