THE POETIC MUSE AND WHY I WRITE
Updated: Aug 12
Reading David Dowling’s pithy compendium of C. S. Lewis’ comments on writers and writing, (On Writing and Writers: A miscellany of advice and opinions), I realized that I write poetry or an occasional short story not exactly like Lewis (because it is a “very strong impulse” and he must “get it out”), but because it simply comes pouring out of me. It comes mainly without bidding and rather quickly, but always with certain impetus or motivation usually related to sadness, wistfulness and yearning, or love of some kind (the "me" pictured above seems to reflect those conditions).
Lewis finds writing “like a lust,” and with that, I must agree. “No one knows what the result of your writing, or mine...will be.” But “endless and devoted work to which you feel seriously impelled” will tell (his emphasis) the writer or others, and “will reap a harvest proportional to the output.”
Although throughout my life from rare time to rare time, a poem came out of me (one non-music related one I like a lot, appears at the end of this blog), profuse music-related poetry exploded like a firecracker shortly after discovering grand pianos in July 2021, compelling me on the search for my very own first one, resulting in The Duchess, about whom I cannot help but rhapsodize and poetize from frequent time to frequent time.
Of course, a friend with whom I shared my first tentative poem or two, liked my efforts and compared my style in wee part to that of Emily Dickenson, my favorite poet of all time. That opened the poetry Fourth of July and there has been no holding back my poetric muse, now for over three years; I hope to publish my second volume of poetry in the fall of 2023.
Poetry, like fiction, provides a convenient, once-removed way of expressing my feelings about what I am experiencing in life. It’s safer and hopefully more interesting than just saying the truth, even as my poetry remains rather simple and straight-forward without the fantastical similies, metaphors, and indirection (I tend to say what I mean) that populate most “erudite” (and to me, often hard to understand) published poetry lauded today.
Fascinating to me was reading that Lewis thinks “some combinations of words” such as in poetry, can give you “a thrill like music”–apparently the highest compliment one can give to the poet and their product. I agree! It now makes sense to me - the enormous outpouring of music and self-reflective poetry that is associated with my rediscovery of music just about the time the pandemic consumed the world.
When my fingers get tangled up or misbehave and, frustratingly, I can’t express myself adequately on The Duchess, I take to poetry to fill in the gaps in a different way. When I fall in love with a deep personal insight or with a real person in my life, I am only the more motivated to compose in rhyme, meter, or prose. When I fall out of love or they retreat or become someone other than who I imagined and I enter back into reality, my muse takes a vacation to rest and recover from the enormous, vibrating energy it requires to poetically express my feelings. Although I sometimes worry that she might permanently go M.I.A., sooner or later she always shows up again. For that significant favor, I am eternally grateful!
I write poetry the way that some composers compose or some pianists perform: because I cannot not write poetry. It comes unbidden -- to my dreams in the middle of the night, upon first awakening in the morning, during a warm shower, when digging in my garden to plant new flowers, on a sunny-day walk to the park and up into the wilder section to stretch out on a huge log, eyes closed and drowsing as I squint up at the diamonds sparkling and dancing in and out of the leaves high above in the eucalyptus trees. On most of those occasions, here comes my next poem!
Why Words Flow
So easily the poems come,
And oft-times pure doggerel,
About the topics of the mind
And all things psychological
Or silly or social or erudite.
But what’s most to me of fascination,
What holds me so enthralled
Is human behavior in its ramifications.
And what focuses me and my fertile brain,
Gathering neurons to fire in conjunct,
Are thoughts of you, then poems do flow,
In rapturous words, sometimes succinct.
Sometimes my poetic muse
Joins me with a thought,
A whispered word, a deed observed,
Or information sought,
Or news story heard.
My muse, she then comes forth,
Grabs me by imagination
And words do flow
And outward go
To express what I feel
Or think, or know.
Dreaming In Poetry
I dream in rhyme
And wake with poems
Swimming in my head.
I wonder what it means,
From where they come,
If good, or should I dread?
Poems dance and shift,
Should I wake up instead?
And why now
And not before?
Was it something that I read?
Or always part
Of me and so
With them I should wed?
Who cares I say,
If they intrude,
And on my sleep do tread.
I’ll stay right here
And will pursue
Those dreams: Full speed ahead!
Some Kind of Love
I write you poems in my head.
The moment’s here and then it’s dead.
No words remain, they’ve flown the coop,
and though I try, I cannot recoup
the thought ’twas there, so I just stare
and then allow the shower’s magic
to envelop me in reverie.
Warmth does infuse and calm the mind,
vague memory of something kind,
like strings of harp are plucked sometimes.
The air’s perfumed with lemon rinds,
plumeria’s bloom that came too soon
went sooner away, leaving to play in mind
the memory of some kind of love.
Enough (from Vol. III in progress)
Will I tell you enough, so that one sunny day my poetry muse, Kalliope, will finally go away? Will she decide I've plumbed the widths and the depths of love and respect and all of the rest, leaving nothing to say? Will she go play with another? Some mother in need of a lighter day? Some son missing mom who too early went away? A daughter delighted with a new lover she found— and leave me with only my music love profound?
Will she desert me, alone and bereft and wandering about with no poetic words left? Would I survive, remembering the most of what was the best when she came to rest on my feather bed, and when I laid my head on soft pillows and dreamed about you and the music and love as it seemed?
Is there relief in letting go to feel the deepest of rest
when seen by another and celebrated and blessed
by doors that open wide, as Kalliope steps in
to guide us to truth as the harmonies blend?
Is there anything to fear
from her gift precious and dear,
allowing us a moment to stop and then hear
a message of inspiration and delight
before we let go and rest in the night?
Butterflies (July 2017)
Butterflies are classy bows, wrapped up in fur and feather,
Winged friends who strut and flit 'til out of view they wander.
Sometimes they pause to while the time, with beating hearts a-dither,
To sample flowers' lovely nectar or rest upon a heather.
White and orange and yellow they, like painter's palette gleaming,
Alone they venture or then they come in lovely groups 'a winging.
Soft and low or higher up, with gentle breezes singing,
No one knows the if and when we'll see these creatures visiting.
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