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“Europa’s Rape” (ll) – Ovid

The Rape of Europa, c.1732 - 1734 - Francois Boucher

         The Rape of Europa” (c.1732 – 1734)


               François Boucher





            Agenor’s royal daughter, as she plaid

            Among the fields, the milk-white bull survey’d,


Agenor, king of Tyre, in Phoenicia,

an area comprised then of ancient

Lebanon, as well as a good part of

the Eastern, and later, the Southern,

which is to say the African,

Mediterranean coasts, father of,

notably, Europa, his royal, his

indeed mythic, daughter 

            And view’d his spotless body with delight,

            And at a distance kept him in her sight.


Europa is intrigued, delight[ed], by this

milk-white …spotless …bull, but from

a distance, discreetly, furtively

            At length she pluck’d the rising flow’rs, and fed

            The gentle beast, and fondly stroak’d his head.


pluck’d, dared, mischievously, to



the rising flowers, offering [their] cup

to the sun


            He stood well-pleas’d to touch the charming fair,

            But hardly could confine his pleasure there.

            And now he wantons o’er the neighb’ring strand,

            Now rowls his body on the yellow sand;


to wanton, to play, to frolic, often

immodestly, like puppies, goats


strand, shore


rowls, rolls


            And, now perceiving all her fears decay’d,


decay’d, dispelled, dissipated,



            Comes tossing forward to the royal maid;

            Gives her his breast to stroke, and downward turns

            His grizly brow, and gently stoops his horns.


grizly, grizzly, grayish

            In flow’ry wreaths the royal virgin drest


drest, adorned


            His bending horns, and kindly clapt his breast.

            ‘Till now grown wanton and devoid of fear,

            Not knowing that she prest the Thunderer,


the Thunderer, Jove / Jupiter / Zeus


            She plac’d her self upon his back, and rode

            O’er fields and meadows, seated on the God.


however heedlessly, however

immoderately, immodestly,

however innocently


see above

            He gently march’d along, and by degrees

            Left the dry meadow, and approach’d the seas;

            Where now he dips his hoofs and wets his thighs,

            Now plunges in, and carries off the prize.

            The frighted nymph looks backward on the shoar,


shoar, shore


            And hears the tumbling billows round her roar;

            But still she holds him fast: one hand is born


born, borne, held


            Upon his back; the other grasps a horn:

            Her train of ruffling garments flies behind,

            Swells in the air, and hovers in the wind.


see here also for a more windswept

picture of Europamore in keeping

with the last few lines

            Through storms and tempests he the virgin bore,

            And lands her safe on the Dictean shore;


Dictean, of Dicte, or Dikti, a mountain

range in Eastern Crete, site of the

Diktaion Antronor Dictaean Cave,

the place where Jove / Jupiter / Zeus

was apparently born, if it wasn’t the

Idaean Cave, which is to say a cave on

Mount Idatherefore Idaean, also in

Crete, both hollows having claimed

the right to be called the site of the

exalted provenance


            Where now, in his divinest form array’d,

            In his true shape he captivates the maid;


Jove / Jupiter / Zeus manifest, no

longer bull, but divinity, dripping

still in bovine potency, however


            Who gazes on him, and with wond’ring eyes

            Beholds the new majestick figure rise,

            His glowing features, and celestial light,

            And all the God discover’d to her sight.


once, to a man who’d bewitched me,

how could you touch me, I wrote, you

must’ve known you would transfix me,

leave me breathless, which he,

however inadvertently, had, did


I went on, of course, to not populate

continents, nor to become queen of

Crete, but was Europa, in that

instance, before my own exalted




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

my 10 best films – “Copenhagen”

