October 3, 2011

A Poem for the Day: An Excerpt from Euripides' "Ion"

As you rise early some morning while it is still dark out, go outside and sit quietly in your favorite spot and as the dawn comes you might have a moment like this--
"Dawn's gleaming horses raise
the blazing sun above the earth
up through air steeped in fire
where light on light routs
the faint lingering stars
into the sacred dark.

The peaks of Parnassos, untrodden,
flare, smolder, and take for us
this day's charge of sun.
Smoke of desert myrrh
rises to the rooftop,
shrine of bright Apollo.

Inside, the priestess sits,
at the sacred tripod,
crying to the Greeks
songs Apollo murmurs in her."
Ion (Lines 71-86), by Euripides, translated by W.S. Di Piero, 1996, included in The Complete Euripides: Volume III--Hippolytos and Other Plays, Oxford University Press, 2010.


Isn't this just lovely?  This bit of poetry is Lines 71-86 from Euripides' play Ion that was written between 412 and 410 B.C.  The lines are spoken by Ion, a temple servant in the Temple of Apollo in Athens.  Ion turns out to be the son of Apollo and the Athenian queen, Kreousa.  She abandoned the infant child after his birth, and he was spirited off by Apollo and placed in the temple.  There's much more to the story, as one can imagine, but I just wanted to share these beautiful lines about the dawning of a new day.

Post Script--

The photograph I've attached is one I took a couple of years ago just before dawn at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park.  The polygonal structures in the foreground are a closeup of the thick crust of salt that covers this basin which is some 282 feet below sea-level.  Truly a weirdly beautiful landscape.  Please feel free to click on the photograph for a larger view.


  1. Worth reading just for the image of 'the air steeped in fire', wonderful! The photo has such beautiful tones and I love the foreground detail.

  2. Thanks for the visit and comment, Barbara! Death Valley is one of those magical places where it seems that it is difficult to make a bad photograph. I try and get out there once or twice a year, and spend a few days making photographs and just clearing my head. Cheers! Chris