A poem is like a chocolate…

but it is better than a chocolate… because you can eat it more than once.

Prayer by Carol Ann Duffy is my current favourite.

(You can find it out there in the blog world in plenty of places so I will signpost you to it but I’m not sure where I stand on reproducing it here for you – http://hopeeternal.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/prayer-carol-ann-duffy/)

I don’t know what this poem means I can say what it means to me.  There are three (possibly more) people in this poem and each one seems to be experiencing some kind of loss, pain or loneliness but each one hears something that consoles them or lifts them or reminds them who they are.

I love the honesty that says ‘sometimes we cannot pray’  (even though as an unbeliever Duffy really does think we cannot pray). Even those of us who believe that prayer is possible, still find it hard to pray sometimes, so I loved the idea of a prayer uttering itself in spite of us. There is also the idea that prayer is something we hear rather than something we say, a presence, a sound, a gift we receive  rather than something we create. The ‘piano scales’, the ‘minims sung by a tree’: unseen music from an unseen and unlikely source that lifts us from a moment of despair.

Similarly there is the admission of being faithless (although again Duffy may well mean this literally), yet a sound will bring back to us something from our past, something that tells some truth to us or some truth about us.

The lonely lodger is consoled by the piano scales but made desolate by the child’s name being called out. When everything outside us seems dark and incomprehensible, a familiar, daily liturgy (such as the ‘Radio’s pray) can ground and steady us.

I love it!

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