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Category: poems to ponder

Ovid / Shakespeare

Ophelia, 1851 - 1852 - John Everett Millais

               Ophelia(1851 – 1852)


                   John Everett Millais





for a while now, I’ve been feeling the

spirit of Ovid in many of the works of

William Shakespeare, a recent, in

some depth, project of mine, the

nearly pagan perspective in many

of his works, a lust for life, for

instance, that is not at all that of his

contemporary Protestantism, not

to mention an obvious Catholic, and

therefore potentially treacherous, at

the time, prominent bent of his


but that’s another story


many of his plays set scenes in places

right out of Roman mythology, with a

morality to match,and even character

names, Hippolyta, Hero, Polonius,

Titania, Oberon, Greek and Latin

patronyms redolent of Classical



here’s Ovid, for instance, from The

Story of Narcissus


           There stands a fountain in a darksom wood,

           Nor stain’d with falling leaves nor rising mud;

           Untroubled by the breath of winds it rests,

           Unsully’d by the touch of men or beasts;

           High bow’rs of shady trees above it grow,

           And rising grass and chearful greens below.


here’s Shakespeare, from his Hamlet,

Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, gives

the news of Ophelia’s death, in a

particularly Ovidian, I think, manner


           There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
           That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
           There with fantastic garlands did she come
           Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
           That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
           But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them:
           There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
           Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
           When down her weedy trophies and herself
           Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
           And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
           Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
           As one incapable of her own distress,
           Or like a creature native and indued
           Unto that element: but long it could not be
           Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
           Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
           To muddy death.


see above



there is the influence of Dryden to

consider, it must be noted, Ovid‘s

translator into Englishbut the

similarity in the spirit of the text is

so great, the characteristic voice

so evident, regardless of elapsed

time, the intervening fifteen hundred

years, 8 CE for Ovid, to somewhere

around 1600 CE for Shakespeare,

for the congruence to be coincidental,

Shakespeare had to have been reading 

his Ovid, imbibing it, what, do you think


then again, as Shakespeare would

have said, There are more things in

heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than

are dreamt of in your philosophy



R ! chard

“Love Opened a Mortal Wound” – Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz


       Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651–1695)





in both style and substance, the

following poem reminds me of

Emily Dickinson‘s wonderful stuff


the poet, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,

1651–1695, was the illegitimate

daughter of a Spanish father and

a Creole mother, who chose to

follow her many intellectual pursuits

and become a nun rather than submit

to the rigours of love and a secular life



R ! chard





Love Opened a Mortal Wound


          Love opened a mortal wound. 
          In agony, I worked the blade 
          to make it deeper. Please, 
          I begged, let death come quick. 

         Wild, distracted, sick,
         I counted, counted 
         all the ways love hurt me. 
         One life, I thought—a thousand deaths. 

         Blow after blow, my heart
         couldn’t survive this beating. 
         Then—how can I explain it? 

          I came to my senses. I said,
         Why do I suffer? What lover 
         ever had so much pleasure?

                             Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

                                     (translated by Joan Larkin

                                                  and Jaime Manrique)



Con el Dolor de la Mortal Herida

          Con el dolor de la mortal herida,
          de un agravio de amor me lamentaba; 
          y por ver si la muerte se llegaba, 
          procuraba que fuese más crecida. 

          Toda en el mal el alma divertida,
          pena por pena su dolor sumaba, 
          y en cada circunstancia ponderaba 
          que sobrarban mil muertes a una vida. 

          Y cuando, al golpe de uno y otro tiro,
          rendido el corazón daba penoso 
          señas de dar el último suspiro, 

          no sé con qué destino prodigioso
          volví en mi acuerdo y dije:—¿Qué me admiro? 
          ¿Quién en amor ha sido más dichoso?

                                      Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

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


     Allegory of Gluttony and Lust (1490 – 1500) 


             Hieronymus Bosch



             This was a single ruin, but not one
             Deserves so just a punishment alone


the punishment of Lycaon, Jove says,

was not an isolated incident, more 

miscreants need to be held 

accountable for deeds equally as 

blameworthy, equally as horrid

             Mankind’s a monster, and th’ ungodly times
             Confed’rate into guilt, are sworn to crimes. 


