On His Blindness

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

 

John Milton

On Two-hours of Quiet in Sandplace Woods, near Looe With DHN

Slow, friendly stream –
Moving with August warmth –
Your water calm and lazy
Beneath an archway
Instructed to become a bridge –

Natural and lovely –
Your soothing sounds
Your swayed grasses
And arrangement of stones
Your certain promise
Of becoming increased
And important

When with measured fl ow
Your knowing power,
Becomes a river.

Exchanging this quiet wood
Which you with economic strength
Travel, along narrow banks –
Covered with hazel-nut and sycamore
Bramble and nettle and peat –
Offerings from summer’s growth –

As geese shelter and birds sing
As sparrow-hawks in pairs
Have as their purpose
Another bird’s despair.
You, gentle stream without
Diffi culty wander on.

Only in this moment,
As the fl ies buzz above you
And your little bridge
Is warm to touch, when the
Sun a mere fi ltered beam
Through a dozen trees has an
Affi nity with your moving soul,
Can you exercise such
Beauty that all the air
Is suddenly possessed
Of purity –

Your purpose to move on
Not to stay –
To develop, even to bring
Drama when least expected –
Your moment is here –
Now you give pleasure for today
Pain is not your meaning.
In this bedrock wood
Your youth fresh and cool
Almost identical with love –
Closes upon the seconds
Striking them better than a clock –
Your culture is eternal
For as long as rivers are –
Your language spoken
By the flowing waters –
Your simple sounds –
Higher than intellect’s
Damaged voice –
You are the principle force
Of seas –
Surrounded by no doubts –

Advance sweet stream,
Slowly, without haste –
Deeper is the river
But, your shallow waters
Bring content.

Shanne Sands

Ozymandias

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley

When I was One and Twenty

When I was one-and-twenty
           I heard a wise man say,
          "Give crowns and pounds and guineas
           But not your heart away;
          Give pearls away and rubies
           But keep your fancy free."
          But I was one-and-twenty,
           No use to talk to me.

          When I was one-and-twenty
           I heard him say again,
          "The heart out of the bosom
           Was never given in vain;
          'Tis paid with sighs a plenty
           And sold for endless rue."
          And I am two-and-twenty,
           And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.

A E Hosueman - A Shropshire Lad

Success

You know how I love to talk
About myself –
My ego is ulcer-ridden,
But I have organised my
Conversation to suit my moods –
I’ve worked for years to get
Where I am –
Many caught my kick on the way up!
I live now in the twilight of
Half-truth daring to tell no-one
Too much in-case I lose my mystery
And become like everyone else –
I am ruthless –
Well, you know that’s how one must be –
Nothing must stand in my way –
I have no compassion
For king or beggar –
I put puppies out in the coldest rain –
And watch tears fall down
Lovely cheeks without wiping
One away –
I am skin deep –
I last only for today –
If I stop for one, brief moment
And take a rest,
They will forget my quest
And my ego will become obsolete –
So I must rush, must haste,
Must pack my case and flee –
Towards the winds that beckon me –
But I see a threatening, impending doom –
Standing silent in my room –
And I struggle with my laces
To make my get-away –
Without looking back –
I hurry, hurry to any convenient station
To catch the eternal train
Back to where I started from –
There was the same doom –
And the train had gone!

Shanne Sands, extract from ‘Shadows and Realities’.

Fragments of Desire published by FootSteps Press

Where My Books go

All the words that I utter,
And all the words that I write,
Must spread out their wings untiring,
And never rest in their flight,
Till they come where your sad, sad heart is,
And sing to you in the night,
Beyond where the waters are moving,
Storm-darken’d or starry bright.

