Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Prayer - a poem

I am just bushed, is all I've really got to say for myself. I worked all of the weekend before last at our annual Diocesan Synod, which is like an AGM that goes over three days, involving 320 people and all that admin, then I worked all last week, had to go into work on the Saturday morning just gone briefly to assist a meeting (was silly enough to invite people for dinner on Saturday night, necessitating cleaning my whole house, which had gone to the dogs), taught the youth bible class at church on Sunday morning and am now working this week ... But if I can just make it to Friday it will all be worth it as I have the four days next week between the two long weekends off, giving me ten whole days of leisure!

In my brain-fried state I thought it might be time for a poem. Curiously, Tim Keller quotes a survey in his book on Prayer which found that nearly 30% of atheists admitted that they prayed sometimes and that prayer (of some sort) inhabits all cultures. This poet claims she doesn't believe in God, and yet here is a poem on prayer. I don't really know what the ending is supposed to mean but to say that the names in the last line are all outlying places around Britain, and Finisterre in Spain was once thought to be the end of the world.


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.
    Carol Ann Duffy
The Times Saturday Review, 1992

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