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Tag: “Metamorphoses” – Ovid

“The Transformation of Tiresias” – Ovid

Jupiter and Juno, 1597 - Annibale Carracci

          Jupiter and Juno” (1597)


                   Annibale Carracci




                ‘Twas now, while these transactions past on Earth,

                And Bacchus thus procur’d a second birth,


second birth, Bacchus / Dionysus

had been granted a second birth

after he’d been plucked from

Semele‘s womb in a first, abortive,

birth, and carried in Jove / Jupiter

/ Zeus‘s thigh to term for the

second, if you’ll remember

                When Jove, dispos’d to lay aside the weight

                Of publick empire and the cares of state,

                As to his queen in nectar bowls he quaff’d,

                “In troth,” says he, and as he spoke he laugh’d,

                “The sense of pleasure in the male is far

                More dull and dead, than what you females share.”


you might note here that these last

eight verses have been one long

sentence, incorporating here and

there other full sentences, but

within commas, like railroad cars

pulled along by a locomotive, none

independent of the others, it seems

to me I’ve seen that kind of thing



quaff’d, drank, took a draught


to his queen, in her honour


in troth, in truth, truly


Jove / Jupiter / Zeus has a question

to settle with Juno / Hera, he claims

that men are less attuned to

pleasure than women are

               Juno the truth of what was said deny’d;


Juno / Hera doesn’t at all agree


                Tiresias therefore must the cause decide,


Tiresias will be the arbiter, he will

the cause decide


Tiresias, mythical prophet


                For he the pleasure of each sex had try’d.


hmmm, you don’t hear stuff like

that in the Bible, the monotheistic

counterpart to Ovid’s pantheistic



a pantheistic religion would have

no categorical set of values, no

Ten Commandments, the gods

themselves would not agree on 

a code of behaviour, morality

would be in the eye of the

beholder, not divinely mandated,

Nietzsche will have a lot to say

about that in the 19th Century

eminently pertinent to ensuing 


                It happen’d once, within a shady wood,

                Two twisted snakes he in conjunction view’d,


in conjunction, mating

                When with his staff their slimy folds he broke,

                And lost his manhood at the fatal stroke.


you shouldn’t mess around with

snakes, it appears

                But, after seven revolving years, he view’d

                The self-same serpents in the self-same wood:


self-same serpents, surely he means

the same species, not the same


                “And if,” says he, “such virtue in you lye,

                That he who dares your slimy folds untie

                Must change his kind, a second stroke I’ll try.”


if it worked once, it might work a

second time, Tiresias supposes

                Again he struck the snakes, and stood again

                New-sex’d, and strait recover’d into man.


it worked, Tiresias is reconfigured,

reconstituted, as a man

                Him therefore both the deities create

                The sov’raign umpire, in their grand debate;


create, appoint, assign duties to


the grand debate, the question,

the calculus, of pleasure


sov’raign umpire, chief, ruling,

irreversible by consent, judge

               And he declar’d for Jove:


women are more susceptible to

pleasure than men are, Tiresias

definitively decides


                                                     when Juno fir’d,

               More than so trivial an affair requir’d,


fir’d, not happy, furious, motivated


More than so trivial an affair, this

incident shouldn’t’ve been the

cause of, requir’d, the extreme

response to which Juno / Hera

condemns Tiresias


                Depriv’d him, in her fury, of his sight,

                And left him groping round in sudden night.


Tiresias, the blind prophet, the

apocryphal blind prophet, so

grimly subjected, finds powerful

resonance, incidentally, in Homer,

another, even more famous, and

actual, which is to say historically

authenticated, blind prophet, both,

nevertheless, of immeasurable

cultural consequence

                But Jove (for so it is in Heav’n decreed,

                That no one God repeal another’s deed)


an honour code among the gods,

to balance competing, however

august, visions, morality, in other

words, by consensus

                Irradiates all his soul with inward light,

                And with the prophet’s art relieves the want of sight.


thus Tiresias becomes the famed

prophet, for better, it’ll turn out,

or for worse, cursed, and blessed,



stay tuned



R ! chard

Beethoven – Septet, Opus 20

Cherry Blossoms, 1970 - Toshi Yoshida

              Cherry Blossoms” (1970)


