The Sentinel’s Dawn
by Elena Stewart
Genre: Poetry / Illustrated
Print Length: 129 pages
Reviewed by Tucker Lieberman
A fantastical poetic expression of a young woman’s powerful desires
A young woman calls to her far-off love in The Sentinel’s Dawn, an enchanting poetry book with stunning visuals by Elena Stewart.
“My sisters warned me—don’t play this game,” the fantasy poem begins. “They said he doesn’t feel the same…” Yet she issues the call anyway: “It’s time for you to return and save your queen.”
It might be understood as one long poem or as a series of untitled poems. The characters are unnamed, the rhyme is slant, the story is impressionistic, and the reader can project their own details on what’s emerging from or retreating into the mist. This fairy spirit dwells there, “Melting through the endless twilights, / Full of pines and candles and lilac dreams.”
The imagery involves the clash of opposites: early and late, love and hate, lies and truth, sky and earth, ebb and flow, come and go. The invitation in The Sentinel’s Dawn involves an attraction, a pull that is romantic or mystical: “Will you take my hand if I ask you to enter my world?” It wouldn’t be only for a vacation.Everything has a price. “The moon,” Stewart says, is “asking us to fight / For one another…” It might be mostly about love, or it might be about the making and unmaking of worlds.
A standout feature is the graphite, chalk, ink, and paint art, also by Stewart, often showing a young, slim woman with long, wavy hair. She looks contemplative, powerful, hopeful. Some of the illustrations have strong reds and blues, and some are black-and-white. It seems that we’re seeing the face of the person who’s speaking, and this gives us an entry point into her fantasy world. The mood of the faces changes, as does the mood of the poems.
The Sentinel’s Dawn captures youthful feelings and delivers them in an innocent, pure voice, perhaps that of a princess who is always dreaming of the moment her love will kiss her to awaken her. We hear someone who is forever looking for their spiritual mate. Perhaps the reader begins to think of someone they may want to draw close through these gentle magic spells.
The character explains how she’s overbrimming with feeling and can no longer hold it in. The light cracks through the darkness. No longer the “time of usual” but now the “time of strange.” If you accept the daydream, the nightmare, the adventure, you go where it leads you. “You walk willingly towards the stirring dragon.”
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