Tag Archives: Ovid

Odd Couples

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Note: This series of absurd limericks was inspired by the odd love affairs in Ovid’s *The Metamorphoses*.

“Cut Friends”
There’s a man who’s convinced that a knife
Has agreed to becoming his wife,
But the love that he’s made
To the handle and blade
Has endangered his limbs and his life.

“Herpetological Heartache”
There’s a man who resides by a lake
Who has fallen in love with a snake.
When he asks for a kiss,
It replies with a hiss,
And his heart then begins to ache.

“A Bride from Hell”
A gal who in Hell did reside
Was once asked to become a man’s bride.
Although eaten by worms,
She agreed to his terms,
And he’d nightly repose by her side.

“Cocky”
A man who resides by the docks
Has become so enamored of cocks
That he’s tossed into fens
All his chicks and his hens
To ensure he’ll be alone with the cocks.

“Of a Mouse and Man”
A man was in love with a mouse
And suggested she become his new spouse.
With a ring made of cheese,
He proposed on his knees
But was told she’d not marry a louse.

 

5 limericks by Paul Burgess

“Cocky” was originally posted as the 12th entry of my “5 Limericks a Day” series: https://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/5-limericks-a-day-to-keep-the-dr-away-by-paul-oburgess-entry12/

“Narcissus”

[Narcissus–painted by   Carvaggio]

“Narcissus”
As I gazed in a pond by a tree,
I was met by a copy of me
Who could mimic my talk
And the way that I walk.
He was fine as a fellow can be.

a limerick by Paul Burgess

 

 

From Ovid’s *Metamorphoses* [Lines on Impermanence and Inter-being];

From Ovid’s Metamorphoses [Lines on Impermanence and Inter-being]; all passages from the Horace Gregory translation (which, unfortunately, does not contain line numbers. The passages appear in the section called “The Philosopher,” who seems to be Pythagoras]

And so I ride (which is my metaphor)
A full-sailed ship upon an endless sea,
A universe where nothing stays the same.
Sea, sky, wind, earth, and time forever changing—
Time like a river in its ceaseless motion:
On, on, each speeding hour cannot stand still,
But as waves, thrust by waves, drive waves before them
So time runs first or follows forever new:
The flying moment gone, what once seemed never
Is now, which vanishes before we say it,
Each disappearing moment in a cycle,
Each loss replaced within the living hour

[Book XV, p. 419]

Nothing retains the shape of what it was,
And Nature, always making old things new,
Proves nothing dies within the universe,
But takes another being in new forms.
What is called birth is change from what we were,
And death the shape of being left behind.
Though all things melt or grow from here to there,
Yet the same balance of the world remains.

Nothing, no nothing keeps its outward show,
For golden ages turn to years of iron;
And Fortune changes many looks of places.
I’ve seen land turn to miles of flood-tossed waters,
Or land rise up within a restless sea;
Shells have been found upon a sanded plain
With never an ocean or a ship in sight,
Someone has seen an anchor turn to rust,
Caught among brushes on a mountaintop.
Stormed by great cataracts, a wide plateau
Turns to a valley and Spring floods have swept
Far hills into chambers of the sea.
And where a swamp once flowed beneath the willows,
Is now a strip of sand, and where a desert was,
A little lake sways under growing reeds.
[p. 421-22]

“Jove and Arcadian Callisto” [Practical Morals from Mythology]

Further advice for surviving in the world of Classical Mythology, by Paul Burgess

If you’d prefer to not become a bear,
Do not let Jove remove your underwear.

[Callisto’s “crime” was having a child after being raped by Jove. For this crime, Hera turned the girl into a bear. A moral we see throughout the classics is: Do not let one of the Universe’s most powerful entities rape you…]

“Zeus and Io”* [Practical Morals from Mythology]

Further advice for surviving in the world of Classical Mythology, by Paul Burgess

If Zeus decides it’s you he’d like to woo,
In time, you might be saying only “Moo.”*

*Zeus/Jove turned his love interest Io into a cow to hide her from his wife.

“Venus/Aphrodite Turns ‘Forgetful’, Insufficiently Grateful Hippomenes and Atalanta into Lions” [Practical Morals from Mythology”]

“Venus/Aphrodite Turns ‘Forgetful’, Insufficiently Grateful Hippomenes and Atalanta into Lions” [Practical Morals from Mythology”] by Paul Burgess

If gods provide in any way for you,
Be sure to thank them each instant or two.

Medusa’s Transformation from Beauty to ‘Petrifying’ Horror” [Morals from Mythology]by Paul Burgess

If Neptune rapes you and Minerva wakes,
She’ll turn your silky hair to slimy snakes.

“The Death of Hercules*” (or “Hercules and Deianira”) [Morals from Mythology]by Paul Burgess

“The Death of Hercules*” (or “Hercules and Deianira”) [Morals from Mythology]*

Beware of garments given by your wife.
A shirt one day might take away your life.

*The mighty hero who was killed by a poisoned shirt…

“Semele and Others Killed or Handicapped by Hera/Juno” [Morals from Mythology] by Paul Burgess

To guarantee* a long and happy life,
Avoid the wrath of Jove’s* vindictive wife.

*While not exactly guaranteed, long lives were more likely to be enjoyed by those who did not provoke the wrath of Hera.
*For whatever reason, Jove/Jupiter is best known by his Greek name “Zeus”.

[These epigrams might eventually add up to a survival guide for those trapped in the world of classical mythology].

 

P.S. While not the original source for most of these myths, Ovid’s Metamorphoses–my favorite work of poetry–is a fantastic read for those interested in the classics. I especially like Horace Gregory’s translation.

“Actaeon” [Morals from Mythology]–an epigram by Paul Burgess

You will become your canines’ food
If, by some chance, you see a goddess nude. *

*In classical mythology, Actaeon, separated from his hunting party, accidentally comes across the goddess Diana while she is bathing. The kindly goddess immediately turns him into a stag, and his friends and hunting dogs kill him when they see him.