Dawn on the Shore

An hour before the dawn of day,
I walked beside the tranquil bay,
Along the sandy shore.

The air was still. The wind had ceased.
The planet Venus hung in the east,
In the west the moon sank lower.

The tide was down, the sands outspread;
I walked with Orion above my head;
Pale crabs flashed up before

My feet, like flitting ghosts, and fled,
Flickered and darted and skimmed and sped
Back to the shadows once more.

I walked beside the still sea, thinking
Of all the things I loved, and linking
My future and my past,

Walked and watched my shadow glide
Along the wet sands at my side.
The water became one vast

And gently heaving opaline mass,
Perfectly calm and smooth as glass.
The sun, still hidden, cast

Its light before it. The ocean wore
A luminous luster long before
It rose from the sea at last.

Then, layer by layer, the veils were withdrawn.
Sea and hills took shape in the dawn
And the sails of the small boats, white

Specks on the clear expanse of blue.
Fresh blossoms globed with morning dew
Are not more fresh and bright

Than the trees and rocks and hills of that bay,
Emerging into the dawning day,
Out of the chaos of night.

Entranced and rapt, I lingered there,
Breathing in the crystal air,
Lapped in calm delight.

So deep was the spell that I felt my own
Bodily substance of blood and bone,
Muscle and nerve and vein,

Transformed in their nature and drifted away
Over the sea to the rim of the day.
No limits could now retain

My spirit. I felt it lift and rise
Like vaporous mist that mounts up through the skies
After a passing rain.

In that hour of peace beside the sea
The gods made recompense to me
For many hours of pain


Sonnet Concerning Separation

The soul that once has won to its true state,
Achieved by love the goal and reached the Friend,
Dissolved the walls and veils and brought an end
To all the barriers that separate,

That soul has found its verity, the straight
Pathway to that to which all pathways tend,
Which reason, heart and intellect defend,
And no adjournments can invalidate,

The sense of separation is the source
Of all that clips our flight and saps our force
And dims the hopeful lights and makes us weak.

In its removal is our happiness
And love’s unique signification: This
It is we must deliberately seek.


“A Seashore” by Claude Joseph Vernet, 1776, Oil on copper.

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2 Responses

  1. Bruce Dale Wise

    Fine phrases are found throughout Ann Keith’s Sonnet Concerning Separation. The balance of monosyllabic and polysyllabic words is expertly done. Complete lines 1 and 4 show remarkable technique, and I think lines 7-10, around the turn of the sonnet are a tour de force.


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