Jove doesn’t think much of the human 

race, nor of th’ ungodly times, for that

matter, that promise more crimes, are

sworn, he believes, consigned to them


confed’rate is an adjective here, 

meaning participating, in agreement,

party to the events


             All are alike involv’d in ill, and all
             Must by the same relentless fury fall. 


Jove here, much like the Christian God,

intends to subject the entire human race, 

not just Lycaon, to punishment for its 

pervasive monstrosities, its innate


             Thus ended he; the greater Gods assent;
             By clamours urging his severe intent;
             The less fill up the cry for punishment. 


all Gods are in agreement, the greater, 

and [t]he less, by very clamours urging

Jove’s blanket, and severe, censure,

once he has ended, completed, his 


             Yet still with pity they remember Man;
             And mourn as much as heav’nly spirits can. 


there remains among the Gods, 

however, the memory of early Man, 

which is to say the people of the

Golden Age, but the trials and 

tribulations of earthlings generally 

would not be of much consequence  

to the deities, it is suggested, who 

as immortals, and as a function of 

their infinite longevity, wouldn’t be 

very likely, anyway, to mourn, 

would find it an unfamiliar concept


             They ask, when those were lost of humane birth,
             What he wou’d do with all this waste of Earth: 


if, the Gods ask, all humans were

obliterated from the Earth, what 

would he, Jove, do with what 

remained, bereft as it would be 

of human stewardship


             If his dispeopl’d world he would resign
             To beasts, a mute, and more ignoble line;
             Neglected altars must no longer smoke,
             If none were left to worship, and invoke. 


if Jove were to grant the dispeopl’d 

world, a world without humans, to 

beasts alone, the mute, and more

ignoble species, who would tend 

the altars, who would worship

             To whom the Father of the Gods reply’d,
             Lay that unnecessary fear aside:
             Mine be the care, new people to provide. 


leave it to me, Jove, Father of the

Gods, tells them, I will provide 

a new and improved model

             I will from wondrous principles ordain
             A race unlike the first, and try my skill again. 


from new and wondrous principles,

Jove promises, I will create from the 

scratch, as my German teacher used

to say, a better humanity


let’s see how that turns out


R ! chard 


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


    “Charon Carries Dead Souls across the River Styx(1861)


           Konstantin Makovsky




Jove, god of Thunder, speaks


            I was not more concern’d in that debate
            Of empire, when our universal state
            Was put to hazard, and the giant race
            Our captive skies were ready to imbrace: 


I was not especially disturbed, Jove says,

when the state of our universe was 

challenged, or debate[d], when the giants 

tried to usurp our territory, were ready to 

imbrace, or embrace, take on, our  

vulnerable, [o]ur captive, skies

            For tho’ the foe was fierce, the seeds of all
            Rebellion, sprung from one original; 


because the enemy, then, the adversary, 

came from the one original source, its 

however manifold predations, its 

however myriad desecrations, would’ve

been identifiable to Jove, not foreign, not

unmanageable, he would’ve recognized

the black sheep of the Olympian family,

the giants  


            Now, wheresoever ambient waters glide,
            All are corrupt, and all must be destroy’d. 


ambient, nearby, related, infected, corrupt,

all has been corrupted

            Let me this holy protestation make,
            By Hell, and Hell’s inviolable lake, 


here’s another anachronism, for Hell wouldn’t’ve 

been even a concept in the era of Ovid, where

the Underworld, and Hades, entirely different

afterworlds, would’ve prevailed, areas of 

persistent gloom and shade, see Homer here,

for instance, or Virgil


the Underworld of the ancient world was 

surrounded by five rivers, Hell’s inviolable 

lake, the most famous of which was the 

river Styx


in the Divine Comedy, Dante updates this 

watery boundary for his own 14th Century

readers, and makes it the passageway to

the fifth circle of Hell, where Charon 

remains, after even over a thousand 

years, the very same ferryman


see above


nor was there either any of our present

conception of Heaven, Heaven would’ve 

been Olympus then, the exclusive domain 

of the Gods, either Greek or Roman 


            I try’d whatever in the godhead lay: 