Copenhagen (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes




yesterday – a Sunday afternoon, much

like Sundays the way they were

supposed to be, gracious, cordial, if

somewhat reverent, but, especially,

and quite specifically, as specified in

its prevailing Good Book then, restful

– a friend and I watched a second of

my ten favourite movies


Copenhagena three-character play

that had won the Tony in 2000, had

been made into a film a couple of

years later, with Daniel Craig, no

less than Daniel Craig, yes, that

Daniel Craig, if you’ll pardon my

gushing, the most recent, and

therefore ,to my mind, nearly

definitive James Bond, with a

couple of other less well known,

though supremely capable



Daniel Craig is Werner Heisenberg,

the German physicist who’d studied

with Niels Bohr, his Danish tutor,

both becoming, individually, great

names in the history of 20th-Century

nuclear physics, right up there with

Einstein and Oppenheimer


the year is 1941, Denmark is

occupied, Heisenberg, though

earlier a beloved student, is

now a political enemy, of his

earlier mentor, Niels Bohr


conflicting, apparently, ideologies,

incompatible, clashing, loyalties,

fell even apparently indissoluble



it is allowed by the German High

Command that Heisenberg visit

Bohr in Copenhagen, at his home,

to, perhaps, glean information

about the atom bomb, its



Heisenberg, if not necessarily

coerced, is, however informally,

tasked with getting whatever

relevant information from Bohr,

who is not directly involved with

either the German or American

pursuits, his interest is essentially

theoretical, to the extent that he

can maintain that pose despite

intense international pressure


they meet, they met, an actual

historical event, Michael Frayn

the playwright, imagines their

meeting, which has never been

recorded, the play is a work of

the imagination, but of an

imagination of the very highest

order, and philosophical insight


Schubert provides most of the

music, sets the tone for the

film, the much more refined

atmosphere of polished Europe,

the Europe we look toward, like

Romans looked toward Athens,

for their moral and aesthetic

pre-eminence, a Europe that

profoundly reverberates still in

our, however globalized,





try hard to see the movie




R ! chard

“The Story of Aglauros, transform’d into a Statue” (lV) – Ovid


       Statue in the Park of Versailles


                   Giovanni Boldini





Envy, at the instigation of Minerva,

has flown towards the site of her

commissioned mischief, to hex

Aglauros, who’s miffed her


            When Athens she beheld, for arts renown’d,

            With peace made happy, and with plenty crown’d,


Athens, its glories, architectural,

literary, political, philosophical, would

have been impressive still, despite its

intervening decline, to the mind of a

Roman poet of the later First Century,

compare, say, a contemporary poet’s

evaluation of Great Britain’s grandeur

during its 19th Century supremacy, or

of the United States’ promise before

its late-20th-Century deterioration


            Scarce could the hideous fiend from tears forbear,

            To find out nothing that deserv’d a tear.


Envy, the hideous fiend, was upset

because she couldn’t find anything

to cry about, anything that deserv’d

a tear

            Th’ apartment now she enter’d, where at rest

            Aglauros lay, with gentle sleep opprest.


with gentle sleep opprest seems

to me oxymoronic, conflicting

definitions, how could a gentle

sleep oppress, but let’s continue

            To execute Minerva’s dire command,

            She stroak’d the virgin with her canker’d hand,

            Then prickly thorns into her breast convey’d,

            That stung to madness the devoted maid:

            Her subtle venom still improves the smart,


improves the smart, accentuates

the sudden pain


            Frets in the blood, and festers in the heart.


Frets in, unsettles, the blood, festers,

rots , becomes cankerous, in the heart.


            To make the work more sure, a scene she drew,

            And plac’d before the dreaming virgin’s view

            Her sister’s marriage, and her glorious fate:

            Th’ imaginary bride appears in state;

            The bride-groom with unwonted beauty glows:

            For envy magnifies what-e’er she shows.