William Butler Yeats

Being in Love

A touch of skin, the smell of shampoo’d hair –
Teeth and toes, nails, soft backs even shadows –
The laughter in bed,
Just being there –
The big rows, little fights, tears and smiles
Desolate parting –
Endless longing –
Every breathing second thinking of him –
The passion blind –
The passion strong –
Dozens of kisses caught between dreams –
Always right –
Never wrong –
Heaven for the young –
A glow of youth for age,
Letters, gifts, poems, songs –
Music, wine and dance –
Never too late or too soon –
Always adored like spring sunshine –
And a long stemmed-rose in a sweet girl’s room –
The broken-heart dying in a diamond cage –
As memories throb –
One emotion shared by rich and poor –
Lovers cuff-links –
His words –
The loving of another –
Giving of yourself –
The soul’s jacket amid yellow roses –
A now and always of perfect wealth

Shänne Sands, from Night Song published by FootSteps Press

You Are My Oasis

You are my oasis
The fertile spot
In the desert of
My life –

From you and only you
Words will flow like water
From the underground-well –
The spiritual oath
Needed by poets
Will always be sacred –

You are my illustration –
More than my ideal –
My symbol of victory
Like the leaf of a palm-tree –
But you are also my pannier –
A kind of beast of burden
Carrying all the mistakes
I must never make –

And in the end as in the beginning
You are my love –
Where all poetry
Becomes leopards
Wild, untamed and free –

Where panic ends in sleep –
And muddy years have moved away –
No rust will settle on your panoply –
No brittle speech
Will rot your poems
Or mine –

You are my open respect
For bits of typewriters
And pieces of white paper –
Although the pain is
Terrible at times –
You are my altar
For a thousand dancing words –

 

Shänne Sands, Fragments of Desire

I am a Collector of Useless Things

I am a collector of useless things
Christmas-cracker rings, paper dots –
Coloured string – hidden in drawers –
Behind oak doors – in boxes –
Tucked into books –
Small pieces of treasure –
Gathered together –
Where I always forget
To look –
Empty perfume bottles –
Silk scarves never worn –
Torn little pictures –
My children’s first teeth –
Beneath buttons of pearl –
Surrounded by ribbons
Bought for a penny
From a gipsy in Kent, where
We all went one summer
For apples – for flowers –
For hours made of melon-seeds
Left in a vase on top of my brother’s
Old dinky-cars –
Victoriana, souvenirs from the past –
Before I was born – green shiny glass
White-pretty china – a fat, ugly cat,
A crinoline-lady – a black-evil bat –
Hundreds of marbles – bundles of fans –
All lacy – all Spanish – all second-hand –
Broken bangles, a brooch of real gold –
A pack of cards with most of them missing
A drawing-pin with a top of brass –
A shell from World War I, also begun
Before I was born –
Left lying near some Gaelic corn –
Dried sticks of spice from miles away –
A basket of sweets – near some bright
Orange straws – notes about butterflies,
Last year’s hat – shopping-lists, old bills,
Cotton reels – a skein of pink wool –
Tied around my son’s first shoes –
Lipsticks I don’t use –
17
A small stuffed bird – a clockwork mouse,
Left in a corner of my favourite house –
Fragments of chains – a match-box from France
A St. Christopher rusty with age –
Other charms all tangled with hair –
A doll with one arm
Sitting in a miniature chair –
Left by the side of a rusty bird-cage –
Being a collector of useless things –
I also keep weeping-willow leaves –
Feathers from sparrows left in the snow –
Brown-beans that forgot how to grow –
Tomato-plants for some future spring –
A 78” record cracked down the middle –
Also a jug in the shape of a fiddle –
A musical toy made in Japan –
Some Cornish violets – dried in the sun –
A soup-bowl from a special occasion –
One cushion nobody likes –
A few scented joss-sticks –
A candle from Rome – broken earrings
An Indian flute – some of that shiny –
Plastic pretend fruit –
Theatre programmes just had to be there
An underground ticket, letters, brown rice,
Packets of foreign stamps;
Never been opened –
Along with my toothpicks, my brushes,
My combs – in dozens of places –
Drawers, grey suitcases, trunks
From big ships- little zip bags –
Biscuit-tins – my daughter’s tatty –
School satchel –
Left alone on a windy March day –
I’ll dust them, count them –
Call them quite silly – put them away –
But know with my collection of
Useless things left on a shelf –
I’ve dusted and collected parts of myself.

Shänne Sands, The Silver Hooves.

