Monday, November 03, 2008

Musing on the Muse

I've been having a thought (see comment in box below previous post) about the muse. Mine's definitely a male figure, but poets in the past of the male variety have had a predilection towards the female Muse. I'm thinking Robert Graves writer of The White Goddess (and much else besides) and his muse was, for a while, Laura Riding.

The concept of the muse for the poet (or writer) is certainly nothing novel. Coming from Greek myths and legends, the muses number nine and you'll find plenty of references to them in names being used for all sorts of things.

My dictionary of etymology relates muse to muzzle: the image of a dog scenting the air when in doubt as to the scent. And there's the thing. Sometimes you're thinking about something (or nothing at all) and an idea pops into your head. You decide it will make a good poem, but you don't know the outcome. Finding the outcome is why you write the poem/short story/novel. It's how we all work.

That dictionary also relates muse to mosiac work; originally from the Latin and Gk, mosaic work literally belonged to the muses... so does museum; lit, a temple to the muses. How we piece our work together slowly and painstakingly.

So, if my muse is male and unkempt, a bit hairy and um... very male... what's your's like? Or could you be arsed to have one. They're terribly hard to keep going...

8 comments:

Kay said...

It's certainly a question that fascinates me but I have yet to decide if I have a Muse or not ... maybe I need one these days. If I did have one it would be male and taciturn ... that's about as far as I can imagine. Except to ask, how do you go about getting a Muse - channelling? conjuring? imagining? ordering? Hmmmm ...

david mcmahon said...

Thank goodness for our Muses.

BarbaraS said...

Ah, the thing is Kay, I don't see the muse head on - more out of the peripheries of my eyes. A bit like seeing in the dark. You look beside where you want to look in order to see better.

yes, David, thank goodness ;)

Colin Will said...

I may have mentioned it before, but my muse tends to be: a deadline.

BarbaraS said...

Nice and practical, Colin. I like it!

apprentice said...

I think mine is a bit of a stroppy girl, like the tomboy in Fried Green Tomatoes. Someone who watches and closely observes and then vanishs in the mist.

Jane Holland said...

My Muse is nearly always female. And elusive. Much better than me at everything, except pining.

There was a radio prog. last year, or the year before, on Female Poets and the Male Muse. I seem to recall that Clare Pollard was on it, and various other well-known poetry bods.

I suppose when I'm influenced by male poets, that's a form of male muse. But the poems that come from that place don't always ring true. Inauthentic, somehow.

BarbaraS said...

Different guises for different folks; that's the variety there is in all people. Thanks for the additional comments, A and Jane; more to muse over :)