Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A poem: Prayer


When I am stressed (and oh yes, I am this week) poetry can help. This atmospheric, wistful poem, by Carol Ann Duffy, which I rediscovered recently on Jeanette Winterson's poetry website, is a favourite.

The last line refers to the sea areas listed in the Shipping Forecast – broadcast daily first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Their names are evocative and I hear them usually when I am in bed with the radio on - either at the beginning or the end of a day. And the forecast is indeed rather like a prayer, or a litany, comforting in its familiarity and yet with an edge of fear – it conjures up visions of cold, perhaps dangerous, seas .....


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.


Blogger Endment said...

Very timely for me - thank you.
I had not read any of Carol Ann Duffy's poetry before thank you for the introduction. I also had not found the poetry website - so thanks again!

3:34 pm  
Blogger rdl said...

I love this. Timely for me as well as i've been completely stressed out, no time for me, love this prayer/poem. Thanks!

6:24 pm  
Blogger MB said...

What a remarkable poem. Thank you.

And good wishes to you, Mary, for relief of stress soon!

7:09 pm  
Blogger Sky said...

Classical music and poetry are certain paths to relaxation for me just like sitting in the sunshine and watching nature's magical movie. Hope you find some tranquil retreat and a way to refill the fuel tank.

9:13 am  
Blogger Brenda said...

I hope your stress decreases, or at least it become a non-stressed stress! I'm there too, stressed, trying to stay on top of work that needs to be completed.

This poem reminded me of how necessary it is to slow down, pay attention to the moments that nourish us.

Thank you!


1:39 pm  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

I love that kind of prayer.

Carol Ann Duffy never fails to delight.

4:38 am  
Anonymous pohanginapete said...

It's a marvellous poem, Mary — and a wonderful photo to accompany it. Thanks, and may your stress be supplanted by delight.

9:48 am  
Blogger LJ said...

That is utterly beautiful. M. I hope that by the weekend, some of the stress passes.

2:12 pm  
Blogger MB said...

I love that photo, Mary. It reminds me, for reasons I can't identify, of Under Milkwood. Maybe it has to do with the list of names in the poem... association of some sort.

8:33 pm  
Blogger Dale said...



9:58 pm  
Blogger herhimnbryn said...

Hope the stress is passing. Thankyou for this poem. We are back in the uk for a Holiday. The shipping forcast is so evocative for me. A litany, a chant. The first thing I listened to on waking yesterday. I listen and visualize my way around the British Isles!
Have a good w/e.

8:42 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Thank you all for your comments and good wishes

Endment: it's a real joy to share something like this. So glad you like it.

Rdl: Hugs. Hope things are better now.

MB: Yes, it is remarkable, and I'm glad you like the photo .. interesting the connection you picked up with Under Milk Wood. I'll have to revisit the latter.

Sky: refilling the fuel tank is a priority! :-)

Brenda: thinking of you particularly this weekend ...

Patry: She's wonderful, I agree.

Pete: That last sentence in your comment is a delight in itself. Thank you! and I'm really glad you enjoyed the poem.

LJ: I thought you might like it ...:-)

Dale: A pleasure, thank you.

Herhimnbryn: I do hope you're having good time over here ...and yes, the shipping forecast is so evocative. I think because it is often heard when one is alone, maybe having trouble sleeping, worried perhaps ... it makes is all the more powerful.

9:12 am  
Blogger Ratatosk Writing said...

This is the first time I have come across her poetry - beautiful - thank you for bringing it to my attention.


5:25 pm  

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