Aglauros is not only struck with

subtle venom, but subjected to

psychological manipulation, if

you’ll excuse the reference to

modern analytical methods, is

made to see [h]er sister’s

marriage, Herse‘s, as well as 

her glorious fate


For envy magnifies what-e’er

she shows, an observation

worth remembering


            Full of the dream, Aglauros pin’d away

            In tears all night, in darkness all the day;


the dream, though Envy might’ve

envenomed Aglauros in her sleep,

the unwanted vision continues to

plague her throughout the following

days, and nights


            Consum’d like ice, that just begins to run,

            When feebly smitten by the distant sun;

            Or like unwholsome weeds, that set on fire

            Are slowly wasted, and in smoke expire.


the slow torture in the mind of

rancour there eating away at

the psyche

            Giv’n up to envy (for in ev’ry thought

            The thorns, the venom, and the vision wrought)


The thorns, the venom, and the vision,

all three, wrought, writhing, smouldering,

in ev’ry thought


            Oft did she call on death, as oft decreed,


decreed, resolved


            Rather than see her sister’s wish succeed,

            To tell her awfull father what had past:


her awfull father, Cecrops l, founder

and first king of Athens, according to



awfull, as in inspiring awe, reverence

            At length before the door her self she cast;


the door, of her chamber, where the

God Hermes / Mercury had asked

Aglauros to speak in his favour to

her sister, Herse, whom he had

wanted, if you’ll remember, to woo


cast, set herself up awaiting the

God’s return

            And, sitting on the ground with sullen pride,

            A passage to the love-sick God deny’d.


Aglauros denies the God his wish,

she will not praise him to her sister

            The God caress’d, and for admission pray’d,

            And sooth’d in softest words th’ envenom’d maid.


caress’d, used endearing words

            In vain he sooth’d: “Begone!” the maid replies,

            “Or here I keep my seat, and never rise.”


I’ll stay here till you leave, Aglauros

tells Hermes / Mercury

            “Then keep thy seat for ever,” cries the God,


the impudence of vying with a god

has its consequences

            And touch’d the door, wide op’ning to his rod.


his rod, his caduceus, his winged


            Fain would she rise, and stop him,




                                                             but she found

            Her trunk too heavy to forsake the ground;

            Her joynts are all benum’d, her hands are pale,

            And marble now appears in ev’ry nail.

            As when a cancer in the body feeds,

            And gradual death from limb to limb proceeds;

            So does the chilness to each vital parte

            Spread by degrees, and creeps into her heart;

            ‘Till hard’ning ev’ry where, and speechless grown,

            She sits unmov’d, and freezes to a stone.


Aglauros has become of stone,

a statue

            But still her envious hue and sullen mien

            Are in the sedentary figure seen.


still, though Aglauros might’ve been

rendered inanimate, it’s interesting

to note that she’s nevertheless

become immortal, immortalized


see, for instance, above



R ! chard

“The Story of Aglauros, transform’d into a Statue” (lll) – Ovid


          The Envious


                  Gustave Doré





all mythologies have their picture, their

rendition, their evocation of an afterlife,

states of either resignation, in earlier

traditions, perdition or bliss in the later

Christian view, manifest, these latter,

in Dante, his depictions of Hell,

Purgatory, and Heaven in his

Commediaare probably its most

explicit evocations


the Greek and Roman pictures of

their own representative Underworld,

available in Homer, Horace, Virgil,

notably, is less compartmentalized,

less extreme in its divisions, a gloom

pervades, but nowhere fire and

brimstone, nor the diametrically

opposed consolation of archangels

and trumpets, only an unending

sense of desolation, be one worthy

of it or not


limbo comes to mind



but Envy’s realm is actual, not

belated, in the Ancient Greek and

Roman traditions, it is of this world,

present, however horrid, a place

that lurks in the hearts of men, of

people, always, ever, accessible


Dante situates his nexus of Envy in

Purgatory, the afterlife, the nether

world, its Second Circle, of seven,

Wrath, Envy, Pride, Lust, Gluttony,

Greed, Sloth


for Ovid, you can reach Envy’s

dominion, in the nearby mountainous

areas, if only you’ll follow Minerva


the one course is transcendental,

the other, organic, note, physical,



            Directly to the cave her course she steer’d;

            Against the gates her martial lance she rear’d;

            The gates flew open, and the fiend appear’d.


the fiend, Envy herself

            A pois’nous morsel in her teeth she chew’d,

            And gorg’d the flesh of vipers for her food.



