Summary

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 310

In “The Priest’s Confession,” Ai presents the thought process of a priest who believes he has sinned and battles his own temptations, fearing the wrath of God. He confesses, “I didn’t say mass this morning” and then goes on to describe “Rosamund, the orphan,” who tempts him with her laughter...

(The entire section contains 310 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Priest's Confession study guide. You'll get access to all of the The Priest's Confession content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

In “The Priest’s Confession,” Ai presents the thought process of a priest who believes he has sinned and battles his own temptations, fearing the wrath of God. He confesses, “I didn’t say mass this morning” and then goes on to describe “Rosamund, the orphan,” who tempts him with her laughter and “the almond scent of her body” that wraps around his neck “like a noose.” This image of a noose is repeated in part 3 of the poem, where he contemplates hanging a rope from the rafter of the church and kicking away “the needlepoint footstool” so that he can “swing out over the churchyard.”

Images of Rosamund and her developing body haunt him. Despite his attempts at self-control, he gives in to temptation, breaks his rosary, and then rolls “on the floor/ in a kind of ecstasy” for his transgression. He describes to God how he craves parts of Rosamund’s body, such as the “bird’s nest of hair/ barely covered by her drawers” and her breasts that “grew in secret/ like two evil thoughts,” but he still wants to know that God loves him.

The priest confesses that, in a moment of sadistic violence, he pressed his face between Rosamund’s legs and “bit down” so hard that his mouth bled, but that he did not stop. Although the priest describes Rosamund as “so quiet” and then suddenly crying out, the reader is doubtful that she “moved closer and closer” to the priest’s lips, as he describes. Since Rosamund is not given a voice or a choice in this poem, perhaps the priest is having delusions of transcendence. After this encounter, he is haunted by both her laughter and her screams, and he resigns himself to being a sinner, entreating, “Lord, come walk with me” because he knows it is his only hope for redemption.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Priest's Confession Study Guide

Subscribe Now