Friday, February 25, 2005

Poems about the Muse

Can anybody think of poems addressed to the muse or invoking the muse? I'm looking for contemporary examples, but I'm drawing a complete blank. The reason I ask is that I'm having my American Lit students create a mini anthology this semester. It's an assignment I've never done before, so I thought I'd make up an example for them this weekend.

As I flip though books and think about this, I think that often a poet turns the subject of the poem into the muse--I'm thinking of apostrophe in general, Kock's New Addresses in particular. I feel comfortable asserting that many books--I'll use my book, The Zydeco Tablets, as an example--have a single/primary/central source of inspiration.

When I say muse, I also mean he-muses. I have a he-muse.

I appreciate the comments I've had so far--I'm looking to create a blogroll so that I can link to the sites I visit, but I'm a little slow at this and keep messing it up.



At 5:25 PM, Blogger Anne said...

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At 5:30 PM, Blogger Anne said...

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At 5:31 PM, Blogger Anne said...

Here's a muse poem by William Stafford:

When I Met My Muse

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off -- they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. "I am your own
way of looking at things," she said. "When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation." And I took her hand.

(from You Must Revise Your Life)

And here's one from a poet I don't know much about, Bobbie Su Nadal:

Poet to Poet

The Muse, that fickle bitch, comes to you one week
hot and rubbing herself all over you, then Bam! It's
over, your lips, mind stuck shut. And friend
these doors have no handles. If only she were
a daydream we could conjure at will, a hot-headed
woman like Tina Turner, who yesterday, broad daylight,
sizzled the air-waves: one click, MTV, and "What's love
got to do with it" humping my head. Or say the Muse
were a center-fold college kid tricking on the side,
looking like a million, willing to "do it" for a song
or a little sweet talk, depending on her mood, you'd
treat her good, wouldn't you buy her dinner, some
bubbly if she asked, call her "Baby" this and "Baby" thatwhen she goes down on you, making you sweat, making
you beg her, please, don't stop? That kind of woman
would wring hallelujahs from the dumb, massage your
conscience with one hand, make you whole again
with the other; slowly too, one shuddering spasm
at a time and your mind, the wild words hiding there
would flush like birds whistling high notes. A few bucks
might do it. She'd take your arm. Together, you'd kick up
dust, let it settle again, rearranged in just the right
syllables. By the time this woman finished, you'd be humming
perfect pitch, flooding the sky with that whirring sound
birds make at lift-off. Sure, it's a long shot, a short fix.
But friend, admit it -- we'd take it in a second given half
a chance. Who needs the silence, these long nights
making nothing but rings around our eyes? I've had it
with wait and wait. Today, I want what I want: the Muse,
a trumped-up whore, all rouge and lipstick and sass,
smelling of sloe gin, cheap perfume. Honey, don't
kid me. Wouldn't we sell our souls for one long ride?

(published in Sojourner, June 1996)

And one last one, from Vassar Miller:

Prayer To My Muse

The door is closing

where ghosts hide,
where gods hide,
where even I hide.

I'm none too sorry,
longing to be back
coiled in my wombworld,

too smug and small, I know,
no wider than my bed
where no one sleeps but me.

Still, crack the door a little,
stepmother muse to show
a night light burning.

(from If I Had Wheels Or Love: Collected Poems of Vassar Miller)

P.S. Sorry about the multiple deleted posts -- I had formatting issues. Sigh.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger David Vincenti said...

Two poems in Cool Women Volume 2: "Cancer Muse" by Judy Michaels, "At the Muse's Swimming Pool" by Eloise Bruce. I'm entirely unclear if posting them in their entirety is fair use, but drop me a note and I'll figure out a way to refer them to you.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Pamela said...

Baudelaire's "The Venal Muse"

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Bobbie Su Nadal said...

Hi, Alison. Thanks for posting my poem, "Poet to Poet." How did you ever run across it? I liked you poem on the blog, too. I don't really blog, but I was fooling around on Google, and decided to .com myself, and your site came up; what a surprise! And with such stellar company! Where do you teach?
Bobbie Su

At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 11:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


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