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A Valediction: background and reading


Melchior misses the boat
WD Snodgrass Poet
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The… the joke that gets into that… into that poem of course has to do with Melchior, who…who did sing Lohengrin frequently. And Lohengrin, of course, is the knight of the swan who arrives in a swan boat sent… sent from the other world to rescue the Brabantians from something or other and… and finally gets betrayed and has to go back. And the boat comes in, and he gets in and goes off singing heroically and… and sadly. Well, what happened one night at the Met is that the… the… one of the stagehands must have fallen asleep because the boat came right up to Melchior and then went right on past. And he looked at his wrist and then out toward the audience and said: 'Anyone know what time the next swan leaves?' I don't know if it's true, but it… it ought to be true.

American poet WD Snodgrass, entered the world of poetry with a bang winning several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, for his first collection of poetry, Heart's Needle. A backlash followed his controversial fifth anthology “The Fuehrer Bunker”, but in recent years these poems have been reassessed and their importance recognised.

Listeners: William B. Patrick

William B. Patrick is a writer and poet who lives in Troy, New York. Among his work are the poetry volumes "We Didn't Come Here for This" and "These Upraised Hands", the novel "Roxa: Voices of the Culver Family" and the plays "Rescue" and "Rachel's Dinner". His most recent work is the non-fiction book "Saving Troy", based on the year he spent following the Troy Fire Department.

Mr. Patrick has been Writer-in-Residence at the New York State Writers Institute and has taught at Old Dominion University, Onondaga Community College, and Salem State College, and workshops in Screenwriting and Playwriting at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Roanoke, Virginia. He has received grants from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Tags: Packing up the Lute, Lohengrin, The Knight of the Swan, Brabantians, The Metropolitan Opera, Lauritz Melchior, Richard Wagner

Duration: 1 minute, 1 second

Date story recorded: August 2004

Date story went live: 29 September 2010