The Four Ages described in Ted Hughes’ muscular re-telling of Ovid’s tales, begins with the Golden Age when humanity knew how to behave because it hadn’t strayed too far from the source.   

The final age is of iron, not in the sense of Iron Age technology, but in the sense of behaving only in one’s own interests.  I leave it to the reader to decide if there are echoes of this in the daily news.  Personally, I believe we are half Golden, half Iron, and that many of the tensions of the world are in deciding which way we want to go. 

Love that image – though hope it doesn’t prove true – of qualities of goodness going ‘up like a mist, a morning sigh off a graveyard’. 

Fully recommend Hughes punchy, pithy story-telling, it’s a short, gripping, memorable read.


Source: Ted Hughes, ‘Creation; Four Ages; Flood; Lycaon’, Tales from Ovid (London: Faber and Faber, 1997), p. 11

Photo credit: cocoparisienne at pixabay

Last comes the Age of Iron.

And the day of Evil dawns.




Go up like a mist – a morning sigh off a graveyard.


Snares, tricks, plots come hurrying

Out of their dens in the atom.

Violence is an extrapolation

Of the cutting edge

Into the orbit of the smile.

Now comes the love of gain – a new god

Made out of the shadow

Of all the others.  A god who peers

Grinning from the roots of the eye-teeth. 


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest