The Sands of Time (Ekphrastic Poem) - A Month of Daily Poems (Day 15)

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Photo by Tom Gainor on Unsplash


Sands of time
melting over
memories of molten
moments, bitten
by rare rain fall.

Striations flow,
light enthralls,
singing cerebral parables
forging patterns
in the echoing gorge.

Dripping pastel veins,
desiccated remains,
an eon of cells -
death knells
chime parched grains.


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The sands of time is a well-worn idiom in the English language, and has undergone many evolutions in its application by writers over the years.

First popularised by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow;

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time

Quote: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from A Psalm of Life, first published in the October 1838

The imagery of time as sand reflects on both the permanence and impermanence of the human condition. Above, Longfellow talks of the lasting impression we leave in the constantly shifting dunes of those sands, whereas Paolin’s quote below speaks more toward the transitory nature of time - that ever flowing moment that we chop up into past and future.

The sands of time cannot be stopped. Years pass whether we will them or not... but we can remember. What has been lost may yet live in memories.

Quote: Christopher Paolin, fantasy author.

For me, as a poet, the metaphor of the sands of time expresses the duality of time as a concept. Sand comprises tiny particles of solid matter, yet it flows like water. Sand can solidify over eons to form canyons (as in the title picture in this post) that mirror in their walls the fluidity of its past state.

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Modified using an image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

These two quotes from Lao Tzu get to the heart of humankind’s perception of time. It is a concept, a mental tool we employ to measure the distance between birth and death. Many people become unbalanced when they miss the simple truth at the heart of the ‘one endless moment’ philosophy.

It doesn’t matter if you look at it from a strictly scientific point of view; yes there is a point further on between birth and death than now, but the simple fact remains that humans create suffering for themselves by identifying with past and future. Ask any psychotherapist and they will tell you the same. Identification with past pain causes neuroses.

Meditation teaches us to remove ourselves from past and future, to stop our thoughts so we can truly abide in the present. This is the state of flow, the wellspring of creativity and also where many famous figures throughout history have gained their most profound insight.

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science."

Quote: Albert Einstein

To only recognise time in concepts, such as future and past, is limiting.

The desert sand builds eddies of dunes from the wind’s currents, shifting in waves of the sands of time, until a million years later solid sand canyon landscapes emerge, born from time’s dream.

Thanks for reading.


All pictures used in this post are CC licence, linked below the image. If you have enjoyed this poetry post, please check out my homepage @raj808 for similar content. Thank you.

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