“Metamorphoses” (The Giants’ War, IX) – Ovid

by richibi


     “The Nereids (1886) 


            Joaquín Sorolla




once the water begins to everywhere

oferflow, humans are left to somehow

find shelter, or perish


               One climbs a cliff; one in his boat is born: 


born here should be our 21st Century

borne, as in carried away, past participle 

of the verb to bear, to transport, a 

combination, incidentally, of verb forms, 

and divergent spellings, we’ve seen

here before


               And ploughs above, where late he sow’d his corn. 


ploughs, in the line above, deftly plays 

with a double meaning, to plough as in 

to struggle through, and to plough as 

in to work a field, the struggle is through 

water this time, however, not through


               Others o’er chimney-tops and turrets row,
               And drop their anchors on the meads below: 


meads, meadows

               Or downward driv’n, they bruise the tender vine,
               Or tost aloft, are knock’d against a pine. 


tossed, or tost, upon the waves, people 

are thrown about indiscriminately, some

against things that they break, bruise,

the tender vine, for instance, others 

against things that break them, the 

pine[s], all order, in the chaos, having 

been subverted


               And where of late the kids had cropt the grass, 


kids, baby goats

              The monsters of the deep now take their place. 


monsters of the deep, creepy things 

that lurk beneath the waves, now 

graze where earlier there’d been 

pasture, baby goats


               Insulting Nereids on the cities ride, 


Nereids, sea nymphs, daughters of Nereus

and Doris, god and goddess themselves, 

of water, fifty of them, one brother, Nerites

all often accompanying Poseidonsupreme 

ruler of the Sea, Neptune‘s Greek 



the Nereids were especially known, in later, 

less turbulent times, to come to the aid of 



               And wond’ring dolphins o’er the palace glide. 


wond’ring, would be wandering, as 

in to roam aimlessly, but one can 

hear rustling, in the background of

that unconventional spelling, the 

idea of dolphins wide-eyed, 

marvelling, filled with wonder, at 

this new, palatial, environment 


               On leaves, and masts of mighty oaks they brouze; 


brouze, browse, or the more familiar, 

graze, said of animals who eat grass, 

whereas those who browse, or brouze, 

eat leaves, shrubbery, greens which 

grow higher up

               And their broad fins entangle in the boughs. 


the fins of dolphins become entangled 

in the branches, boughs, of trees


               The frighted wolf now swims amongst the sheep; 


wolf and sheep, cast asunder, much 

like, above, man at the mercy of the 

pine, or the tender vine, all equals 

in their overriding fight for survival 

               The yellow lion wanders in the deep: 


the deep, the water


               His rapid force no longer helps the boar: 


earlier inherent skills have been

rendered irrelevant


               The stag swims faster, than he ran before.
               The fowls, long beating on their wings in vain,
               Despair of land, and drop into the main. 


the main, the ocean

               Now hills, and vales no more distinction know; 


the water has flattened all horizons

               And levell’d Nature lies oppress’d below. 


Nature, distinct from water here, 

now lies below the water’s surface


               The most of mortals perish in the flood:
               The small remainder dies for want of food. 


if Ovid remains to tell the tale, one

must suppose that this story must,

however relatively, have a happy 



stay tuned


R ! chard