             Minerva loathing turn’d away her eye;


as, incontrovertibly, would I

            The hideous monster, rising heavily,

            Came stalking forward with a sullen pace,

            And left her mangled offals on the place.

            Soon as she saw the goddess gay and bright,

            She fetch’d a groan at such a chearful sight.

            Livid and meagre were her looks, her eye

            In foul distorted glances turn’d awry;

            A hoard of gall her inward parts possess’d,

            And spread a greenness o’er her canker’d breast;

            Her teeth were brown with rust, and from her tongue,

            In dangling drops, the stringy poison hung.

            She never smiles but when the wretched weep,

            Nor lulls her malice with a moment’s sleep,

            Restless in spite: while watchful to destroy,

            She pines and sickens at another’s joy;

            Foe to her self, distressing and distrest,

            She bears her own tormentor in her breast.


the passage, without explication,

speaks for itself, I cede to its

manifest erudition

            The Goddess gave (for she abhorr’d her sight)


her sight, what she was looking


            A short command: “To Athens speed thy flight;

            On curst Aglauros try thy utmost art,

            And fix thy rankest venoms in her heart.”


Minerva condemns, curs[es], 


            This said, her spear she push’d against the ground,

            And mounting from it with an active bound,

            Flew off to Heav’n:


Minerva reminds me of my own

generation’s Wonder Woman



meanwhile, the hag, Envy, with

eyes askew


            Look’d up, and mutter’d curses as she flew;

            For sore she fretted, and began to grieve

            At the success which she her self must give.


success, the humiliation of


            Then takes her staff, hung round with wreaths ofthorn,

            And sails along, in a black whirlwind born,


the picture of a witch on a

broomstick shouldn’t

here be unanticipated 

            O’er fields and flow’ry meadows: where she steers

            Her baneful course, a mighty blast appears,

            Mildews and blights; the meadows are defac’d,

            The fields, the flow’rs, and the whole years laidwaste:


the whole years, the yearly crops


            On mortals next, and peopled towns she falls,

            And breathes a burning plague among their walls.


the, not unfamiliar to us, season,

now, of the witch



R ! chard

my 10 best films – “Closer”


          The Bolt” (c.1778)


                  Jean-Honoré Fragonard





in the spirit of recording my ten best

ever films, my favourite films of all

time, something that, at my relatively

advanced age, 71, I feel entitled to do,

however might some think me

presumptuous, others, not inaccurate,

I started last night with Closer


Mike Nichols directs, who also helmed

another of my ten favourites, Who’s

Afraid of Virginia Woolfwhich, having

just watched it recently, I won’t again

soon, having been, once more,

devastated, I cry from the first roll of

the credits, bawl when the music

comes on, a theme that’s reverberated

with me through the several ensuing

ages, same as just happened again

to me with this one


The Blower’s Daughter, listen, tells

the story, breathes the essence of,

anguish, the tale itself follows, four

individuals, in a tight, literary, conceit,

live out the agonies of participants in

modern emotional interactions, or, at

least, my modern, 2004, it all takes

place in London, with a brief, though

revelatory, postscript in New York, in

order to tie loose ends together, they

are called upon, the performers,

consummate in every instance, Julia

Roberts, Jude LawNatalie Portman,   

Clive Owen, however reduced might

be their full cast, a mighty, note,

professional challenge, to display the

myriad tragedies inherent in all loving



try to find it, it ought to knock your

socks off


meanwhile, think about your own

best list, if you don’t suppose it’s

at all too early



R ! chard


psst: stick around, incidentally, for the

          final credits, to Mozart’s

          transcendental Soave sia il vento,

          from his Così fan tutteaptly,

          and sublimely, introspective


“The Story of Aglauros, transform’d into a Statue” (ll) – Ovid



        Minerva or Pallas Athena” (1898)


