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  • More, Good Digestion and a Prayer December 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval , trackback

    thomas moore

    Beach, in the tradition of rather straitened New Years Day posts wishes his readers the best of 2014 with this little prayer that was sent in by a friend. As always replace ‘Lord’ with ‘Allah’, ‘First Contact’, ‘the Universe’, ‘Historical Materialism’ till your tastes are satisified…

    Give me a good digestion, Lord,
    And also something to digest;
    Give me a healthy body, Lord,
    With sense to keep it at its best.

    Give me a healthy mind, Good Lord,
    To keep the good and pure in sight;
    Which seeing sin is not appalled,
    But finds a way to set it right.

    Give me a mind which is not bored,
    That does not whimper, whine or sigh;
    Don’t let me worry overmuch
    About the fussy thing called ‘I’.

    Give me a sense of humour, Lord,
    Give me the grace to see a joke;
    To get some happiness from life,
    And pass it on to other folk.

    This prayer is attractive in itself if you ignore the rhymes. But it is also attractive because of some cobblers lurking in its history. It is described on the internet in French and Italian (where it is particularly popular) as being by ‘Thomas More’. It is, of course, nothing of the kind. Thomas More composed only a handful of prayers for a wider audience, including his very moving prayer before execution. The English is hardly sixteenth-century… And there are even modern traces including that ‘fussy thing called ‘I’’: would that have even been possible before Merton and T.S.Eliot had started pulling rubber chickens out of our souls? The other problem is that the poem/prayer seems to be far better known on the continent. Presumably this is a translation into English of an early twentieth-century work in one of the Latin languages. Beach has met one Italian who learnt this prayer (‘by the great More’) at school after the second world war. It looks as if then the misattribution came sometime in the early or middle part of the century and that it was, then, eventually translated into English, in what is rather hackneyed verse. The fact that it was misattributed to Moore might suggest it was anonymous, the work of an early twentieth-century Catholic mystic in a cell or cave. In any case, this is all just masturbation… Happy New Year!