The Muse

May 25, 2010 by

The Muse
O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
– William Shakespeare, Act 1, Prologue of Henry V

image: Gustave Moreau, Hesiod and the Muse (1891)

So what is the muse? Why is she (and note the use of the feminine) so very important? According to Greek mythology the muse is a daughter of Zeus. Not bad credentials … being descendant from Gods. But who is she and why is she so important to creation?

I was talking about this and the source of inspiration with a dear friend of mine the other day. And what struck me was the allure of being inspired. When inspiration hits, when creativity flows, when you can pull something from the heavens and make it real on earth, it is kinda amazing to watch.

So whatever your muse, whatever you inspirational source is, it should be adored. In fact I think humans are drawn to their muses. The British poet Robert Graves talks about falling in love with the muse:

“No Muse-poet grows conscious of the Muse except by experience of a woman in whom the Goddess is to some degree resident. A Muse-poet falls in love, absolutely, and his true love is for him the embodiment of the Muse…”

I suspect this connection to the muse (to your source of inspiration) is so powerful that you can’t help but become bonded … or as Robert Graves puts it … fall in love.

Maybe the feeling of inspiration flows from the same well as the inspiration of birth. Birthing an idea, birthing a child, birthing art all flow from that moment when you are free to create and are not bound by your mortal coils of limitation (see my limits post).

So I understand why man does it, but what’s in it for the muse?

I think that not only is the artist, the person inspired/changed by touching the muse, but the muse is as well. Both the artist and the muse bond as one and they are both changed. The artist inspired, the muse fulfilled.

So here’s my question: “What inspires you?” Today, what event, place, person, thing inspires you to keep going. Identify it, adore it, express it, and I think you’ll find a muse hiding just beneath the surface.

See you on the wire

— Steven Cardinale

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