Jove says, I tried everything a god 

could use

            But gangren’d members must be lopt away,
            Before the nobler parts are tainted to decay. 


you’ve got to lop[ ] away, cut off, the bad 

parts before they infect the more vital 

components of the body

            There dwells below, a race of demi-gods,
            Of nymphs in waters, and of fawns in woods:
            Who, tho’ not worthy yet, in Heav’n to live,
            Let ’em, at least, enjoy that Earth we give. 


not all beings are corrupt, but nymphs 

and fawns, innocents, Jove pleads, 

should be given consideration on 

Earth, if they be not yet worthy of the 

majesty of Heav’n, and granted earthly 

areas of enjoyment in the confines of 

their forsaken place 

            Can these be thought securely lodg’d below,
            When I my self, who no superior know,
            I, who have Heav’n and Earth at my command,
            Have been attempted by Lycaon’s hand? 


if Lycaon could attack me, Jove, god 

of Thunder, asks, how can these 

innocents, nymphs, fawns, ever be 



             At this a murmur through the synod went,
             And with one voice they vote his punishment. 


the punishment of Lycaon, which we’ll 

soon encounter

             Thus, when conspiring traytors dar’d to doom
             The fall of Caesar, and in him of Rome,
             The nations trembled with a pious fear;
             All anxious for their earthly Thunderer: 


Thus, or in a similar manner, did the nations

of the earth tremble when Caesar, their 

earthly Thunderer, was assassinated 


nations, incidentally, is another anachronism,

nations didn’t appear on earth until the 

18th Century, with the French Revolution


             Nor was their care, o Caesar, less esteem’d
             By thee, than that of Heav’n for Jove was deem’d: 


Ovid addresses Caesar here, his contemporary,

and compares that emperor’s esteem for nations, 

his reliance on their allegiance, to the esteem 

Heav’n has for Jove


             Who with his hand, and voice, did first restrain
             Their murmurs, then resum’d his speech again. 


Jove calls for silence in the assembly

before speaking again

             The Gods to silence were compos’d, and sate
             With reverence, due to his superior state. 


The Gods … sate, or sat, then took heed,

bowing to Jove’s superior position


the tale of the punishment of Lycaon

will follow  


R ! chard



“Metamorphoses” (The Giants’ War, II) – Ovid, 110


      “The Marriage at Cana (1563) 


              Paolo Veronese




Jove “sigh’d;” if you’ll remember, “nor 

longer with his pity strove; / But kindled 

to a wrath” which was worthy of him

           Then call’d a general council of the Gods;

           Who summon’d, issue from their blest abodes,

           And fill th’ assembly with a shining train. 


Jove calls the gods together to discuss 

the abhorrent conditions on Earth, who, 

upon being summon’d, leave their blest, 

or blessed, homes, and fill Jove’s 

assembly hall with their glittering train, 

their advancing pageantry


           A way there is, in Heav’n’s expanded plain,

           Which, when the skies are clear, is seen below,

           And mortals, by the name of Milky, know. 

when the skies are clear in Heaven’s

expanded plain, its wide expanse, 

mortals can see the Milky Way


           The ground-work is of stars; through which the road

           Lyes open to the Thunderer’s abode: 


this Milky Way is paved with stars, which

lead to Jove’s, the Thunderer’s, domain


           The Gods of greater nations dwell around, 

           And, on the right and left, the palace bound;

the dwellings of the gods who represent 

the greater nations of the era, of Rome, 

for instance, or Greece, surround,

encircle, the Thunderer’s abode, his 



           The commons where they can: the nobler sort

           With winding-doors wide open, front the court. 


the more common gods, those of 

lesser nations, live where they can, 

while the winding-doors of the nobler 

gods, doors which can be activated

mechanically, on hinges, though 

perhaps here divinely, stand wide 

open for this colloquy, this exalted 

conference, before the celestial 



           This place, as far as Earth with Heav’n may vie,

           I dare to call the Louvre of the skie. 


