A List of Praises by anne porter


Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing, Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches, Mad with the joy of the Sabbath, Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun, Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes, A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry living wild on the Streets through generations of children. Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning, Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh Of the wind in the pinewoods, At night give praise with starry silences. Give praise with the skirling of seagulls And the rattle and flap of sails And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor. Give praise with the humpback whales, Huge in the ocean they sing to one another. Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets, katydids and cicadas, Give praise with hum of bees, Give praise with the little peepers who live near water. When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries We know that the winter is over. Give praise with mockingbirds, day’s nightingales. Hour by hour they sing in the crepe myrtle And glossy tulip trees On quiet side streets in southern towns. Give praise with the rippling speech Of the eider-duck and her ducklings As they paddle their way downstream In the red-gold morning On Restiguche, their cold river, Salmon river, Wilderness river. Give praise with the whitethroat sparrow. Far, far from the cities, Far even from the towns, With piercing innocence He sings in the spruce-tree tops, Always four notes And four notes only. Give praise with water, With storms of rain and thunder And the small rains that sparkle as they dry, And the faint floating ocean roar That fills the seaside villages, And the clear brooks that travel down the mountains And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood, And with the angels in that other country.

(C) Anne Porter

  • Write your own praise poem, beginning with the words, “Give praise with…”

  • Read back through your poem and write a reflection piece, What did writing this poem make you notice? What shifted for you? What opened up?