Richibi’s Weblog

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Category: sculptures to ponder

“The Mariners transform’d to Dolphins” – Ovid

Bacchus, 1497 - Michelangelo

        Bacchus” (1497)





             Him Pentheus view’d with fury in his look,


Pentheus, king of Thebes, if you’ll

remember, after Cadmus, his

grandfather, founder of Thebes


viewed, scanned, surveyed

             And scarce with-held his hands, whilst thus he spoke:


with-held, withheld

             “Vile slave! whom speedy vengeance shall pursue,
             And terrify thy base seditious crew:


Vile slave, the zealous votary from

the last instalment, follower, acolyte

of Bacchus / Dionysus, who’d been

captured by Pentheus’ men instead

of the god himself


by exacting a speedy vengeance on

this [v]ile slave, Pentheus expects

to terrify the remaining elements of

the offending crew, the seditious

party of Bacchus / Dionysus


             Thy country and thy parentage reveal,
             And, why thou joinest in these mad Orgies, tell.”


where are you from, what are you

doing here, Pentheus asks

             The captive views him with undaunted eyes,
             And, arm’d with inward innocence, replies,

             “From high Meonia’s rocky shores I came,
             Of poor descent, Acoetes is my name:
             My sire was meanly born; no oxen plow’d
             His fruitful fields, nor in his pastures low’d.

meanly, poor, without adequate



plow’d, low’d, an interesting

rhyme, they’re called forced

or oblique rhymes

             His whole estate within the waters lay;


estate, livelihood, Acoetes‘ father,

his sire, was a fisherman

             With lines and hooks he caught the finny prey,


finny, having fins

             His art was all his livelyhood; which he
             Thus with his dying lips bequeath’d to me:


His art, the quality of his work

             In streams, my boy, and rivers take thy chance;
             There swims, said he, thy whole inheritance.


Acoetes will inherit at best his

father’s skill

             Long did I live on this poor legacy;
             ‘Till tir’d with rocks, and my old native sky,


that of Meonia, see above


             To arts of navigation I inclin’d;


arts of navigation, knowledge of

the open sea, the wider oceans

             Observ’d the turns and changes of the wind,
             Learn’d the fit havens, and began to note
             The stormy Hyades, the rainy Goat,
             The bright Taygete, and the shining Bears,
             With all the sailor’s catalogue of stars.


Hyadesa cluster of stars, with their

own mythic origin story, grieving

nymphs cast upon the heavens,

augurs of rain,hence stormy


the rainy Goat, Capricornus, the



Taygete, a satellite of the planet


the shining Bears, Ursa Major

and Ursa Minor, or the Great

and the Little Bear, whose

origins you might remember

from The Story of Calisto

             “Once, as by chance for Delos I design’d,


Delos, a Greek island


design’d, planned as a destination


             My vessel, driv’n by a strong gust of wind,
             Moor’d in a Chian Creek; a-shore I went,


Chian, of Chios, a Greek island

             And all the following night in Chios spent.
             When morning rose, I sent my mates to bring
             Supplies of water from a neighb’ring spring,
             Whilst I the motion of the winds explor’d;
             Then summon’d in my crew, and went aboard.
             Opheltes heard my summons,


Opheltes, a confederate apparently


                                                                and with joy
             Brought to the shore a soft and lovely boy,
             With more than female sweetness in his look,



             Whom straggling in the neighb’ring fields he took.


he took, he apprehended

             With fumes of wine the little captive glows,
             And nods with sleep, and staggers as he goes.

             “I view’d him nicely, and began to trace
             Each heav’nly feature, each immortal grace,
             And saw divinity in all his face,
             I know not who, said I, this God should be;
             But that he is a God I plainly see:
             And thou, who-e’er thou art, excuse the force
             These men have us’d; and oh befriend our course!

befriend, accord it your sympathy

             Pray not for us, the nimble Dictys cry’d, 

Dictys, one of Acoetes‘ shipmates


             Dictys, that could the main-top mast bestride,
             And down the ropes with active vigour slide.
             To the same purpose old Epopeus spoke,


Epopeus, another sailor

             Who over-look’d the oars, and tim’d the stroke;
             The same the pilot, and the same the rest;
             Such impious avarice their souls possest.


all countermanding Acoetes‘, however

discerning, assessment

             Nay, Heav’n forbid that I should bear away
             Within my vessel so divine a prey,
             Said I; and stood to hinder their intent:


Acoetes had no intention of confining

this so divine a prey to his ship


             When Lycabas, a wretch for murder sent
             From Tuscany, to suffer banishment,
             With his clench’d fist had struck me over-board,
             Had not my hands in falling grasp’d a cord.