if one were to compare [t]his place

this court, to anything on Earth, have 

it vie with, one would liken it, Ovid 

says, to the Louvre


there’s evidently an anachronism 

here since the Louvre didn’t exist at

the time of Ovid, so that the translators 

have replaced the “Palatia” of Ovid’s 

original Latin, which refers to the 

Palatine, the most central of Rome’s

Seven Hillswhere imperial palaces

were built at the time of Augustus

63 B.C. to 14 A.D., which is to say 

during Ovid’s time, 43 B.C. to 

17 /18 A.D., by this relatively more 

recent palatial residence, the Louvre,

in order to make the text more

contemporary, like settings and 

attire are used in Renaissance

art to kindle the viewer’s sense 

of connection


see, for instance, above, where 

Veronese depicts the scene of Jesus 

attending a marriage at Cana, a village 

in Galilee, and transforms water there 

into wine to accommodate a shortage,

midst Roman, note, rather than Galilean, 

trappings, splendour


           When all were plac’d, in seats distinctly known, 

           And he, their father, had assum’d the throne,

seats distinctly known means the

traditionally assigned places, with 

Jove, “their father”, at the head of

the convocation 

           Upon his iv’ry sceptre first he leant,
           Then shook his head, that shook the firmament: 


leant, or leaned, [t]hen shook his head

in revulsion


           Air, Earth, and seas, obey’d th’ almighty nod;
           And, with a gen’ral fear, confess’d the God. 


the elements, Air, Earth, and seas“, 

acknowledge, or confess’d, the God, 

with quivering anxiety


           At length, with indignation, thus he broke
           His awful silence, and the Pow’rs bespoke. 

Jove, after a silence, bespeaks, or 

addresses, the assembled Pow’rs, 

the other divinities


R ! chard




“Metamorphoses” (The Brazen Age / The Iron Age ) – Ovid


     British Industries. Steel 


              Richard Jack





The Brazen Age

          To this came next in course, the brazen age:
          A warlike offspring, prompt to bloody rage,
          Not impious yet… 


brazen, of brass, the pride, and collective 

title, of the military, not to mention of

industrialists, CEOs, still 


yet…., or the Iron Age, follows



The Iron Age

          Hard steel succeeded then:
          And stubborn as the metal, were the men.
          Truth, modesty, and shame, the world forsook:
          Fraud, avarice, and force, their places took. 


remember conscience, from the Golden Age,

now, during this Iron Age“fors[aken]”


          Then sails were spread, to every wind that blew.
          Raw were the sailors, and the depths were new: 


note “sails” here, a perfect example of a

metonymy, where the word means not 

only the cloth, the canvas that catches 

the wind, but also its larger self, the 

ship, which benefits from that integral

propulsive action, like the body the



          Trees, rudely hollow’d, did the waves sustain;  


hollowed out trees could manage to

remain above the water, could float


          E’re ships in triumph plough’d the watry plain.


our archetype here would again be Columbus,

however ignominiously

          Then land-marks limited to each his right:
          For all before was common as the light. 


though all land had earlier been common,

available to all to freely enjoy, now fences,

signposts prohibited collective access

          Nor was the ground alone requir’d to bear
          Her annual income to the crooked share, 


crooked, awry, disproportionate

          But greedy mortals, rummaging her store,
          Digg’d from her entrails first the precious oar; 


“greedy mortals”, mining, not only from

“the ground alone”, but from the earth’s 

very “entrails”, her “oar”, or ore

          Which next to Hell, the prudent Gods had laid;
          And that alluring ill, to sight display’d. 


