Prayer – Louis Untermeyer
GOD, though this life is but a wraith,
Although we know not what we use,
Although we grope with little faith,
Give me the heart to fight—and lose.
Ever insurgent let me be,
Make me more daring than devout;
From sleek contentment keep me free,
And fill me with a buoyant doubt.
Open my eyes to visions girt
With beauty, and with wonder lit—
But always let me see the dirt,
And all that spawn and die in it.
Open my ears to music; let
Me thrill with Spring’s first flutes and drums—
But never let me dare forget
The bitter ballads of the slums.
From compromise and things half done,
Keep me with stern and stubborn pride;
And when at last the fight is won,
God, keep me still unsatisfied.
In an adult forum yesterday, we discussed the second stanza of this poem among other “voices” that seemed to echo both an ancient biblical time of semi-depression and the current moods of people in our society. What appealed to some in our forum was the oxymoron of “buoyant doubt.” We probably think more normally of doubt as something which weighs or drags us down, a force from which our spirits need to be lifted, and doubt can be just that, but can it not also be buoyant?