Thursday, April 7, 2016

Carmen Bernos de Gasztold

"Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery - it's the sincerest 
form of learning."— George Bernard Shaw

Welcome to Day 7 of FEET IN THE CREEK. Today is also Spiritual Journey Thursday, in which we contemplate our One Little Word for 2016. So today's post is doing double duty as we focus on Bobbie Ann Taylor's word: Merciful.

For each day I have chosen a favorite poem, a favorite poet, or a favorite friend. I will look at the work, decide what draws me to it, what makes it resonate for me, and then write my own poem about the creek with those techniques in mind. These are first drafts, so nothing will be especially polished, but they will be starting points for revision after the month is done. Feel free to follow along or join in.

Today's poet is Carmen Bernos de Gasztold. Gasztold was a French poet who lived from 1919-1995. Her book, Prayers from the Ark, was published by Viking Press in 1992. English author, Rumer Godden, translated the prayers in 1962. This version, also from Viking, features illustrations by Barry Moser. I found the book while rummaging in a used book store and fell in love immediately. You can read other poems from the book here.

from Prayers from the Ark

The Prayer of the Cock

Do not forget, Lord,
it is I who make the sun rise.
I am Your servant
but, with the dignity of my calling,
I need some glitter and ostentation.
Noblesse oblige...
All the same,
I am Your servant, not forget, lord,
I make the sun rise.


Original © Carmen Bernos de Gasztold for Le Mieux Aime and Prieres dans l'Arche, 1947 and 1955
English translation © Rumor Godden 1962, renewed 1990

My Intention: Write a prayer in the voice of the creek. Include the idea of mercy. 

The Prayer of the Creek

Send rain, Lord.
I am not a mighty river
like the Chattahoochee
with waters aplenty.
I stay within my banks
even when I'm full.
But now, your sun
has shrunk me
to a puny trickle.
Be merciful to me, Lord.
Send rain.


© Doraine Bennett, 2016. All rights reserved.


  1. Thank you so very much for taking time to honor my OLW. I love your original poem. The ending especially speaks to me "Be merciful to me, Lord. Send rain." Since it was on a rainy day that I had a head-on crash with a pick-up truck, I've sometimes wished it would never rain again. And yet, that experience led to a spiritual renewal that I wouldn't trade for anything--continuing physical repercussions notwithstanding. Somewhere, too, while I am praying for no rain, farmers and others are praying for rain. God is so merciful; He answers prayers Providentially, not automatically. Our Heavenly Father really does know best, and His mercy, as Psalm 136 repeats, endures forever. God bless you as you integrate poetry and spiritual journey. Thank you for writing in response to the poem by Gasztold; his poem makes me laugh at myself-- we have no need or right to be cocky. All is grace; all is mercy. Thank God for our Merciful God.

  2. I love the way Gasztold's poem captures that cocky voice. You would enjoy her other poems from the book, too. I'm so glad that your are finding healing and health, both physically and emotionally and spiritually.

  3. I was fascinated by your creek poem project when I read about it last Friday, Doraine. I really enjoyed the mentor poem you chose and how you blended your poem with the theme of mercy. It's wonderful what one can find in used bookstores!

    1. Thanks, Violet. This project has been a lot of fun.

  4. What an interesting and fun project! The "Prayer of the Cock" is hilarious, and I daresay, an admonishment to all of us who think we are in control. ;-) I love how you incorporated "merciful" into your own original poem. Well done!