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Poems Inspired by Titian

Hear leading contemporary poets including Seamus Heaney and Simon Armitage reading their new poems inspired by Titian.
Poetry reading
Seamus Heaney: 'Actaeon'

Poetry reading

Seamus Heaney: 'Actaeon'

About the video:


Leading contemporary poets have been invited to respond to three Titian paintings inspired by the Diana myth.


Hear Seamus Heaney reading from his Titian-inspired poem 'Actaeon'.


Hear Seamus talking about the process of writing his poem.


Find out more about the exhibition Metamorphosis: Titian 2012.


More about Titian, Diana and Actaeon, 1556-9 and Titian, The Death of Actaeon, about 1559-75

Seamus Heaney: This poem is called 'Actaeon' and a number of details come from Ovid's account of the event in his 'Metamorphoses'.


High burdened brow, the antlers that astound,
Arms that end now in two hardened feet,
His nifty haunches, pointed ears and fleet
Four-legged run... In the pool he saw a crowned
Stag’s head and heard something that groaned
When he tried to speak. And it was no human sweat
That steamed off him: he was like a beast in heat,
As if he’d prowled and stalked until he found

The grove, the grotto and the bathing place
Of the goddess and her nymphs, as if he’d sought
That virgin nook deliberately, as if
His desires were hounds that had quickened pace
On Diana’s scent before his own pack wrought
Her vengeance on him, at bay beneath the leaf-

lit woodland. There his branchy antlers caught
When he faced the hounds
That couldn’t know him as they bayed and fought
And tore out mouthfuls of hide and flesh and blood
From what he was, while his companions stood
Impatient for the kill, assessing wounds.

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