‘The archetypal symbol of an unborn child’.



The Faber poets: (Frederick) Louis MacNeiceTed HughesT.S. EliotW.H. Auden and Sir Stephen Harold Spender.

Photographed by Mark Gerson, 1960. Via the National Portrait Gallery, UK.

The Prayer before birth that was written by Louis Macneice intrigues me beyond reason, Above all else the reasons is that the poem was written in 1907 but, The same issues that he is afraid  still effect us in the 21st century, 104 so years after the poem was written. Nevertheless, the Prayer Before Birth is a powerful soliloquy, each line flowing perfectly into the other, with each having great sentimental value.  


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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2 thoughts on “‘The archetypal symbol of an unborn child’.

  1. namelessneed says:

    Thanx for an amazing photo, and a damn fine offering from the lesser known of these
    famous Word men

  2. all good glad you liked the photo and I would agree the quieter ones usually produce the best work.

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