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.


                                                                                              Louis MacNeice