Lycabas, a third shipmate


Tuscany, a region of what is now

central Italy


it appears, however, that Acoetes

lived to tell the tale


stay tuned



R ! chard

“The Transformation of Io into a Heyfer” (V) – Ovid


     Statue of Hermes (Vatican Museums)


though Io might still have been “not

out of the woods”, when last we saw 

her, there remained nevertheless 

her original suitor, Jove, god of gods

                 Now Jove no longer cou’d her suff’rings bear;
                 But call’d in haste his airy messenger,
                 The son of Maia, with severe decree
                 To kill the keeper, and to set her free.  

The son of Maia, Hermes, messenger

of the gods


Maia, one of the Pleiadesplaymates

of Artemisgoddess of the Hunt,

daughters, also, of Atlasfamously 

condemned, he, to hold up the

heavens for eternity

                 With all his harness soon the God was sped, 

Hermes, no sooner equipped,

[w]ith all his harness, livery,

attire, was sped, got under


                 His flying hat was fastned on his head,
                 Wings on his heels were hung, and in his hand
                 He holds the vertue of the snaky wand. 

vertue, virtue, but having retained, 

still in 1717, its root, vertu, French 

for virtue, benefit 


Hermes is usually shown wearing

[h]is flying hat, [w]ings on his heels,

a snaky wand, identifying accessories


snaky wand, his caduceus


see above


                 The liquid air his moving pinions wound, 


pinions, the feathers of a bird’s wing


wound, to injure, but also to wrap 

around, according to its two 

differing pronunciations

                 And, in the moment, shoot him on the ground.


to rhyme with wound, note


Hermes has landed, but apparently


                 Before he came in sight, the crafty God
                 His wings dismiss’d, but still retain’d his rod: 


dismiss’d, put aside, made invisible,

[h]is wings

                 That sleep-procuring wand wise Hermes took,
                 But made it seem to sight a sherpherd’s hook. 


though Hermes kept his rod, he made

it look, seem to sight, like a shepherd’s 

staff, hook


                 With this, he did a herd of goats controul;  


controul, control

                 Which by the way he met, and slily stole. 


by the way, as he walked along


slily stole, deities make up their

own rules

                 Clad like a country swain, he pip’d, and sung;
                 And playing, drove his jolly troop along. 


swain, young man

                 With pleasure, Argus the musician heeds; 


Argus heeds the musician, again

an inverted sentence, in order to 

rhyme with

                 But wonders much at those new vocal reeds. 


vocal reeds suggests Pan pipes

here, a wind instrument consisting 

of several tubes of increasing length 

placed side by side, where the piper 

creates the melody by moving his 

lips, her lips, from embouchure to 

embouchure, the openings through 

which to blow


               And whosoe’er thou art, my friend, said he,
               Up hither drive thy goats, and play by me: 


Argus asks Hermes to stay, drive thy 

goats away, [u]p hither, he directs, 

and play thy instrument, keep him 


                 This hill has browz for them, and shade for thee. 


browz, browse, matter, twigs, shoots,

upon which goats might graze

                 The God, who was with ease induc’d to climb,  


to climb, [u]p hither, in order to drive

the goats 

                Began discourse to pass away the time;
                 And still betwixt, his tuneful pipe he plies;   


betwixt, meanwhile


plies, continues

                 And watch’d his hour, to close the keeper’s eyes.


his hour, his opportune moment  


the keeper, Argus, over Io

                 With much ado, he partly kept awake; 


the calming effect of the Pan pipes

was making it hard, much ado, for

Argus to stay awake 

                 Not suff’ring all his eyes repose to take: 


never allowing, suff’ring, all his eyes 

to close, repose to take, at the same


                 And ask’d the stranger, who did reeds invent,
                 And whence began so rare an instrument? 


