Friday, March 7, 2008

Poetry Friday

Roundup today is at the simple and the ordinary.

Macneice was an Irish poet and contemporary of W.H. Auden.
"Poetry in my opinion must be honest before anything else and I refuse to be 'objective' or clear-cut at the cost of honesty."


Prayer Before Birth by Louis Macneice

I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me, with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me, on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me, my treason engendered by traitors beyond me, my life when they murder by means of my hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white waves call me to folly and the desert calls me to doom and the beggar refuses my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton, would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with one face, a thing, and against all those who would dissipate my entirety, would blow me like thistledown hither and thither or hither and thither like water held in the hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.

8 comments:

TadMack said...

Ohhhhh.
my treason engendered by traitors beyond me, my life when they murder by means of my hands,

Oh, wow. This guy is a find. The final line just... wow. Thanks for this.

Cloudscome said...

Poor wee shivering babes that we are! Take courage.

jama said...

What a powerful poem! I really felt this one. Thanks!

Christine M said...

This poem is touching and disturbing at the same time. Great find!

Mary Lee said...

I'm sorry to be silly after reading such a POWERFUL and thought-provoking poem (still not sure what to think of it...I'll read it again), BUT...I finished up report cards last night and I'm thinking I should have written on each: "I refuse to be 'objective' or clear-cut at the cost of honesty." "

:-)

Sara said...

Those last two lines are like punches. Ouch. So much to think about here. I agree with Mary Lee. Sometimes, I want to laugh when people claim objectivity is the same as honesty. Poetry tells the truth like nothing else I know.

Kelly Fineman said...

I love Macneice, and have included his poems in past posts at my blog. This one is one of his most popular poems.

Sara said...

P.S. I love the poem you wrote in answer to mine. Love it.