Prayer Before Birth | Poem by Louis MacNeice

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Prayer Before Birth | Poem by Louis MacNeice at UpDivine
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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.

by Louis Macneice

The Current Story

The world currently is at the worst it could ever be. Thanks to the leaders sitting at the top. Or could it get even worse? I am not too sure.

There is a leader of one of the biggest superpowers, who like normal people isn’t made up of muscles, bones, and blood. He is rather made up of stupidity, narcissism, ignorance, incompetence, and lies. He can afford to bring the world on the verge of war, just because he can’t bear the fact that the current situation of peace in the country and world is there mainly because his highly competent predecessor signed a peace treaty with some country. And he decided to cancel that denuclearization treaty.

Another leader, in some other country, is such a dictator that he killed his family members just because of the fear that they were becoming too powerful. The man has that cute-fat face that’s always smiling, laughing, and seemingly enjoying himself. But looks deceive, he is actually such a paranoid.

Another leader in a country, just let the country burn and its people die, its wildlife shuffle of the mortal coil, and the whole ecology bite the dust; just because maybe taking actions would be too expensive. And maybe the businessman in him is stopping him from doing that.

In another country, the supreme leader along with his strongest ally, his right-hand man, the most cunning, foxy and sly duo, with the most artful marketing skills are selling lies to deceive the whole country by selling them hopes. While the country suffers and is at its worst, they keep transferring the focus of the main issues, by creating petty turmoils and other issues. All this just to remain in power.

Across the world, the situation is the same. But who is responsible? Those sitting at power alone? We who elected them to power are equally responsible. By not being educated enough to be deceived by the lies, we also equally become a party to the situation.

If I were a pregnant woman, having read this poem by Louis MacNeice, I would have been constantly haunted by the echoes of prayer before birth by the child. Coming from the one still, unborn who is just too scared to come here to the world filled with the power-hungry, greedy and the uneducated falling to the lies of the former.

Louis MacNeice

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Frederick Louis MacNeice (12 September 1907 – 3 September 1963) was an Irish poet and playwright from Northern Ireland. MacNeice’s body of work was widely appreciated by the public during his lifetime, due in part to his relaxed but socially and emotionally aware style. Never as overtly or simplistically political as some of his contemporaries, he expressed a humane opposition to totalitarianism as well as an acute awareness of his roots.

The Poem

The poem beautifully presents the thoughts of the poet through the mouth of the baby who is still unborn. The baby is well aware of the gravity of the situation across the world that he is just too scared to take birth. He simply knows that the world is too evil that he will not be able to sustain here, given its innocence. This poem makes the reader want to protect his innocence and the innocence of the children in his or her own life. Prayer Before Birth calls out to God as the only one who can protect against the evil of the world. 

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Prayer Before Birth | Poem by Louis MacNeice at UpDivine
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  1. I’ve read all the post. I agree with you: if I were young today and pregnant, I wouldn’t feel my coming baby in safety in our world. The innocence’s fears that gain a shape by the refrain echoe in me since I first read this poem. Great, beautiful and frightening at the same time. Thank you for sharing it.

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