how do you do that, Argus asks,

which leads to an interpolated story,

wherein Hermes, before we learn

much more about Io, answers the 



stay tuned


R ! chard





“The Transformation of Daphne into a Lawrel” (I) – Ovid


     “Apollo and Daphne(1622 – 1625) 


            Gian Lorenzo Bernini





Phoebus has just killed Python, and 

now his thoughts are turned to other 


               The first and fairest of his loves, was she
               Whom not blind fortune, but the dire decree
               Of angry Cupid forc’d him to desire: 


that Phoebus should fall in love, indeed

for the first time, was not the work of 

blind fortune, but the decree, the will, 

rather, of Cupid, son of Mars, god of 

War, and Venus, goddess of Love, 

himself, Cupid, god of Desire, who’d 

been, we’ll see, unacceptably 


               Daphne her name, and Peneus was her sire. 


her sire, her father, Peneus

               Swell’d with the pride, that new success attends,
               He sees the stripling, while his bow he bends,
               And thus insults him: 


Phoebus, fresh from his triumphant

bout with Python, thus [s]well’d with … 

pride at his new success, sees Cupid

the stripling, the youth, handling his 

own celebrated bow, and derisively

insults him


                                                    Thou lascivious boy,
               Are arms like these for children to employ? 


arms, weapons

               Know, such atchievements are my proper claim; 


arrows, Phoebus says, are my domain,

my proper claim, my undisputed


               Due to my vigour, and unerring aim:
               Resistless are my shafts, and Python late
               In such a feather’d death, has found his fate. 


the death of Python is proof of my 

unparalleled ability, Phoebus 



feather’d death, from the feathers that

are attached to the arrows to direct 

and speed their aim

               Take up the torch (and lay my weapons by), 


my weapons, weapons which should

be mine alone 

               With that the feeble souls of lovers fry. 


Take up the torch, take responsibility,

Phoebus says, lay down your 

weapons, your arrows, the ones that 

fry, he accuses Cupid, that frazzle, 

the feeble, incapacitated, souls of 



               To whom the son of Venus thus reply’d, 


the son of Venus here is Cupid 

               Phoebus, thy shafts are sure on all beside,
               But mine of Phoebus, mine the fame shall be
               Of all thy conquests, when I conquer thee. 


thy shafts, Cupid says, will always

prevail, surpass others, but my own

arrows will be the ones to best you, 

and yours, at which point the glory 

will be, notoriously, mine, over 

yours, forever

               He said, and soaring, swiftly wing’d his flight: 


Cupid is one of the very few ancient

deities to have wings, incidentally,

there’s also Mercury, the Roman 

Hermesmessenger god, god of

travel, communication

               Nor stopt but on Parnassus’ airy height. 


Parnassus, a mountain in Greece,

site of the Oracle of Delphi, site 

indeed where Python has just 

been killed

               Two diff’rent shafts he from his quiver draws;
               One to repel desire, and one to cause.
               One shaft is pointed with refulgent gold:
               To bribe the love, and make the lover bold:
               One blunt, and tipt with lead, whose base allay 


allay, alloy, combination of metals

               Provokes disdain, and drives desire away.
               The blunted bolt against the nymph he drest:
               But with the sharp transfixt Apollo’s breast.



               Th’ enamour’d deity pursues the chace; 


Th’ enamour’d deity, Phoebus, is

now under the spell of Cupid‘s

pointed arrow

               The scornful damsel shuns his loath’d embrace:
               In hunting beasts of prey, her youth employs;
               And Phoebe rivals in her rural joys. 


