Thursday, February 9, 2012

Martyr's Prayer

Dear God,
I would not turn
From the test of fire.
No flame burns
So hot that
I would leave Thee.

But often,
At weary bedtime,
I cannot hold
My knees to the floor--
So cold,
So very cold.

Weirdly enough, some of the poems from Beginnings have kind of a true-blue feel to them (aka, would have appealed to Molly me, but to this version of me seem either inaccessible or representative of things I don't like about Mormonism), so I don't know what Carol Lynn Pearson's intent was with this. But it's a pretty perfect description of how it is for me.


  1. I like this one because I feel like fire-hot passionate tests of faith can be much easier to hold on through rather than the monotonous coldness of having to go through every day. I wouldn't be so quick to assign the "true-blue" label to CLP's work, considering her life and advocacy, but then again, labels like that really frustrate me in general.

  2. I'm only talking about certain poems, and they were written in the 60s so I think it's possible that they might have a different tone than some of her other work. I know about her advocacy, but this is the first of her books I've picked up, which is exactly why I was surprised to find these poems. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with them, either, just that they don't really resonate with me where I am right now. Like this, "Lament of a Grouch":

    I knew
    That in heaven
    All are happy.
    But I wish
    I'd known
    The reason

    To the happy
    Do they
    Open the door.

    That's the kind of thing I hear a lot from people who think that depression and anxiety are things to be fixed by praying and having more faith, and I heard that a lot when I was active. Of course it's not necessarily what she's saying, but that's what it made me think about. There's also:

    "To a Beloved Skeptic"

    I cannot talk with you of God
    Since sober wise you grew;
    So my one recourse in charity
    Is to talk with God of you.

    and "The Lord Speaks to a Literary Debauche Newly Arrived in Heaven"

    Impressive indeed, this shelf of books
    On which all the earth-critics dote.
    But oh, m son, how I wish that you
    Had read the book I wrote.

    and also "To One Who Worries About Being Found", which wouldn't be bad if it didn't remind me so much of more Young Women and BYU Relief Society lessons than I can count:

    Does the flower fret
    That the bee
    Might forget
    To buzz by?

    Ah, no.
    One concern
    Has she,
    And she tends
    It well:
    Her own smell.

    Anyway. It's entirely possible that I'm reading these the wrong way, and that if I'd read any of her other stuff I'd have a better sense of her style. Even knowing what I do about her, though, reading these poems was just a very different experience than what I'd anticipated.