Metamorphoses. 2015–16. Tapestry, 87 x 113 in. (221 x 287 cm)


George Sandys, 1632

The royall Maid, who now no courage lackt,
Ascends the Bull, not knowing whom shee backt.
He, to the Sea approaching, by degrees
First dips therein his hoofes, anon his knees;
Then, rushing forward, beares away the prize.
Shee shreeks, and to the shore reuerts her eyes:
One hand his horne, the other held behind;
Her lighter garments swelling with the wind.


Allen Mandelbaum, 1973

At a certain point, Europa
dares to sit down upon his back: the girl
is not aware of what he is in truth.
And then, as casually as he can,
the god moves off, away from the dry sands;
with his feigned hooves, he probes the shallows, then
advances even farther; soon he bears
his prey out to the waves, the open sea.

Europa now is terrified; she clasps
one horn with her right hand; meanwhile the left
rests on the bull’s great croup. She turns to glance
back at the shore, so distant now. Her robes
are fluttering—they swell in the sea breeze.


Sir Samuel Garth, 1717

‘Till now grown wanton and devoid of fear,
Not knowing that she prest the Thunderer,
She plac’d her self upon his back, and rode
O’er fields and meadows, seated on the God.

He gently march’d along, and by degrees
Left the dry meadow, and approach’d the seas;
Where now he dips his hoofs and wets his thighs,
Now plunges in, and carries off the prize.
The frighted nymph looks backward on the shoar,
And hears the tumbling billows round her roar;
But still she holds him fast: one hand is born
Upon his back; the other grasps a horn:
Her train of ruffling garments flies behind,
Swells in the air, and hovers in the wind.


David Slavitt, 1994

She climbs on the bull’s back, and he ambles gently along,
taking the girl into shallow water and then farther out,
and faster, and, terrified now, she looks way back at the distant
shoreline and holds on tight to the great beast’s horn as the wind,
freshening, whips her tunic, which streams into pennants behind her.