               Gustav Klimt





Hermes / Mercury, messenger god,

has spotted Herse, Greek princess,

from on high, the most beautiful

among a procession of shining

virgins and, fir’d, swoops down to

earth, to th’ apartment of the royal

maid, in order to seduce her


             The roof was all with polish’d iv’ry lin’d,

             That richly mix’d, in clouds of tortoise shin’d.


tortoise, tortoiseshell, either the

colour, or the substance itself,

are referenced here, or maybe

even both

             Three rooms, contiguous, in a range were plac’d,


contiguous, one beside the other

             The midmost by the beauteous Herse grac’d;

             Her virgin sisters lodg’d on either side.


Herse, you might remember, had

two sisters, Pandrosos and

Aglauros, daughters of King

Cecrops, they’d seen the child

Ericthonius, half man, half snake,

son of Minerva, who had been

given to them, into their care, 

cradled in a basket, a chest, of

twining osierswhich they were

categorically not to open, but did,

to their great, to their utter, indeed

mythic, chagrin


             Aglauros first th’ approaching God descry’d,


descry’d, witnessed, beheld


             And, as he cross’d her chamber, ask’d his name,

             And what his business was, and whence he came.

             “I come,” reply’d the God, “from Heav’n, to woo

             Your sister, and to make an aunt of you;


however unabashedly be he



             I am the son and messenger of Jove;

             My name is Mercury, my bus’ness love;

             Do you, kind damsel, take a lover’s part,

             And gain admittance to your sister’s heart.”


take a lover’s part, Mercury entreats,

be of help, he asks Aglauros, in this

amorous adventure, strategize a path,

gain admittance for me, to your sister’s

heart, to her serene acquiescence

             She star’d him in the face with looks amaz’d,
             As when she on Minerva’s secret gaz’d,


Minerva’s secret, her babe,

Ericthonius, half man, half snake,

whom Aglauros had earlier,

however treacherously, beheld


             And asks a mighty treasure for her hire;


sure, says Aglauros, I’ll help, but

what will you give me in return

for my service, my hire


             And, ’till he brings it, makes the God retire.


Aglauros will not assist till she

receives the mighty treasure she

requests for her hire

             Minerva griev’d to see the nymph succeed;


Minerva, is not happy to see Aglauros

get anything at all because of her

earlier indiscretion, disobediently

uncovering Ericthonius, the

goddess’ son


             And now remembring the late impious deed,

             When, disobedient to her strict command,

             She touch’d the chest with an unhallow’d hand;

             In big-swoln sighs her inward rage express’d,

             That heav’d the rising Aegis on her breast;


Aegis, the shield that Minerva wore,

fashioned by the Cyclopes, brothers,

one-eyed giants, in the workplace of

Hephaestus, god of Craftsmen, Fire,

Metallurgy, it bore the Gorgoneion,

the head of Medusa, which would

turn one to stone when looked upon


see above

             Then sought out Envy in her dark abode,

             Defil’d with ropy gore and clots of blood:

             Shut from the winds, and from the wholesome skies,

             In a deep vale the gloomy dungeon lies,

             Dismal and cold, where not a beam of light

             Invades the winter, or disturbs the night.


Envy, its personification, is a goddess

here, though the representative of

Envy is usually considered to be

Phthonus, a male deity



next stop, Envy’s dark abode


stay tuned



R ! chard



“The Story of Aglauros, transform’d into a Statue” – Ovid



      The Dancers” (c.1905)


               Maurice Denis





            This done, the God flew up on high,


This done, Hermes, the God, had just

turned Battus to a Touch stone


                                                          and pass’d

            O’er lofty Athens, by Minerva grac’d,


Minerva, the Latin version of Athena,

was patroness of Athens, grac’d,

indeed, by the very Parthenon, then,

and still now, her temple


            And wide Munichia, whilst his eyes survey

            All the vast region that beneath him lay.


