Scylla clings by the cliffedge

1178B, 0401.ODY.8 from The Dorian Gallery.

She has twelve legs, all writhing, dangling down
and six long swaying necks, a hideous head on each,
each head barbed with a triple row of fangs, thickset,
packed tight—and armed to the hilt with black death!
Holed up in the cavern’s bowels from her waist down
she shoots out her heads, out of that terrifying pit,
angling right from her nest, wildly sweeping the reefs
for dolphins, dogfish or any bigger quarry she can drag
from the thousands of Amphitrite spawns in groaning seas.
No mariners yet can boost they’ve raced their ship
past Scylla’s lair without some mortal blow—
with each of her six heads she snatched up
a man from the dark-prowled craft and whisks him off.