After Ovid: New Metamorphoses
Ovid's Metamorphoses is one of the great works in classical literature, and a primary source for our knowledge of much of classic mythology, in which the relentless theme of transformation stands as a primary metaphor for the often cataclysmic dynamics of life itself. For this book, British poets Michael Hofmann and James Lasdun have invited more than forty leading English...more
Paperback, 316 pages
Published April 30th 1996 by Farrar Straus Giroux
(first published January 1st 1994)
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A collection of poems based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. Some are fairly dutiful translations, some are loose interpretations. Unfortunately they vary a lot in quality. The high point for me was "Mrs. Midas," by Carol Ann Duffy, the current British poet laureate. (According to Wikipedia she is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly gay person to hold the position.) "Mrs. Midas" has virtually nothing to do with Ovid's telling of the story--but it is perfectly Ovidian in tone and wit.
An uneven and rather disappointing collection. While there are a few stunning poems (I particularly liked those by Alice Fulton and Eavan Boland) the majority are average (even Ted Hughes is not at his best here) and frequently seem laboured or dutiful, as if the myth chosen did not truly inspire the poet but was merely a commission to complete on time. An excessive overlap in theme among the poems doesn't help (so much to choose from in the Metamorphoses, and yet so little done with it here); t...more