Friday, 30 November 2012
restatque nihil, quod prendere possis / and nothing remains that you could touch.
Finally a body that is water's own.
So at times words seem to come to me,
as though I could speak,
or as I remember speaking in another life.
I pool to a glassy stillness.
I move slowly, mirroring
shapes & colours of leaves;
housefronts, walls; a face;
the world entranced
gazing at the world
Or quick, a stream
of silver -- only
what I know is imageless,
except once, in another life...
My moods are stagnant,
turbulent. I circle circle circle,
or standing motionless, or pour out,
coming together with the smoothness
of a dolphin's back, an icy glide.
What was I before I was finally this?
Sometimes I dream that on my surface
I form a human face,
and look out for another,
red and glistening, a man's,
and arms, in which he grasps a woman,
binds her to him, drags her down.
And it shakes then: earth quakes,
and springs apart - they are gone.
And I shake, the being that I was -
skin blood bones
unbinding, flying into drops,
flowing with a constant tremor,
plunging down, shattering,
shaking out long and smooth,
always broken, always whole.
And over I go and over,
and under, and round and round.
But what is that but a dream
that I was human once,
who I am pure spirit,
not bodied, not bodiless,
but water in water, quick
with a life beyond all words.
Silence, then; or a voice
that is the sound of water running,
in which, if they listen,
any one may hear a tale
of terror at the roots of things:
a tale that I tremble to tell,
half remembering, or inventing,
but as if, once, it were my own.
-- Jeremy Hooker
'"Est medium Cyanes et Pisaeae Arethusae,
quod coit angustis inclusum cornibus aequor:
hic fuit, a cuius stagnum quoque nomine dictum est,
inter Sicelidas Cyane celeberrima nymphas.
gurgite quae medio summa tenus exstitit alvo
adgnovitque deam 'ne' c 'longius ibitis!' inquit;
'non potes invitae Cereris gener esse: roganda,
non rapienda fuit. quodsi conponere magnis
parva mihi fas est, et me dilexit Anapis;
exorata tamen, nec, ut haec, exterrita nupsi.'
dixit et in partes diversas bracchia tendens
obstitit. haud ultra tenuit Saturnius iram
terribilesque hortatus equos in gurgitis ima
contortum valido sceptrum regale lacerto
condidit; icta viam tellus in Tartara fecit
et pronos currus medio cratere recepit.
'"At Cyane, raptamque deam contemptaque fontis
iura sui maerens, inconsolabile vulnus
mente gerit tacita lacrimisque absumitur omnis
et, quarum fuerat magnum modo numen, in illas
extenuatur aquas: molliri membra videres,
ossa pati flexus, ungues posuisse rigorem;
primaque de tota tenuissima quaeque liquescunt,
caerulei crines digitique et crura pedesque
(nam brevis in gelidas membris exilibus undas
transitus est); post haec umeri tergusque latusque
pectoraque in tenues abeunt evanida rivos;
denique pro vivo vitiatas sanguine venas
lympha subit, restatque nihil, quod prendere possis.
Ovid -- Metamorphoses 5:410-438
Between Cyane and Pisaean Arethusa, there is a bay enclosed by narrow arms. Here lived Cyane, best known of the Sicilian nymphs, from whom the name of the spring was also taken. She showed herself from the pool as far as her waist, and recognising the goddess, cried out to Dis, ‘No’, and ‘Go no further!’ ‘You cannot be Ceres’s son against her will: the girl should have been asked, and not abused. If it is right for me to compare small things with great, Anapis prized me and I wedded him, but I was persuaded by talk and not by terror.’ Speaking, she stretched her arms out at her sides, obstructing him. The son of Saturn could scarcely contain his wrath, and urging on the dread horses, he turned his royal sceptre with powerful arm, and plunged it through the bottom of the pool. The earth, pierced, made a road to Tartarus, and swallowed the headlong chariot, into the midst of the abyss.” “Cyane, mourning the rape of the goddess, and the contempt for the sanctities of her fountain, nursed an inconsolable grief in her silent heart, and pined away wholly with sorrow. She melted into those waters whose great goddess she had previously been. You might see her limbs becoming softened, her bones seeming pliant, her nails losing their hardness. First of all the slenderest parts dissolve: her dusky hair, her fingers and toes, her feet and ankles (since it is no great transformation from fragile limbs to cool waters). Next her breast and back, shoulders and flanks slip away, vanishing into tenuous streams. At last the water runs in her ruined veins, and nothing remains that you could touch.
Ovid -- Metamorphoses 5:410-438, translation AS Kline