Love

Do I dare speak?
How shall I begin?
Soaring from some great height
An exalted fl ight –
Sweeping you off your feet
As I usually do.
Or shall I begin softly
With tenderness, on tiptoe
With my head covered in white silk –
Shall I come tall as an Alpine day
With huge mountains blocking
My way to your heart –
Or shall I be small
And perfectly untouchable
In my beauty –
Or shall I stumble,
Lurch into mistakes and fright –
Leaving you to weep
Such sad weepings –
Shall I be buoyant
And fl oat into you
Like an ocean would –
Filling your being with enough
Power to surmount every problem
Trying to force me out –
Or shall I not come at all –
And leave you free to cast yourselves
Into the seas of circumstance,
Where you will sink
And never know about me –
Would that be fair?
For although I do not offer fi delity
Only a promise of a kiss –
You should not miss my lottery tickets
Five for two-shillings on a hot day
For you might win.
I have always been a gamble –
But you might win!

Shänne Sands, Grass (extract) ‘Fragments of Desire’ – FootSteps Press

 

Love and Age

I PLAY’D with you ’mid cowslips blowing,
When I was six and you were four;
When garlands weaving, flower-balls throwing,
Were pleasures soon to please no more.
Through groves and meads, o’er grass and heather,
With little playmates, to and fro,
We wander’d hand in hand together;
But that was sixty years ago.

You grew a lovely roseate maiden,
And still our early love was strong;
Still with no care our days were laden,
They glided joyously along;
And I did love you very dearly,
How dearly words want power to show;
I thought your heart was touch’d as nearly;
But that was fifty years ago.

Then other lovers came around you,
Your beauty grew from year to year,
And many a splendid circle found you
The centre of its glittering sphere.
I saw you then, first vows forsaking,
On rank and wealth your hand bestow;
O, then I thought my heart was breaking!—
But that was forty years ago.

And I lived on, to wed another:
No cause she gave me to repine;
And when I heard you were a mother,
I did not wish the children mine.
My own young flock, in fair progression,
Made up a pleasant Christmas row:
My joy in them was past expression;
But that was thirty years ago.

You grew a matron plump and comely,
You dwelt in fashion’s brightest blaze;
My earthly lot was far more homely;
But I too had my festal days.
No merrier eyes have ever glisten’d
Around the hearth-stone’s wintry glow,
Than when my youngest child was christen’d;
But that was twenty years ago.

Time pass’d. My eldest girl was married,
And I am now a grandsire gray;
One pet of four years old I’ve carried
Among the wild-flower’d meads to play.
In our old fields of childish pleasure,
Where now, as then, the cowslips blow,
She fills her basket’s ample measure;
And that is not ten years ago.

But though first love’s impassion’d blindness
Has pass’d away in colder light,
I still have thought of you with kindness,
And shall do, till our last good-night.
The ever-rolling silent hours
Will bring a time we shall not know,
When our young days of gathering flowers
Will be an hundred years ago.

 

Thomas Love Peacock

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked
   And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
   Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
   And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
   On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
   Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
   I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.

G. K. CHESTERTON

Innocence

Our innocence was kept in a blue vase –
Holding chrysanthemums with heavy heads –
Or over gas fires making toast and reading Flecker
Or lying on narrow beds comfortable with happiness –
Books littered with petals and ‘notes’
About coming ‘home’ late –
Piping a recorder in the dusk of that autumn,
When words spun to the ground with united pleasure –
Only the flowers fell one by one –
The words were never weak –
Only the autumn’s changed from then till now;
As vases hold other flowers and our innocence
Is no longer found within their blueness
On a high mantelpiece,
But is a piece of jagged glass
Broken yet still beautiful –

Shänne Sands, from Night Song published by FootSteps Press

Sign Here or Make Your Mark

The sky is blue its summer-time
Sign here or make your mark.

The sky is grey the following week
Sign here or make your mark.

The benefit book all dates and stamps
The post-office queue all sour and damp
Sign here or make your mark.

Over the road the Co-op waits
To take your benefit for food
The sky above the traffic-fumes
Is poisoned with a deadly glare

Don’t moan, don’t stare, just wait
Sign here or make your mark.

The shoes are pieces of old scruff –
The sweat-shirt loose and stained –
Benefit day has come once more –
In spite of sun or rain –

Just before you die
A tin like voice will say –
Sign here or make your mark
Then take the book away.

Shänne Sands, The Silver Hooves published by FootSteps Press

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