Recently, following nearly a year’s absence from television, I had the opportunity to witness one of those common flatteries, television commercials, vehicles to sell some frivolity by appealing to typical vanities, pride, lust, sloth, et cetera. You have seen them, I am sure, rainbow people, proud, self-selfing, posing by not posing, assuming that air, that assurance of the narcissist, convinced of personal sanctitude, one among many multi-colored, multi-shaped, multi-smiled, multi-sexed mes. People are funny, especially when most serious. Yet, that observation is not my cause for writing.
You have noticed, I expect: the rainbow people are exactly the same thing. Yes, they are. Alike a rainbow, thin tinted mists floating, arching into clouds, dissolving into one another, arching back toward an earth never reached, dissolving before the treasure can be approached, no pot-of-gold, merely a sigh, “wasn’t that pretty”. Why are these rainbows? Who are these rainbows? Why have our strong, souled, steady Mt. Rushmore faces become the fatuous, fancy flaunters that mirror-gazing rush about bumping into things. Muses, I suppose.
Yes, it is the Muse who speaks into us the things which we become. Some suppose that Muses are an invention, literary. Yet, not so. Some suppose that Homer called upon Calliope,
Sing through me, O Muse, of the man of many turnings, many devices who off-course wandered time-and-again after plundering the citadel of high walled Ilium. Many cities he saw, many men, and learned their minds; many pains he suffered in woe, heartsick on the open sea, seeking for life and to bring his comrades home, the fools who in wild recklessness devoured the cattle of Helios, God of the Sun…
True, he did. Though, you will have noticed, when Homer into thought sang Odyssey, the idea, “Odysseus” the man, lived into you. Remember, Homer asked the Muse to body forth the hero from the … notice how this works: by word, through imagination, you become something of the hero, an Odysseus who ushers forth a McDonald’s order or a corporate report, or a vault in the Decathlon. Or, perhaps you are Mused into Penelope. Some are, you know.
Yes, you become Odysseus, Penelope, or Satan, or some other true spirit, as much as God and your nature will allow, so much as you will admit … as much as Nature (the God of the pattern, patterning) will admit into things which might yet be … as are you a thing that is in Nature, in the pattern of the Word, of the God, a thing, essentially Greek. Even so, not all Muses are Greek. How absurd. Muses, truth in the universe, are peopled forth as we into imagination grow. Muses speak many languages, English, for instance, English of high order, fine feeling, true measure, XVIII Century in magnitude, sometimes. Did in Jefferson, Thomas. Yes, Muse Liberty spoke into Jefferson, Jefferson spoke into you, made you who you are, made a nation what it was, is now making a world as the Muse would have it be, in Liberty. See how this works: Muses are real, evident.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Arete. What? Yes, arete, that “excellence” which achieves in life a flourishing, eudaimonia, that “fulfilled happiness” intended by Jefferson, achieved by Jefferson in an excellent, flourishing, happy life. Expect you know, Jefferson did not intend licentious happiness, those ravenous vices now everywhere assumed, now, everywhere practiced. Hum, why are the happy, ravenous vices everywhere practiced. Ah, yes, right, you guessed: the Muse, Muse Democracy who spoke energy into the long-winded, oft’ eloquent, Whitman.
I Celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I loafe and invite my soul … et cetera. Expect you noticed, very different things, the communitarian, “We” of the “Creator”, and the conceited “I, I, I” of the “my soul”. What type of persons do the “We” and the “I, I, I” portend. What, in speaking, does the Muse create. The Muse creates Itself, in portent, ad infinitum. No need to elaborate. You are a clever creature who recognizes truth, even when you would rather prevaricate, dissemble. Yes, your soul, by God, the pattern of the universe, speaks in “Truth” truly … nothing you can do about it.
