Tag Archives: Syclla

‘Monsters and Rites’ Scratch 4/4: Transformations Poems (Book 14)

25 Apr


George Braque Metamorphoses

February 2013-March 2014

17 poets, 15 months, creating 1 contemporary reworking of Ovid’s Metamorphoses

See the Transformations Page for more details or the ‘Present Collaborations’ Tab


Poems Inspired by Book 14


Nat Hall


Glaucus and Syclla Book 14

Glaucus and Syclla




Au dire du
désir et l’oracle,
à l’encre
algue, indigo,
je te dessine dans un
arcane, toi, svelte
nymphe à la chevelure océanne.
Listen to
lust & oracle –
in blue,
sea weedy, indigo,
I sketch you in
an arcanum,
you, the nymph with
warm ocean’s


You can find more about Nat here:




Nat’s poem Syclla is the last poem from Book 14 as we now head into the last book of Metamorphoses and to the deification of Caesar Augustus.  The last month of this season will be sprinkled with the Transformers poetry on Book 15.  
Have a good weekend-all. 



14 Poets, 15 artists, 1 contemporary reworking of Ovid’s Metamoprphoses

Do take a look.

Transformations Kickstarter Campaign:


Campaign Video:



‘Monsters and Rites’ Scratch 3/4: Transformations Poems (Book 14)

14 Apr


George Braque Metamorphoses

February 2013-March 2014

17 poets, 15 months, creating 1 contemporary reworking of Ovid’s Metamorphoses

See the Transformations Page for more details or the ‘Present Collaborations’ Tab


Poems Inspired by Book 14


Karin Heyer and James Knight


Persuasion not force

(Pomona and Vertumnus)

by Karin Heyer


Weaving, weaving story into story
Pomona in her garden
stood and listened.
He told her that he loved her —
it was in vain.
She tended her garden,
never any want of watering,
that is how her garden grew
into a magical creation
of living growth and beauty.
He still told her that he loved her:
it was in vain!
For her he changed his thought and appearance,
he used all manner of persuasion,
for she was his first and last love
and behold
a fairy-tale ends well,
the dream is there,
unhampered as the angels,
she paid homage
and listened
to her first and last love.



by James Knight


She movement
wading moments

was as waist some forced clad of deep mountainous up in waving into mass to some gently of the kind to pool flesh top and only surged amid soft up a white

Before find through mass stuff
of which gates
water narrow blood
clung there around
orifice and close sat

On her as slime to either groin though
and her side erupt forced what form
with yelping shape monsters

The at power
thinking opening
the infinite entrails
the part smaller of sinuous waste
of a figure and
itself monster

She fair
foul shreds close-fitting in retreats fragments

fur and fears
white enormous skin bulk dazzling
as were white serpent pushes of forced coiled arm’d

With seeking into colour wide
her gigantic larger dazzled Cerberian thighs
lizard space
when mouths her
or disclosed the full legs
serpent sections sun

her hideous voice
peal lull Adam
when jaws pause

Sir Cerberus’s seething had and would

She contents seen sweet creep stands of looking
If the raging hole
the soft disturb’d dogs
rose trees dominant
note her by eyes
womb beasts

And below bubbling emerald-green sibilation kennel
the spring flickering her surface and like hands yet from Adam great too
there which saw lamps were still her part
long bark’d truncated
of a flexible and thighs the gale white howl’d

Within and thin with unseen belly form a

Scylla emerge of strange comes



You can find more about Karin and James here:

Karin, as yet,  does not have a website

James Knight



Tomorrow  you will find the second of our ‘Supporting Mental Health’ Anxiety and Release Collaborations featuring poet Rod Kok and artist Heather Burns. Definitely worth a look! Thank you, as ever, for your interest.

‘Monsters and Rites’ Scratch 1/4: Transformations Poems (Book 14)

3 Apr


George Braque Metamorphoses

February 2013-March 2014

17 poets, 15 months, creating 1 contemporary reworking of Ovid’s Metamorphoses

See the Transformations Page for more details or the ‘Present Collaborations’ Tab


Poems Inspired by Book 14


Adam Wimbush and Rebecca Audra Smith


Sniffing the Art Frost

by Adam Wimbush


In an orbital temple given to a goddess
She raised them, inspired them.
And in thine honour metamorphed them, but
She had learnt to hate cycles.

Ploughing their last great-hearted incantations,
Scylla and mutual friends greeted my mind,
To ask of those eyes framed with wrinkles,
Those deep wells filled with spells and herbs.

