Friday, December 23, 2011

Welcome to Poetry Friday

At a lovely Lessons and Carols service this month, I discovered a poignant poem by Dorothy Parker. Composer Nicholas White turned the poem into a carol.

The poem was a total surprise. I had thought of Parker as a witty writer and sometimes dark and even sarcastic. But this poem helps us imagine what a new mother in a stable may have longed for.

Prayer for a New Mother

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.

Schongauer painted The Holy Family. See more of his gorgeous art here.

Thank you to Dori who is hosting Poetry Friday today at Dori Reads.


  1. What a beautiful, and as you say, surprising poem from Parker! Love it :). Have a great holiday, Joyce!

  2. In a way one can almost put this into the hands of all mothers, especially that final verse. Being in the present and enjoying children in all their loveliness is what all mothers might wish, yet in the background thoughts of the future sit waiting. Lovely poem.

  3. I love meditations on Mary, and this one is lovely. And yes, surprising from the hand of Ms. Parker, but maybe even more lovely for that surprise.

  4. I think it is good for any parent (but Mary, most of all) not to be able to see into their baby's future.

  5. Thank you for your insightful comments. Yes, it is a beautiful poem for any parent.


Comments welcome.