Munichia, the ancient name for a steep

hill, now called Kastella, in Piraeus, the

port of Athens

            ‘Twas now the feast, when each Athenian maid

            Her yearly homage to Minerva paid;


let me point out that during the period

when pantheism prevailed, which is to

say anything earlier than the Emperor

Constantine, 272 – 337 AD, who

established Christianity as the official

religion of the Roman Empire, and going

back to the very beginnings of recorded

history, but at the very least to the epics

of Homer, his Iliad, his Odysseythe 8th

Century BC, which tell of the Trojan War

and its aftermath, from the even more

distant 12th Century BC, homage was

paid, around the Mediterranean, to gods

and goddesses of Olympus, temples

were built, rituals performed in their

honour, much as in the Christian Era,

believers attend church, build cathedrals

to their preferred deity, feasts to Minerva

were as fervent then, in other words, as,

later, were those of devotees to their own

Christmas and Easter, say, celebrations

            In canisters, with garlands cover’d o’er,

            High on their heads, their mystick gifts they bore:

            And now, returning in a solemn train,

            The troop of shining virgins fill’d the plain.


see above


            The God well pleas’d beheld the pompous show,


The God, Hermes still


            And saw the bright procession pass below;

            Then veer’d about, and took a wheeling flight,

            And hover’d o’er them: as the spreading kite,


kitea bird of prey

            That smells the slaughter’d victim from on high,

            Flies at a distance, if the priests are nigh,

            And sails around, and keeps it in her eye:


her eye, the kite is given the feminine

gender here, perhaps following upon

the original Latin word’s grammar


            So kept the God the virgin quire in view,

            And in slow winding circles round them flew.


quire, archaic spelling of choir, a

group of instrumentalists or singers


            As Lucifer excells the meanest star,

            Or, as the full-orb’d Phoebe, Lucifer;


Lucifer, the Morning Star, the planet

Venus, as it appears in the East

before sunrise


Phoebe, pre-Olympian goddess

representative of the moon, thus

in the verse above the very moon

            So much did Herse all the rest outvy,

            And gave a grace to the solemnity.


Herse, a Greek princess


outvy, outvie, to surpass

            Hermes was fir’d, as in the clouds he hung:


fir’d, inflamed, aroused, thus

flung as would be a missile,

the word fir’d here shimmers

with both meanings

            So the cold bullet, that with fury slung

            From Balearick engines mounts on high,

            Glows in the whirl, and burns along the sky.


Balearick engines, slingshots,

the people of the Balearic Islands,

off the coast of Spain, were famous

in ancient times for their use of the

slingshot, or sling, especially as a



            At length he pitch’d upon the ground, and show’d

            The form divine, the features of a God.

            He knew their vertue o’er a female heart,


their vertue, the virtues of both [t]he

form divine and the features of a

God, however be these identical,

allow grammatically for the

possessive adjective their to be

used here

            And yet he strives to better them by art.


Hermes would rather seduce with

art, which is to say with charm 

and artistry, than by his august

credentials merely

            He hangs his mantle loose, and sets to show

            The golden edging on the seam below;

            Adjusts his flowing curls, and in his hand

            Waves, with an air, the sleep-procuring wand;

            The glitt’ring sandals to his feet applies,

            And to each heel the well-trim’d pinion ties.


pinion, the outer part of a bird’s wing,

including the flight feathers, which

Hermes applies to his sandals


            His ornaments with nicest art display’d,

            He seeks th’ apartment of the royal maid.


to be continued



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

“The Transformation of Battus to a Touch Stone” – Ovid


      Mercury and Battus(1610)


             Adam Elsheimer





            Sore wept the centaur, and to Phoebus pray’d;


Phoebus, the Latin name for Apollo,

the Greek name for the same god of 

the Sun among several other things


Phoebus / Apollo was the centaur

Chiron‘s father


            But how could Phoebus give the centaur aid?
            Degraded of his pow’r by angry Jove,
            In Elis then a herd of beeves he drove;