Said I “Crave no cure for beast splicing.
To delirium. That is where I circle pray.
I come to vent her rage.”
Years dropped like feather bombs.

Nor perhaps my wounds; Skin Trophys,
From burgaling the Gods.
I found new unexpectedness.
I was loved and pleased, and,
Like incense burning we slipped into old age.
Our magic like a mist obscuring the soul.


With many a frenzy, horror filled me bristles.
Call Moly; a white bloom with a tough wide snout,
Fell over my heads as I watched
Belching chieftains from the main hills.
Anti-fates was back. Rising cautiously.
As the waves feared the bright sun.
It told of how scents ruled the air.

Keep well away from her erogenous zones,
For who really knows the earth?
As we pad ungratefully upon her crust.

But my thoughts wagged like excited puppy tails.
There were tons of changes, but,
I lacked the great bloody gobbets and thought flecks,
For I was born among the flux.
I felt the weight of the universe,
As I slithered in me roots.

I say all this mixed up from wine.
She is woven with plant cells,
from wood nymphs, shores and more.

No? They were our epic ripples too.


The worst was westward way.
Muses for the nymphs fair course.
Then gathering a glittering camp,
She rushed her smouldering charge of electricity,
She intertwined twice and twice she tamed the wild prey.

Leaping nimbly from ancient text,
We found her snaking within the long rivers of his veins,
My foam flecked woman.
And only the mad could tell the tale,
Of fostering Venus, who when a horse,
Favoured my passion shapes.

Black out. Lights burnt out.
Then eastward where lofty beasts are slow meat,
They are claimed by ghostly swarms instead.
Picks turn over the soil of fear.
As I recalled I was nowhere, nothing happened.

Now accept us.


Many deserve her anger.
She replaced her wings and mimicked oceans.

Together tossed in the sound storm,
I drove the lusty ship to the end.
The last kiss from her smiling scythe like lips.

Remember we are both ends of the light beam.
We wear the perfume of science.
Farm the pastures of conflicts.

In short we are all lost in the webbed heaven of ideas,
And all the ancient apples and bitter berries of Eden
Cannot disguise this disguise.


Glaucus and Scylla

by Rebecca Audra Smith

‘Sooner than my love will change, leaves will grow on the waters,

and sea-weed will grow on the hills.’

Sooner than my love will change
pigs will fly,
men turn to pigs,
fish marry birds.
You will speak in the tongue
of transformed animals.
You will bay and hoot
and snort.

My love will not grapple
as Peleus and Thetis did.
Her shape rolling and tearing
and mutating.
My love will be rock steady,
as steady as Scylla,
monsters deep in the water,
stone gripping her veins.


You can find more about Adam and Rebecca here:


Adam Wimbush


Rebecca Audra Smith



Tomorrow our  Weekend Showcase, will feature Wood Sculptor Mark Crawley. Thank you, as ever,  for your interest.

Metamorphoses Book 14 Overview and Prompts: Transformations Collaborative Poetry Project

27 Feb
George Braque Metamorphoses

George Braque Metamorphoses


Started in February 2013, 17 poets, 15 months,  creating 1 contemporary reworking of Ovid‘s Metamorphoses

See the Transformations Page For More Details

Here we are at the end of February with our deadline for Book 13 poetry being today Thursday 27th February

This post sets out to provide an overview of Book 14 with a deadline for the poems inspired by this  book being Thursday 27th March. I can hardly believe that we’re nearly at the end of this epic poetic journey. 

The latest batch of Book 12 poems went out  on Wednesday and featured KATE GARRETT and ELEANOR PERRY  (here).  The last poem from book 12 poems will be posted out next week and then the book 13 poems will be posted out  across our new season of work starting on Monday.

If you missed out on some of the other  Book 12 poems you can find them  here, here, here . I’ve also created a ‘Transformations Poems Tab’ on the site menu for ease of access if you want to see more.


Overview of Book 14: 

Book 14 continues the story of Glaucus and Syclla started in Book 13 with the transformation of Scylla into rock. It also continues the story of the aftermath of the Trojan War and the settling of Rome by Aeneas and his followers. As per usual, in contrast to his predecessors and their ‘take’ on this epic battle,  Ovid focuses on the minor stories of the journey of Aeneas. In particular the book famously features a reverse transformation:  of Aeneas’ ships into nymphs. The book also has within it the last love story in Metamorphoses that of ‘Pomona and Vertumnus’. This tale is significant for its handling of the themes of violence, deception, victimhood and the objectification of women.

