poet Louis Macneice

Louis Macneice

#434 on top 500 poets

Prayer Before Birth

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.

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003
Poem Edited: Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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Prayer Before Birth # 135 poem on top 500 Poems
4,0 out of 5
109 total ratings
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Comments about Prayer Before Birth by Louis Macneice

  • Spock The VeganSpock The Vegan (9/24/2019 11:32:00 PM)

    Great poem. If he were alive he could add " Don't let the abortionist come near me."

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  • Jayashree majumder (8/3/2019 11:54:00 AM)

    Very nicely depicted louis

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  • Whyareyouhere? (1/19/2019 9:43:00 PM)

    Like it or don't like it. Try and understand it or don't. I don't care how you feel about it, but it bothers me that so many of you think it's about abortion.

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  • Willem Ernst (1/5/2019 3:00:00 PM)

    I am reminded of Mark Twain here:

    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

    Also it has a ring of false sentimentality about it that I do not like at all. A certain kind of immorality.

    One could also consider it to be an abortion propaganda piece. I'm not sure about abortus but I AM against all forms of propaganda. 😁

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  • van darkholme (9/10/2018 11:44:00 PM)

    shuo zhe shou la ji de dou mei you ma ma de fei wu, gu er men

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  • olivia (6/27/2018 11:31:00 AM)

    i hate this song it is bad

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    steve(3/25/2019 6:29:00 AM)

    You mean really, really, really, really bad?
    Incidentally, it's a poem not a song

    Willem Ernst(1/6/2019 1:11:00 PM)

    I agree; it is kind of immoral; in the sense of false sentimentality. A sort of baby abuse... 😲

    olivia(6/27/2018 11:32:00 AM)

    i meant realy realy bad

    5 person liked.
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  • Kayode Steve Adaramoye Esq (6/18/2018 2:00:00 AM)

    Beautiful and prophetic

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  • Sarat Kumar Sahoo (5/20/2018 8:11:00 PM)

    It is nice and so meaningful Poem

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  • Madhuri Sahu (3/28/2018 6:27:00 AM)

    This is a critically nice poem.

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  • Nico D (3/12/2018 6:44:00 AM)

    This poem sucks and blows. Absolute rubbish. How does the child know all this stuff if he ain't born yet. Checkmate atheists.1 Star

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    Steve(3/25/2019 6:26:00 AM)

    Perhaps stick to things you understand

    Van?Darkholme(9/10/2018 11:54:00 PM)

    Frank, do you like van♂you♂xi?

    Frank(9/10/2018 11:36:00 PM)

    that just means u r a piece of, if u dont know how to read a poem just go away, poems aint for rubbish like you, it's just a creative style used in poetry

    olivia(6/27/2018 11:34:00 AM)

    i like u nico d

    olivia(6/27/2018 11:16:00 AM)

    my mom made me learn this disgusting song

    4 person liked.
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  • Richard (3/12/2018 6:27:00 AM)

    This poem sucks and blows. Complete rubbish. How does he know so much when he is not born. Argue against that one god.1 star

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    Adlof hitler(9/10/2018 11:52:00 PM)

    Wir sind uns im klaren, daß dieser Krieg ja nur damit enden könnte, daß entweder die germanischen Völker ausgerottet werden, oder das Judentum aus Europa verschwindet. Ich habe am 1. September 1939 [sic] im Deutschen Reichstag es schon ausgesprochen... daß dieser Krieg nicht so ausgehen wird, wie die Juden sich es vorstellen, nämlich daß die europäischen arischen

    van darkholme(9/10/2018 11:40:00 PM)

    nmsl? huo zang chang da dian hua guo lai wen ni ma ma yao ji fen shu? zai zhong

    2 person liked.
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  • douglas (2/27/2018 8:43:00 AM)

    this poem is the

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  • Rajnish MangaRajnish Manga (2/14/2018 11:08:00 AM)

    Very well conceptualised. Present state of the world narrated through the eyes of an unborn child.
    I am not yet born; O fill me
    With strength against those who would freeze my.... humanity,

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  • Jackbob Jones (12/6/2017 5:59:00 AM)

    Hey Jim, be quiet please i think this is a great poem

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  • Jimbob Jones (12/6/2017 5:56:00 AM)

    I got bored reading this

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    olivia(6/27/2018 11:36:00 AM)

    its soo disgusting

    2 person liked.
    11 person did not like.
  • Fabrizio FrosiniFabrizio Frosini (11/11/2015 1:10:00 PM)

    '' In the poem, Louis MacNeice expresses his fear at what the world's tyranny can do to the innocence of a child and blames the human race for the sins that in me the world shall commit. The poem also contains many religious themes and overtones through the use of double-imagery; the child could be seen as a metaphor for Christ, making reference to certain themes and events said to have occurred during his ministry on earth.

    There is great use of alliteration and assonance: strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me to create rhythm in the poem. Also repetition of I am not yet born is used to emphasise innocence. MacNeice also talks of being a cog in a machine - this shows that he feels that society will mould the child to become part of everything else around him, he will be worthless, insignificant and merely a part of an entire collaboration. ''

    The poem is an agonized plea from the mouth of an unborn infant in its mother's womb. The child seeks protection from the Divine and begs forgiveness for all the deeds of evil that it shall commit once it is out of the mother's protective care. Dramatic in intensity, the poem makes a sweeping statement on the deplorable state of the world. Living is a painful experience, being born is a terrifying one. The child's plea is a representation of the poet's anguish, grief and fear in a world that has steadily metamorphosed into a hell. The poet paints a picture of a world devoid of compassion, love and remorse through the haunting appeal of the unborn infant. The poem reflects the poet's utter dejection and hopelessness expressing the thought that the world will not correct itself, but perpetuate its evils in an ever-ascending spiraling pattern of violence. The foregone conclusion that the child will live a life of treason and its apology proffered in advance for its death after it has lived as a lethal automaton, offers a picture of a world akin to nothing but hell. [from WIKIPEDIA]

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    lerato maveta(6/28/2018 4:32:00 AM)

    yes, exactly this is a brilliant poem and there is need to appreciate.

    52 person liked.
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  • Soumita SarkarSoumita Sarkar (9/6/2015 9:49:00 AM)

    Excellent piece of write that..... the poet has delineated the age of mechanical slavery to the hardened humanity.....let not me born in such an age....where my death lives me...Thanks....Poets like you have kept hope alive for redemption.

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  • Jeremy Waldron (6/29/2015 1:57:00 PM)

    Wow! I just looked it up, jogged by memory. My twelfth grade class studied it at school (long ago and far away, in the late 1960s, public high school in New Zealand.)

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  • Kay Staley (10/6/2014 11:10:00 AM)

    Love the language and alliteration and the unique style. Think how hard it would be to write something like this that actually made sense, as good as this one does!

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    17 person liked.
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  • Briony NichollsBriony Nicholls (8/30/2014 10:30:00 AM)

    This is a brilliant poem that I will keep re-reading to gain more of its multi-faceted insights into how we are moulded and created. Unfortunately it is just as piercingly relevant today as it was back in 1944.

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Rating Card

Prayer Before Birth # 135 poem on top 500 Poems
4,0 out of 5
109 total ratings
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