April 26, 2017

Maryann Corbett

PRAYER CONCERNING THE NEW, MORE “ACCURATE” TRANSLATION OF CERTAIN PRAYERS

O Lord of the inverted verb,
You Who alone vouchsafe and deign,
Whom simpler diction might perturb,
To Whom we may not make things plain,
Forgive us now this Job-like rant:
These prayers translated plumb-and-squarely
Pinch and constrict us (though we grant
They broaden our vocabulary).
Hear us still if we mutter dully
With uninflected tongues and knees,
Shunning (see Matthew 6) the poly-
Syllables of the Pharisees.
This we entreat, implore, beseech
Whose miseries are too deep for speech.

from Rattle #55, Spring 2017
Tribute to Civil Servants

[download audio]

__________

Maryann Corbett: “When I earned a doctorate in English in 1981, I expected to end up teaching. I didn’t expect to spend almost 35 years working for the Minnesota Legislature. It was a privileged place to work, in more than one sense of the word. There was the frisson supplied by the constant presence of the media, the satisfaction of believing one’s work served the public, the thrill of working with smart, motivated people, the pleasure of being surrounded by the striking buildings and gardens of the capitol grounds, the sense of history. There was also the uncomfortable awareness that with every legislative session there are winners and losers, and that the same battles for justice are fought, and often lost, by the same people, year after year. More painful still was the knowledge that laws enacted with the best intentions do much less than what is hoped for. I’ve retired now. I miss the pleasures. The uncomfortable knowledge has not gone away.” (website)

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