 Summary of the Tales in Book 14

. Circe by John William Waterhouse

‘Goddess’, he said,
‘Have pity on a god. I beg of you. 
For you alone can ease this love of mine.
If only I am worthy. No one knows
Better than I the power of herbs,
for I was changed by herbs..

The Myths and Key Characters: Glaucus and Syclla, The Wanderings of Aeneas II, Aeneas’ Descendants, Romulus

.Glaucus and Syclla Book 14


Glaucus and Syclla:

 Circe (goddess of magic) encounters Glaucus (sea-god, born mortal and turned immortal) and Syclla (a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water). Circe falls head over heals in love with Glaucus when he, ironically,  visits her to get a love-potion so that Syclla can fall for him.  Glaucus pushes Circe away and she is angered hugely, and seeks revenge on Syclla. She puts poison in one of Syclla’s favourite pools and sprinkles magic herbs in it to lure her in.  Sycllla cannot resist, and she goes into the pool waste deep only to find  that the lower half of her body has been transformed into a mass of horrific barking dogs’ heads.  Horrified, Syclla tries to escape from the dogs, but to her dismay she can’t as they follow. The transformation in itself symbolises the fate of her life now as a victim.




The Wanderings of Aeneas II

Ovid briefly mentions bits of the story of Aeneas’ (Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises)  journey to Italy.  He only focuses on the parts of the story that make reference to transformations.  He almost sidelines Aeneas’ hero importance unlike Virgil’s version of the events.  Ovid does make some extended reference to Aeneas’ meeting with the Sibyl Cumae though.  

However, by preference, Ovid focuses on two  comrades of Ulysses. These  tales are outlined by Achaemenides (son of Adamastus of Ithaca, and one of Odysseus‘ crew) ranging from the story of him hiding from the horrific Polyphemus (giant son of Poseidon and Thoosa)  whilst watching his peers being eaten alive by the Cyclops, to his tale of being rescued by Aeneas. The character of Macareus (one of the Heliadae, sons of Helios and Rhodos) then takes up the tale of his encounters with Aeolus (son of Poseidon) and his time on Ulysses’ ship as well as the flesh eating Laestrygonians (tribe of giant cannibals).

After this Ovid takes us to the island where Circe lives. He retells the story of Circe’s most famous transformation of Ulysses’ men into pigs, (this is the oldest tale of human transformation in the canon of western literature (137)). We hear this tale through Macareus.  However Ulysses manages to persuade Circe to undo her spell and the metamorphosis is reversed.

Ovid  follows Aeneas through his fight against Turnus ( King of the Rutuli, and the chief antagonist of the hero Aeneas) for the hand of Lavinia  in marriage. (the daughter of Latinus and Amata, and the last wife of Aeneas) He tells a sequence of tales and ends up focusing on the tale of Venulus (a representative of Evander) within which he tells the tale of a local shepherd who had mocked some local nymphs and been turned into a wild olive tree (the bitterness of his words represented by the  bitter berries of the tree).

Even the reverse transformation and the warning of the shepherd being turned into an olive tree does not stop Turnus from pursuing Aeneas to the death. Ovid  briefly touches on this tragedy, and we are left at the end of this tale seeing Aeneas firmly rooted in Italy with a large Trojan settlement. All the gods democratically agree that Aeneas should be deified and he becomes a god.


Pomona and Vertumnous 


Aeneas’ Descendents

Ovid then takes us on a little journey through the other kings of Rome before Aeneas, and settles down to tell the love story of Pomona (goddess of fruitful abundance) and Vertumnus (the god of the seasons) which is the last love story in Metamorphoses as a whole. It is a tale within a tale like many of the others we’ve seen previously.

Vertumnus attempts to seduce Pomona through the power of his words alone. He even tries to dress himself as a woman to fool her. But none of his efforts have any real effect and he eventually resorts to force as like many of the gods before him. Brutality wins out. However, the rape proves unnecessary when Pomona eventually sees how attractive he is without his disguise. This tale is significant for its handling of the themes of violence, deception and the objectification of women and the notion of victimhood.  These themes, having been established, are then followed through in the next story. 

