ON POETRY – TUESDAY’S TALE

Well, it ain’t really a Tale for Tuesday, but it is a tale about how you should tell what you can’t really tell when you try. Not in words, anyway…

ON POETRY

Poetry involves the minute manipulation of words in such a way that they are constantly and subtly altered in definition, either so that they take on a broader and more flexible implication than they have ever possessed before, or so that they take on a more narrow and peculiar resolution in terminology than they have ever before possessed.

Do this wisely and well and with patient and practiced craft and you will be considered a master of phrasing and sound, perhaps even possessed of real poetic genius. Do this sloppily or shoddily and in haste and without regard for the demands of true meaning in language and you will be considered a mere dilettante or perhaps even a hapless hack.

from my book, On Poetry

 

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THE WRITER’S LAMENTATION

I got up and wrote ‘til three
Thus now my back is killing me
It hurts so bad, it hurts so bad
It hurts so bad you know

I worked the keys, I worked them red
I wrote down what my Muses said
They said so much, they said so much
Oh my aching head

My neck is stiff, my hands are cramped
My eyes they burn, my mind is tramped
I’ve done enough, I’ve done enough
Still you won’t relent?

My joints all creak, my throat is dry
I feel so bad that I could die
What more of me do you want?
Just go away for now

People suffer, people die
So let me ask you why, oh why?
Do you kill me oh so slow?
You know what this does to my soul…

I hate you word, I hate you phrase
I hate you eat my nights and days
That you take pleasure in my pain
You little bastards you

If up to me I’d never sit
Nor long again endure this shit
But you have purpose all your own
And make me for your sins atone

I’d rather be out in the world
Full of deeds, not serpent curled
Not creeping, crawling, filled with words
Damn you all, this is absurd!

I’m old, I know, new labors make
But this just seems to take and take
Tell me there’s a point to this
That’s all worthwhile, at least persists

Beyond the torture of today
Something I may yet display,
Something written God will say
You did that well, I’m proud

But doubt it lingers in my heart
I feel it often when I start
I feel it always when I end
Did my words rise, or just descend?

I used to think this nothing was
That writing was a sissy’s love
Now I’ve writ enough to see
This torment’s a catastrophe

One last thing I must lament
If just for once you will relent
Answer this if you will dare –
Do I write Truth, or in the air?

ON YOUR MUSE AND YOUR GREAT WORKS

I recently saw a comment on the Facebook page of a friend of mine.

Discussing Muses. And it made me think about something I’ve been thinking about regarding Muses and Work for a long time.

So here is my thought on Muses and your Great Works (The really important Works of your life, in which I include Family and Friends and whatever you build and create or do in this world that is good and noble and worthwhile and may even last for awhile, or have some lasting impact.)

I also think a lot of modern people have a very inaccurate and romantic and even misguided idea of both what a Muse is and what the function of a Muse is in relation to your Great Works in life.

I look at it this way. Make every effort to be available to your Muse (who in my case is God) – you know, like your Muse is your friend. Or at the very least your trusted associate or valuable client.

Also call your Muse up. Take your Muse to dinner. Get feedback, exchange ideas. Take a trip together. Spend time with your Muse. Court your Muse. Hunt down your Muse when your Muse is busy elsewhere. Make an appointment.

Lotta modern people think Muses do magic. And that you can only summon them with enchanted circles and complex incantations. Or that they conjure themselves outta thin air as they wish like Fairy folk to ensorcel you at their own inscrutable will.

I happen to think that’s mostly all bullcrap and highly counterproductive to any form of Creativity or Work. It’s just not that complicated or uncertain a deal. I think the Ancients had it right about the Muse, not modern people. You dedicate yourself to your Muse, as you would a friend and your Muse will become your Friend.

But it is not your Muse’s job to write or Work for you. That’s your job. Far too many people confuse inspiration with effort.

Inspiration is indeed part of your Muse’s job. The actual Work part is all yours.

This is one of my prayers to my Muse by the way. Everyday before Work I pray it. But I never confuse my Prayer with my Work. Different things altogether. A Strategy is not a War, it’s just the way you go about fighting a war. And a Muse is a Partner, not a slave, or a fantastical unicorn made of fairy dust and unfulfilled dreams. If you have an unfulfilled dream then that’s probably (not always maybe, true enough, but probably) your fault, not the fault of your Muse.

 

The Great Works

Lord I submit to you now my Great Works. Be my eternal Muse oh Son of God, Christ Jesus. Be my Muse of the Soul, my Artistic, Business, Financial, Inventive, Invested, Musical, Scientific, and Poetic Muse. Guide and lead me where you will. Bring success to all I do under your influence, and possess and influence all I do or build or create. Use what I do to fulfill your Will. You know my heart, and my skills. Use me and all I do to achieve your Ends. Profit and prosper all I do, all of my business, all my work, all of my art, my every experiment, all I write, compose, invent, devise, draw, imagine, create, build, repair, rebuild, reform, decorate, design, test, prove, and demonstrate to good and greatness and to your wise employments. Guide my hand, heart, mind, and soul in everything I do and create and spread the fame and success of it throughout the world and throughout all time for the benefit of your Realm upon the Earth so that my work becomes an eternal part of Your Work. I surrender my work to you so that my accomplishments prosper and increase to your fame and glory forever.
Amen.