When All The World …

WHEN all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green ;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen ;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away ;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown ;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down ;
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among :
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.

Charles Kinglsey from The Waterbabies

For My Poor Sick Brother Allan Edwin

I have not seen an angel
Or heard an holy voice –
Or witnessed a miracle –

Nor seen a saint –
But I have felt a peace –
A tenderness –

A token-wind of faith –
I have known a place –
Where a spirit played
Deep on my heart –
Played in my brain –

A touch of joy sped me along –
A path leading upward to His Cross –
And on my knees or standing
Near his church – I have felt
The nearness of a truth –
Confl ict is banished into ash –
And high above reason, time or year
His precious call repeats
The message of a world to come –
‘My people hear, oh! Hear’

Shänne Sands, Fragments of Desire published by FootSteps Press

Allen Edwin had a schizophrenic episode in his thirties and, when on his medication, became a devout missionary. He died in his early seventies, alone in Cheltenham, England.


Out of us all
That make rhymes,
Will you choose
Sometimes –
As the winds use
A crack in the wall
Or a drain,
Their joy or their pain
To whistle through –
Choose me,
You English words?

I know you:
You are light as dreams,
Tough as oak,
Precious as gold,
As poppies and corn,
Or an old cloak:
Sweet as our birds
To the ear,
As the burnet rose
In the heat
Of Midsummer:
Strange as the races
Of dead and unborn:
Strange and sweet,
And familiar,
To the eye,
As the dearest faces
That a man knows,
And as lost homes are:
But though older far
Than oldest yew, –
As our hills are, old, –
Worn new
Again and again:
Young as our streams
After rain:
And as dear
As the earth which you prove
That we love.

Make me content
With some sweetness
From Wales
Whose nightingales
Have no wings, –
From Wiltshire and Kent
And Herefordshire,
And the villages there, –
From the names, and the things
No less.
Let me sometimes dance
With you,
Or climb,
Or stand perchance
In ecstasy,
Fixed and free
In a rhyme,
As poets do

Edward Thomas

Somebody Asked Me

Somebody asked me
The other day about you, saying
With that knowing look in their dim eyes,
‘You can’t still love him
After everything that’s happened’
My thoughts left the conversation and went ahead –
Could they really know ‘everything’ that happened –
Oh not the quick insult
Or the vapid lie –
Or the ‘others’’ taken in a fit of sex –
Or the endless separation built
On my calendar like huge ugly steps
Higher and higher into my life –
No they didn’t have a clue
About what really happened –
How one day in April ‘61 in England –
By the Thames –
From some obscure patch of darkness
You came into my life –
A torch flared not easy to put out –
When our bodies touched
That same torch, became
A dazzle cast about our bed –
How the back of your head slightly bent
Moved me beyond words –
Or how your sour face
Cross or tired suddenly made me chuckle –
How in a fit of white-hot love
You’d strip me bare and throw
My body across a fitted carpet –
Better than any mattress on the pretty bed.
Could they know how we laughed
At life’s grim ‘handouts’, because our
Love was massive in a small untidy
World of petty shadows –
And that my heart could carry
Your soul along every problem,
Every sad mistake –
Because we had sung a song my love,
Across a wooden table; piled with
Plates and flowers turned to a fable
That was us.
And when they ask me silly questions
I want to yell,
‘What do you know of love?’
But I turn my head away
And slowly think of you –
And wonder in this rather lonely minute
If you remember April ‘61 and that river too!


Shänne Sands, from Night Song, a selection of her poems published by FootSteps Press

Abou Ben Adhem

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)

Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

James Henry Leigh Hunt


Whispers my inner-self
To all I have become,
Where did you find the shelf
To hide from the one
Who you loved most?
Through ages of my heart’s
Calling, calling to a ghost –
How weary, tired, cross love departs –
Leaving nothing, but a wrinkled brow –
Leaving nothing, but a falling tear –
Nobody ever tells me how
Or why true love must disappear –
Yet I suppose there is a place
Where my inner-self will find your face –

Shänne Sands, ‘Moonlight on Words’. FootSteps Press 2010.