Jove / Jupiter / Zeus, god of gods

had [d]egraded Phoebus of his

pow’r by overruling him in having

him return, however unwillingly,

to his position as Charioteer of

the Sun after having just killed

his son, Phaeton


Elis, a region still of Greece


beeves, plural of beef, however

presently obsolete, but compare

leaf, leaves, or loaf, loaves, wife,

wives, shelf, shelves for similar


            And wielded in his hand a staff of oak,
            And o’er his shoulders threw the shepherd’s cloak;
            On sev’n compacted reeds he us’d to play,
            And on his rural pipe to waste the day.


Phoebus / Apollo was god, as well,

of Music


            As once attentive to his pipe he play’d,
            The crafty Hermes from the God convey’d
            A drove, that sep’rate from their fellows stray’d.


the grammar is here incorrect, he

in the first verse should agree with

the subject of the principal clause,

[t]he crafty Hermes, of the second,

but it refers, rather, to Phoebus /

Apollo, who’d been attentive to the

same rural pipe he’d been playing,

wast[ing] the day, in the earlier



Hermes, the messenger god, was

leading, convey[ing], away from

its fellows, indeed stealing, some

of the God Phoebus / Apollo‘s

beeves, his cattle


drove, a large group, singular of



            The theft an old insidious peasant view’d
            (They call’d him Battus in the neighbourhood),
            Hir’d by a vealthy Pylian prince to feed
            His fav’rite mares, and watch the gen’rous breed.


Pylian, of Pylos, a town still in



vealthy, wealthy, surely a typo,

however unusual in so respected

an edition


Battus, an old insidious peasant,

had seen, view’d, Hermes, god

as well of Thieves, incidentally,

steal Phoebus / Apollo‘s beeves


            The thievish God suspected him, and took
            The hind aside, and thus in whispers spoke:


suspected, Hermes, [t]he thievish

God, supposed that Battus had

seen him stealing the cattle

            “Discover not the theft, whoe’er thou be,
            And take that milk-white heifer for thy fee.”


Discover not, don’t tell


the milk-white heifer, [t]he hind

            “Go, stranger,” cries the clown, “securely on,
            That stone shall sooner tell,” and show’d a stone.


the clown, Battus, assures Hermes

that [t]hat stone, an inanimate, and

therefore mute, thing, is more likely

to tell about the theft than he, Battus,

would be

            The God withdrew, but strait return’d again,
            In speech and habit like a country swain;


The God this time is Hermes, who

has returned disguised as a country

swain, a bumpkin


            And cries out, “Neighbour, hast thou seen a stray
            Of bullocks and of heifers pass this way?
            In the recov’ry of my cattle join,
            A bullock and a heifer shall be thine.”


help me find my cattle, Hermes asks

of Battusand I’ll reward you with 

[a] bullock and a heifer

            The peasant quick replies, “You’ll find ’em there
            In yon dark vale”; and in the vale they were.


Battus has gone back on his word to

the first stranger who’d accosted him,

and reveals the whereabouts of the

stolen herd to the second

            The double bribe had his false heart beguil’d:


double bribe, the first, the milk-white

heifer, the second, a bullock and

[another] heifer

            The God, successful in the tryal, smil’d;


tryal, trial, it’s interesting to see

here the root of the word trial

            “And dost thou thus betray my self to me?
            Me to my self dost thou betray?” says he:


Battus has in either instance

unwittingly betrayed both Hermes,

the original stranger, then Hermes

again, the country swain

            Then to a Touch stone turns the faithless spy;
            And in his name records his infamy.


Touch stone, or touchstone, a stone

used for testing the purity of precious

metals, a criterion, a basis


in his name, Battusrecords his infamy,

though unclear, this verse suggests to

me that the name Battus will always be

associated with being a faithless spy,

a betrayer



R ! chard


psst: Mercury, or Mercurius, is the

          Latin equivalent of Hermes,

          see above