Prayer Poem by John Crowe Ransom

Prayer

Rating: 2.7


SHE would not keep at home, the foolish woman,
She would not mind her precious girls and boys,
She had to go, for it was Sunday morning,
Down the hot road and to the barren pew
And there abuse her superannuate knees
To make a prayer.


She had a huge petition on her bosom--
A heavy weight for such a lean old thing--
Her youngest boy made merry in the village
And had not entered into the communion;
And having labored with him long for nothing
She meant to ask of God to save him yet.
Thank God she asked that favor!


The manner of it echoes still in Heaven.
Before she dared to utter her desire
The strange old woman made approach to God
With many a low obeisance and abasement,
As having done so many things she ought not,


And left undone so many things she ought,
And being altogether very wicked;
She testified she had not kept his temple,
Which was her heart, all swept and white and ready;
She testified it--O the shameless woman,
The spotless housekeeper!


Now God sat beaming on his burnished throne
And swept creation with appraising eye,
Finding, I fear, not all was free from blemish,
Yet keeping his magnificent composure;
But wearing certain necessary airs,
To suit with such incumbency of court,
He still at heart was quite a gentleman;
For when he saw that aged lady drooping
And wearying her bones with genuflections
For her unworthiness, he fell ashamed
To think how hard it went with holy women
To ease their poor predicaments by prayer:
There on his heaven, and heard of all the hosts,
He groaned, he made a mighty face so wry
That several seraphin forgot their harping
And scolded thus: 'O what a wicked woman,
To shrew his splendid features out of shape!'

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