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  • John H. B. Martin

Danaë


We have been promised gold like this before …

But, now it glows on trees, we can't ignore it.

One day we'll harvest it … Or mine it, rather,

the way we mine our minds with endless words

to let the world know just how poor we are.


But, now we merely look on it with wonder,

it longs to fall into our hands … (Else cling

onto its former glories, like the sun

with all its gold, to these few trees, in lieu

of some more final settlement with power).


Its gold is everywhere! Beneath our feet

as well as high above our heads, or drifting

towards the ground through ice-blue air, as if

the sun itself were showering us with blessings,

like gold leaf, say, or some more potent flour.


John H.B. Martin is a poet who lives in London, England. He is a graduate of London University and Australia National University and has been writing for many decades. He has written four novels and is working on a fifth. His magnum opus is a six-volume epic poem. Most of his work is yet to be published.

2 Comments


ajsedia
Jun 17, 2022

This poem has much to compliment. It is engaging and economizes on language nicely. Perhaps my favorite feature is the allusion to Danae. The shower of gold came to her while she was imprisoned, and the poem describes the wealth of idealized beauty in what might be called a prison of physical existence. And just as Danae became pregnant with Perseus from the gold, the perception of beauty represented by the gold might lead us to slay gorgons? It might be an elaborate reading, but I think the allusion in the title easily leads down that path.

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
Jun 04, 2022

In terms of words alone and unexpected little flourishes, this poem offers quite a lot. I particularly like the second line and the simple but perfect use of 'glows' (in 'glows on trees'), rather than the expected 'grows'. Then at the beginning of line three, we are given 'harvest', the word that would have gone with with the unused 'grows', but directly after it, there is a brilliant hesitation, before it's corrected and we get 'mine' instead, to go with gold. And what a line that follows: 'we mine our minds with endless words/to let the world know how poor we are'! A real touch of John Donne about this. And perhaps a touch of gold about the poet's skill…

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