the “prudent Gods” had set the precious 

metals near that unholy place to ward off,

however ineffectually, eventually, potential  

pilferers, plunderers 


          Thus cursed steel, and more accursed gold,
          Gave mischief birth, and made that mischief bold: 


or again Truth, modesty, and shame, the 

world forsook: / Fraud, avarice, and force, 

their places took.“, lines 3 and 4 from the 


          And double death did wretched Man invade,
          By steel assaulted, and by gold betray’d, 


double death, assault and betrayal, invade, 

become components, properties, of Man

          Now (brandish’d weapons glittering in their hands)
          Mankind is broken loose from moral bands; 


immoralities follow

          No rights of hospitality remain:
          The guest, by him who harbour’d him, is slain,
          The son-in-law pursues the father’s life;
          The wife her husband murders, he the wife.
          The step-dame poyson for the son prepares;
          The son inquires into his father’s years. 


the stuff, at present, of all of our arts and 

literature, of our collective consciousness, 

we are the Iron Age



          Faith flies, and piety in exile mourns;
          And justice, here opprest, to Heav’n returns. 


“justice” has flown, fled, to Heaven,

to our universal, and grievous, 




R ! chard







Metamorphoses (The Silver Age) – Ovid


      “Poor Woman of the Village” 


              Gustave Courbet



the good times wouldn’t last, however,

discord among the gods would bring 

on the Silver Age 


           But when good Saturn, banish’d from above,
           Was driv’n to Hell, the world was under Jove. 


Saturn, god of plenty, had presided over 

the Golden Age


Jove, or Jupiter, god of thunder, was 

king of the gods


there would be consequences for this

disarrangement, this strife

           Succeeding times a silver age behold,
           Excelling brass, but more excell’d by gold. 


silver might not have been gold, but it

was still better than brass, as, later,

we’ll see


           Then summer, autumn, winter did appear:
           And spring was but a season of the year. 


no longer “immortal” 


by casting Saturn into the Underworld, Jove

set off the cycle of the seasons, whereby

Saturn, clutching his way back to the realm

of the deities, after his initial fall, would inspire

regeneration, the return of springtime, for a

while, before being ousted again, and again, 

and again

           The sun his annual course obliquely made,
           Good days contracted, and enlarg’d the bad. 


in keeping with the suns “oblique[ ]” 

progressions, not parallel, not at  

right angles


           Then air with sultry heats began to glow;
           The wings of winds were clogg’d with ice and snow; 


the emergence of heat and cold

           And shivering mortals, into houses driv’n,
           Sought shelter from th’ inclemency of Heav’n. 


see above


           Those houses, then, were caves, or homely sheds;
           With twining oziers fenc’d; and moss their beds. 


oziers, or osiers, shrubs of which the 

branches have traditionally been used 

to make baskets, basketry


           Then ploughs, for seed, the fruitful furrows broke, 
           And oxen labour’d first beneath the yoke.

not to mention Man, the advent of agriculture,



R ! chard




“Metamorphoses” (The Golden Age) – Ovid


    “Field of Poppies (1873) 


           Claude Monet





once the Creation is complete, Time 

becomes one of its components, ages, 

or eras, or epochs ensue giving credence 

to the fact of an evolutionary process,

instead of stasis a continuation of the 

inner workings of primordial Chaos still 

roils, bristles, but among more orderly 

elements now 


so that the first age, The Golden Age,

is positively blissful 

             The golden age was first; when Man yet new,
             No rule but uncorrupted reason knew: 


Evil was not yet even a concept 

             And, with a native bent, did good pursue. 


a native bent, naturally, by instinct, inately


             Unforc’d by punishment, un-aw’d by fear,
             His words were simple, and his soul sincere; 



             Needless was written law, where none opprest: 


where no one offended, laws were 


             The law of Man was written in his breast: 


a function of his emotions

             No suppliant crowds before the judge appear’d,
             No court erected yet, nor cause was heard: 


suppliant crowds, petitioners for justice


             But all was safe, for conscience was their guard. 


remember conscience, something that too

often now has fallen, it seems, by the 



though we’re a long way off at present, 

admittedly, from the Golden Age

             The mountain-trees in distant prospect please, 


please is a verb here, as in the mountain-trees 

bring pleasure



             E’re yet the pine descended to the seas: 


E’re, or before, the pine trees descended, 

grew closer to, gravitated toward, the water


compare here, ” About her coasts, unruly 

waters roar; / And rising, on a ridge, 

insult the shore.”, from earlierwhere 

“water vies with earth for its place upon 

the strand”


instead of water, Earth encroaches here, 

an equally formidable opponent 


             E’re sails were spread, new oceans to explore: 


