'a sudden gift.'



by Carol Ann Duffy 



Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.


by Carol Ann Duffy

‘Prayer’ from Mean Time by Carol Ann Duffy. Published by Picador, 2013. Copyright © Carol Ann Duffy.

Reproduced by permission of the author c/o Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W 11 1JN


Poem as Friend to Tricia

Prayerby Carol Ann Duffy

In this episode of our podcast, you will hear Tricia talking about the poem that has been a friend to her: ’Prayer' by Carol Ann Duffy.

We are delighted to feature 'Prayer' in this episode and would like to thank Carol Ann Duffy for granting us permission to use her poem in this way.

Tricia visited The Poetry Exchange at The National Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre. We’re very grateful to The National Poetry Library for hosting The Poetry Exchange. Do visit them for further inspiration:


Tricia is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Lesley Bennett and Alistair Snell.


'Prayer' is read by Fiona Lesley Bennett.


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.