                       Toshi Yoshida





though I’ve been focused on Ovid

especially lately, specifically his

Metamorphosesother less

concentrated pursuits have also

taken up my time, Sophocles,

Shakespeare, American Idol, The

Great Canadian Baking Show,

Euclid, Existentialism, the variations

in colour, number, size of the cherry

blossoms growing on the trees along

my street as I ponder each morning

from my window their magical,

miraculous, incarnation, into the

world, their augury of, once again,

wondrously, springtime, March,



but recently I picked up a book, a

biography of Beethoven, in

snapshots, through the lens of

nine works of his in particular,

arranged chronologically


join me as I, one by one, present

them through the requisite number

of commentaries


the first is his forgotten, but apparently

all the rage in his day, Septet, opus 20,

which continued to be admired for its

Classical roots for a long time, a

comfortable, recognizable music,

but with enough modernity to warrant

extended popularity, the irrepressible

pull of Romanticism, the draw of the

encroaching 19th Century


Beethoven would become more and

more radical, irascible, demanding

eventually, and I conscientiously

interject here, more manifestly,

however counterintuitively, sublime


but there were contrary opinions, 

much as elders have always objected

to the music of their children, portents,

always, of ensuing degeneration


you’ll recognize, perhaps, as I did,

in the Septet‘s third movement, the

same air as in Beethoven’s Piano

Sonata no 20, Opus 49, no 2, poets

borrowed from each other then,

still do, have ever, they speak the

same language, they would even,

as here, filch from themselves


the insignificant piece, the Sonata,

according to Beethoven, should’ve

been the disregarded work, the

Septet had the greater fame and

longevity, but history has its way,

a septet needs to put together

seven instrumentalists, of a certain

quality, each time, to survive, to

regenerate itself, a sonata, only

one committed interpreter each



it is also an integral part of the

complete Beethoven sonatas, a

historical account equal, musically,

to the very Ten Commandments,

that foundational



R ! chard

“Europa’s Rape” – Ovid

Bulls, 1948 - Bertalan Por

       Bulls” (1948)


               Bertalan Por





though I’d heard, indeed, of the rape of

Europa, I wasn’t aware, I’d thought, of

the details, was loathe, therefore, to

read on, in the next segment of Ovid’s

Metamorphoseshaving been earlier

put off by such incidents in that text


as it turned out, Europa isn’t raped,

but, rather, abducted, more or less

willingly, however innocently, by

Jove / Jupiter / Zeus, and will even,

later, consensually, bear his children


who will then migrate, from their base

in Crete, to populate, to people, the

continent which we’ll come to know

as Europe, after their mum


but that’s a whole other story




           When now the God his fury had allay’d,

           And taken vengeance of the stubborn maid,

           From where the bright Athenian turrets rise

           He mounts aloft, and re-ascends the skies.


the God, Hermes / Mercury, if you’ll

remember, had just transformed

Aglauros, the stubborn maid, into a

statue for having been impudent

with him, and mounts aloft now,

re-ascends the skies over Athens,

where the damsel had lived

           Jove saw him enter the sublime abodes,


the sublime abodes, Olympus,

home of the gods

           And, as he mix’d among the crowd of Gods,

           Beckon’d him out, and drew him from the rest,

           And in soft whispers thus his will exprest.


Jove / Jupiter / Zeus wants something

from Hermes / Mercury

“My trusty Hermes, by whose ready aid

           Thy sire’s commands are through the world convey’d.


sire, Jove / Jupiter / Zeus is the father

of Hermes / Mercury, his sire


Hermes / Mercury, the messenger god,

patron of travellers, heralds, newscasters,

those who convey information

through[out] the world

           Resume thy wings, exert their utmost force,

           And to the walls of Sidon speed thy course;


Sidon, a city still in Lebanon

There find a herd of heifers wand’ring o’er

           The neighb’ring hill, and drive ’em to the shore.”

           Thus spoke the God, concealing his intent.


Jove / Jupiter / Zeus, the God, has

an ulterior motive, a conceal[ed] …


           The trusty Hermes, on his message went,

           And found the herd of heifers wand’ring o’er

           A neighb’ring hill, and drove ’em to the shore;


mission accomplished

           Where the king’s daughter, with a lovely train
           Of fellow-nymphs, was sporting on the plain.


the conceal[ed] …intent is exposed,

Jove / Jupiter / Zeus, in character,

is on the prowl


           The dignity of empire laid aside,

           (For love but ill agrees with kingly pride)


power, empire, will not abide being

deprived, we’ve seen ample examples

of that in our, even most recent, past

           The ruler of the skies, the thund’ring God,

           Who shakes the world’s foundations with a nod,


Jove / Jupiter, Zeus, god, remember,

of Thunder


           Among a herd of lowing heifers ran,

           Frisk’d in a bull, and bellow’d o’er the plain.