E’re, or before, ships set out to conquer,

see Columbus for the archetypal example

             And happy mortals, unconcern’d for more,
             Confin’d their wishes to their native shore. 


a world without an economy

             No walls were yet; nor fence, nor mote, nor mound,
             Nor drum was heard, nor trumpet’s angry sound: 


drums and trumpets at any distance 

would’ve been cause for alarm, or at

the very least caution


             Nor swords were forg’d; but void of care and crime, 


note the negative no, nor, nor hammered out

through the last three verses, describing by 

omission the state of the original age, 

what there was not

             The soft creation slept away their time. 


soft creation, not inclined to struggle

             The teeming Earth, yet guiltless of the plough,
             And unprovok’d, did fruitful stores allow: 

             Content with food, which Nature freely bred,
             On wildings and on strawberries they fed; 


the subject here throughout is the “teeming 

Earth”, the Earth, metonymized, becomes 

earthlings – therefore “they” replaces 

“teeming Earth” as subject in the last two 

lines – who’d feed on wildings, uncultivated 

plants, crab apples, for instance, strawberries

             Cornels and bramble-berries gave the rest,
             And falling acorns furnish’d out a feast. 


Cornels, shrubs 

             The flow’rs unsown, in fields and meadows reign’d: 


flowers bloomed unbidden, covering fields


see above 


I watch the cherry blossoms grace our 

streets with their opulence as I speak,

decking our April days with springtime, 

still, even thousands of years later“,

a remnant, a bequest, of that golden 


             And Western winds immortal spring maintain’d. 


like very Paradise, stretching into even 


             In following years, the bearded corn ensu’d
             From Earth unask’d, nor was that Earth renew’d. 


renew’d, tilled, harvested

             From veins of vallies, milk and nectar broke; 


valleys engender streams that create 

the conditions for milk and nectar

             And honey sweating through the pores of oak.


or our own indigenous syrup of maple



R ! chard





“Metamorphoses” – Ovid, 105


    The Creation(1935) 


           Aaron Douglas




it should be noted that this exemplary 

translation of Metamorphoses was 

done by a clutch of eminent poets, 

John Dryden principally, England’s 

first Poet Laureate, 1688, but with 

the help of, notably, Joseph Addison,  

Alexander Pope, and William 

Congreve, among a number of 

celebrated others, under the 

direction of the poet and physician,

Samuel Garth, in no later than 1717, 

over 300 hundred years ago


this will explain the sometimes 

disorienting spelling of some 

otherwise common words, you’ve

read alreadyfor instance, extreams” 

for “extremes”“watry” for “watery”, 

“blustring” for “blustering” 


it might also be that my own reading

of the text could be influenced by 

idiosyncratic interpretations given 

by the above poets, who would’ve 

written according to the perspectives 

of their own time, the 18th Century, 

somewhat altering, most likely, the 

pristine intentions of Ovid’s original


as I myself, however philologically 

scrupulously – mea culpa, mea 

culpa, mea maxima culpaI must 

contritely confess – can, can 


be forewarned



but onwards to the completion of 

the Creation


            High o’er the clouds, and empty realms of wind,
           The God a clearer space for Heav’n design’d;
           Where fields of light, and liquid aether flow; 


a description of Heaven, “fields of light and 

liquid aether”

            Purg’d from the pondrous dregs of Earth below. 


