Robert Creeley, “A Prayer”

With thanks to Catherine Rogers

A Prayer (from Poetry)
Robert Creeley

something small
but infinite
and quiet.

There are senses
make an object
in their simple
feeling for one.


What is the prayer for? “Small,” “infinite,” “quiet:” is this Nothing? Perhaps, but we were told it is “something,” if unseen. “Infinite” suggests that it is not viewable as a whole.

The second stanza is about partiality. What we know is that there are senses. These may be our physical senses. They may be the senses with which an object is taken in. The “senses make an object.” The lack of “that” in the opening of the second line of the second stanza does not merely suggest immediacy. Object and perceiver are one. Are we ourselves asking to be blessed? Before that, consider the “simple feeling.” A multiplicity (“senses”) is now one in more than one sense. All the senses are an attempt to feel, whether they are our senses or not.

Why is any direct mention of attempting, trying, achieving missing? The incompleteness of feeling is a completeness. Similarly, the prayer is the unity of the poem. I would guess an atom, in its indivisibility, as small, infinite and quiet. The building block of reality means nothing – cannot be taken in a sense, cannot be sensed – if there is no reality. Hence, the second stanza. You need both, what creates and creation. The blessing is external to the poem. The blessing is ours to give.

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