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  • Writer's pictureScott M Williamson

gods, poems, et al...

a sculpture from J. Vellini's Lepidopterist Series (Taubman Museum of Art)

One of my ongoing creative projects is making new versions of classic poems and myths. It's especially fun to adopt, adapt, update or reimagine another artist's version of a classic. (Like the "play w/in the play," Hamlet; or a film about/with/on film, like Nope). Or Goethe's and Schiller's Greek Myth-inspired poems. Goethe's Ganymed is one famous example. (Ganymede became "cupbearer" to the gods, after Zeus, in the form of an eagle, abducted the young shepherd, in a Panhellenic example of what we now call sex-trafficking. Goethe's poem eroticizes and idealizes the myth).

Here's a link to Schubert's prelapsarian idyllic song. Check out Hugo Wolf's perfumed setting of the same Goethe poem. The latter composer was renowned for not setting poetry he felt other composers had already successfully created. So it's revealing when Wolf does set poems already made famous by Schubert. Here is the beautiful (and still slept-on soprano), Barbara Hendricks in Wolf's version.

I'm not trying to be literal here, as will be obvious when compared to Goethe's ecstatic, violent, gay pastoral. But I am trying to capture some of the original spirit, like a deliciously pungent or tangy spice in a curry or stew. I'm trying to leap from Goethe, while clearly acknowledging the shadow in which I play. And I'm curious to know what you think...

The Liberation of Prometheus (Schindler, MBKLeipzig)

Ganymed (a new version after Goethe)

Morning glow

rings me

treasured Spring

with thousand-

fold lovebliss

flooding my

heart, holy

feeling, your


Endless pleasure

(Hey, can we mash limbs?)

O, on your chest

I lie, verklemmt.

Your buds


my heart.

You quench

the flame-thirst,

lovely Morganwind

Nightingale who calls

love from the landscape

painting to me.

I’m coming…


I’m… Damn.

Keep stretching

up until

twin clouds

encircle, and

like a lightning bolt,

pierce you

with love-longing

in your Schosse,

schnookie, squeezed

and squeezing

Up, up to the

tips of your

cut pects, my

sugar pops god

(7-8.2022 | Roa.)

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