Shé Hawke







Aquamorphia: Falling for Water







Mother of Gods, great nurse of all, draw near

Divinely honor’d, and regard my pray’r …

From thee at first both Gods and men arose

From thee the sea and ev’ry river flows


Orphic Hymn XXVI to the Mother of the Gods

– Thomas Taylor Translation, 1792:1512


In a beginning …

from a cryptic darkness

born of time, space and necessity

came the first liquescent soak

sprayed forth in wide array

venerated parthenogenetic

Creatrix of All

who would trouble Gods and poets

and men in times to come

few would give the triple deity her due.

Her holy moist Metisian fragments

imagined galaxies

leaked stars, seas, earths

creatures and sexes to life

a sovereign orb atomised by cosmic mayhem

wed to intention

her vapours everywhere present.


This Aquamater milk-producing bosom of life

invites us home to the sacred covenant

to re-member our moist beginnings

the original feminine divine

through Erikapaios, Phanes and Metis

the intrinsic numinousity

of the fragmented

aqua trinitarian doxology:




holy spirit






For Zeus at the start of his long theological assault,

had taken as his first wife Metis …

Infinitely wise … knew more than all the Gods.


– Joseph Campbell, 1991:149


Zeus craftily deceived her … put her in his belly.


– Hesiod’s Theogony, 143-145


Time passes.


Zeus of the fifth reign of Olympus

in a consuming sweep of greed

knowledge and power

becomes the All.


Intelligent progenic ultra-sexed water

descended from the First Cause

replaced now by intellectual air

the greatest trick of all time

drinks the pregnant Metis

who has assumed her originary water form to evade him.

She disappears from common vulgar myth

once Hephaestus breaks her waters

and Zeus declares their daughter Athena un mothered

born from his hydro-cephalic head

his best idea.


Matricidal plagiarist.

How very dare you!


Athena spawned full grown and wise

stolen from the homage of the divine


arrogated by phallic logos

even still.


The sacramental tears of this genesis

weep Thalassa into teeming life

hold Zeus to account for irreverent disavowal

of water and maternity both.

Metis finds refuge

in the amniotic sea of her creation

receptacle of an infinite kind

files his fall from grace for aeons

in the deep aquamorphic abyss.


As ruler of clefts and fissures

cousin of the Oceanids and Nereids

fifth reign descendent of herself

Metis sets traps for Poseidon and lesser gods

who would claim ownership of the waters

fight the first water wars.


And she waits

patiently she waits

with Tethys and Oceanus

and their 3,000 aquagenies

for un-secreted time

waits for her transfiguration

the overdue recognition

of her phylogenetic labours

the partitioned veil.


chora chora chora

trans-parent waters

first milk displaced






Language is an Orphic fragment.


– Percy Bysshe Shelley


Eurydice was not meant

for long mortal life

this Orpheus had other work to do.

Singing miracles

a string magician

just a cover

for a first order holy of holies

masquerading as man

and she … who danced the naiads dance

waiting in the deep

for her curtain call…


The fret of the Orphic lyre

is un fingered now

as dipping head

navigates restless sea.


Decapitation brought him sympathy

from the Lesvian nursery

Orphykian maids

who would eventually enrapture themselves

with an other song.

Cursed by Apollo

who ordered the lilt of his lips to silence

(jealous father figure tantrum, Orphic complex – forget


in later aeons

… oh woe


And with the split of head and heart

sinew and bone

his spirit wafted

re-joined the


Milky Way

of Metisian creation

apostasy in reverse

for a royal adept

who sings and summons,


profaned by mortal expectations

and the temptation of Eurydice

who remained virtuous

and paid the virgin goddess price

in common story

another woman out of the way.


He succumbed to maenad orgiastic lust

in this incarnation anyway

wasn’t expecting an actual mind body split

so harsh a representation

haunts the earth and its emissaries still

stitched up

by common concerns

just dramatic enough

to free him

so his soul could seep

into the ether

left to weather

and decree

… a whistling wind

while Eurydice

poor Eurydice ventured beneath

to hum a lonely song

in one telling

hostage and martyr

to a dark god

whose ills and wills

were assigned

by some other gods fall from grace.


Homer denies it

Hesiod murmurs it

and Eleusis and Bacchus

chant its masked duplicity

while the first Orpheus calls the world to pray


the first word

the first prayer

of a holy order












Shé Hawke is an Australian cross-disciplinary scholar and award winning poet from the Department of Gender & Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Her research focus is the cross-cultural, myth/eological and environmental values of water. Her book Aquamorphia: Falling for Water (IP Press 2014) was nominated for the prestigious Miles Franklin Award. It is a poetic represention of her doctoral thesis: Aquamater: A Genealogy of the Impossible (2008) that rediscovers Greek Water Deity – Metis, and traces water through deep time and disciplinary fields






Ilana Freedman is a PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She received her Master’s in Comparative Literature from King’s College London in 2014. Her research interests include Modern Greek poetry, Interdisciplinary Hellenism, Greek Diaspora Studies, and Classical Reception Studies. She is the graduate coordinator of the Ludics Seminar and the Modern Greek Literature and Culture Seminar at the Harvard Mahindra Humanities Center, as well as the Cultural Politics Seminar at the Weatherhead Center for International Studies.






Vassiliki Rapti holds a PhD in Comparative Literature with an Emphasis in Drama from Washington University in St. Louis (2006) and was Preceptor in Modern Greek at Harvard University during the years 2008-2016. She is currently Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College and Chair of the Ludics Seminar of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. She founded the Advanced Training in Greek Poetry Translation and Performance Workshop, which she has run since then. Since January 2017 she is the Director of the International Translation Literary Committee of the multi-disciplinary electronic literary review Levure littéraire (France-Germany-USA). Her publications and research interests center upon literary theory, especially ludic theory and translation theory, comparative literature, women’s writing, cultural studies, and avant-garde theatre and performance, with an emphasis on Surrealism and classical reception studies.


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