Romulous and  Remus Jean_Auguste_Dominique_Ingres



After the ‘love story’ of  Pomona and Vertumnus Ovid returns to the history of Rome. He covers the conflict between Proca’s  (one of the Latin kings of Alba Longa ) sons; the rise of Romulous’  to power; and the rape of the Sabine Women. Ovid then recounts Romulous’ deification and how he became founder of Rome and joined the gods under the new identity of the name Quirinus. His wife Hersilia also joins him with the gods ,,,which leads us into book 15……


Themes, Analysis and Relevance

In Book 14 some of the following ideas and themes are explored:

  •  Refocusing on the detail: Throughout the books overtly dealing with the Trojan war (12-), Ovid very deliberately, in direct contrast to say Virgil, focuses our attention on minor stories and occurrences putting the major battle and its calamity into a form of relief. Preferring to focus our attention on emotional issues and their texture, which by their very contrast force us to question the nature of war.
  • Reverse Transformation: In this book we see for the first time the metamorphoses of inanimate objects back into human form in the tale of how Aeneas’ ships were turned into nymphs. At this late stage in the sequence of books he puts a twist on the patterns of transformations.

 nb. In this book we are also introduced to the oldest tale of human transformation in the cannon of western culture, in the form of how Ulysses men were turned into pigs.   

  • The Last Love Story: In the story of Pomona and Vertumnus we see how Ovid questions and addresses notions of power (whether by word or physical force). He does so, once again by focusing on the rape of Pomona. In so doing he questions the notion of love subtly and foregrounds the brutality which underpins much of Metamorphoses’ depiction of love.


Things of Interest:


Dido and Aeneas:

by Henry Purcell




The History of Rome

 A weekly podcast tracing the history of the Roman Empire, beginning with Aeneas’s arrival in Italy and ending with the exile of Romulus Augustulus, last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire. 


You can scroll through and find some interesting audios on the Trojan War.

Odysseus and Circe:




Optional Prompts and Verse Form

Prompts:  Mirrors, Moon, Sighs, Divinity, Remembering, Consequences, Battle, Desire, Spirit, Friendship

Verse Form:  


An ode has more than one stanza. There are 10-line per stanza rhyming ababcdecde, with the 8th line iambic trimeter and all the others iambic pentameter

See here for more information.


Here is  an  audio of the tale of Syclla and Glaucus in case any of you are too busy to read the book.



Watch out for more poetry inspired by Book  13 and 14  coming out throughout March.

To confirm: the deadline for Book 13 Poetry is today Thursday 27th February.



Brunauer, Dalma H (1996) The Metamorphoses of Ovid, New Jersey Research and Education Association

Hughes, T (1997) Tales from Ovid, London: Faber and Faber

Liveley, G. (2011) Ovid’s Metamorphoses, A Reader’s Guide,  London: continuum

Ovid (1986) Metamorphoses, World Classics, tr. A.D. Melville, Oxford: Oxford University Press





‘Morning Stars and Flames of Hate’ Flicker 2/3: Transformations Poems (Book 8)

26 Oct


George Braque Metamorphoses

February 2013-March 2014

17 poets, 15 months, creating 1 contemporary reworking of Ovid’s Metamorphoses

See the Transformations Page for more details or the ‘Present Collaborations’ Tab


Poems Inspired by Book 8


Rebecca Audra Smith and Carol Robson


Loss and War

by Rebecca Audra Smith



Height and flight;

cannon balls boom and fall.

In war women come 

like Trojan horses

eager to unthrone.

They cut hair, swim through seas,

they are not considered heroes.


 We go out on a Saturday night

looking for love;

we are the women.

We have blackened toes,

split heels and bruised soles,

high heels arming our feet.

The war paint of lipstick,

Our clothes flimsy as flags,

We bring all of the past on our backs. 




You strap your son, your boy

into a set of wings.

Give him advice,

watch his eyes shine.

You will be grieving over the feathers

that water brings to you

on an implacable tide.


Traitress Bird

by Carol Robson



Pampered, indecisive

back and forth

by nature

she will have

what she craves for

come hell or high water.

Her feelings so strong

yearning for her desired love

to win his love

by any means

treachery, betrayal

is her capability

parental treason

traitor of kinship

for the love of another.


her unfilial actions

leaving a bad taste

sickening her desired love.

A forlorn pursuit,

her perfidious nature

souring hearts

to turn upon her

as she freaks out

in her spurned madness,

out of her water

clinging to her love’s bow,

powerfully revenged

swooped upon

for parental treachery,

to be transformed

to live her life

as a rock dove,

stamped for her

treachery and deceit.


©Carol Robson 2013


You can find more about Rebecca and Carol here:

Rebecca Audra Smith



Carol Robson


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