An Amoeba Translates Ovid

An Amoeba Translates Ovid

O Living of Posterity with consciousness endowed,

Pray tell of how Life first arose from that primoridial cloud

Of sludge subastral, vapour airy, place which we clall womb,

Before the sky which now you see above your heads did loom.

There is no sun you’d recognise, no sea in which you’d swim.

Among us first inhabitants, there’s barely life, no limb.

To offspring of an ordered world a chaos it would seem;

We shift our shapes like Proteus, of whom you’ll later dream…

Edit from the Author:Arthur Golding’s Elizabethan translation of Ovid’s classical Latin epic the Metamorphoses used iambic heptameter couplets, and proved to be the most influential early English translation of Ovid’s mythological epic of change and transformation. The following poem playfully uses the same poetic form to discuss the changes in early life forms, and imagines such a life form, an amoeba, soliloquising on the themes which the Roman poet (and later English translator) would explore millennia in the future…”

We checked in with our Resident Artists to see if they could create an image which they felt reflected the ideas and themes of Brett’s poem. The project has encouraged a spectrum of responses, from drawing and painting to photography and collage. Working independently, each artist has produced a unique image, forming a series which aims to visualise the chaotic forms of a world that existed before our own.

An interesting aspect of these responses are their visual links to one another, in particular the use of blues and fluid shapes. Despite working separately, our artists have seemingly identified visual commonalities associated with Brett’s poem, giving the series a cohesive appearance.

What do you think? Do these responses have any similarities with what you see when reading Brett’s poem?

Artwork by Justine Rainer

Artwork by Katharina Ahlemeyer

Charlie Colville

About The Author

Brett Mottram

Brett is a freelance writer, researcher and teacher who is interested in everything and nothing else. In spare moments, he enjoys indulging in musical pursuits and experimenting in the kitchen.

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