Feast of the Carmentalia

Ode for the Carmentalia
January 11

The Carmentalia is the festival in the old Roman calendar sacred to the spirits of creativity — the Muses. Please, if you read this, ask others to observe the Carmentalia with a creative act of some sort, and celebrate the power — divinely gifted or evolutionarily bestowed — that allows us to make art.

Sing, dancing Muses, on Helicon’s height:
awake us to new creativity.
In speech, in song, in art let us delight,
mirroring the stars’ bright divinity,
whom you connected with imagined lines,
threading with stories each constellation,
as you bound planets to gravity’s grace.
You join artists, too, with cunning designs,
linking them by webs of inspiration,
through friendship and chance, across time and space.

Yet too long, you confined your attention
to a favored few mortals in your trust
who spent every breath on art’s invention
and chose to be ashes instead of dust.
Now send your flame to quicken every breath;
Nurture tales on each tongue, songs in all ears,
and in this present age, do your duty:
Wake an artist’s passion to outlast death
in every eye that sees or ear that hears!
Infect every heart with love of beauty.

Then shall Helicon be highest of hills,
and Muses be praised above all others —
when song and laughter wake, and weeping stills,
and all people dance and shout together,
joined in love of art. What god dares seek blood
when every shrine is adorned like a bride,
and every house is full of creation?
Your voices wash away war like a flood,
and turn outer conflicts toward peace inside…
Please, light our lamps of mythic elation.

And…. if you happen to be available in Pomfret, CT this evening between 6:30 and 8:00pm, I’d love to have a cup of coffee with you to mark the occasion, and talk about art … Plus, you can see my favorite muse, Clio, in the flesh. Unfortunately, after 8:00pm I’ll be on dormitory… you’re welcome to come by, but I’ve got to be here and can’t go out.


  1. Very beautiful, and inspiring . . . as a hymn to the Muses ought to be. You continue to give me a great deal to think about. Thank you.

    • You’re welcome. I consider it part of my work to inspire. But I hope that it also triggers action, too. The breathing in of new ideas is the first step — the breathing out of new creativity is the second.

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