Thursday, 2 October 2008

Prayer for My son on leaving for university

When I left for university (Trinity College, Dublin) my mother gave me a copy of Yeats' 'Prayer for my Daughter' but I've found this wonderful , funny and moving poem by George Szirtes which I'm giving to my son as he leaves for Oxford. (Mothers can be so embarrassing but J has given me permission to publish this on my blog! ).

Here's an extract from George Szirtes' poem:

Some quick advice? Well just a quickie:
Beware the sentimental-sticky,
Beware the choosy and the picky,
Beware all those who talk in torrents

The snobs who earned the strict abhorrence
Of poor pale sickly D.H. Lawrence,
Beware the Oxfordly superior,
Beware those with a smooth exterior,

The cynic wiser and the world-wearier,
Beware the shady and the murky,
Beware the over-precious-quirky,
Beware your father (mother) talking turkey.

from Halicarnassus to plain Hitchin,
may you, in darkness, be that changing
wind and light, your mind free-ranging,
sea-like, unplumbed, salt, estranging,

tender, yes, but not kid-gloving
neither too mousy, nor too shoving,
be fortunate, be loved, be loving
be all of these, be kind, far-seeing,

in short, beyond the you- and me-ing
all that befits a human being,
what human beings may be made for:
life, unearned, unknown, unpaid for,
that you were celebrated, prayed for.

Extract from 'A Prayer for my Daughter' by George Szirtes (From An English Apocalypse, Bloodaxe, 2001)

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