Prayer before Birth 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.
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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.
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The Sunlight on the Garden The sunlight on the garden Hardens and grows cold, We cannot cage the minute Within its nets of gold, When all is told We cannot beg for pardon. Our freedom as free lances Advances towards its end; The earth compels, upon it Sonnets and birds descend; And soon, my friend, We shall have no time for dances. The sky was good for flying Defying the church bells And every evil iron Siren and what it tells: The earth compels, We are dying, Egypt, dying And not expecting pardon, Hardened in heart anew, But glad to have sat under Thunder and rain with you, And grateful too For sunlight on the garden.
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Fanfare for the Makers A cloud of witnesses. To whom? To what? To the small fire that never leaves the sky. To the great fire that boils the daily pot. To all the things we are not remembered by, Which we remember and bless. To all the things That will not notice when we die, Yet lend the passing moment words and wings. So fanfare for the Makers: who compose A book of words or deeds who runs may write As many who do run, as a family grows At times like sunflowers turning towards the light. As sometimes in the blackout and the raids One joke composed an island in the night. As sometimes one man's kindness pervades A room or house or village, as sometimes Merely to tighten screws or sharpen blades Can catch a meaning, as to hear the chimes At midnight means to share them, as one man In old age plants an avenue of limes And before they bloom can smell them, before they span The road can walk beneath the perfected arch, The merest greenprint when the lives began Of those who walk there with him, as in default Of coffee men grind acorns, as in despite Of all assaults conscripts counter assault, As mothers sit up late night after night Moulding a life, as miners day by day Descend blind shafts, as a boy may flaunt his kite In an empty nonchalant sky, as anglers play Their fish, as workers work and can take pride In spending sweat before they draw their pay. As horsemen fashion horses while they ride, As climbers climb a peak because it is there, As life can be confirmed even in suicide: To make is such. Let us make. And set the weather fair. Louis Macneice
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September has come, it is hers Whose vitality leaps in the autumn, Whose nature prefers Trees without leaves and a fire in the fireplace. So I give her this month and the next Though the whole of my year should be hers who has rendered already So many of its days intolerable or perplexed But so many more so happy. Who has left a scent on my life, and left my walls Dancing over and over with her shadow Whose hair is twined in all my waterfalls And all of London littered with remembered kisses.
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Dublin was a glorious name in our family and had pleasurable associations of violence ... Today I am so at home in Dublin, more than in any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me ... it took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel "" which I quite like too.
My stepmother appeared when I was about 9. My brother was sent off to an institute in Scotland & my sister & I were sent to school. As my stepmother's ideas were then wholly Quaker, mixed with a naive & charming innocence & a little snobbery, it was one dotty epoch on top of another. I always remained terrified of my father.
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Nationalism of the Irish type is often regarded as reactionary. With the World Revolution and the Classless Society waiting for the midwife, why take a torch to the stable to assist at the birth of a puppy? Even if the puppy is pedigree. On this question I am unable to make up my mind.
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For this reason poets and artists developed the doctrine of Art for Art's Sake. The community did not appear to need them, so, tit for tat, they did not need the community. This being granted, it was no longer necessary or even desirable to make one's poetry either intelligible or sympathetic to the community.