Poems about "bones" or containing the word "bones"

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Poems about "bones" or containing the word "bones"

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Nov 7, 2007, 6:33pm

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Nov 7, 2007, 6:36pm

"Bones of Acknowledgement"

John the dogs are back.
You know which ones.
They're growling for my attention & affection.
What shall I feed them today?
Which bones John?
The bone of acknowledgement?
The bone of affirmation?
Or forgiveness John forgiveness?

Nov 7, 2007, 6:38pm

From Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy"

At twenty I tried to die die die & get back to you...I though even the bones would do...so they pulled me together out of the sack & stuck me together with glue!

Nov 7, 2007, 6:48pm

There's Mr Bones in Berryman's The Dream Songs.

Or this, less serious, definitely not Berryman:

I had a dog
His name was Rex
Me and Rex
had lots of sex.

His long red tongue
His floppy ears
We had some laughs
We drank some beers.

But then one day
Rex went away
His letter said,
"I cannot stay

"'Cause I'm a dog
And you're a man
It's too damn weird
Please understand."

So now I walk
the fields alone
in my pocket
is a bone

I cry at night
and I miss Rex
We had some laughs
And lots of sex.

Nov 7, 2007, 8:09pm

From "Ash Wednesday", by T.S. Eliot --

Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to sateity
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. ...

Nov 7, 2007, 8:27pm

Bone Poem
by Mary Oliver

The litter under the tree
Where the owl eats--shrapnel

Of rat bones, gull debris--
Sinks into the wet leaves

Where time sits with her slow spoon,
Where we become singular, and a quickening

From light years away
Saves and maintains. O holy

Protein, O hallowed lime,
O precious clay!

Tossed under the tree
The cracked bones

Of the owl's most recent feast
Lean like shipwreck, starting

The long fall back to the center--
The seepage, the flowing,

The equity, sooner or later
In the shimmering leaves

The rat will learn to fly, the owl
Will be devoured.

Nov 8, 2007, 6:30pm

Meditation on a Bone, by A.D. Hope

A piece of bone, found at Trondhjem in 1901, with the following runic inscription (about A.D. 1050) cut on it: I loved her as a maiden; I will not trouble Erlend's detestable wife; better she should be a widow.

Words scored upon a bone,
Scratched in despair or rage --
Nine hundred years have gone;
Now, in another age,
They burn with passion on
A scholar's tranquil page.

The scholar takes his pen
And turns the bone about,
And writes those words again.
Once more they seethe and shout
And through a human brain
Undying hate rings out.

"I loved her when a maid;
I loathe and love the wife
That warms another's bed:
Let him beware his life!"
The scholar's hand is stayed;
His pen becomes a knife

To grave in living bone
The fierce archaic cry.
He sits and reads his own
Dull sum of misery.
A thousand years have flown
Before that ink is dry.

And, in a foreign tongue,
A man, who is not he,
Reads and his heart is wrung
This ancient grief to see,
And thinks: When I am dung,
What bone shall speak for me?

Edited: Nov 10, 2007, 3:52am

From "The Lost Son," just one of Theodore Roethke's poems that has the word bone or bones in it:

It was beginning winter,
The light moved slowly over the frozen field,
Over the dry seed-crowns,
The beautiful surviving bones
Swinging in the wind.

Nov 23, 2007, 11:58am

Two with a little less sophistication, just for fun:

Diggin' Up Bones
By Randy Travis

Last night I dug your picture out from our old dresser drawer
I set it on the table and I talked to it til four
I read some old love letters right up til the break of dawn
Well tonight I'm sittin alone diggin up bones

I went through the closet and I found some things in there
Like that pretty lingerie that I bought you to wear
And I recalled how good you looked each time you had it on
Well tonight I'm sittin alone diggin up bones

I went through the jewelry and I found our wedding rings
I put mine on my finger and I gave yours a fling
Across this lonely bedroom of our recent broken home
Well tonight I'm sittin alone diggin up bones

I'm diggin up bones
Exhuming things that's better left alone
I'm resurrecting memories of a love that's dead and gone
Well tonight I'm sittin alone diggin up bones


Traditional Ballad:

The fox went out on a chilly night,
He bayed for the moon to give him light,
For he'd many a mile to go that night,
Before he reached the town-o, town-o, town-o,
He'd many a mile to go that night,
Before he reached the town-o.

He ran til he came to a great big pen,
Where the ducks and the geese were put therein,
"A couple of you will grease my chin,
Before I leave this town-o, town-o, town-o,
A couple of you will grease my chin,
Before I leave this town-o."

He grabbed the gray goose by the neck,
Throwed a duck across his back,
He didn't mind their quack, quack, quack,
And their legs a-dangling down-o, down-o, down-o,
He didn't mind their quack, quack, quack,
And their legs a-dangling down-o.

Then old Mother Flipper-Flopper jumped out of bed,
Out of the window she cocked her head,
Crying, "John, John! The gray goose is gone,
And the fox is on the town-o, town-o, town-o!"
Crying, "John, John! The gray goose is gone,
And the fox is on the town-o!"

Then John, he went to the top of the hill,
Blowed his horn both loud and shrill,
The fox he said, "I better flee with my kill,
Or they'll soon be on my trail-o, trail-o, trail-o!"
The fox he said, "I better flee with my kill,
Or they'll soon be on my trail-o!"

He ran till he came to his cozy den,
There were the little ones, eight, nine, ten,
They said, "Daddy, better go back again,
'Cause it must be a mighty fine town-o, town-o, town-o!"
They said, "Daddy, better go back again,
'Cause it must be a mighty fine town-o!