“the pondrous dregs of Earth”, our dwelling


             Scarce had the Pow’r distinguish’d these, when streight
            The stars, no longer overlaid with weight,
            Exert their heads, from underneath the mass;
           And upward shoot, and kindle as they pass, 

“the Pow’r”, or “the God, whatever God was he”, 

earlier noted


while gravitation again allows the “fields of light”, 

newly “distinguished”, or separated, from the 

pondrous dregs of Earth“, to “streight…upward 

shoot, and kindle”, or sparkle, like firewood, or 

nebulae, aurorae, very constellations 


             And with diffusive light adorn their heav’nly place.

diffusive, evanescent, aetherial, nearly 



             Then, every void of Nature to supply,
           With forms of Gods he fills the vacant sky:
           New herds of beasts he sends, the plains to share:
           New colonies of birds, to people air:
           And to their oozy beds, the finny fish repair. 


note that all life forms are “forms of Gods”,

and “birds”, anthropomorphically, no less

than “people air”

             A creature of a more exalted kind
           Was wanting yet, and then was Man design’d: 


the design follows

             Conscious of thought, of more capacious breast,
           For empire form’d, and fit to rule the rest: 


though the specific initial progenitor will remain 

ever the secret of that Creator

           Whether with particles of heav’nly fire
           The God of Nature did his soul inspire,
           Or Earth, but new divided from the sky


was it “heav’nly fire” or Earth”, which malleable


             And, pliant, still retain’d th’ aetherial energy: 


we are, in other words, quintessentially, 

however muddied, starlight


             Which wise Prometheus temper’d into paste,
           And, mixt with living streams, the godlike image cast. 


Prometheus is the Titan who fashioned 

us of clay, and gifted us with fire despite 

the opposition of the Gods, for which he 

was cruelly punished, but that’s another



             Thus, while the mute creation downward bend
            Their sight, and to their earthly mother tend, 


mute creation, species who have no 

language, animals, lizards, insects


             Man looks aloft; and with erected eyes
            Beholds his own hereditary skies. 


hereditary, received from the Creator,

the primordial ancestor, generator


             From such rude principles our form began;
           And earth was metamorphos’d into Man.


R ! chard


“Metamorphoses” – Ovid, 104


      The West Wind (1891)


            Winslow Homer




next, the creation of climate 


          And as five zones th’ aetherial regions bind,

          Five, correspondent, are to Earth assign’d: 


the five zones are the equatorial zone, the two 

temperate zones, and the polar zones

          The sun with rays, directly darting down,

           Fires all beneath, and fries the middle zone: 


the equator gets the brunt of it


          The two beneath the distant poles, complain

          Of endless winter, and perpetual rain. 


the poles get the other brunt of it


          Betwixt th’ extreams, two happier climates hold

          The temper that partakes of hot, and cold. 


temper”, as in “temperate”, as in zones


          The fields of liquid air, inclosing all, 

          Surround the compass of this earthly ball:

fields of liquid air, cloud covers


          The lighter parts lye next the fires above; 


fires above, the sun and the stars 

         The grosser near the watry surface move:

“grosser” air, less pure, less aetherial

          Thick clouds are spread, and storms engender there, 

          And thunder’s voice, which wretched mortals fear, 

          And winds that on their wings cold winter bear. 


they gravitate towards the denser earth, creating

conditions “there” for storms, strife, thunder


ever so ominously


          Nor were those blustring brethren left at large,

          On seas, and shores, their fury to discharge: 


blustring brethren, the winds, are not, we learn,  

not apportioned, not not allocated

          Bound as they are, and circumscrib’d in place,

          They rend the world, resistless, where they pass;

          And mighty marks of mischief leave behind;

          Such is the rage of their tempestuous kind. 


tempests, tsunamis, hurricanes



they call the winds 

          First Eurus to the rising morn is sent

          (The regions of the balmy continent);

          And Eastern realms, where early Persians run,

          To greet the blest appearance of the sun. 

          Westward, the wanton Zephyr wings his flight;

          Pleas’d with the remnants of departing light: 

          Fierce Boreas, with his off-spring, issues forth

          T’ invade the frozen waggon of the North.  


where we encounter, incidentally, aurorae borealis

          While frowning Auster seeks the Southern sphere;

          And rots, with endless rain, th’ unwholsom year.


it is to be noted that in 8 AD, when Metamorphoses 

was purportedly first published, one gathers from 

the text that the world was understood to be 

spherical, with two poles, the boreal and the 

austral, from which we later get the eponymously 

named Australia 


the world went flat, note, only later in the 

Middle Ages


R ! chard