Ode to Dawn

Gold anklebone cups,
brazen straps interlacing
from the edge of her calves
down to her heels – just now
gold-sandaled dawn flings
back night’s changing-room
curtain, sweeps out to
take a mirrored self-
appraisal, takes a
half-turn in, and

Ensconced in such finery, such
aggrandizement, how fashionable
the doorkeeper’s feet are; seven
armlengths long, and seven
fathoms deep, the

Clutching close her diaphanous
handbag of sky, merino-wool
scarf of clouds, she hesitates –
but all is to be dared, because
even a person of poverty, a
plebeian, could not resist
the entreaty of
this patrician

If not, winter will come like a spartan,
seasonal critic, sweep away
exuberance, like a flame.

Thus the alchemy of accessorizing
her morning dress, the one with
wisteria screened above her waist,
the one with violets in her lap, a
floral boisterousness, yet no more
than the bird with piercing voice
that calls chirping from the rosewood,
that sweetbitter unmanageable
creature who steals in when
our hearts are threadbare,
and unexpectant.

Sudden dawn, you burn me
with last season’s fading color,
this vanity’s gaudy fair;
but I to you, of a white goat-
skin shoulder-slung


  1. 'If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho' translated by Anne Carson (Knopf 2002), contains the following fragments:

    - the one with violets in her lap (fragment 21)
    - if not, winter (fragment 22)
    - no more than the bird with piercing voice (fragment 30)
    - but all is to be dared, because even a person of poverty (fragment 31)
    - you burn me (fragment 38)
    - but I to you of a white goat (fragment 40)
    - the doorkeeper's feet are seven armlengths long (fragment 110)
    - just now goldsandaled Dawn (fragment 123)
    - sweetbitter unmanageable creature who steals in (fragment 130)
    - gold anklebone cups (fragment 192)

    All of which are used in this poem.

    Short link - http://bit.ly/s4odedawn

  2. Damn son, you've got something so special here that you leave me grasping for proper adjectives and I revert to my street voice!

    Seriously though, you done Sappho proud here. Structure like a veil of cirrus cloud fringing the magnificent sunrise described by these stanzas.

    I know a daughter of Sappho who may well enjoy this as I have!

  3. (mouth still agape). WOW. You...just...You really have...WOW. Let me stop stuttering after that one. You really know how to make a word touch someone's soul even if it is miles away. Beautiful.

  4. winter coming as a Spartan seasonal critic...nice sam...the imagery in this is great....esp in that opening section of the light and ankles....I understand the previous wow...its good...and gives the feel upon reading....

  5. Anonymous3:38:00 PM

    Oh Sam - I am honoured to think that my prompt might even have been partially responsible for the writing of this poem; it is exquisite.

  6. You have rocked the prompt, Sam, & the superlatives would string a daisy chain around the Super Dome, sir; classic & classy. Your choice of Ode form is impeccable, and the piece ripens sweetly with several readings.

  7. Beautiful as always Sam ~

  8. what beautiful, beautiful images sam....handbag of sky, merino-wool
    scarf of clouds... oh wow...this can be not only seen but felt on the skin... very cool

  9. This is more of a poem than Neruda's frantic listing and I much prefer this style. I want to start all over again now, with less haste and a few more hours to think on it.
    I'm a bit confused about the fragments you mention but they add up to a delicious while.

  10. Anonymous6:37:00 PM

    Absolutely magical.

  11. Beautifully crafted and I especially love that little twist in the last stanza.

  12. Anonymous7:18:00 PM

    Anne Carson would be delighted -her Geryon, anyway - to send the goddess of dawn down the runway. Sweet.

  13. Anonymous7:34:00 PM

    exquisitely turned - a marvel ~ M

  14. I like the 'mirrored self'-appraisal', gold anklebone cups, and wisteria above the waist...and more...it has a master's touch.

  15. That is indeed the why of dawn worship, and I thank you for it but especially for "floral boisterousness" which is one image I wished I had invented. Thanks for sharing the origins of fragments you have used so well.

  16. Sam, I am "bouche bée" before your formidably expert use of metaphor - consistent throughout this piece augmenting the drama of the theme. Wonderful.


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