Poem 3/30: Inviting A Muse

I sat in the Design Lab with a colleague today to write today’s poem.  She produced an incredible poem — all about money, and counting, and busyness at school… and it ended with an absolutely incredible triple of lines about the magnificence of spring, just outside the drawn window blinds.  Amazing.

Here’s my entry for the day:

No matter how this month turns out for verse,
whether I write immortal lines or trash,
at least I will have gone from none to worse,
and shifted my heart from frightened to brash.
Critics may deride me with all their darts;
friends may cry, “a poet?!?” and turn away
from my rough lines, these fragmentary starts —
for moonlit praise turns ash by break of day.
Yet some muse may waken to siren song,
and turn golden ear for these words of tin.
Though silent at first, her edits, ere long
she’ll speak back to me.  My task, then, through din
of weary chores that grind me day to night,
is to heed her call.  And until then — write.

There’s a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert that I quite admire (although I know there’s some controversy regarding TED these days [thanks, Gordon]), in which she says that imagining a muse outside of herself gave her courage to write… and then she cites classical and Renaissance ideals of having a genius or guardian spirit rather than being a genius.  It’s a useful distinction, I find… but as I indicate in the last few lines, it’s still important to do the work.  The muse doesn’t show up casually if you’re not prepared to do the work.  It’s Maker Time vs. Management Time, again.  We have to give the muse — whichever muse we work with — at least some Maker Time to be successful; it can’t be all Manager time, because that’s not how muses work.


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