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  • Scott Williamson

Prometheus & Cellini & Apprentices


Below is my penultimate poem for Tupelo Press's 30/30 Project. I only

have a little way to go yet to complete both this poetry marathon, and

my fund-raising goal for Tupelo. If you can support new creative work,

please do so. My colleagues and I appreciate it! Below is a poem I

first drafted and shared as a pre-curtain "speech" for my cast

before a performance.

The show was an Opera Roanoke Apprentice Artist showcase,

featuring our fabulous young artists singing (and in some cases, directing

and choreographing) a program of scenes from "Broadway

musicals" by Weill and Sondheim. Thanks for reading, and for

supporting the work of creative artists of every generation and genre,

from poetry to opera. Happy Holidays and best wishes!

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Counterpoint with Frank Bidart’s The Third Hour of the Night

(or, Prometheus and Cellini share an aesthetics of embodiment...)

you have again taught yourself to disappear

Art persists because a few possess the Promethean torch in the core of being

From the great unchosen narration you will soon / be released

Like the rebellious fire-bringer, they accept their nightly torture

Some great force (massive, stubborn, multiform as

earth, fury whose single name is LEGION, – )

To be chained and devoured from the inside out – and – to trust in renewal

all my old inborn / daring returned…

Prometheus mans his post; We take center stage

furious to reverse / the unjust triumphs of the world’s mere / arrangements of power

Bound for her art, Pandora unleashes a force no box contains

in perfect liquefaction / the veins of Perseus filled…

what was dead brought to life again

We are “Children of Fire,” feet branded by the stage’s coals

a salamander, a creature that lives / at the heart of the fire

Metamorphosing like demigods – not for amusement but catharsis

severity, that chastity of style

Like the Sun, to giving oneself away, burning the creative core

equilibrium of ferociousness, contradictory

forces; equilibrium whose balance or poise is their / tension, and does not efface them

THE FIRE WILL NEVER BE EXTINGUISHED SO LONG AS PROMETHEUS LIVES

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*The italicized lines are from the Bidart poem referenced. The first version of this poem was written for Opera Roanoke’s Apprentice Artists in 2015. The final line's formatting is a reference to the manifestos of the Dada and Surrealist movements, and Dalí particularly. Frank Bidart is a poet to whom I've come lately and passionately. His chapbook-length series of "Hours of the Night" works are meta-poems, referencing multiple mythologies while adding his own polyphonic harmonies and original voice to the renaissance-artist, polymath mix.

One of the joys of writing and publishing (at least a draft of) a poem a day for 30 days is the regular contact with beloved voices such concentration precipitates and fosters. Such company for the journey is a blessing, and reminds me to count yet another one when it comes to doing what you love. So for Bidart, Shelley, Saariaho, Mahler, Britten, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Monroe, & co, I say thank you. Your memories are a blessing.


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EK

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