Frisk’d, accoutered, dressed up as,

in the guise of, a bull


           Large rowles of fat about his shoulders clung,


rowles, rolls

           And from his neck the double dewlap hung.


dewlap, a looseflap of skin hanging

from the throat of some animals, or

birds, cattle, for instance, turkeys,

a wattle

           His skin was whiter than the snow


see above


                                                             that lies

           Unsully’d by the breath of southern skies;


breath of southern skies would

melt away white snow, revealing,

fatefully, ignominiously, patches

of [ ]sully’d earth

           Small shining horns on his curl’d forehead stand,

           As turn’d and polish’d by the work-man’s hand;

           His eye-balls rowl’d, not formidably bright,


rowl’d, rolled

           But gaz’d and languish’d with a gentle light.


as in doe eyes

           His ev’ry look was peaceful, and exprest

           The softness of the lover in the beast.


a wolf, if here a bull, in

sheep’s clothing


stay tuned



R ! chard

Piano Concerto no 20, K.466 – Mozart (Uchida)


  Mozart (2015)


       Bernd Luz




having been immersed recently, indeed 

consumed by, Ovid, his Metamorphoses, 

for four months now, according to a 

friend, since, however improbably, April, 

and we’re now in mid-August, I’ve been 

redirected recently, not only for

metaphysical breath, but by friends 

who’ve brought up other ideological 



I watched a concert on TV yesterday, 

my mother said this morning when I 

went over for coffee, she lives, 

providentially, to my mind, only a few 

blocks away, we touch bases regularly


great, I reacted, I’ve got it on tape, I 

was meaning to watch it later


the pianist, she marvelled, also

conducted, I’ve never seen that


I cheered her on, and couldn’t wait to 

see for myself when I got home


but couldn’t watch more than a few 

moments, the pianist / conductor, 

famous in his day, had become 

crotchety, decrepit, the piece was 

Mozart, you can’t play Mozart with 

arthritic fingers


which had me finding the mistress of 

Mozart on the internet, unmatched at 

Mozart to this day, Mitsuko Uchida, 

watch her transform Mozart’s flights 

of lyrical fantasy into utter, and 

irrepressible, magic, sent it to my

mom for incontrovertible 



his 20th Piano Concerto, K.466


watch, marvel   



R ! chard



Phaeton’s Sisters Transform’d into Trees – Ovid


   “Heliades (1920s) 


           Rupert Bunny





                     The Latian nymphs came round him, 


Latian, of Latium, a region still of Italy,

which comprised, and still comprises,

Rome, the Latians, or Latins, were its

original inhabitants, whose language,

Latin, is the root of many of our 

European languages today, it is, 

notably, the language of Ovid


                                                                                                 and, amaz’d, 
                     On the dead youth, transfix’d with thunder, gaz’d; 


the dead youth, Phaeton

                     And, whilst yet smoaking from the bolt he lay, 
                     His shatter’d body to a tomb convey, 
                     And o’er the tomb an epitaph devise: 
                     “Here he, who drove the sun’s bright chariot, lies; 
                     His father’s fiery steeds he cou’d not guide, 
                     But in the glorious enterprize he dy’d.” 


though Ovid’s text, as translated by

John Dryden, among others, has

its difficulties, a good portion of it 

is easy to understand, the secret,

mostly, is in paying attention to the

punctuation, which on occasion can

be tricky

                     Apollo hid his face, and pin’d for grief, 


Apollo, Phaeton’s father

                     And, if the story may deserve belief, 
                     The space of one whole day is said to run, 
                     From morn to wonted ev’n, without a sun: 


ev’n, evening

                     The burning ruins, with a fainter ray, 
                     Supply the sun, and counterfeit a day, 

                     A day, that still did Nature’s face disclose: 
                     This comfort from the mighty mischief rose. 


though the sun did not shine that

fateful day, the glow from the 

burning debris shed a light that 

allowed one to nevertheless 

make out, disclose, Nature’s face, 

a wry comfort midst the carnage,

midst the mighty mischief

                     But Clymene, enrag’d with grief, laments, 


Clymene, Phaeton’s mother

                     And as her grief inspires, her passion vents: 
                     Wild for her son, and frantick in her woes, 
                     With hair dishevel’d round the world she goes, 
                     To seek where-e’er his body might be cast; 
                     ‘Till, on the borders of the Po, at last 
                     The name inscrib’d on the new tomb appears. 


the Po, a river in Italy


the new tomb, where the Latian 

nymphs lay to rest Phaeton’s 



                     The dear dear name she bathes in flowing tears, 
                     Hangs o’er the tomb, unable to depart, 
                     And hugs the marble to her throbbing heart. 

