Two Poems

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by Thomas Banks (November 2020)


St Augustine, Peter Paul Rubens, 1620

 

 

Saint Augustine in the Garden

 

“Nondum amabam, et amare amabam, quaerabam quid amarem, amans amare.”

 

When in myself I hid from you,

Your hand and eye still sounded me,

And where I sought escape, still you

With your own self surrounded me.

 

With peaceless soul and restless mind

Upon a thousand ways I went;

So was my soul estranged from you

To seek a separate continent.

 

Nothing I loved except love’s self,

So thought and strong desiring drove

Me searching restlessly and long

To find and rest at last in love.

 

Unseen one whom I did not know,

From you to you I ran in blindness;

Unknown one whom I did not see,

Renew me in your lovingkindness.

 

 

Rizpah

 

“And the king said, ‘I will give them.’”

                      —I Samuel 21:6

 

On two cold hands he counted

And ended by decree

The lives kings purchase peace with,

Spent where kings need not see.

With none to care or question,

They carried out his commands

Because he said peace cost the lives

He counted on his hands.

To none the peace he purchased

Seemed bought at cost too dear-

Except to me whose eyes must see

My dead sons hanging here.

 

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Thomas Banks has taught literature and Latin for many years in Idaho, Montana, and North Carolina, where he currently lives. Other writings of his have appeared in First Things and the St. Austin Review.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast

 

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