The scornful damsel, Daphne, in the 

spirit of Phoebe, goddess of the Hunt, 

preferred rural joys, indeed rivalled 

Phoebe‘s own enjoyment of rustic 



to explain the similarity in their names,

it should be noted that Phoebe and 

Phoebus were twins, both children 

of Zeus, god of gods, the equivalent 

of the Roman Jove, also known as 

Jupiter, she, Phoebe, goddess of

the Moon, as well as of the Hunt, he, 

Phoebus, god of the Sun, as well as 

of several other things


it should be noted that the gods and

goddesses of Ancient Greece, firmly 

installed during its period of glory, the

4th and 5th Centuries BCE, travelled 

throughout Europe and Asia, 

migrating, but were adapted to the 

local customs, consequently becoming 

known by different names according to 

the language and culture, you can see 

a parallel in the spread of Latin, for

instance, during the Roman conquests 

of, specifically, Europe, evolving into 

the several derivative languages, 

starting with, historically, Italian itself, 

little by little, achieved through the

effects of time rather than of distance, 

then French, Portuguese, Spanish in

the outlying, eventually impermeated,

areas, see the infiltration of English,

for instance, in the modern world

               With naked neck she goes, and shoulders bare;
               And with a fillet binds her flowing hair. 


fillet, a ribbon

               By many suitors sought, she mocks their pains,
               And still her vow’d virginity maintains.
               Impatient of a yoke, the name of bride
               She shuns, and hates the joys, she never try’d.
               On wilds, and woods, she fixes her desire:
               Nor knows what youth, and kindly love, inspire. 


she’s not the marrying kind

               Her father chides her oft: Thou ow’st, says he, 


Thou ow’st, you owe

               A husband to thy self, a son to me. 


that’s his position

               She, like a crime, abhors the nuptial bed: 


she’d, categorically, rather hunt

               She glows with blushes, and she hangs her head.
               Then casting round his neck her tender arms,
               Sooths him with blandishments, and filial charms: 


filial, can apply to both son or



blandishments, sweet nothings

               Give me, my Lord, she said, to live, and die,
               A spotless maid, without the marriage tye. 


allow me to live[ ] and die[ ] a spotless 

maid, a virgin, she asks, best, that

line, read without commas 


girls would’ve been at the mercy 

of their fathers’ wishes at the time, 

would’ve needed permission not to 



               ‘Tis but a small request; I beg no more
               Than what Diana’s father gave before. 


Diana is the Roman equivalent 

of Phoebe, a virgin goddess, by

the grace of her father, Zeus, the 

Greek counterpart of the Roman 

Jupiter, or Jove, see above

               The good old sire was soften’d to consent;
               But said her wish wou’d prove her punishment:
               For so much youth, and so much beauty join’d,
               Oppos’d the state, which her desires design’d. 


good luck with that, Zeus prophesies, 

men will find you, so much youth, and 

so much beauty, very hard to resist,

you’ll surely suffer consequences



to be continued



R ! chard






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


    “Neptune and Triton (1620 – 1622) 


          Gian Lorenzo Bernini




              When Jupiter, surveying Earth from high,
              Beheld it in a lake of water lie,
              That where so many millions lately liv’d,
              But two, the best of either sex, surviv’d;
              He loos’d the northern wind; 


the new world begins


                                                       fierce Boreas flies
              To puff away the clouds, and purge the skies:
              Serenely, while he blows, the vapours driv’n,
              Discover Heav’n to Earth, and Earth to Heav’n. 


Boreas, ruler of the northern wind, as in 

aurora borealis, at the instigation of the

officiating Jupiter, disperses the clouds, 

drives away the vapours, allowing Heav’n 

to see Earth, and Earth  to see Heav’n, 

nothing between the earth and the 

clear blue sky

              The billows fall, while Neptune lays his mace
              On the rough sea, and smooths its furrow’d face. 


while billows fall, gusts of boreal wind, 

Neptune, god of the Sea, as well and 

simultaneously in the service of Jupiter

smooths the surface of the water by 

laying his mace, a club with spikes, 

upon it, to still the unruly waves

              Already Triton, at his call, appears
              Above the waves; 


Triton, son of Neptune, also a sea deity


                                           a Tyrian robe he wears; 


Tyrian, of Tyre, a city in what is now

Lebanon, but was then Phoenicia, it 

was famous at the time for its cloth 

of a particular colour, Tyrian purple


Tyre is one of the oldest continuously

inhabited cities in the world


              And in his hand a crooked trumpet bears. 


Triton is characteristically depicted 

with a conch shella crooked trumpet 


see above


              The soveraign bids him peaceful sounds inspire,
              And give the waves the signal to retire. 


