The Muse gets a bad press:
I am not referring like Plato to Sappho, or Ann Bradstreet – The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America as she was called in the first volume of American poetry, but Chance.
According to the Greeks, the Muses were inspirational beings:
- Clio, history,
- Calliope, epic poetry,
- Euterpe, music,
- Melpomene, tragedy,
- Polymnia, sacred song,
- Terpsichore, choral song and dance.
- Thalia, bucolic poetry,
- Urania, astronomy,
- Erato, erotic poetry
Wonderful names and a surprising set of disciplines you need inspiration for. I do have a soft spot for female embodiments of concepts. The thought that ideas can be beautiful and feminine seems both true and powerful.
Though why not male Muses? Perhaps they would be like the daemons in Philip Pullman’s The Northern Lights – the opposite gender to the person they enthused? I wonder what other Muses there might be nowadays.
Chance is the Tenth Muse
Sadly I don’t recall who said that. I think it is a translation – probably Spanish and possibly a Surrealist. I think it was at West Dean that I heard it.
At any rate, for me there is a great dollop of truth in there. Not just that things come together in curious, unexpected ways – but that you must listen to the inner voice telling you so. Now it’s up to to you whether that spirit, anima, genius is a concept or a reality – but whatever your view, tuning into that moment of serendipity is essential for all creators. As Horace Walpole, originator of the word ‘serendipity’ asserted, an individual needs to be sagacious enough to link together apparently unrelated facts to make a valuable conclusion – whilst in pursuit of something else.
Our current world has so many possibilities for making strange, unexpected and wonderful links between things – and so much distracting us all from doing so.
Just occasionally,I am sufficiently ‘relaxed yet alert’ (David Almond’s phrase) to allow such connections to take place. My writing benefits enormously. But I do have to be on my way, but not anxious and blinkered.
How about you, dear reader? Does the Tenth Muse visit you? Do you discover accidental inspiration on your route to something else?
I’d love to know.