You Would Understand Why

You would understand why –
Why lilac and Chopin go together –
Just before spring or after winter’s
Retreat back into the earth –
Our beginning and our end –

You would understand this –
This sudden sadness and lack of will –
When my body feels full-up with stones –
The bricks and mortar of a soul
Heavy with old places and faces
Not to be loved again –

You would understand how –
How to fly across the rain
To a burning sun –
How to laugh wine out of green bottles
And break glasses into thousands
And thousands of happy pieces.

You would understand now –
All you refused to need before –
Before the floors were swept
With new bright brooms and our rooms
Were changed, our furniture sold
And out hearts broken because hearts
Always break –
Now it’s almost lilac time
The pubs are closed till ‘opening time’ –
‘Our’ books are waiting to be written –
Beneath this smile there’s a scar –

You would understand – the importance,
The importance of ‘emotional pens’
Lilac and Chopin before love-making
Or after a long journey and sleep –
Quick as a flash a fast car
Passes the window
Quick as a flash time leaves us old –


Shänne Sands. ‘The Silver Hooves’ selection of poems published by FootSteps Press

If Smells are Insipid

If smells are insipid –
Then the landlady’s cooked supper
Lacks frankincense –
A pole-cat scent touches the ceiling;
The room is redolent with sour pork –

If streets are named after saints –
This crabbed avenue wears no halo –
After sunset the council-house tenants
Wear a wish-washed frown –
The children mostly look like pickled peppers
And the mothers are ill-flavoured lollipops –

If sounds mean sometimes melody
The ice-cream van gives me a concert
Per minute of discordant flats –
Jarring bells help sell a thousand icy treats
The driver-musician plays road minstrel
From morning into night –
As cheap cars and motor-bikes
Add noise to noise –

If idealism comes from an intellectual mind –
Only the ghost of my dream now walks –
I cannot view this scene with intelligence –
Only a troubled stare takes in the crowd –
My reverie is cornered like the fool –
And held in chains that no-one can undo –

If the pulse-beat of the city is its people
Alas, the heart of this city is flickering to death –
Only the sea snatches the wind
And blows it across the grey cement –
Only a restless gull shrieks discontent –

Occasionally the day seems
In possession of itself
Until the newsreader tells the time –
And I feel all the seconds lost –
The whole city is up-for-sale –
There’s an economy in selling cities
And tucked inside the Treasurer’s pocket
Are press-cuttings from the local press
Telling of the merchandise of souls –

If cheapness speaks of poverty and debt –
This booty is the grand prize –
A million untidy, unemployed people –
Walking in the rain –
Their resistance and my own –
To adversity in cities like this…
Is to enjoy the rain –
Receiving it from Heaven, then
Washing our hands of affection and favourite spots –
We are divorced from life –
Seclusion in our walk is all
I now respect!

Shänne Sands, Fidelity is for Swan (FootSteps Press 2010)

The Unseen

The Unseen

Here, unseen
My words fade into air,
Falling with autumn leaves –
Birds peck at their edges –
People walk over my words
Careless of what could be
Under their feet –

Nobody, not even I,
Speak the fallen words
Aloud, strangely the woods
Echo their meaning
Almost by love –

My words fall into rivers,
Where water-spirits sleep
Upon them, where small fish
Try to eat them –

My words swim with the ripple
Of cool streams –
Yellow irises protect them,
Unseen, here
My words mark their destiny –


From Night Song a selection of poems by Shänne Sands published by FootSteps Press. Find it here

Winter’s Fortune

When snow has settled on the ground,
Silence hangs all around,
But for my laughing and shouting
But for the snowballs I send dancing.
Winter’s Best!

With thick, wool mittens and new boots,
Warm head! Warm hands! Warm roots!
Sledges slipping over snow,
Faster than the fleet we go!
Raise my voice with the rest,
Winter’s Best!

But if your cold through and through,
Too poor and sad for snow’s sweet tune,
Blue hands! Blue nose! Blue feet!
Summer must be hard to beat!


