Friday, February 26, 2010

“My Muse”

Happy Friday evening, folks! I’m a bit ahead of time on the Weekly Poem post because I think it’s been a bit confusing the last couple of weeks with the Weekly Poem coming up Saturday morning & Sepia Saturday posting on Saturday afternoon. At least one blog friend briefly thought I might be related to Stevie Smith! So Sepia Saturday will be posted tomorrow morning & will be the post of the day.

Which brings me to another subject. I’ve been running the Weekly Poem series since Robert Frost’s Banjo started in the summer of 2008; I’ll be honest—I got the idea from another blog, Haphazard Gourmet Girls which, also to be honest, influenced a few structral aspects of Robert Frost’s Banjo. That blog is no longer in existence however; its founder has gone on to different things, quite important in their own right.

Anyway, having given credit where credit was due, I should say that at this point I’m suspending the Weekly Poem series after this week. It’s great having all this poetry on Robert Frost’s Banjo, but at this point between my poems & B.N.’s poems & L.E. Leone’s poems & the Weekly Poem—well, that’s a lotta poems & not so much banjo, so to speak. I know the blog vacillates between more or less poetry & more or less music depending on where my head is at, but it seems pretty far to the poetry side right now, & hey, I'll be a performing musician again in 6 weeks, so I need to get my musical brain kick started too!

Frankly, I’m also somewhat concerned with copyright issues. Most of the poems posted as part of the Weekly Poem series are copyrighted works, & while I could make the argument that any accompanying write-up would make this “fair use,” that rarely holds water; the argument that posts such as this might actually increase an author's sales overall seems inescapably valid, but has no standing. I may consider posting a Poem of the Month, since less frequent posts might fly a bit more under the radar.

So this is not only the wind-up of our look at Stevie Smith, but also a wind-up of regularly scheduled “name” poetry here for a bit at least. & it’s a great one to end on—we can even ask: is it a poem at all? That’s one of my favorite kinds of poems! It is a beautiful piece of writing & meditation on the Ars Poetica. Hope you enjoy it!

My Muse

Here are some of the truths about poetry. She is an Angel, very strong. It is not poetry but the poet who has a feminine ending, not the Muse who is weak, but the poet. She makes a strong communication. Poetry is like a strong explosion in the sky. She makes a mushroom shape of terror and drops to the ground with a strong infection. Also she is a strong way out. The human creature is alone in his carapace. Poetry is a strong way out. The passage out that she blasts is often in splinters, covered with blood; but she can come out softly. Poetry is very light-fingered, she is like the god Hermes in my poem ‘The Ambassador’ (she is very light-fingered). Also she is like the horse Hermes is riding, this animal is dangerous….

Poetry does not like to be up to date, she refuses to be neat. (‘Anglo-Saxon’, wrote Gavin Bone, ‘is a good language to write poetry in because it is impossible to be neat.’) All the poems Poetry writes may be called, ‘Heaven, a Detail’, or ‘Hell, a Detail’. (She only writes about heaven and hell.) Poetry is like the goddess Thetis who turned herself into a crab with silver feet, that Peleus sought for and held. Then in his hands she became first a fire, then a serpent, then a suffocating stench. But Peleus put sand on his hands and wrapped his body in sodden sacking and so held her through all her changes, till she became Thetis again, and so he married her, and an unhappy marriage it was. Poetry is very strong and never has any kindness at all. She is Thetis and Hermes, the Angel, the white horse and the landscape. All Poetry has to do is to make a strong communication. All the poet has to do is listen. The poet is not an important fellow. There will always be another poet.

Stevie Smith

(Those who are curious can read more about Thetis & Peleus here & here). I once wrote a poem on the subject, but it was one of those early works best to refer to & not to proffer!


  1. I'll be sad to see the poem of the week go, but I certainly understand how difficult it must be for you to keep up! I do well to post one poem a week and then read and comment on other blogs.

    What's happening for you in six weeks? I must have missed something.

    By the way, you introduced me to Stevie Smith. I'm grateful.

  2. Hi Karen: 6 weeks=at that point in April I should be getting back on the performance circuit for spring thru fall. It was a tough call about the Weekly Poem, but I did feel the blog was getting pretty poetry-centric (how's that for a word!) to the exclusion of other interests. & given my druthers, I'd much rather be posting poems by people in my real community, far flung as that may be geographically!

    Glad you like Stevie Smith--she's great.

  3. It's your blog -- you're entitled to do what you want to with it!

    Re Stevie Smith and the poetic muse, here's what Bob Dylan had to say about his:

    My love she speaks like silence,
    Without ideals or violence,
    She doesn’t have to say she’s faithful,
    Yet she’s true, like ice, like fire

  4. Hi K: Love Minus Zero/No Limit is a great song! Thanks.

  5. I'm in the same boat as Karen, I thank you for introducing me to Stevie Smith. Wonderful quote!!

  6. Hi Terresa: Glad you enjoyed it, & thanks for following here! I checked out your blog & was impressed by what you're doing.

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  8. now I will look up Stevie Smith.

    Where are your gigs taking you?
    Any to the central coast of California, San Leandro or Ventura or somewhere in between in the rhythm of the light? (Saw Sepia Saturday)

    Keep playing!

  9. Hi Dianne: Sorry I'm so behind on commenting--this has been a very busy weekend! Glad to be able to introduce you to Stevie Smith; musically I'm not much of a road warrior--most of my playing is done within about a 50 mile radius of where I live. Very occasionally I make it to Portland or the Bay Area, & Eberle & I did play a couple of SoCal gigs when we were doing silent film music.


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