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, February 26, 2012

Anne Michaels - Fugitive Pieces - excerpt from Part I

Each of my first three selections has evoked the sounds of nature in a different way. My last selection is not really a poem, but an excerpt from the "poetic" novel Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels (who is also a poet). Seven year old Jakob Beer has escaped from a holocaust atrocity during which the rest of his family were killed - he is alone in the forest, and dependent upon all his senses for survival. He remembers the attack and misses most his sister Bella. For me, this evocation of the terror of the forest at night invokes all the senses - I can hear it, see it, smell it, taste it, feel it........  

Lawrence Casserley.

Anne Michaels - Fugitive Pieces - excerpt from Part I

I couldn't keep out the sounds: the door breaking open, the spit of buttons. My mother, my father. But worse than those sounds was that I couldn't remember hearing Bella at all. Filled with her silence, I had no choice but to imagine her face.

The night forest is incomprehensible: repulsive and endless, jutting bones and sticky hair, slime and jellied smells, shallow roots like ropy vines.

Draping slugs splash like tar across the ferns; black icicles of flesh.

During the day I have time to notice lichen like gold dust over the rocks.

A rabbit, sensing me, stops close to my head and tries to hide behind a blade of grass.

The sun is jagged through the trees, so bright the spangles turn dark and float, burnt paper, in my eyes.

The white nibs of grass get caught in my teeth like pliable little fish bones. I chew fronds into a bitter, stringy mash that turns my spit green.

The forest floor is speckled bronze, sugar caramelised in the leaves. The branches look painted onto the onion-white sky. One morning I watch a finger of light move its way deliberately across the ground.

I know, suddenly, my sister is dead. At this precise moment, Bella becomes flooded ground. A body of water pulling under the moon.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

John Clare - The Fallen Elm - excerpt

John Clare (1793 - 1864) is considered by some to be one of the founding thinkers of the environmental movement. In "The Fallen Elm" he contrasts the freedom of ownership with the freedom of all to enjoy the natural environment, in this case a “music-making elm”.

Lawrence Casserley.

John Clare - The Fallen Elm - excerpt

Old elm that murmured in our chimney top

The sweetest anthem autumn ever made

And into mellow whispering calms would drop

When showers fell on thy many coloured shade

And when dark tempests mimic thunder made -

While darkness came as it would strangle light

With the black tempest of a winter night

That rocked thee like a cradle in thy root -

How did I love to hear the winds upbraid

Thy strength without - while all within was mute.

It seasoned comfort to our hearts' desire,

We felt that kind protection like a friend

And edged our chairs up closer to the fire,

Enjoying comfort that was never penned.

Old favourite tree, thou'st seen time's changes lower,

Though change till now did never injure thee;

For time beheld thee as her sacred dower

And nature claimed thee her domestic tree.

With axe at root he felled thee to the ground

And barked of freedom - O I hate the sound

Time hears its visions speak, - and age sublime

Hath made thee a disciple unto time.

- Such was thy ruin, music-making elm;

The right of freedom was to injure thine:

As thou wert served, so would they overwhelm

In freedom's name the little that is mine.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jorge Luis Borges - The Unending Rose - excerpt (translated by Alastair Read)

Jorge Luis Borges has been a great influence on my work. He is best known for his extraordinary stories, but he was also a fine poet. One of my compositions is titled "The Unending Rose", inspired by this poem, which was written late in his life, when his increasing blindness affected him greatly. Listen to the “music, rivers, firmaments, palaces and angels”.

Lawrence Casserley.

Jorge Luis Borges - The Unending Rose - excerpt (translated by Alastair Read)

Your fragile globe is in my hand; and time

is bending both of us, both unaware,

this afternoon, in a forgotten garden.

Your brittle shape is humid in the air.

The steady, tidal fullness of your fragrance

rises up to my old, declining face.

But I know you far longer than that child

who glimpsed you in the layers of a dream

or here, in this garden, once upon a morning.

The whiteness of the sun may well be yours

or the moon’s gold, or else the crimson stain

on the hard sword-edge in the victory.

I am blind and I know nothing, but I see

there are more ways to go; and everything

is an infinity of things. You, you are music,

rivers, firmaments, palaces and angels,

O endless rose, intimate, without limit,

which the Lord will finally show to my dead eyes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

W B Yeats - The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I am honoured to be invited to be a guest editor of ToBoS. I am a musician - one who is as likely to be inspired by the sounds of nature, wind and water as by notes and beats. These natural rhythms have inspired poets too, as in Yeats's "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" - listen to those sounds and "hear them in your deep heart's core".
Lawrence Casserley.

W B Yeats - The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Guest Editors

From time to time we will be having guest editors, and the next four poems are chosen by Lawrence Casserley, the first of our guest editors.  You can contact Lawrence as follows: 

Lawrence Casserley -
Lawrence Electronic Operations -
Eye Music Trust Ltd -

Feedback (always appreciated) should go to (don’t reply to this email: your reply will just disappear into the world of lost emails).  Equally, if you would like to be a guest editor (it’s not very complicated; all you have to do is choose poems, and just think of the kudos you will get with your neighbours) or would like to nominate someone to be a guest editor, then please us know at