[t]he soveraign, or sovereign, is none

other than Neptune, his father 

              His writhen shell he takes; whose narrow vent
              Grows by degrees into a large extent, 


writhen, twisted, contorted, as is typical 

of a conch shell, which grows from 

where one blows into it, by degrees,  

towards the much larger opening from 

which the sound emanates


              Then gives it breath; the blast with doubling sound,
              Runs the wide circuit of the world around: 


Triton blows into the conch, gives it 

breath, the blast [ ] doubling [the]

sound, resounding, reverberating, 

the world around, the world over

              The sun first heard it, in his early east,
              And met the rattling ecchos in the west.
              The waters, listning to the trumpet’s roar,
              Obey the summons, and forsake the shore.

the waters begin to recede



R ! chard


Piano Concerto no 3 in E-flat major, opus 75 – Tchaikovsky


        gargoyle at Cologne Cathedral


if I’m including Tchaikovsky’s Third
and last, Piano Concerto in my survey, 
it’s not because of its excellence, it is, 
indeed, severely flawed, but because 
am a completist – if I’m visiting the 
Cologne Cathedral, ergo, for instance, 
I’ll make my way to the very top, 
however treacherous might be the 
stairs, the gargoyles being worth it, 
not to mention the view  

first of all, it’s incomplete, Tchaikovsky
died before finishing it, you can’t blame 
him for that, though he was, curiously, 
complicit in his own demise, but I don’t 
believe this composition and his death 
are that intimately interrelated

it has only one movement, but has 
nevertheless been termed a concerto 
on the, debatably unsound, strength 
of its intention

briefly, and this is my opinion, the
movement has no lyrical moment, 
no melting melody to float you out
of the recital hall as you exit
nothing to hum, nor to whistle as 
you wistfully wend your way back 
home, nothing to remember but 
flash, braggadocio, bombast, 
expert fingers strutting their 
dazzling, even, stuff, style over 
substance, I venture, won’t be
enough to whisk you into the 
following centuries

Chopin, the other towering Romantic 
figure standing between the spiritual 
bookends of Beethoven and Brahms, 
wrote two piano concertos, of which 
his Second suffers from, essentially,  
not being his First, however mighty 
his Second herefor instance, 
proves to be in this utterly convincing 
performance, watch, wow

Beethoven, in other words, wrote the
book, two works, Tchaikovsky’s First
and Chopin’s First, tower above his 
in the public imagination during the 
ensuing High Romantic Periodafter 
which Brahms closes the door on the 
era with his two powerful masterpieces 
for piano and orchestra 

of which more later

there are other piano concertos 
along the way, but Beethoven’s 
five, Tchaikovsky’s and Chopin’s 
one each, and Brahms two are 
the basics – but let me add, upon 
further consideration, and for a
a perfect ten options, Liszt, his 
own, of two, First Piano Concerto –
what you need to consider yourself 
comfortably aware of the essentials 
of music in the 19th Century, the 
culture’s predominant voice then, 
until art, painting, took over as the 
Zeitgeist‘s most expressive medium
with Impressionism

of which more later

R ! chard

“The Man I Love” – the Gershwins



             Charles Despiau


flipping through old ruminations 
lately, that I’d left in my out box for 
whatever reason, I came across this 
number that I’d discovered on the 
Internet in order to soothe a trying 
emotional upset, when my heart is 
broken, I learn the words to torch 
songs, and wallow in their misery 
until the poignancy of the poetry 
seduces me and I revel in their 
caress, in their, indeed, excess

Apollo, my own personal deity, and 
I had split after 17 years, and though 
that story is completely different 
from the one in this torrid love song 
the anguish remains utterly the same, 
whether it’s around the man one 
loves, loved, or would love 

watch this wonderful rendition of 
The Man I Love in a version you’ll 
probably never forget, for both its 
originality and its great humanity

R ! chard

Piano Sonata no 29 in B♭ major, opus 106 – Beethoven


       Venus de Milo


here and there, an artwork has presented 
itself to me as transcendent, which is to 
say that in its presence, I quivered, 
experienced verily cosmic transmission 
of energy, a sacred communication 

the Venus de Milo, in the Louvre, who
breathed, existed, as I turned a corner
and beheld her, imperiously presiding,
holding undying, immortal court, as a 
goddess indeed should, would, and
there profoundly did, and does, I  
suppose, still 

the Sistine Madonna“, in the Zwinger
in Dresden, mesmerized me from a 
distance as I approached her, along  
a long row of corridors, towards a 
resplendence that was 
incontrovertible, a very epiphany, I 
still reverberate recollecting her  
incandescent majesty

