Feelin’ Muse-y.

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Slackers!! Four Muses, by Francois Lemoyne, 18th cent.)
Slackers!! Four Muses, by Francois Lemoyne, 18th cent.)

Poetry has been kind to me lately. Actually, it’s more than that: poetry has been texting me, taking me out to dinner, and smooching me at my front door. I’m pretty sure this means we’re dating. Whee!

The muse is a beautiful concept. Here’s the scoop: In Greek and Roman mythology, the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (I can’t pronounce it, either) presided over the arts and sciences, giving inspiration to those who were making the stuff. Just perusing the muses’ names and occupations, as it were, is poetic: Clio was muse to history keepers; Polyhymnia took care of hymn writers; Terpsichore handled choral dancing and song, and so on.

I owe Erato and Thalia because they inspire lyric poetry. I guess that’s what I write, though it sounds pretty fancy. I’d thank Calliope because she was a poetry muse, too, but Calliope visited the poets who wrote epics. So far, epic poetry is not my jam. 

But it’s been incredible being visited by the muse(s) over these months. I always love poetry, but it’s not always so…close. I’m reading it, memorizing long pieces from Longfellow to Smith, grabbing Shakespeare bits here and there. And I’m copying all these poems down longhand. You know how painting students will copy a Picasso or a Cezanne to more fully understand the method and the genius of the artist? It’s just the same for poetry: copying a James Dickey, a Larkin, a Tennyson — other than memorization and recitation, copying a poem on paper is the best way to get your head around the beauty of it.

I’m not just studying, though. I’m writing, too. I’m in the zone, man! Naturally, a fair chunk of what I first put down is absolute garbage but there’s some stuff that I’m rather proud of. I’m so thankful that I’m in whatever phase I’m in; the muses are known to slip away as they come.

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