From a series of children’s poems I write with my mother to be published later in 2018

Siste Viator

Stop Traveller –
Boredom evaporates desire
Even as fire burns itself to ash –
Your feet will touch and stay no longer –
Losing interest in maps and charts –
Peoples and their towns of historic value
Will nudge your boredom and at daybreak
You will take a look at castles plus churches
Then hurry to get some lunch with
Aching eyes from too much sun –
An irreparable damage to your heart
Makes you depart from all your longings –
Nothing holds the virtue that you’ve lost
And travelling become the countenance
Of lost truth –
Too many cities, too many days from Persia
To Peru, across to Samoa or Siam, through
Uruguay or Tunis, Romania and Venezuela,
Yugoslavia and all the lonely way back –
With postcards of Sarawak –
Words blow like a flag in your mind
Vestigia nulla retrorsum
You have left nothing behind –
Taken nothing away –
You will not return this or any day
For your footsteps left no traces
Backward or forward you remain
Only bored
A strange peace mocks the empty suitcase –
The day the traveller stops


Shänne Sands – from Fragments of Desire, FootSteps Press 2012.

On Reading Ben Johnson

I have loved faces silvered with gloom
Faces dipped into light stolen from the moon –
I have loved faces humoured by the sun
Flickered by sunbeams as the day has run.

I have loved backs like perfect trees
Straight and fi rmed to thighs and knees
And hands where fi ngers like fl owers
Sway away unpleasant hours –

I have loved eyes that shelter tears
Before they fall as fall the years
And merry eyes full of happy laughter
Eyes that sorrow cannot master –

I have loved voices that only echo right
I have loved voices heard in darkest night
Voices not deformed by angry lives
Voices free from vulgar thought or bribes.

I have loved lips that moulded rhyme –
Kissed the poets’ words from every time –
Even if furious demons invent my pain
I shall love all these again –

Shänne Sands,
from the selection of poems Fragments of Desire published by FootSteps Press

The Return of Words

I had forgotten
Poetry is but words
Love, but kisses
Death, but a going cold
Of both.

I should have remembered –
Not allowed my emotions
To come to a standstill
On a damp day,
In some unwelcome town –

I should have lived –
A hundred words a minute –
And kissed you into a frenzy –
Long before death got in the way

Got in the way –
Of little rainbows
After slight showers
After green fields lost in mist
And after supper when it’s nearly dark –

I should have broken this curse
Of silence thro’ my mind –
Opened-up my brain and let in some light –
But almost before I was aware of Time
It had escaped –
Time had fled and I was
Wordless, kissless, and I saw death
Coldly lying in a ‘Rest-house’ –

Now words return –
Slowly, love, ah, such a
Heaven to hope for may
Open me up again –
I am not completely slain –
Way back in a dim corner of myself
Poetry is singing –

Words are ready for rehearsal
Away cold death –
Away feeble emotions –
Away you thousand torments of the bone –

I am capable again
To laugh and think –
Write and feel –
I’ve broken a spell
Of torture –
My brain is a mass of unwritten words
All laced with kisses, wine and friends –

Find me a pen –
Some paper –
And a second –

I shall leave you verses
To speak aloud – to shout from baths –
To quote above all havoc’s wreck –
To weep to and to dance –
Poetry is but words and words are free.
Run through the fields –
Fly, fly after me.

Shanne Sands from ‘Night Song’ the 4th selection of her verse 2011 FootSteps Press.

For JB

There is an ambience in my lover’s
Room which even in this stillness feeds my
Imagination, seeds the bed covers
With anticipated motion and lies
The f loor with nakedness, enticing sounds
Only our ears hear to reverberate
Around the walls, till energy abounds
And two bodies moist and insatiate
Taste the air, feed on eyelid closeness, cap
The rhythm of the turning earth and turn
In time around the sun like an hour wrapped
In living, which is able to affirm

That souls may kiss and minds like limbs entwine
And time decants like any other wine.


The Love Poems of Daniel Nanavati

Where Leaps the Flame

If this poem was an element,
It would be fire –
A million scarlet tongues
Would be its flame
Each hot flicker to proclaim
A martyr’s name.
Not martyrs of the Cross
They are re-born in stone
But martyrs of camps of hell
All unknown, un-named
Shall in this poem
Be crowned with flame
The atoms from each soul
Will fly the unknown tombs
Fire and flame raised from bone
Even beyond eternity –
Free to the outer-rim of space and time –
Sings the martyr’s cause
Now yours and mine.
Each name spelt out from fire
This poem not of desire, but honour
Mercy, love, where leaps the flame.

Shänne Sands

From ‘Moonlight of Words’

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