Beethoven’s Opus 106, his 
“Hammerklavier”, is such a work, 
not evident perhaps before the third 
movement, the “adagio sostenuto”,
which will, I suspect, stop you dead 
in your tracks, arrest you from its 
very first mystifying moments
magical, miraculous   

Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” is 
the first piece of his to have moved
from being descriptive, narrative, 
to being philosophical, meditative 
in its motivation, emotions are 
evident, but evoked only in the 
context of exploring something 
grander, something metaphysical, 
you come out the other end having 
gone to church, having explored a 
spiritual environment, you exit
perhaps not absolved, but 
somehow understood, reassured
comforted, counted

a lot, incidentally, like Bach, note, 
plying his cantatas and oratorios, 
not to mention his introspective 
fugues, a not to be unremarked 
atavism, how grandchildren 
resemble, even imitate, however 
unconsciously, their grandparents, 
I even have such pictures

more about all of which later 

R ! chard

psst: something I found cute as I 
          brushed my teeth between 
          the movements, the 
          “Hammerklavier”  is in the 
          same key as my electric 
          toothbrush, B-flat major, a
          robust, I assure you, way 
          to greet the morning

Symphony no 12 in D minor, opus 112 (The Year of 1917) – Dmitri Shostakovich


 Assault on the Kremlin in 1917 (1951)

               Konstantin Yuon


the Twelfth Symphony of Shostakovich, 
“The Year of 1917”, is a lot more of the 
Eleventh, “The Year 1905”, both 
commissioned, both celebrating 
significant events of the Russian 
Revolution, both therefore steeped in 
references that now elude many who 
aren’t Russian, and certainly those who
generations elsewhere later never lived 
through these particularly local events 

but the Twelfth is shorter by nearly 
half, thankfully, I also found it to be 
unconvincing, plastic, formulaic, 
neither original, nor enthusiastic, 
tedious and uninspired, musically 
speaking, of course

or maybe I’m just getting cranky

also a music honouring a system that 
is now defunct, debunked, discredited, 
couldn’t long survive but historically
among the works of an otherwise 
extraordinary composer, think of 
Confederate monuments still standing 
in the Southern United States, or of 
those of oppressors of First Nations, 
for instance, in our very own Canada, 
though these might’ve been  
sculpted by even Michelangelos,   
an irresolvable cultural confusion,

the works are programmatic, both 
have titles to indicate a particular
referent, and should be evocative 
of, therefore, those situations, 
music, in other words, for the 
movies, but in these instances, 
without the movie, I’ve talked 
about that before 

all the movements also have titles,
apart from the time signatures, 
adagio, presto, allegro, the like,
the Eleventh, “The Palace Square”, 
“The 9th of January”, “Eternal
Memory”, and “Tocsin”, a warning 

the Twelfth, “Revolutionary Petrograd”,
“Razliv”, “Aurora”, and “The Dawn of 

I couldn’t help but refer to Beethoven’s
Sixth Symphony, the “Pastoral”, to
compare identical musical intentions,
his five movements are “Awakening of 
cheerful feelings upon arrival in the 
countryside“, “Scene by the brook“, 
Merry gathering of country folk“,
Thunder, Storm“, and “Shepherd’s 
song; cheerful and thankful feelings 
after the storm

compare the use of the flute, the 
oboe, the bassoon, Beethoven isn’t 
using any obbligatos yet, solos for 
particular instruments, but you still 
get the feeling of country folk 
dancing, spring taking hold

let me point out that you’ll have to be
patient with the link to the Sixth
Symphony, it’s Japanese, I think, and
will require you to push the arrow in 
the middle of the screen, then wait 
out a few movie ads, which’ll nearly
confound you, but then you’ll get the
best ever Sixth Symphony I’ve ever 
heard, Herbert von Karajan at the 
helm of the Berliner Philharmoniker,
proving why he is still Zeus among

and his thumbs, goodness, anyone 
with thumbs like that is bound to 
change history

