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Sing, Muse!

Enjoy our own original musings here, whether they be classically-inspired fiction or some original translations. We clearly spend *all* our time with the ancients. 

We hope you enjoy reading these as much as we enjoyed writing them.

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Inspired by Ovid's story of the nymph, Daphne. 

We wanted to give her a voice, and it's sadly one that many women can relate to.

For the original, check out Ovid's Metamorphoses Book One

I stretch out my arms, clinging to the last few moments of the nap I’d been having. My arms drop back to my sides, incapable of missing an opportunity to run fingers through the long grass. I look up at the Sun to check the time. He’s still only at the midpoint of his languorous ray-soaked journey through the sky. Good, still so much time to spend out here.


I look around at the familiar glade I’d picked as my lush and living bed. Now in its first days of summer, it’s filled with green – thousands upon thousands of shades of green. I’m hypnotised by the fledgling leaves, translucent with the sun behind them and bursting with the most joyful and alive colour. Unable to look away, my vision blurs into a state of not really seeing. The deep brown branches become framework, the leaves panes, and I’m suddenly looking at the most beautiful stained-glass window, illustrating nothing but life. Nature’s cathedral. I blink, and the trees suddenly come back into focus.


After every nap, for an instant I desperately wish I could capture an image of those moments, pocket a flash of such beauty and keep it for myself. But then I shake myself out of it. What would be the point? The very moment it was taken, the world would have moved on - living a little more, dying a little more. So I keep them as memories, waiting ever impatiently for the next moment I can live.


I stand slowly and stretch upwards, brushing my fingers along the leaves above me, hoping as my hands join them to understand what it feels like to be one and many. Walking towards the brook to splash the cool, sweet water on my face and take a drink I notice it’s been diverted since I was last here – I’ll have to talk to Dad about that. With each step I scrunch my feet in the grass, feeling the blades between my toes and tickling my heels. I imagine the soles of my feet extending into the ground and pushing towards the brook to lap up all the water I needed, just like the trees around me.


I love being alone. I don’t mean in a misanthropic way – not at the cost of anyone else. I love the quiet and the freedom to get utterly lost in my thoughts, the feeling of my mind pinging with connections and communications. Being alone, but never lonely. Surrounded by so much life.


I place my hand on the bark of the nearest tree, feeling its coarse and complicated body: life responding to life. A small smile spreads across my lips and, placing my hands lightly on the giant trunks, I spring into the forest imagining the trees as my dance partners. A cacophony of birds and wildlife all around me, I make my way homeward flitting from tree to tree.


As I go, I wonder about trees. Can trees talk to one another? I know that forests can join together under the earth to create one titanic tree, I know that forests can share water and nutrients, and I know that forests can become sick if just one lone tree is out of its natural sort. I suppose it depends on whether you think language is communication, and whether communication is the exchange of information. I do, and I like to think trees talk to one another. I imagine what they must know, gossiping amongst themselves about the private moments they’ve witnessed. Never alone.


As I go further and further into my thoughts and I inadvertently slow my pace, I notice a sharp pain in my shoulder. I roll it as I go, releasing the dull ache. I must have slept on it funny again. I descend deeper and deeper into the forest, getting more and more lost in myself.


A twig snaps. I whip around, but there’s no one behind, no one about and no one before. Good, I don’t want to go home and have to tell Dad about yet another person I met on one of my ‘little jaunts’. He hates me being alone and wishes there were someone with me, which I would hate more than the small talk I have to make when bumping into strangers. I told him, I said, “I’m quite able to be alone, and you should really respect my decision.” I’m sure by now this just sounds like a parody of itself, devoid of any actual meaning. It’s frustrating to say words that mean nothing to some people, and it’s heart-breaking they need to be said in the first place. I always wonder if people will be saying that in thousands of years. I feel like I’ve been saying it forever. Anyway, he seems to have gotten over it for now.


I hear the softest sound of something brush past a thicket. I had imagined myself lost in thought, but apparently I’ve been thinking with one ear open. Slowly, knowing exactly what I’ll find when I turn around, I shift. We stare at each other for a moment, and I just wish I could freeze the moment and live in this time before. He takes a step toward me and opens his mouth to say something. I’m not in the mood, so I nod politely and turn towards home. I hear another footstep followed by another, each one quicker than the last. I push forward, thinking of home. He does the same.


I run.


Darting through the trees, propelling myself between them, I hurtle towards the bank. Climbing down, I splash through the river, picking up pace on the other side. I can hear the beat of the ceaseless and single-minded drum of my pursuer’s footsteps, and it drives me forward, almost sensing the coldness of the ominous outstretched fingers behind me. I dash through the thickets, tearing my dress, bolting forwards. Shooting out into a clearing, racing towards the rocks ahead, scrambling across them as quickly as I can, fleeing from his touch, all I think about is escaping.


I run on. Running homewards, the beat in my eardrums has become a deafening roar. My limbs ache and my chest burns. I am exhausted. For every huge breath I suck into the depths of my chest I bark, “Father, please!” I must be nearly home, nearly within earshot. “Please, Father!”


I can’t run anymore. My body is stuck, immobilised in the familiar open glade. My toes scrunch in the grass and my fingers reach up to the sun, as though I’m just waking up from a nap again, desperately seeking something familiar. A before-moment. My body hardens, plants itself. I can hear him seconds away. His hand reaches out, but instead of landing on the fleshy part of my hip it rests on whatever has begun to encase my body. I’m willing it to encase my body. I long for this snapshot, so we will remain forever before. An artwork of a moment never realised. A living sculpture of momentum and moment.


I can feel my toes pulling me down, crushing me into the ground, whilst my hands stretch up light as newly blossomed flower waving in the wind. My vision blurs, looking but not seeing. As I feel myself harden, I take a deep breath in that long drawn out moment. Turning my face up to the sun, I drink in its rays and let it flood me with life.


Later, as my hair whistles in the wind, I think about whether trees can talk to each other.


Always alone, I stand in that glade. An inescapable series of thoughts run through my head, and I relive every snapshot up until that last before-moment and bask in the glory of the wild. I’m afraid and hopeful someone might come through here and dance with me – life responding to life. I stand tall remembering my former life, and contemplating the loneliness of trees.

Daphne Story


by Sarah

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