VERSES FROM VARIOUS SOURCES
From UNLIKELY STORIES MOSTLY 1983
Poem: Alasdair Gray © 2005
8 – Two Dramatic Fragments, in ‘Prometheus’
Who was before I am dark
without limbs, dancing, spinning
space without heat who
was before I am alight
without body, blazing, dividing
continents on rocking mud who
was before I am breathing
without eyes, floating, rooted
bloody with outcry who
was before I am a singing
ground, wormy-dark, alight
aloud with leaves, eyes and
gardeners, the last plants I grew who
uplifted you who
was before I am?
Who is before you now!
I grasp all ground, mother.
The gardeners you grew were common men, a brood
too silly and shapeless to be any good
outside my state, which has made them new.
They cannot remember being born by you.
They are my image now. I am who
they all want to obey, or if not obey, be.
Yes, Prometheus! Punishment is changing him
into a cracked mirror of me.
(After 2500 years GOD tries persuading PROMETHEUS to serve him.)
I am not the stark power who chained you here.
I am softened by what you endured, while my laws
have made you a hard reflection of the tyrant I once was.
It cannot be right to enthrone
a killing revenge the world should have outgrown,
or if right, then right will make greater wrong.
It is right to give back what you stole – liberty.
You see me as I am. You cannot see
who I will become when I am free.
Why do you think I will kill?
Your every glance threatens me terrible ill.
I am in pain! My illness, the illness you dread,
is yours, is you!
Then endure my terrible nature!
I must endure it too.
(God has lost his temper. Prometheus laughs bitterly)
At last you unmask, old man
and show what you are again:
the ruler of a kingdom kept by pain.
All history has added nothing to you
but a mad wish to be pitied for what you do.