Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night

In the wake of the havoc wrought by Hurricane Irene it seems fitting, especially for those in the six states struggling with the destruction caused by winds and flooding, to curse nature. It was indeed a "Dark Emperor" for several long nights, leaving many in six states homeless, without power and suffering the sudden loss of loved ones.

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the night, a 2010 picture book written by one of my favorite poets, Joyce Sidman, and Illustrator Rick Allen, evokes not only the beauty of nature, but the mysterious and scary side as well. Check out the stunning U-Tube video that captures the mood of this lovely book, through Sidman's poems and Allen's artwork.

The opening poem entitled "Welcome to the Night ends in these four lines: The night's a sea of dappled dark,/the night's a feast of sound and spark,/the night's a wild, enchanted park./ Welcome to the night! 

Sound. Spark. Enchanted Park. Anyone who has been in a severe storm can relate.

Sidman's "Dark Emperor" is not a storm, but an owl. In a poem entitled Dark Emperor, which happens to be presented on the page in the shape of an owl, Sidman ends this poem with these lines: O Dark Emperor/ of hooked face and/hungry eye: turn that/ awful beak away/ from me;/ disregard/ the tiny hiccup/ of my heart/ as I flee.

This is a mysterious and frightening bird, and the victim no match for it. I wonder where all such hooked-faced owls, as well as spiders, snails, and the other creatures Sidman writes about, flee to during storms.

This is one of my favorite books, one that reminds me that nature will not be controlled, and the most we can hope for is to try our best to be safe when storms like Irene threaten, hope for good fortune, and be always respectful of the wonders that exist, though often hidden, all around us.


  1. It is one my favorite books as well. Sidman is amazing. Your post made me think of Kate Messner's Irene invitation. Check it out:
    Perhaps you should contribute.

    Love you.

  2. Thanks for the link, Lindsey. Such great poems! My best to you. Have a great Labor Day holiday!