Overflow & Commitment
There is an old proverb, legislator, which we poets
never tire of telling and which all laymen confirm,
to the effect that when a poet takes his seat at
the tripod of the Muse, he cannot control his thoughts.
He’s like a fountain where the water is allowed
to gush forth unchecked. –Plato, Laws IV.
The truth is the muse is often fickle.
She likes to be wooed.
Sometimes she wants to be tickled,
On other days, she is rude just to
Start a quarrel that ends in a kiss.
You scribble a line, but she
Wants to hear it oral, recited with
A twist of the tongue. Or she may
Want it sung with full lungs, before
She will bestow a laurel for your crown.
If you try to force it, you will only
Make her frown and bring yourself
A world of woe. Courting her
Requires daily discipline, attention
To form, detail, and apprehensions.
Then, the slow hard work accumulates
Into the occasional grace of inspiration:
The poem that seems to spring from
Nowhere, fully-formed and articulate,
An omnipotent storm of exaltation.
And then it flows like a fountain-
And you are drenched in words
You composed but don’t know how
You did it. But the muse knows
Where water goes—it’s all about
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