Ferenc André: Anthropocene Prayer


You, who turn the Earth so it can 

learn the sun’s heat, you are  

acquainted with the stones’ grating song,  

you also rub dignity into the spine   

of the lolling, recumbent hills; 

You, who with careful hands, stir up 

the base of the sky so birds can soar 

freely on the waves of the wind; 

You, who, to keep the soil warm,  

melt with your breath the rocks 

under the crust, you strike pines 

with lightning to teach them  

humility, you know what the flames  

crackle and mutter, one to the other; 

You, who speak the waters’ babble, 

who know the springs’ fresh chuckle and gush 

who sieve short showers out of the clouds, 

to cool the migrating buffalo, and who  

call the sea-trenches by name; 

To You I plead! 


Be merciful to the titterers and the unworthy, 

forgiving to the lechers and the strutters, 

Do not become angry with compulsive achievers, 

the peddlers of desire and the honey-tongued prophets. 

Be forbearing towards them, and wink at their hurtling, 

for they too are defenceless and fallen. 

And also forgive us, who to keep  

our heads above the swelling waters must 

cling to the last twig of shame, because 

what would people say, if we let go. 

Forgive us, who from time to time 

twist the night tightly about us and  

sweat toxins and scorching stars. 

Forgive us who seek love adrift  

on the froth of dubious beers, for as  

often as we discover it, it dissolves  

into nausea, migraine and nervous tension,  

and burns the words from our tongues 

leaving us without a word of farewell 

and tossing with frustration. 

Forgive us, who overwatered  

the promises we were gifted, 

but still guard them zealously 

in hopes they’ll revive. 

Forgive us, who were herded with blandishments 

into the Land of Possibilities, then found 

the borders closed behind us, 

our documents confiscated, and who, as 

the embassy building was burnt down 

around us were told only, “We believe in you, 

you can do it!” 

And, I implore you, forgive the boomers 

whose lungs were encrusted with 

Iron Curtain dust long before 

they inherited this land, who had 

 the scalding condensate of freedom 

thrown in their faces; 

Who, still learning to swim, bit on 

the first hook, till cynicism swelled them  

to pufferfish. Their dreams then 

privatised, they drove themselves  

hard, atoning through work, fleeing 

the threat of their own feelings; 

And who became so accustomed 

to finding what lay beyond bars was  

merely more bars, that long before their 

release back into the reservation, their survival 

instinct had died. 

Forgive the chocolate-scented  

angels whose halos blind 

even the purest of eyes, and who 

someday soon will in fact bulldoze  

the earth and leave it flat. 

And forgive me too, for I am descended 

from all of these, I sit beside chairs 

in just the same way  

and have nothing to do with any of them. 

And forgive me for loving them with 

biting bitterness and humble devotion, 

I love them, I love them all! 


Neat-bearded hipsters, your arms 

inked black with nighttime forests, 

sipping like connoisseurs  

at your craft beers, I love you all! 

Tuberose-scented divas, discussing 

self-esteem in the gym each morning, 

then dining on hamburgers  

with a knife and fork, I love you! 

You tofu-recipe-posting neo-Marxist 

arts students, with your satchel of 

deconstruction always on your shoulder, who  

could make yourself homes in ever more memes, 

and you dads, nomadic horsemen, twisting  

in the saddle to shoot your bows, you dynasty- 

founding Hungarian housewives,1 weeping at the 

pharmacy and dreaming of home births. I love you! 

You, who regularly slip away from company 

to pick the snot out of your noses, so you 

can finally get some air, and you, who fold 

your clothes neatly before you have sex. 

I love you! 

You, who quake like the leaves of the aspen 

at the word ‘foreigner,’ but teach Gypsy kids 

from the end of the village to read and write, 

and you, from whose throats broad-mindedness  

bursts forth with such force it sets church bells 

ringing, I love youl!  

You, who bathe daily in anxiety  

and never wash out the tub after, 

and you who put every neighbour’s  

house in order, just so you don’t 

have to deal with your own, I love you! 

You, who in ringing tones prophesy 

love, fearing you are not worthy  

of it, and you who, lest you be unmasked, 

still insist you love, though your tongues  

have been pierced by red-hot nails, 

I love you! 

You, who make sacrifices, and you 

who are yourselves the sacrificial victim, 

I love you! 

You who have moved mountains out of 

the way of truth, for it would crush 

them to dust, and you, who’ve put electric 

fences round a country’s worth of terrors, I love you! 

You, who have passed on your wheel-broken dreams 

like rickets to the bones of your descendants, 

and you, who are not virtuous, just far too timid 

to be wicked, I love, love, love you! 


I pray for them all therefore. 

For in me they live on, and I too 

live on in each one of them. 

Their names are my name, their land is 

my land, their muteness my muteness. 

I beg You, then, incline Your ear to us, 

hear the words of our mouths, grant us  

forgiveness and endeavour to love us, 

as the earth loves the clods, 

as flames the crackling, 

as wingbeats the wind, 

as white-crested waves the sea. 

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