Apr '13 9
Last night I went to the 10th anniversary celebration of Poets' Corner, a wonderful poetry group that hosts guest poets every month (Alison Flett and I were guest readers at the most recent one in January, which was the evening before friend and poet John Pfitzner passed away). Yesterday's celebrations included a tribute to John. Sean Gilbert delivered a moving opening speech about poetry and prayer, and how poetry, like prayer, is a 'reaching out'.

I was thinking more about this, and about how some prayers are poetry in and of themselves, if you slough away the heavy chains of association with man's religious prejudices.

Raised a Roman Catholic, my childhood was sprinkled with learning and 'reciting' prayers. I wondered what poem I could rescue from a selection of prayers that I know so well. I chose seven: the 'Our Father', the 'Creed', the 'St Patrick's Breastplate', a 'Guardian Angel' prayer, the 'Salve Regina', Psalm 23 ('The Lord is my Shepherd') and the 'Act of Contrition'. To be consistent I took the text from here.


you are the banished

Almighty guide descended
eyes of earth toward evil resolve.
In the darkest valley of temptation
a quiet stranger
sighs,
dies.

Spirit me to forgiveness
beside rose waters,
beneath the light of grace,
behind gracious power;
restore me to hope
above buried heaven
near a hallowed presence
through days of mercy;
lead me to believe
that the worthy shall lead,
that a god shall comfort,
that tears for a mother and father
are tears of an angel,
that to walk above waters
is communion with earth
and that when life and light are done
I shall come
in from exile.


Posted by Jennifer Liston

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10 Comments

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  1. russpoet says:

    *And the result reinforces your point. Some payers are poetry. Some poems, like this one, are prayers. and the label doesn't matter.

  2. Jen says:

    *Exactly Russ. We try to pigeon-hole too much, sometimes. Many things we do in life could be defined as a prayer, if we chose to.

    Thanks for commenting! :-)

  3. yallana says:

    *So beautiful x

  4. Jen says:

    *Thank you Yallana! xo

  5. Josephine says:

    *works as a prayer in itself; eases the fear of 'afterlife' for me. Makes me wonder how the 'feel' of rescued texts can be reproduced without actually reproducing them.

  6. Jen says:

    *Thanks Josephine. I think you've answered your own question. This poem/prayer was rescued from prayers, so the prayerful feeling has been retained. Not my particular intention, it just happened that way. :-)

  7. Robert says:

    *We need to have a talk about this! ;-) xo

  8. Marianne Musgrove says:

    *It's as if the original words were infused with incense and the fragrance remains in the reworking. Very beautiful.

  9. Jen says:

    *Okay, Robert! :-)

  10. Jen says:

    *Thank you for that beautifully scented feedback, Marianne! :-)

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