Then the fox and his wife without any strife,
Cut up the goose with a fork and knife,
They never had such a supper in their life,
And the little ones chewed on the bones-o, bones-o, bones-o,
They never had such a supper in their life,
And the little ones chewed on the bones-o.

Nov 24, 2007, 11:36pm

I inevitably hear Odetta singing in my head when I see any reference to that fox ballad!

Nov 25, 2007, 12:34am

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that does fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! Now I hear them – Ding-dong, bell.

A snippet from THE TEMPEST. It's quoted by Iris Murdoch in A FAIRLY HONOURABLE DEFEAT and I believe it's quoted in TO THE LIGHTHOUSE.

I remember the fox song! I had not thought of it in years.

I had a record with Celeste Holm, Cyril RItchard, and Boris Karloff singing it. A real treat.

Nov 25, 2007, 2:24am

Twa Corbies

'Mony a one for him maks mane,
But nane sall ken whar he is gane:
O'er his white banes, when they are bare,
The wind sall blaw for evermair.'

You say banes, I say bones...

Nov 25, 2007, 12:31pm

Thanks twacorbies! I love this one it's great!

Nov 29, 2007, 3:31pm

I'm glad the fox song stirred up some good memories. An old boyfriend (the one with the guitar and the soft Southern drawl) taught it to me, and it still makes me happy to remember him singing it.

Nov 29, 2007, 7:27pm

Here's the poem that comes to my mind, by Theodore Roethke:

I Knew a Woman

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing did we make.)

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways.)

Nov 29, 2007, 8:50pm

MaggieO I forgot about this one! Nice. Thank you!

Dec 27, 2007, 2:02am

Lines Inscribed upon a Cup Formed from a Skull

Start not-nor deem my spirit fled;
In me behold the only skull,
From which, unlike a living head,
Whatever flows is never dull.

I lived, I loved, I quaff'd, like thee:
I died: Let earth my bones resign;
Fill up-thou canst not injure me;
The worm hath fouler lips than thine.

Better to hold the sparkling grape,
Than nurse the earth-worm's slimy brood;
And circle in the goblet's shape
The drink of gods, than reptile's food.

Where once my wit, perchance, hath shone,
In aid of others let me shine;
And when, alas! our brains are gone,
What nobler substitute than wine?

Quaff while thou canst: another race,
When thou and thine, like me, are sped,
May rescue thee from earth's embrace,
And rhyme and revel with the dead.

Why not? since through life's little day
Our heads such sad effects produce;
Redeem'd from worms and wasting clay,
This chance is theirs, to be of use.

George Gordon, Lord Byron

Dec 27, 2007, 8:15am

"And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion."

God, I love Dylan Thomas.....

Edited: Dec 27, 2007, 9:55am

don't forget Mr Bones in John Berryman's Dream Songs

(whoops! how'd i miss post # 4?!)

never mind ...

Edited: Dec 28, 2007, 3:35am

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Jan 3, 2008, 5:22pm

Gull Skeleton

In the first verse I find his skeleton
nested in shore grass, late one autumn day.
The loss of life and the life which is decay
have been so gentle, so clasped one-to-one

that what they left is perfect; and here in
the second verse I kneel to pick it up:
bones like the fine white china of a cup,
chambered for lightness, dangerously thin,

their one clear purpose forcing them toward flight
even now, from the warm solace of my hand.
In the third verse I bend to that demand
and - quickly, against the deepening of the night,

because I can in poems - remake his wild eye,
his claws, and the intense heat his muscles keep,
his wings’ knit feathers, the free him to his steep
climb, in the last verse, up in the streaming sky.

Jonathan Revere

Jan 4, 2008, 10:34pm

"Oh keep the dog far hence,
that's friend to men,
or with his nails he'll dig it up again"

Webster via TS Eliot

(Actually refers to a corpse, but the lines always make me think of bones.)

Jan 5, 2008, 12:27pm

I blog on Hockeysfuture as Eco's bones--a kind of retooling of the Italian writer Umberto Eco with Part II of Samuel Beckett's Poems in English which is titled Echo's bones.

Jan 6, 2008, 2:30pm

#22: There's also this, from later in The Waste Land:

"But at my back in a cold blast I hear
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear."

(thank you, Bartleby.com and the "find in browser" command!)

25maloytsang First Message
Feb 18, 2008, 2:22pm

What about John Donne and his many references to bones, perhaps he is the 'Bone Daddy' of them all.

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.


A bracelet of bright hair about the bone,
Will he not let us alone,
And think that there a loving couple lies
Who thought that this device might be some way
To make their souls, at the last busy day,
Meet at this grave, and make a little stay?

Mar 27, 2008, 11:18pm

This may be a stretch, but it does contain the words “skulls” and “bony.”



who would believe them winged
who would believe they could be

beautiful……...who would believe
they could fall so in love with mortals

that they would attach themselves
as scars attach and ride the skin

sometimes we hear them in our dreams
rattling their skulls………clicking their bony fingers

envying our crackling hair
our spice filled flesh

they have heard me beseeching
as I whispered into my own

cupped hands………enough not me again
enough………but who can distinguish

one human voice
amid such choruses of desire


~ Lucille Clifton

Apr 3, 2008, 5:26pm

...Child at my window, you tap a summons
that falls like earth upon my grave,
your tongue pressed out against the glass
licks my flesh.
A gift of leaves lies in my hand
and turning them over one by one
you leave your brightness in my bone.

Departures Richard Schramm Rooted in Silence