The Devil’s Artisan by Dennis Daly


Sonnets from the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini

The opera Benvenuto Cellini, set to music by Hector Belioz, opened to critical acclaim at the Paris Opera House in 1838. Earlier Goethe, himself, had translated Cellini’s 16th century autobiography into German and proclaimed Cellini “a force of nature.” Later, the story of Cellini inspired a Broadway play, a Hollywood movie (starring Frederic March and Fay Wray), an operetta with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and finally the Adventures of Cellini, the Classics Illustrated comic book No. 38.

Cellini’s never-ending narrative now re-emerges in the 21st century as poetry, The Devil’s Artisan, a sonnet series by Dennis Daly measuring out Renaissance artistic passion with every line…

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Daly perfectly captures the voice of a street-tough artist and courtier, a sculptor of heavy objects regularly on the lam. He meanwhile delivers an indelible landscape of Renaissance Italy and France—the courts, the palaces and the woodlands where goatish men roam. Benvenuto Cellini, the mannerist genius, the soldier and singer of vibrant motets, moves through these scenes in triumph and despair. Daly gives us the story as he receives it personally from Cellini. —Rick Mullin


Pompeo’s Murder

Under Pope Clement’s protection I thrived,
My enemy, Pompeo, kept at bay.
His Holiness pressed me day after day
To finish his commissions. He contrived

A plan to provide for me a vast wealth
To keep me in his exclusive service.
But he died suddenly. With great brashness
Pompeo plotted my end. No real stealth

Required. Attended by ten soldiers,
He provoked my comrades, threatened battle
With shameful slights and derisive gestures.

I begged my men to hold, curb their angers.
Later I found the culprit. The angle
Of my dagger’s thrust settled all matters.


Denis DalyDennis Daly lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Joanne. They have four adult children. Daly graduated from Boston College and has an M.A. in English Literature from Northeastern University. He has published seven books of poetry and poetic translations. Among other jobs Daly has worked as a dockworker, a Union Leader of a 9000 member industrial local, a city department head, and a community corrections director. He has travelled widely in central Asia.

Additional information

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .375 in