                     Her daughters too lament, and sigh, and mourn 
                     (A fruitless tribute to their brother’s urn), 
                     And beat their naked bosoms, and complain, 
                     And call aloud for Phaeton in vain: 
                     All the long night their mournful watch they keep, 
                     And all the day stand round the tomb, and weep. 


Her daughters, the Heliades, along

with Phaeton, were the children of

Clymene and Helios / Phoebus / 

Apollo, god of the Sun


                     Four times, revolving, the full moon return’d; 
                     So long the mother and the daughters mourn’d: 


the equivalent of, more or less, 

four months

                     When now the eldest, Phaethusa, strove 
                     To rest her weary limbs, but could not move; 
                     Lampetia wou’d have help’d her, but she found 
                     Her self with-held, and rooted to the ground: 


Phaethusa and Lampetia, both daughters 

of Helios / Phoebus / Apollo, but with 

Neaera, and not, as Ovid indeed writes 

in his Latin text, with Clymene, were 

therefore not strictly speaking Heliades

but stepsisters only of Phaeton


furthermore, Ovid has them find their

purported brother in the Eridanos, a

river only later identified as the Po

so that Dryden cannot be faulted for

this not inaccurate anachronism


in either case, I suspect either’s metre

might’ve played a poetically pertinent 

part in these divergences


                     A third in wild affliction, as she grieves, 
                     Wou’d rend her hair, but fills her hands with leaves; 
                     One sees her thighs transform’d, another views 
                     Her arms shot out, and branching into boughs. 


in one version, Helios / Phoebus / 

Apollo and Clymene had three 

daughters, Aegiale, Aegle, and 

Aetheria, in another they had five, 

Helia, Merope, Phoebe, Aetheria 

and Dioxippe, you’ll note that 

Phaethusa and Lampetia are not 

among then

                     And now their legs, and breasts, and bodies stood  
                     Crusted with bark, and hard’ning into wood; 
                     But still above were female heads display’d, 

                     And mouths, that call’d the mother to their aid. 


there’s a pattern here, a friend said 

when I spoke to her about what 

was coming up


you mean these nymphs turning 

into trees, I asked


yes, she replied


look at it the other way around, I said, 

not that the girls are turning into trees, 

but that the trees are becoming human, 

becoming our kin, we are acknowledging 

their humanity, anthropomorphically, which 

is why some of us actually hug them, the 

world in Ovid’s earlier myths is still being 

created, not just the generic tree, but 

poplars, maples, laurel, out of the share 

of the common soul we impart to them, 

not only metaphorically, as in these myths, 

but even organically, we are, after all,  

all, fundamentally, stardust


                     What cou’d, alas! the weeping mother do? 
                     From this to that with eager haste she flew, 
                     And kiss’d her sprouting daughters as they grew. 
                     She tears the bark that to each body cleaves, 
                     And from their verdant fingers strips the leaves: 
                     The blood came trickling, where she tore away 
                     The leaves and bark: 


the process is not unlike watching, 

helplessly, a daughter leave home, 

age, take on life’s tribulations


                                                 the maids were heard to say, 
                     “Forbear, mistaken parent, oh! forbear; 
                     A wounded daughter in each tree you tear; 
                     Farewell for ever.” Here the bark encreas’d, 
                     Clos’d on their faces, and their words suppress’d. 


let go, let go, the daughters cry,

holding on to us only hurts 

                     The new-made trees in tears of amber run, 
                     Which, harden’d into value by the sun, 
                     Distill for ever on the streams below: 


the river Eridanos was supposed to be a

river rich in amber, the resin, apparently,  

of poplar trees there having drifted to the 

nearby stream, hardened


I’m reminded of the sap of our own

indigenous maple trees becoming

a prized delicacy

                     The limpid streams their radiant treasure show, 
                     Mixt in the sand; whence the rich drops convey’d 
                     Shine in the dress of the bright Latian maid. 


