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New York Songlines

Virtual Walking Tours of Manhattan Streets. A unique and rewarding hyperwalk through Manhattan.

Bad Prayers.

I do not like to hear him pray
On bended knee about an hour,
For grace to spend aright the day,
Who knows his neighbor has no flour.

I’d rather see him go to mill
And buy the luckless brother bread,
And see his children eat their fill
And laugh beneath their humble shed.

I do not like to hear him pray,
“Let blessings on the widow be,”
Who never seeks her home, to say,
“If want o'ertake you, come to me.”

I hate the prayer so loud and long
That’s offered for the orphan’s weal,
By him who sees him crushed by wrong,
And only with his lips doth feel.

I do not like to hear her pray
With jeweled ear and silken dress,
Whose washerwoman toils all day,
And then is asked to work for less.

Such pious shavers I despise;
With folded hands and face demure,
They lift to heaven their “angel eyes,”
And steal the earnings of the poor.

I do not like such soulless prayers;
If wrong, I hope to be forgiven—
No angel wing them upward bears:
They’re lost a million miles from heaven.
Amos Bronson Alcott [1799–1888]