David

Davitte colla fromba
e io coll'arco
          - Michelangelo


Back again in the Valley of Elah,
surrounded by this scaffolding of light,
Mediterranean oak and terebinth.

You and I, we have been in single combat
forty days and forty nights, your shadow
looming over penitence like a wrath.

You’ve savaged my dreams, a lion stalking
among the grasses, a black bear tearing
at flesh; and I a ruddy boy, alone.

Now I stand, unarmoured, unadorned, stone
in one fist, conviction in the other.
I watch your face, try to find it in your eyes,

dark furrowed in that contemptuous glare.
There: fear, flickering like a borrowed wick.
It comes to this: rock against blade, marble

against faith, this armoury of heaven
vengefully clenched, a coiled-up serpent tongue.
Rise up then, unquarried colossus, rise:

And I will sling defiance into your
disdain, chisel deep into your brow
the tetragrammaton of my God.


26 comments:

  1. This poem was first published in Poets and Artists magazine (Goss183) - http://poetsandartists.com/2012/01/08/the-2012-collaboration-edition.

    Part of the 2012 Collaboration issue, publisher Didi Menendez paired me with award-winning portrait artist Casey Childs to interpret the theme 'iconic'. Together, we decided to explore the complexity of David and Michelangelo.

    Casey's painting, 'Liberating David', and my poem stand independent of each other; but taken together they illuminate several other layers of interpretation.

    Short link - http://bit.ly/s4david

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  2. I very much enjoyed how you have added several layers to a piece of history with has long only thought to be two dimensional.

    viva la

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  3. Fantastic! This took me back to the story of David and Goliath and it gave breath to the righteous anger David felt at the Philistine's tauntings in a much less formal way than the scriptures do.

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  4. nice...def rings of david and goliath and you really brought the story to life sam...very well told...

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    1. did not realize in reading it the first time that this was triversen...nice to be more educated now...i like all the little aspects of the story woven in...how david was built up for this moment by facing the animals and knew what to look for...great stuff...

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    2. ten minutes different from the last time...kinda cool...

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  5. i like that you wrote it from a personal perspective...the fear, the seeking it in the eyes...the standing alone against a mighty enemy...whatever the name is...goliath or the challenges of life..great job in building up the tension..

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  6. Wonderful interpretation of the work. I am whisked back to biblical times (and if I may confess...Sunday School lessons!) And thanks so very much for your support...PoetLove! :)

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  7. Intensely personal and strong in the viewpoint--pure poetry in the language--always a delight to read your work, Sam. Thanks for the helpful process notes as well.

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  8. Love your interpretation...It is a personal viewpoint. Now I stand, unarmoured, unadorned, stone in one fist, conviction in the other....It gives the words for each of us that are Davids facing our Goliaths.

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  9. "There: fear, flickering like a borrowed wick."

    "And I will sling defiance into your / disdain"

    I love this poem, these lines, all! You've given the young David a soul, a purpose in history, and a significant dilemma-- "your shadow / looming over penitence like a wrath." Carve on.

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  10. Your mind has such epic and well written. And an imagination mixing and blending with some very real truths.

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  11. This is awesome, Samuel. Powerful, tense, and moving! I really enjoyed it!

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  12. So vivid, beautifully written. I especially like:

    You’ve savaged my dreams, a lion stalking
    among the grasses, a black bear tearing
    at flesh; and I a ruddy boy, alone.

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  13. I sat in the Academia dell'Art in Florence (there are only a few places to sit) - an art class huddled at its base, no one dared touch it but I'm sure, like me, everyone wanted to. It's so familiar and yet so intense in it's enormity of marble, and its strangeness. It is not breathtaking the way the Pieta or the slaves are. It is something else - noble, uplifting, successful.

    Your poem is like it. Its effect the very same. It breathes as something alive. It tells a story, but it stands as symbol of two, no surely three religions but more importantly it breaks from them as well. It speaks as Henry's poem today speaks of defying chances, of independence, of individuality, of courage, of feeling one's God within and taking on the world without!

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  14. really really good, love the last tercet.

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  15. Beautiful - this line resonates so profoundly with me -" There: fear, flickering like a borrowed wick."

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  16. A fine poem reaching a strong conclusion. Great work.

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  17. Breathtaking .... one of your finest Sam and I shall enjoy reading this several more times

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  18. Hi Sam - you know I never think of Michelangelo's David as the Biblical David of David and Goliath - isn't that weird - at least not till now--you've brought that strength (of Michelangelo's David) into the picture in quite a memorable way. Thanks. k.

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  19. I love your contemporary interpretation of such a classic tale and iconic piece of art. You've added life and intensity to David's story, just wonderful!

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  20. This is just exceptional writing, Samuel. Every word is perfectly weighted, every image builds to the climax, and each phrase is immaculate. Very fine poem. Thanks also for the opportunity to read your Sonnets from the Labrador-downloaded it yesterday and am enjoying it--review will be forthcoming.

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  21. Sam, how intricately wrought, veering from 3000 years ago, to 500 years ago to today. Several strands intertwined by means of your clever phrasing. An intellectual gem.

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  22. All I can say right is thatbthis isvawesome. My mind's tired, but this raises my spirit andnlight some fires in dwindling bran cells. There's one reason to read form for all, that's to your work here. Awesome.

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  23. Rich layers of meaning woven into the 'story'

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