4 Beautiful Poems for You to Pray With

Maureen Dillon

4 Beautiful Poems for You to Pray With

Poetry and prayer share alot in common. The rhythms and imagery of the Psalms evoke a whole variety of emotions and express such natural human desire to describe and understand truth in the context of our own world and experiences. Some poetry is written intentionally as a prayer and some is written as such an honest observation of truth and beauty that for many readers it becomes prayful. Here are four of my favorite poems to pray with. 

The Noiseless Patient Spider 
By Walt Whitman

A noiseless patient spider, 
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated, 
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding, 
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself, 
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them. 

And you O my soul where you stand, 
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, 
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them, 
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold, 
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Easter Wings
By George Herbert

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store, 
      Though foolishly he lost the same, 
            Decaying more and more, 
                  Till he became 
                        Most poore: 
                        With thee 
                  O let me rise 
            As larks, harmoniously, 
      And sing this day thy victories: 
Then shall the fall further the flight in me. 

My tender age in sorrow did beginne 
      And still with sicknesses and shame. 
            Thou didst so punish sinne, 
                  That I became 
                        Most thinne. 
                        With thee 
                  Let me combine, 
            And feel thy victorie: 
         For, if I imp my wing on thine, 
Affliction shall advance the flight in me. 

The Pulley
By George Herbert

When God at first made man, 
Having a glass of blessings standing by, 
“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can. 
Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie, 
Contract into a span.” 

So strength first made a way; 
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure. 
When almost all was out, God made a stay, 
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure, 
Rest in the bottom lay. 

“For if I should,” said he, 
“Bestow this jewel also on my creature, 
He would adore my gifts instead of me, 
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature; 
So both should losers be. 

“Yet let him keep the rest, 
But keep them with repining restlessness; 
Let him be rich and weary, that at least, 
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness 
May toss him to my breast.” 

Matthew XXV 30
By Jorge Luis Borges, Translated by Alastair Reid

The first bridge, Constitution Station. At my feet
the shunting trains trace iron labyrinths.
Steam hisses up and up into the night,
which becomes at a stroke the night of the Last Judgment.

From the unseen horizon
and from the very center of my being,
an infinite voice pronounced these things--
things, not words. This is my feeble translation,
time-bound, of what was a single limitless Word:

"Stars, bread, libraries of East and West,
playing-cards, chessboards, galleries, skylights, cellars,
a human body to walk with on the earth,
fingernails, growing at nighttime and in death,
shadows for forgetting, mirrors busily multiplying,
cascades in music, gentlest of all time's shapes.
Borders of Brazil, Uruguay, horses and mornings,
a bronze weight, a copy of the Grettir Saga,
algebra and fire, the charge at Junin in your blood,
days more crowded than Balzac, scent of the honeysuckle,
love and the imminence of love and intolerable remembering,
dreams like buried treasure, generous luck,
and memory itself, where a glance can make men dizzy --
all this was given to you, and with it
the ancient nourishment of heroes --
treachery, defeat, humiliation.
In vain have oceans been squandered on you,
in vain the sun, wonderfully seen through Whitman's eyes.
You have used up the years and they have used up you,
and still, and still, you have not written the poem."