Of course, Whitman composed that “I, I, I” bit in disguise. Some, among we Muse transcribers, attempt to hide influence, precedent. Walt knew what he was doing. Clever fellow. God love him. Then, Walt was not wise; Walt was foolish, in the way of foolish Plato, harmful, in much the same way, much the same fashion. Foolish people all too often speak nonsense, eloquently. High in rhetoric, pulsating in the pen, men do not consider that sometimes the universe brings forth, by necessity of pattern, harm to man, id est, the tyranny of knuckleheaded know-it-alls, murder of the innocent, poet legislators, and other dumb ideas.
You will have noticed, the Muse’s seed, inspiration by word, is most often long germinating in human minds, youth to death, person to person, Age into Age. Whitman’s “Me” Muse, ravenous “Democracy”, was a hundred years in germinating before it entangled Jefferson’s “We” Muse, “Liberty”, and chocked it out, or nearly so.
Then too, consider Muse “Fame”, that sine qua non of “Remember my Name” Rainbow People, the body electric. Again, Muse Democracy speaking through Whitman:
I sing the body electric, The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them, They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them, And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul. Don’t know about you, yet, the mind’s eye sees again the Rainbow Armies grinning into self-happy appetite. See: rainbows on skateboards, shiny in cars, preening in grocery aisles, smug-bubbled, multi-sexed, multi-shaded, multi-congratulatory. Yuck, a thing too sweet, tooth-rooting, mind dumbing.
Hear them singing, Whitman-children, the generations of rainbowed mes, changing all that is from Muse Liberty to Muse Democracy, to Muse Fame. Sing it, bois ‘n gurlz: Don’t you know who I am / Remember my name / Fame! / I’m gonna live for ever / I’m gonna learn how to fly / high! / I feel it coming together / People will see me and cry / pray! / I’m gonna make it to heaven / Light up the sky like a flame / flame! / I’m gonna live forever / Baby remember my name / Remember, remember, remember … et cetera. Really, a pretty song, memorable, as the Muse intends, in the way of Whitman. But really, a silly thing, adolescent. Can you imagine Muse Liberty, or President Jefferson twittering vacuous vanities, bright-toothed beneath spotlights. Absurd. Degrading. Arrogant. And worse, vain-glorious, a vainglory common to rainbowed schoolgirls, our nation, Congress, tech-barons, and progressive-tycoons. Here’s a picture for you: Bet you can see in the mind’s-eye Muse Fame and President Obama in duet twittering vacuous vanities, bright-toothed beneath spotlights.
Notice: when a head-balloon rises from grass-bladed fields, up-up-up, musing high-noted into a stratosphere, it pops, or leaks its air away. Same end, comes down, ignominiously, splat, on pavement flat. Notice: Jefferson remains firm, fixed, abiding, with us, while the rainbowed Whitmans’ come and go, wind to wind, storm to storm, all by themselves singing of Fame until they pass away, Fall-frogs, ribbit-ing in a pond … while we, Mused by Liberty, protect their multi-colored-keisters from the bad-guys.
Muse Liberty and Muse Democracy create different persons, different things. Muse Calliope created heroes, proud and flawed, lovers of home; Muse Liberty created meritocracy, persons ambitious and kind, lovers of neighbors; Muse Democracy created children, needing and wanting, lovers of themselves; Muse Fame created rainbows, preening and posing, lovers of belonging.
Be careful which Muse you allow to sing into you, each Muse will make of you what it wills, by words, so much as your nature will allow. And, you rainbows, take care: most belongers belong to tyrants, and that ends badly, most often in proscriptions, servitude, blood.
* * *
Here, below, selected, poets who by mused inspiration have sung persons, Periods, Ages into existence:
Hesiod, “Works and Days”
Muses, you who bestow glory through song,
Come, tell of father Zeus and chant his praise;
tell of men great or small, praised or no, as Zeus wills.
Easily he raises up the small,
makes low the great
humbles the proud and brings glory to the humble
easily he makes the crooked straight
blasts the glorious with high thunder from his lofty abode.
As you see and hear
heed me with justice, making judgements straight,
Perseus [brother], I tell of true things.
M. Curtis, trans.
O Muses, O high genius, now assist me!
O memory, that didst write down what I saw,
Here thy nobility shall be manifest!
