Analysis of “Prayer” by Carol Ann Duffy

Topics: Poetry, Rhyme, New York Pages: 5 (1742 words) Published: June 15, 2013
Analysis of “Prayer” by Carol Ann DuffyLouise Erdrich
Yue Jiang 105034154
The Prayer, written in 1993 by, Carol Ann DuffyLouise Erdrich, has a close relationship with Julia Kristeva’s essay “Revolution in Poetic Language”. According to psychoanalysis, when people are babies, they are irrational and emotional. All their need is to be cared for. Their needs should be demandedmet, either for food, or caring or other things. A baby considers the person who offers satisfies them this need as “mother”. In addition, all their language and image of the world in this stage are acquired through the mother. The essay, “Revolution in Poetic Language”, written by Julia Kristeva, selected in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism says “In this way the drives, which are ‘energy’ charges as well as ‘psychical’ marks, articulate what we call a chora: a nonexpressive totality formed by the drives and their stases in a motility that is as full of movement as it is regulated.” (Kristeva, P2170)[1]1. Another sentences in this essay also convince make this point, “The child’s first so-called holophrastic enunciations include gesture, the object, and vocal emission…. Nevertheless, they are already thetic in the sense that they separate an object from the subject, and attribute to it a semiotic fragment, which thereby becomes a signifier.” (Kristeva, P2175)2. When babies grow up, they confront the image of father, who breaks the harmonious relationship between the baby and the mother. The father makes the baby realize that it does not own the mother. It should go out of the mother’s breast and embrace the world. The baby should become rational and independent. This is another stage when people acquire language, which is called the post-Oedipal stage. After this stage, people’s main purpose of the life shifts to finding their own identity and takinge the responsibility. This is when the cognitive and conscious stage appears. After that people’s languages become objective, rather than subjective. PoemPoetry, on the other hand, is subjective. It offers human beings a chance to become babies, to become subjective again. As Kristeva said, “The chora is a modality of significance in which the linguistic sign is not yet articulated as the absence of an object and as the distinction between real and symbolic.” (Kristeva, P2171)3. The poem bridges the gap between childhood and manhood. Writing the poempoetry and reading poetrythe poem call for many irrational, non-cognitive, non-logical things. The lines in poems are often not completed sentences, but words or phrases. The rhyme in poems asks evokes subjective feelings. This sonnet follows the a clear rhyme pattern. As the essay of “Versification” in The Norton Anthology of Poetry says, “What your eye sees on the page is the composer’s verbal score, waiting for your voice to bring it alive as you read it aloud or hear it in your mind’s ear.” (Stallworthy, P2027) [2]4. Rhyme, on the other hand, is one of the most important techniques to make a poem sounds like music. By reading the sonnet aloud, one can experience the feelings the poet triesy to convey, and attain resonance. By stressing different words in the sonnet, one can get a variety of feelings, though it may be the same in a big scale, one can feel the slightest differences both emotionally and psychologically, which is definitely subjective. This sonnet satisfies people’s need in one aspect, which is the feeling of security. In baby times, the mother provides this security. In adulthood, human beings themselves should offer satisfy this need. The poem, “Prayer", says, “Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer utters itself. So, a woman will lift her head from the sieve of her hands and stare at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.” (Erdrich Duffy, P2007)[3]5. For a prayerperson who prays, praying makes him or her feel secure and being cared for, being surrounded. So even if he or she cannot pray, he or she will...

References: 1. Julia Kristeva. “Revolution in Poetic Language.” in The Norton Anthology Theory and Criticism. Edited by Vincent B. Leitch. New York, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001. P2169-P2179. P2170.
2. Julia Kristeva. “Revolution in Poetic Language.” in The Norton Anthology Theory and Criticism. Edited by Vincent B. Leitch. New York, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001. P2169-P2179. P2175.
3. Julia Kristeva. “Revolution in Poetic Language.” in The Norton Anthology Theory and Criticism. Edited by Vincent B. Leitch. New York, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001. P2169-P2179. P2171.
4. Jon Stallworthy. “Versification.” in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Edited by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, Jon Stallworthy. 5th edition. New York, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005. P2027-P2052. P2027.
5. Louise Erdrich. “Prayer.” in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Edited by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, Jon Stallworthy. 5th edition. New York, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005. P2007-P2008. P2007.
6. Louise Erdrich. “Prayer.” in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Edited by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, Jon Stallworthy. 5th edition. New York, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005. P2007-P2008. P2007
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8. Louise Erdrich. “Prayer.” in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Edited by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, Jon Stallworthy. 5th edition. New York, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005. P2007-P2008. P2008
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Duffy, Carol Ann. “Prayer.” in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Edited by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, Jon Stallworthy. 5th edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005. 2007-2008.
1. Erdrich, Louise. “Prayer.” in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Edited by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, Jon Stallworthy. 5th edition. New York, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005.
3.Stallworthy, Jon. “Versification.” in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Edited by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, Jon Stallworthy. 5th edition. New York, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110. : W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005. 2027-2052. 2005.
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