Latian, or Latin, maids have been 

weaving amber into their apparel

ever since



R ! chard



an enlightening distraction / Chopin


   Friends (1895) 


        Konstantin Makovsky





like a lover who needs to return to old and

trusted friends to find a sense of balance, 

where a recent infatuation might’ve rendered 

usual assumptions untrustworthy, is black 

white, is up down, is what I’m doing crazy,

I turned to Chopin, a muse of long and 

distinguished standing, this evening, for 

instruction, a different perspective from 

my recently all-consuming, though entirely 

exhilarating, fascination with Ovid, his 

highly engrossing, even enchanting, 

utterly beguiling, Metamorphoses


here’s Chopin’s Piano Concerto no 2, which 

reminded me that it’s good to pay attention

to your old friends, the ones who’ll be there 

when others won’t, when the going gets, 

well, disconcerting, tough, the ones who’ll 

ever stand by you


you get his Revolutionary Etude and his 

posthumous Waltz in E minor here too, 

as encores, equally sturdy, staunch, if 

only apparently metaphysical, supporters, 

who turn out to be, however miraculously, 

rocks when you need them




R ! chard

art in a time of crisis


     “Prelude to Alice (1955) 


         Charles Blackman



in all the fallout from the very early 

reactions still to the present global 

crisis, self-isolation, a retreat from 

the, not only usual but consolidating, 

aspects of our communal interactions, 

there remain effective manners of 

dealing with this sea, this profoundly 

existential, change we are viscerally



a social animal is being asked to 

eschew – Gesundheit – social contact, 

this is not an inconsequential ask


religions might’ve earlier been common

recourses for many believers, but the 

restrictions on assembly are already

impeding such solutions, we are left,

therefore, to find personal answers to 

our prescribed isolation – what do I do 

with my time, how do I subsist when 

my supports are disintegrating 


let me suggest immersion in the lessons

art has bequeathed us through the ages


it isn’t a bad time to review, for instance,,

the majesty of Homer’s Iliad, Ovid’s 

Metamorphoses, his interpretation of 

the origin of the world, its genesis, 

Shakespeare’s tragedies, Beethoven’s

transcendental music, since many of us 

are confined to our homes


rather than rue, bristle, use our time, I

suggest, to contemplate, learn, discover 


in looking for flowers recently, for a 

friend who’s undergone her own 

private agony, unrelated to the 

recent international medical crisis,

I fell upon, again, the magical 

inventions of this utterly inspired 



like many other, even celebrated, even 

revered, artists, this, however insulated,

however apparently isolated, visionary,

with the strength of his inspiration, 

gives weight to the power of mere 

poetic passion, a thrust towards what

is thought of as beautiful, however

individual, suggesting that each our 

own aesthetic is of value, when

fervently followed, pursued,

check him out

meanwhile, I’m learning to sing, creating 

a repertoire, what have I got to lose


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 





“Metamorphoses” – Ovid, 103


     Chaos (The Creation) (1841) 


                Ivan Aivazovsky




        But God, or Nature, while they thus contend,

        To these intestine discords put an end:


intestine, of the entrails, intestine discords, 

a stomach ache, already the 

anthropomorphization of the deity, our 

gods created in our own image


        Then earth from air, and seas from earth were driv’n,

        And grosser air sunk from aetherial Heav’n. 


the elements begin to find, and form, each 

their distinctive identities


grosser air, less pure than that of Heaven


        Thus disembroil’d, they take their proper place;

        The next of kin, contiguously embrace; 


the elements fall in line, like congregates with 


        And foes are sunder’d, by a larger space. 


space expands



examples follow


        The force of fire ascended first on high,

        And took its dwelling in the vaulted sky:

        Then air succeeds, in lightness next to fire;

        Whose atoms from unactive earth retire.

        Earth sinks beneath, and draws a num’rous throng

        Of pondrous, thick, unwieldy seeds along.


there are the seeds again, the jarring seeds,

within the primordial Chaos, cloying to what 

will become the Earth 


note also the introduction of gravity, what

goes up, what goes down


         About her coasts, unruly waters roar;

         And rising, on a ridge, insult the shore


water vies with earth for its place upon the 

strand, in waves, tides, still, even thousands 

of years later


        Thus when the God, whatever God was he,


note the indecision here, the less adamant 

profession of the deity before the imprint

of uncompromising Christianity, when 

there would’ve been no wars of religion, 

the wars were for territory 


          Had form’d the whole, and made the parts agree,

          That no unequal portions might be found,


a God who would’ve presided, who would’ve

called the elements to order, and proportion


          He moulded Earth into a spacious round:

          Then with a breath, he gave the winds to blow;

          And bad the congregated waters flow. 


bad, or bade, as in called upon to perform a task

          He adds the running springs, and standing lakes;

          And bounding banks for winding rivers makes.

          Some part, in Earth are swallow’d up, the most

          In ample oceans, disembogu’d, are lost. 


disembogue is said of a waterway that joins a

larger current, a stream disembogues into a 

river, a river into a sea, or an ocean


          He shades the woods, the vallies he restrains

          With rocky mountains, and extends the plains. 


sounds like Vancouver



R ! chard