All the Everlasting Cataracts

After John Keats' Hyperion


                           near at hand

rip-cords surround the centre

                     gurge of pulse

               on / oft

         to sometimes detect
actual remnants

      to look up, and tell of this fractal shape

                        one gradual solitary star
                              which comes upon silence



                     that word startled up

               filled in, in pencil
         a transcript: the story dawned          outlines

                                 nerveless, script-less, dead-

         ends felt in every feature
   eyes closed: bowed head listening to the earth

                        to an ever-revolving spiel


         trace : tracer
                  one of two great circles
                        intersection: right angles at poles
            nadir: the low
         zenith          the high

            circles and arcs
                  broad-belting colure

   sages, keen-eyed astrologers
earth-bound evangelists

         they study the sky
               study the fault lines

   (the god and sunrise)

         both, and both in one
   all along a dismal rack of clouds

upon the boundaries of day and night
   a drifting mass


            the sky in-


                        nineteenth century

               slow-breathed melodies,
         like a rose in vermeil tint and shape

   enter, but who entertains?
               effigies, visions, extras ...

               opaline forms

         :    pictures of intimacy

         all the everlasting cataracts

                     ... pools

loops             these crystalline pavilions
      pure fields mantled by sea salt


         re-cast the self
      same beat

                     in hollow shells

               in the cadence of time
      where a dead branch fell, there did it rest...

         reset to follow, to turn and lead the way

a stream went voiceless by    (streamed)

         mountainous: no shape extinguishable

      when the bleak-gown pines
               when winter lifts his voice, a noise

the mysterious grate of wind in trees
      whether in calm or storm

         (the same scene)

               god of the sky : bookish séance

      that old spirit-leaved book
sifted well ...from the ion-universe


               flames yield like mist

         all calm through chaos and darkness
            from chaos and darkness

the extraordinary

                  the constant...the inter-
               nal law and how

            whether through conviction, or disdain
      in this expressive line
         quicken the patter of beads

                           (pearl beads drop-
                  ping from their string

               mental nature
            powerful similes

                  ponderous millstones)


      appearance of strength
a deception masking real weakness

                        essence in its tent

            before the winged thing

                  silver wings of dawn rising
         now a silver line hints at this approach

            in each face a glint of light
see how the light breaks in with this line


                  till suddenly a splendour
            like rnorning

         the horizon in noise


            at the set of sun
         light fades
first from the eastern sky

         to one who travels from the dusking east
            attributes of the wanderer

                  wondering in vain about
         the inventor of god and music

                  of light and song

soft breaking noise

            white melodious throat

               a name signifies memory
      would come as no mystery

               pin-pricks of the world ... name-sakes

                     for me variance
               by knowledge only

the above and the below

                     gathering all things mortal
         this endless commencing

               this still,
                     steady light

   of the moon             O

               acknowledges no allegiance.

LISTEN to ‘All the Everlasting Cataracts’ by Sam Sampson

Sam Sampson's first book of poems, Everything Talks, was published in 2008 by Auckland University Press and Shearsman Books (UK). In 2009, it won the Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry. In March 2012, he participated in a collaborative exhibition with collage artist Peter Madden at the Ivan Anthony Gallery, and in April 2012, published a collaborative bookwork ...exclusivity dwells in habitat with photographer Harvey Benge. In 2013, new poems will appear in Cordite Poetry Review and Shearsman magazine.

Sampson comments: ‘I recently came across a selection of Keats’s work (Poems Published in 1820) and was struck by the surface, or patterning of phrase and thought. A sense of how absolutely modern Keats could be, especially in the later unfinished epic poem “Hyperion” (1819).

‘I decided to remix “Hyperion”, and in the process extend the poem into my own stylistic territory by echoing Keats’s lines and including fragments from the poem’s annotations.

‘“All the Everlasting Cataracts” felt odd at first to construct (like participating in an archeological dig, juxtaposing antique diction, reversing links and lines) and unlike Keats (who had complained that “Hyperion” had been written under the influence of Milton) I was trying to retain as many Keatsian inversions and repetitions.’

Poem source details >



Sam Sampson’s website