Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

A Prayer for the Self

Who am I worthless that You spent such pains
and take may pains again?

I do not understand; but I believe.
Jonquils respond with wit to the teasing breeze.

Induct me down my secrets. Stiffen this heart
to stand their horrifying cries, O cushion
the first the second shocks, will to a halt
in mid-air there demons who would be at me.

May fade before, sweet morning on sweet morning,
I wake my dreams, my fan-mail go astray,
and do me little goods I have not thought of,
ingenious & beneficial Father.

Ease in their passing my beloved friends,
all others too I have cared for in a travelling life,
anyone anywhere indeed. Lift up
sober toward truth a scared self-estimate.

-- John Berryman, from "Eleven Addresses to the Lord." Collected Poems 1937-1971. © Noonday Press, 1989.

H/T: The Writer's Almanac


Maclin Horton said...

That must be from his late book, which I can't remember the name of now--just Poems, or something simple like that. This is more impressive than I remember. If it is from that book, I need to revisit it.

Pentimento said...

I thought it was a masterful, even astonishing poem. I like the way he writes in the tradition of the Metaphysical Poets, of whom I know you're a fan -- me too.