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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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