A Poem For Sunday


Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

In the appealing anthology Lifelines: New and Collected, Letters From Famous People About Their Favourite Poem, contributors range from novelists on the order of Doris Lessing and Penelope Fitzgerald to actors and scientists on the order of Rosaleen Linehan and Richard Dawkins. One choice surprising to me was made by Peter Fallon, a poet and the distinguished publisher of Gallery Books, who wrote this about his selection:

Thousands of times I’ve heard the ‘Hail Mary’ transformed into, at best, a kind of mantra, at worst, the sound of no sense. Yet the words are lovely in their pure praise of a woman, a mother—maybe all women—and the phrase which has always delighted me, that is ‘the fruit of thy womb,’ for an offspring, a welcomed child, has again and again been submerged in the interminable decades of a million galloping rosaries. …Perhaps it’s the editor in me which would propose to alter the order of the first section of the piece so that it ends ‘Blessed is Jesus, the fruit of thy womb,’ to recover its special emphasis.

The text of the Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

(“The Annunciation” by Fra Angelico, circa 1434, via Wikimedia Commons)