And I began: “Poet, who guidest me,
Regard my manhood, if it be sufficient,
Ere to the arduous pass thou dost confide me.
Thou sayest, that of Silvius the parent,
While yet corruptible, unto the world
Immortal went, and was there bodily.
H.W. Longfellow, trans.
Ah, a favorite, a Muse who sang into me:
from Robert Herrick’s “The Argument of His Book”
I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,
Of April, May, of June, and July flowers.
I sing of Maypoles, hock carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes.
I write of youth, of love, and have access
By these to sing of cleanly wantonness.
I sing of dews, of rains, and, piece by piece,
Of balm, of oil, of spice, and ambergris.
I sing of times trans-shifting, and I write
How roses first came red and lilies white.
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
The court of Mab and of the fairy king.
I write of hell; I sing (and ever shall)
Of heaven, and hope to have it after all.
Alexander Pope’s Muse, humane, light, lovely,
“The Rape of the Lock: Canto 1”
What dire offence from am’rous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things,
I sing—This verse to Caryl, Muse! is due:
This, ev’n Belinda may vouchsafe to view:
Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,
If she inspire, and he approve my lays.
Say what strange motive, Goddess! could compel
A well-bred lord t’ assault a gentle belle?
O say what stranger cause, yet unexplor’d,
Could make a gentle belle reject a lord?
In tasks so bold, can little men engage,
And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty rage?
Yikes! The Muse of John Milton, puritan-ponderous,
put this last because, if first, you would have read no farther.
From “Paradise Lost: Book I”
OF Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing Heav’nly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed,
In the Beginning how the Heav’ns and Earth
Rose out of Chaos: or if Sion Hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa’s brook that flow’d
Fast by the Oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventrous Song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th’ Aonian Mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime.
And chiefly Thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all Temples th’ upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for Thou know’st; Thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread
Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss
And mad’st it pregnant: What in me is dark
Illumin, what is low raise and support;
That to the highth of this great Argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justifie the wayes of God to men.
Hum… intended not to, even so, well, yet, would like to, no harm done, I would think.
This, a personal invocation recited each morning before beginning a work which is, just-now, in hand.
Dear God: Of all the things that I might ask,
“For wealth, for joy, for fame, for sex” ‘tis best,
I think, that you should give to me the task
To teach, and this, a gift beyond the rest;
To give to each the thing which is most good
To health in thought, in life, as true you would.
* * *
Each Muse muses a different person, a different thing, as we students of man, know.
And what to say:
Was uncertain of sharing these thoughts with you,
until, upon the screen of this computer
“Celebrate Pride Month, Poetry Out Loud National Champion, and more“
Academy of American Poets,
neither poets nor American,
as these things, in truth, should be understood.
* * *
For American Poets,
you might right-click the link, above, or the link, below,
* * *
The lyricist of “Fame”,
Dean Pitchford –
well done, Mister Pitchford,
in your way.
* * *
Yesterday, Memorial Day, 2021,
visited a memorial to Colonel Puller,
in his hometown, West Point, Virginia,
The quotes, below, have been attributed to the Colonel.
“We’re surrounded. That simplifies the problem.”
“Take me to the Brig. I want to see the ‘real’ Marines”.
“You don’t hurt ’em if you don’t hit ’em.”
“Our Country won’t go on forever, if we stay soft as we are now,
there won’t be any AMERICA because some foreign soldiery will invade us
and take our women and breed a hardier race”
“If we run out of ammunition, we’ll go to the bayonet.”
“All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us…
they can’t get away this time”
* * *
the WAR is upon you,
a WAR of WORDS,
a WAR for the WORDS,
for the SOULS of AMERICANS.
Progressives will take your words,
Where once PRIDE
was the strong soldier,
PRIDE is now the lipsticked queer
(witness the illustration at top–
not criticizing, just saying).
If you would keep this thing,
this country, this idea,
you must defend words,
defiantly protect tradition;
the accumulated wisdom of millennia.
If you do not protect tradition,
all which is everything of this place,
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
shall cease to be.
Progressives do not intend
intend change by
commercially, if they can,
violently, if they must.