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Prayer / Carol Ann Duffy

This is a beautiful sonnet from the erstwhile UK Poet Laureate. In a 'faithless' world prayers come in all sorts of forms. I particularly like the 'minims' of the tree - because minims are a rather stately note, just as the tree's movement would be.


For people outside the UK, the last line quotes from the "Shipping Forecast", a nightly litany of the weather at all the shipping districts around the UK coastline broadcast on the BBC. But CAD chooses the districts with poetic care...


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 I 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.

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I love the work of Carol Ann Duffy and this poem particularly resonates. Growing up Latin chants felt very melodic and soothing and as a family listening to the shipping forecasts were another form of chanting. Remarkable how in reflection I was given some of the tools to regulate my nervous system in a very chaotic upbringing.

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Gill Jewell
Gill Jewell
Jul 04, 2022

Question Alastair- I visited North End on Sea & spoke with rescue boat folk - is the end ( being outside the UK ) a reference to those lost at sea? ( the child?) . I don’t know this beautiful poet xx

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Gill Jewell
Gill Jewell
Jul 04, 2022

This poem about prayer is gently magnificent. Thank you Alastair- very few have ‘ The dark Night of the soul’ & practice prayer ( deeply meditative ) is sort of (?)the cry ( muscle memory ) when most ‘faithless’. The modern thing is to avoid ritual- & while each to his own- it does kick in helpfully when stranded in the anxiety treadmill. Thank you so much for this one xxxx

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Bianca Aga
Bianca Aga
Jul 04, 2022

Hi @Alistair Appleton ... This may have meaning thought to share as you posted today. Just before waking this morning I had a dream about you. You were with a man who was very wise & fare. He had very powerful abilities. You owned a neat stunning single story spacious openplan minimalist modern house which although was open for all to visit most people didnt but I visited and we 3 were going to go shopping. At 1st you were impatient with me while i was fetching my purse but this stall got you to remember something you'd forgotten. xx

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