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A Lapsed Catholic at Prayer

Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:45 pm
by Charles
A Lapsed Catholic at Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven
What’s with the “our”?
There is no-one beside me
who I know is praying.

Hallowed be thy Name
Why this name, exactly?
Isn’t it the most blasphemed?
Christ! I did it again…

Thy Kingdom Come
A bit old hat, that. Isn’t a republic better?
Or a parliamentary democracy?
At least a constitutional monarchy.

Thy Will Be Done
Oh yeah, that makes sense
I may as well consult my horoscope
to know what in the hell that is.

On Earth as it is in Heaven
Ah, Plato’s forms, let us conform!
It isn’t that I don’t have the will
It’s just not how it's done these days…

Give us each day our daily bread
I don’t receive, I earn my keep
I’ll thank the farmer and M&S food court
and the nice old dear in payroll.

And forgive us our trepasses
Oh there are many of those I’m sure
but not quite sure what the the point is
of being forgiven for a private failing.

As we forgive those who trespass against us
Yes, of course I’ll forgive my lodger for stealing
my milk and (the cheek) my cereal -
But not the family who still owes me the rent.

And lead us not into temptation
I can do that quite well myself, thank you.
my hand sliding down Mrs. Mauve’s thigh
like a child’s towards the candy.

But deliver us from evil, Amen
Deliver me Lord from the taxman,
the mother-in-law, my prostate
and all manner of do-gooders.

Re: A Lapsed Catholic at Prayer

Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:34 am
by Perry
I like this poem. I think it would be improved if you would put it in meter, or at least make it more similar to metrical poetry -- even line lengths, a regular rhythm, possibly end-rhymes.

I understand that free verse is the norm now in English poetry, but my point of view is "old school" -- that free verse is appropriate for certain kinds of poetry, and meter is appropriate for other kinds of poetry. In this case, I think that a regular rhythm and whatever other elements of form that you can write into the poem will drive home your points more effectively.

With a poem like this, you want your come-backs to the lines of prayer to be as witty as possible, so I would keep reading it with an eye to ramping up the witticisms as much as you can.

I'd love to talk about religion with you.

Re: A Lapsed Catholic at Prayer

Posted: Fri Apr 05, 2019 6:34 pm
by bjondon
Hi Charles, - an excellent conceit and well followed through.
I especially like the chippy energy of the first 4 stanzas.
Not too sure about Plato . . . I suppose it gives a hellenic angle
on the N and taking your foot off the pedal here is good tone-wise
but 'it's just not how it's done these days' seems a bit too wishy washy -
perhaps a cynical/realist take on the notion of utopias?
I admire your nerve taking on the lord's prayer.
Could there be more of an arc in the N's mood, more of a story?
I am just being picky though - this is pretty good as it stands . . . but I
sense the potential for something with an even cheekier lash in its tail.

Who is the N addressing?… I suppose himself, but he is nevertheless
praying (I liked the opening aside that he seems to be the only one
(shades of Graham Greene?)
Does the curtailment of the prayer at the end need acknowledging?

S6 is abit of a Daily Mail swerve and I suspect intended, but the over literal
reading of 'daily bread' seems a bit strained
S7 - two 'sures'. The reasoning is almost interesting - could be more pointed.
S8 nicely develops the bigotry/harshness of S6
S9 - lively - I like the contradictory sentiment but the syntax is a bit confusing.
S10 - I like 'prostate' and 'do-gooders'. It's the finale so 'taxman' and 'mother-in-law'?
- could you do better?

Re: A Lapsed Catholic at Prayer

Posted: Fri Apr 05, 2019 7:02 pm
by David
Charles, I don't like to come between a lapsed Catholic and his God, but I like the conceit of this while agreeing with Perry that more metrical and wittier would be better. I admire your argumentativeness, your willingness to buttonhole the Big Feller, but would like it more if it were a bit punchier.

Mind you, Mrs. Mauve is a nice invention - almost an escapee from an X-rated version of Cluedo.



Re: A Lapsed Catholic at Prayer

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:06 pm
by Namyh
Charles - Somewhere between the pit of our fears and the summit of our expectations is the belief that we can overcome the one and succeed with the other with a little help from a higher hand. There is a mantra for the believers to embrace and the non-followers to not, found in every religion that modifies human behavior. Enjoyed your work Charles. Namyh

Re: A Lapsed Catholic at Prayer

Posted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:29 am
by Perry
I decided to come back and have another look. I'm not familiar enough with your writing, Charles, to know if you ever write in meter. If you don't, then asking you to put this in meter is a pretty tall order. In that case, what I would say is that you ramp up the tongue-in-cheek witticisms as much as you can. This poem is all about the cleverness of the come-backs (the responses) to each line.

Re: A Lapsed Catholic at Prayer

Posted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:05 am
by Macavity
Hi Charles,
I think you've delivered elements of a crusty 'Daily Mail' voice, though the 'Plato' reference was a tangent. The stereotypical attitude highlighted in the concluding stanza. It is a viewpoint!



Re: A Lapsed Catholic at Prayer

Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:48 pm
by Charles
Hi All,

Sorry I'm a bit late on the responses.

Perry, yes I think that would make the piece much better - I'll see if I can find time to write in meter. I have written metered verse in the past but it doesn't always come naturally to me and requires quite a bit more effort. And yes talking about Religion is a hobby of mine, love to discuss. Interestingly, I started this poem with N. being me - but I'm far to reverent and timid despite being lapsed to agree with the sentiments of the N. that seemed to emerge. It was still very entertaining to write from this cynical, nasty perspective, however. Perhaps it's a warning - me in another 20 years?

Jules, thanks for the detailed crit. I like that you think there are shades of Graham Greene, I'm a big fan, so be good if that came through. Agree that plato is out of place, and yes - I think to follow your metaphor I could put pedal to the metal at the end and make it punchier. I must admit, much of this came to me in the process of writing and I feel I develop N. to be a much nastier piece of work than he was supposed to be when I first started writing this as the poem progressed so no reason not to end on a truly blasphemous note in the final verse to follow on from this.

I'm glad you like the idea of it - I think I could do it better justice. Was it T.S.Eliot who said something along the lines/with the sentiment of "If you're going to blaspheme, you have to at least do it well." (On Baudelaire if memory serves.)

Ah! I can tell you're not raised Catholic if you think I'm curtailing it. :wink: This is the Catholic version of the prayer which doesn't have the last lines that are in the Protestant version, interestly it is the most ancient version with the "doxology" as its known not appearing in the earliest manuscripts of the new testament.

David, agreed and I liked that you liked Mrs. Mauve. In this age of me-too it has particularly nasty edge, which while is what I was going for, I was worried I might have taken too dark a turn.

Namyh - yes the satire is more on N. than the Lord's prayer itself, whom I hope I sufficiently painted to be a nasty piece of work.

Mac - thanks that is what I was going for. Agree about plato.

Thanks for all the responses I'll put a bit more effort into this and give it another go. I believe it's a good conceit, but I believe it can be better executed. Particularly Jules' point that there could be more of a story. I think the idea that N. steadily gets nastier as the piece progresses is a good way to go, so making that more central could work. As well as improving the structure and the satire.