The Muses of our Millenial Poetic Tradition have come for the Millenials

The visit of Tintoretto’s Muses, all 9 of them, prompts me to express my delight at the resurgence of poets, described in the English-speaking press, in the last five and more years. 

 

 

 

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The Nine Muses, and details below, 1578, oil on canvas.

Tintoretto, 1518-1594, Venice, Italy.  Loaned by Queen Elizabeth II to an exhibiton in 2019 at the National Gallery, Washington DC

 

 

 

And particularly at the marked increase in interest in poetry to those under the age of 34.  But not only.

 

 

 

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I hope for them, and for all those working these vineyards, a wild and rich and generous ride equal to the riches of this millenial art form

 

 

 

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itself equal to all the purposes of a well-lived life.

 

 

 from Dreams** 

Wisława Szymborska, 1923-2012, Polish

translated by Clare Cavanaugh and Stanislaugh Baranczak

 

 

 

So what can they tell us, the writers of dream books,

the scholars of oneiric signs and omens,

the doctors with couches for analyses—

if anything fits,

it’s accidental,

and for one reason only,

that in our dreamings,

in their shadowings and gleamings,

in their multiplings, inconceivablings,

in their haphazardings and widescatterings

at times even a clear-cut meaning

may slip through.

 

 

 

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Making sure, myself, to give homage to the Muses,

I know that what appears, sometimes, to our poets as dry spells and to others, sometimes, as a disorderly inebriation of words is nothing more than the Muses

 

 

 

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standing guard in mortal dreams and keeping for themselves choice poetic morsels as homage.

Or maddening the poet for reasons we cannot know……..

 

 

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Offering

  Ursula K. LeGuin

 

 

I made a poem going

to sleep last night, woke

in sunlight, it was clean forgotten.

If it was any good, gods

of the great darkness

where sleep goes and farther

death goes, you not named, 

then as true offering 

accept it.

 

 

 

DSC06427

The Nine Muses, and details above , 1578, oil on canvas. Tintoretto, 1518-1594, Venice, Italy.  Loaned by Queen Elizabeth II to an exhibiton in 2019 at the National Gallery, Washington DC

 

 

 

 

**Dreams 

Wisława Szymborska, 1923-2012, Polish

translated by Clare Cavanaugh and Stanislaugh Baranczak,

published in 2010 in English in Poetry

 

Despite the geologist’ knowledge and craft,

mocking magnets, graphs, and maps—

in a split second the dream

piles before us mountains as stony

as real life.

 

And since mountains, then valleys, plains

with perfect infrastructures.

Without engineers, contractors, workers,

bulldozers, diggers, or supplies—

raging highways, instant bridges,

thickly populated pop-up cities.

Without directors, megaphones, and cameramen—

crowds knowing exactly when to frighten us

and when to vanish.

 

Without architects deft in their craft,

without carpenters, bricklayers, concrete pourers—

on the path a sudden house just like a toy,

and in it vast halls that echo with our steps

and walls constructed out of solid air.

 

Not just the scale, it’s also the precision—

a specific watch, an entire fly,

on the table a cloth with cross-stitched flowers,

a bitten apple with teeth marks.

And we—unlike circus acrobats,

conjurers, wizards, and hypnotists—

can fly unfledged,

we light dark tunnels with our eyes,

we wax eloquent in unknown tongues,

talking not with just anyone, but with the dead.

 

And as a bonus, despite our own freedom,

the choices of our heart, our tastes,

we’re swept away

by amorous yearnings for—

and the alarm clock rings.

 

 

So what can they tell us, the writers of dream books,

the scholars of oneiric signs and omens,

the doctors with couches for analyses—

if anything fits,

it’s accidental,

and for one reason only,

that in our dreamings,

in their shadowings and gleamings,

in their multiplings, inconceivablings,

in their haphazardings and widescatterings

at times even a clear-cut meaning

may slip through.

 

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