R ! chard

psst: incidentally, Yevgeny Mravinsky 
          was the conductor, equally 
          illustrious, who premiered 
          Shostakovich’s Twelfth in 1961, 
          the same conductor as in the 
          presentation here

me in C# major – Wonderland


   “Alice in Wonderland (1977 )

          Salvador Dali


                        to Soeur Lucie-des-Lys,
                               wherever she now 
                                             may be

the school that we went to, my 
sister and I, was across the street, 
through a wild grass field, which 
we crossed diagonally, especially 
after the Soeurs de l’Assomption,
the Sisters of the Assumption of,
indeed, the Blessed Virgin, had
their convent built directly before
our house, not only the times, but 
also the nuns’ implicit intercession, 
would’ve prevented any harm 
coming to us as we wended our
innocent way across their, surely 
consecrated, ground

then down a slight hill to cross 
the stone bridge that led to the 
other side of the gully, that let  
a rill slithering through it rippl
gingerly between its two mostly
brush-covered embankments,
shrubs and disconsolate,
disoriented, displaced 
apparently, trees

then another trail, in a conversely
diagonal direction – like Alice‘s 
flipped reality in Wonderland
inverted and eventually wondrous
– climbed up the other side of the 
rise, and led across another open 
field, aridly, to our school

I don’t remember my first day, 
but I remember my sister’s, my
parents worked, therefore, 
having done this for already a 
year, I would walk her to school,  
introduce her to her teacher, I 
was seven, she was six, there 
was no kindergarten then, nor, 
by a long shot, children’s day
care centres

but already we were Hansel and
Gretel in my mind, if we became
gingerbread cookies, we’d become
so together, therefore off we went
to encounter this strange new 

I knew the principal, an efficient
nun, but not unkind, who later 
even taught me, she would 
introduce my sister to her first 
teacher, Soeur Lucie-des-lys, 
who couldn’t’ve chosen a better 
name, Lucy-of-the-Lilies, and 
was just as modest, utterly
inoffensive, as her adopted 

but my sister cried, indeed wailed,
she had never seen a nun before,
in their black and white attire, 
stark and ominously disciplinarian

but I had to go to my own class, 
my own new year of exploration, 
I liked school, I knew what it 
could bring, I knew my sister ‘d 
be safe with these new wards of 
our education 

especially with Sister 
Lucy-of-the-Lilies, who could ask 
for a better mystical indication
and an absolute reflection of her 
actual person, a poem in the guise
of a maidento allay, at the time,
any of my residual reservations

then again, I was Hansel, only,
who else could I trust 

later my sister met friends, and a 
whole new world of adventure,
just like Alice did in her own,
legendary, Wonderland

R ! chard

Hesiod on poets, and, for that matter, kings


The Dance of the Muses at Mount Helicon (1807)  

Bertel Thorvaldsen


though Zeus may preside over kings,
none other than Apollo and the Muses
preside over poets, according to

Kalliope, foremost of the nine Muses
who tends specifically to kings, and 
to those being born of kings, in the
company of her sisters, Kleo and 
Euterpe, Thaleia and Melpomene, 
Terpsichore and Erato and Polymnia 
and Ourania, will pour a dew sweeter 
than honey upon such a one’s tongue, 
and his words become soothing, 
palliative, placating

“far shooting Apollo, however, 
presides at the inspiration of poets,
lending the lyrical notes from his 
representative lyre, not to mention 
his lyrics, derivative both terms of 
that etymological “lyre”, incidentally,  
so far has Apollo “shot”, dare I say,  
his spirit into our collective 
“From the Muses and far-shooting Apollo
are singers and guitar-players across the earth, 
but kings are from Zeus. Blessed is he whom the Muses
love. From his mouth the streams flow sweeter than honey.
If anyone holds sorrow in his spirit from fresh grief and
is dried out in his heart from grieving, the singer,
servant of the Muses, hymns the deeds of men of the past  

and the blessed gods who hold Olympus, and
right away he forgets his troubles and does not remember
a single care. Quickly do the gifts of the goddess divert him.” 
                                                    Theogony (lines 94 – 103)

therefore poets 


psst: a friend has just passed on,
 it is a time for poets