Being part of it


how did I
become what I am;
it was not
my desire, yet
from the day I was born
I have been unable to hold me. You cannot console
or take the blame from me,
because it is I
who let fear
of loneliness change me. I regret the day that
I  felt the
slippery human
need to be in the race,
for now, try as I may
I cannot grapple with
those towers I have built so tall;
those solid walls,
each containing an inner wall
and inside them all, is me.
I cannot compete with
the earthly habits so strong,
eating me like drugs,
like dope,
diminishing me.
I want to be done with
the impudence of those wise
fools who tangle me with tricks and lies,
but they lure
the need inside me,
so I let them lead me on,
feeding my black
desire to fit into those tidy racks,
to be an attractive prospect in a well-placed rack.
this sickness has swallowed me
and I shall remain in
this place, wallowing in blood-baths.
do you see my hypocrisy? I publicly roll
in shame, and yet I pretend this isn’t me.

Raili at Soulgifts introduced me to a new form of poetry today – The Golden Shovel. Check out her lovely poem here. She got the idea from Judy at Lifelessons, who also wrote a beautiful poem using this method. I chose the second stanza of Louis Macneice’s poem, Prayer Before Birth, for my messy attempt.

This is the complete poem by Louis Macneice, with the second stanza picked out in italics :

Prayer Before Birth

I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the
club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
my life when they murder by means of my
hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains
frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white
waves call me to folly and the desert calls
me to doom and the beggar refuses
my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
one face, a thing, and against all those
who would dissipate my entirety, would
blow me like thistledown hither and
thither or hither and thither
like water held in the
hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me

<> <> <>

©Jane Paterson Basil


14 thoughts on “Being part of it

  1. Both poems (the original and yours) so strong and so disturbing–how we all must be feeling in this crazy violent world. All the more important to create what joy we can and celebrate it within ourselves. You should feel nothing but satisfaction with this poem, Jane. It is so powerful. I think you illustrate the strength of finding these ways to oil a way into our inner thoughts. Fine work.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I took you to be a sincere person – if you’re passionate about something it’s pretty difficult to be flattering when someone else does it poorly.
          It’s great to be told that my writing is getting stronger – I can’t judge.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well, I feared it might have sounded condescending–like I thought you needed me to tell you you were doing well. Not meant that way, of course, but I think we all deserve to be told by each other when we produce work even better than usual. This is why I told you I felt your work keeps getting stronger. I know you have faced a lot of painful situations this year and in your life. Writing is a way to translate that pain into something positive and to feel positive about what you are doing with your life. I hope you recognize this and realize that it is also a way of coming out into the world-even on those days when you feel like just staying home.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I didn’t for a moment think that you were being condescanding – I’m grateful for feedback, and I’m ready to admit that without it I would lose confidence. The situation around me often makes me feel like a failure, so I like being told that I at least write well 🙂


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