‘Ovid Among the Scythians’ by Ruth Fainlight.


( after Delacroix)

Marshy banks of the Danube ,  reeds and bushes
and muddy crescents of horses’ hooves. Their
clothes are earth-coloured, his dark blue.
He feels the Autumn starting – that sky, those clouds,
the way the wind is moving them. The mountains
roll back , uncharted as far as China.
Ovid is writing another letter to Rome –
a gentle puzzlement to his watchers, which weapons
and dogs don’t quite shield them from.
He wonders whether a linen toga, his scrolls
and pens , and their unknowing admiration,
can be protection against such sadness,
if he can metamorphose Chaos to Order,
exile to Fate, the amorous summer weasel
into the noble winter ermine.

Ruth Fainlight,  Ovid Among the Scythians , from The Knot , Publ.  Hutchinson 1990.


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