This Old Bank Of Sand is a weekly poem feed. Add your email address to the Follow by Email link on the right and you will receive one poem a week (usually on Monday morning). If you have suggestions for poems or poets, or any other suggestions, please use the comments facility at the bottom of each poem (public), or email them to (private). To leave a public comment, click on the word comments which you can find just below each poem.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Oxen by Thomas Hardy

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel,
"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Book by Emily Dickinson

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
The traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Secret is Out by W H Auden

At last the secret is out, as it always must come in the end,
The delicious story is ripe to tell to the intimate friend;
Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its desire;
Still waters run deep, my dear, there’s never smoke without fire.
Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links,
Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks,
Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh
There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye.
For the clear voice suddenly singing, high up on the cement wall,
The scent of the elder bushes, the sporting prints in the hall,
The croquet matches in summer, the handshake, the cough, the kiss,
There is always a wicked secret, a private reason for this.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy the Man by John Dryden (1631-1700)

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine,
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Am in Need of Music by Elizabeth Bishop

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep

To listen to a version of this poem sung by a choir, go to:

If the link doesn't open automatically, you will need to cut and paste it into your browser.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Meeting the British by Paul Muldoon

 We met the British in the dead of winter.
 The sky was lavender

 and the snow lavender-blue.
 I could hear, far below,

 the sound of two streams coming together
 (both were frozen over)

 and, no less strange,
 myself calling out in French

 across that forest-
 clearing. Neither General Jeffrey Amherst

 nor Colonel Henry Bouquet
 could stomach our willow-tobacco.

 As for the unusual
 scent when the Colonel shook out his hand-

 kerchief: C'est la lavande,
 une fleur mauve comme le ciel.

 They gave us six fishhooks
 and two blankets embroidered with smallpox.

Note on the poem.

Pontiac's Rebellion (1763).
Chief Pontiac of Ottawa led loose confederation of Native American tribes in an uprising against British rule in the North American Territories.  British officers at Fort Pitt attempted to turn the tide of the battle by infecting the besieging Native Americans with smallpox. They used blankets riddled with the virus. Estimated Native American losses were 200 in battle, with additional war-related deaths from disease.