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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Prayer for a New Mother

(Holy Family — Mary, Jesus, and Joseph,
from an illuminated manuscript of a Book
of Hours, or Devotions, created by an
anonymous Dutch artist, around 1440, for
Catherine of Cleves)

Sometimes an artist will surprise you. For example, Salvador Dali, the Spanish painter who seemed to relish breaking down cultural signposts into surreal pieces, also painted reverential images from the Bible, including the Last Supper and the Crucifixion.

Dorothy Parker — yes, that New Yorker who “perfected a light, humorous, cynical verse,” in the words of one critic — wrote several poems about Mary, the Mother of Christ, that would delight the reader with her observations about love and motherhood.


The things she knew, let her forget again —
The voices in the sky, the fear, the cold,
The gaping shepherds, and the queer old men
Piling their clumsy gifts of foreign gold.

Let her have laughter with her little one;
Teach her the endless, tuneless songs to sing,
Grant her her right to whisper to her son
The foolish names one dare not call a king.

Keep from her dreams the rumble of a crowd,
The smell of rough-cut wood, the trail of red,
The thick and chilly whiteness of the shroud
That wraps the strange new body of the dead.

Ah, let her go, kind Lord, where mothers go
And boast his pretty words and ways, and plan
The proud and happy years that they shall know
Together, when her son is grown a man.

~ Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), American writer of poetry and short stories


Bryan said...

this poem was a great piece of work that was focused on the idea of a mother's love. It talks about how a mother's love should block everything else out. All the hardships of the world to be blocked out and only the relationship between the mother and son exist. She teaches him life lessons and defends him against the distractions of the world. Yet the last stanza explains the point in life where the mother must let go and let her son become a man.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful poem highlighting the love of a mother for her son. I can identify with it in many ways. I love the rhyme scheme and imagery.