It was a busy week and I did not do what I said I would do by today, that is, finish the very slim volume, Letters to a Young Poet. I made progress, but I did not come to completion. Other things popped up. I went to work every day, made a potential new friend, went to a National Endowment for the Humanities grant writing workshop in Evanston, saw my wonderful sister, visited a dear college roommate, and sold one small Georg picture. I had a week that included anticipation, disappointment, elation, connection, and melancholy. Each emotion has a story, but I won’t go into that here. Just trust me, I was busy.
I started to ponder the notion of the Muse. Why are the mythical Muses—the goddesses of literature, science, and the arts—all female? If female energy is recognized with authority over all inspiration and knowledge, how did she (meaning Woman) also become relegated to “second place” in Western culture? Is it because men knew they needed some opposite energy to complete themselves? Is it because creation requires both “polarities” in order to occur metaphorically as well as physically? This is really bugging me and I want answers. I think my Muse is not female. Who is this Muse of mine? He must show his face and explain himself. I am in the midst of trying to figure this out. Stay tuned.
And although I did not finish Rilke, I did read a completely different and unexpected book called Divergent. This is a young adult action-thriller about a dystopian future by Veronica Roth. I started it yesterday morning about 8:30 with my coffee and 487 pages later, finished it about 11.30 last night. I took some breaks for mundane things like a hair cut, grocery shopping, house cleaning, making dinner for a friend, etc., but every time I was away from the story, I could not wait to get back to it.
My greatest hope would be to someday write something that would have that effect on people. Not necessarily a hip, dystopian action-thiller, but a text that creates a world and characters and situations that the reader cannot get enough of. This is a tall order and probably cannot happen in the realm of poetry. That is not how poems work. I would have to write a novel and I honestly don’t think I have that in me. Then again, never say never.
And, while I did not finish Letters to a Young Poet, I did get far enough to read something I have read before, in other contexts. It has been rather a guiding principle of my life and while I knew it was from Rilke, I am surprised I did not know it came from this particular book. There is so much I don’t know!
“…be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to live the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
It is 10 a.m. on Sunday morning (we just lost an hour to Daylight Savings Time). I have coffee, a book, and a couch near a window. Time to get reading. I only have about 50 pages of Letters to a Young Poet. And then, I should talk to my Muse, whoever he is, and get to writing. I do have an idea for a story. I’ve had it for years. I’ve just never tried to write it. Maybe today is the day to start.