I’m not talking about Calliope, Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia and Urania.
I’m thinking more on the lines of Robert Graves and one goddess under many names, though I don’t suggest his method of finding her. I think a home-made Muse may have a beneficial effect on your poetry, though you won’t know until you try.
It’s easy to try this out. All you need is a wet afternoon and a significant absence.
The absence needs to be attached to a person. Traditionally muses are female, of course, but I’ve found male muses work just as well so long as they’re unavailable to you as human beings. It’s impossible to be a good muse and a friend at the same time.
Why? You’ve written a page and a half of blank verse grappling with solitude in the bleakness of winter, and your Muse phones up to commiserate. That’s not right at all. Muses do not reply. It’s the not replying that helps.
I was going to say don’t choose your Muse lightly. But on reflection, I think lightness is important. You can change a Muse if the first one doesn’t work, though I’m inclined to think you’ll know if you’ve got it right. There’ll be a little click, and a sense that your poem (the one you’re about to write) has engaged more smoothly, like changing from fourth gear into fifth.
So here’s how.
I can’t tell you what form to choose because it will depend on the topic and the shape of your thought. But let it flow onto the page in a speaking voice and try to let the strength of feeling guide where your lines start and stop. Don’t worry about anything except the truth of the communication, about saying what you really mean.
When you come to the end of the piece of writing, go back and remove any part of it that looks like Drama. This may include words like ‘so’ and ‘very’ and ‘really’ and most similes and adjectives. Your Muse will spot artyness or artifice immediately. But if you can enhance musicality or delight, do that. All Muses can sing and dance.
Now type the poem up, or write it up, using your usual method for producing print forms.
Put it away for three weeks before looking at it again.
During that three weeks, think about your Muse before you write. Each time you write anything, even a shopping list, think about that Muse. Think of everything as a secret communication.
But this Muse is not the hugging kind. This Muse is remote and pure. You desperately long to talk to her/him but the only medium available to you for this one-way conversation is a poem. You may now need to write another one.
p.s. The Comic Muse has an extra 'o'. She is a Mouse. This method will work for her too
When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.
Nelli, I love this blog and feel its truth strongly. I know that I do my best communicating when writing to particular friends, because then my true me is addressing our true us. So I've often wished that I could harness that creative 'me' in my poetry. I suspect you have just told me how. But who could be my secret muse? I thought of people of the past whom I have loved. I nearly selected this one. Then that one. Then all unbidden the right one popped in, fulfilling all the criteria, a different gender from where I'd been looking. Nell, once again, thank you. X
Didn't mean to call you Nelli. F
I like being Nelli ;-)
This is brilliant, Nell! You are so right about the unavailability thing. Of course I didn't realize that aspect until I'd beaten my head against the wall until I bled. Which was good for the poems.
Aha! Marcia, you're one of a number of people I thought about when writing this. But I shouldn't tell you this because it's risky. Almost like Frances (above) nearly telling who her muse is, but just managing to keep it under her hat. Poets must have secrets. Even confessional poets. Or especially confessionals.
OMG I did exactly this last week and guess who turned up? Why, Miss Gertrude Stein herself. Magic works and I am happy to share her - but I will find out who you are. . .
The magic no longer works, Pam, if you tell the world who your Muse is. Ditch Gertrude, and start again . . . ;-)
You are right Nell! Will do but did like the poems she gave me - just got over-excited, you know how poets are . . .