A List of Praises

It’s long, but so worth it.


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.

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