Monday, July 19, 2010
~~~Emily Dickinson Poem A Day Plus~~~"Baffled for just a day or two —"17/1775
ERATOS (ANCIENT GREEK MUSE OF LYRIC POETRY 2c Roman sculpture)
CALLIOPE (ANCIENT GREEK MUSE OF EPIC POETRY)
"Baffled for just a day or two —" by Emily Dickinson
"Baffled for just a day or two —
Embarrassed — not afraid —
Encounter in my garden
An unexpected Maid.
She beckons, and the woods start —
She nods, and all begin —
Surely, such a country
I was never in!"
Well this is a stumper! Who is the "unexpected Maid" in Emily Dickinson's garden? Something, that maybe employed in the domestic services that probably is not human. Something which may be either plant or animal. I am thinking here, that this "maid" may be something that could be akin to, (I am pulling at strings here; please chip in when you want)it could be, yes, indeed, the Muses? Could the "unexpected Maid" be one of the seven oops nine Greek Muses (in particular I will go forehence to find out on Wikipedia). From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia...but hold on; from now I will kindly put all my significant references far below my preamble. Thank-you! I can get smitten with loads of data and I suppose you can too, and maybe not as appreciative of the dreary reams of papyrus here! Ok I leave off, on with the show!
I have found there are an awful lot of Muses of every kind and category imaginable! And of all different types and cultures. So to specify a "unexpected Maid" it could refer to Nature beckoning Emily and this particular Muse would be called Mother? Or Gaia? Was Emily indeed taking her Mother in the woods for a walk and decided to wax poetic? Or was it her best friend "Sue Dickinson nee Gilbert" who is now a "Maid", married to Emily's brother?
Nonetheless we are abit of a connundrum when we are trying to decipher Emily's poems. I am certain that if you do in fact know the backstory you will think me naive (what else is new?). I am only trying to make the point that there could be multiple meanings, for Emily's work, done, perhaps deliberately. And then again, there may be only one prevailing meaning with other lesser meanings surrounding the periphere. So here it is; Emily is dreaming again, thinking like Isadora Duncan the prima ballerina or Sarah Bernhardt (Emily's contemporary) being dramatic with ancient Grecian flare.
"she beckons, the woods start"
There must be a term for the above literary device! Which eludes me at this time; I think it may be(I made this up) "Psuedo Synomyomus" use of a word which sounds "sort of like" another word in a synomous way, but it is not exactly the same sound, but gives a sneaky reference to the other word as in this example. Emily made this meme! I have noticed that Emily employs this "yet to be named literary device" (unless you could please tell me this device's name?). To be further studied here! (obviously!) :()
In literature Emily Dickinson's advanced muse reference may be from her love of Shakespeare who quoted below loved to fancy the Muse in odd places (and many other things as well I am sure of this!);As if nine muses were not enough, there is a need of a tenth? I can see this! There is probably need for many more muses, maybe I will make up some more muses when I see fit or I have a fit! This is so much INFORMATION!
Shakespeare's Sonnet 38 invokes the Tenth Muse:[
"How can my Muse want subject to invent,
While thou dost breathe, that pour'st into my verse
Thine own sweet argument?"
"Be thou the tenth Muse, ten times more in worth
Than those old nine which rhymers invocate."
from William Shakespeare sestet
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of references to Muses in poems by famous poets that had inspired Emily Dickinson. As to her exact inspirational source, direct Greek literature undoubtedly played a significant role and perhaps the Romantic poets of her day. I would suggest more of an academic tendency for direct inspiration from Emily's intense Greek studies at Amherst College, MA. Let's go to Wikipedia and consider the mysterious 10th muse prescribed by Plato (the famous Ancient Greece philosopher);
"The "tenth Muse"
The archaic poet Sappho of Lesbos was given the compliment of being called "the tenth Muse" by Plato. The phrase has become a somewhat conventional compliment paid to female poets since. In Callimachus' "Aetia", the poet refers to Queen Berenike, wife of Ptolemy II, as a "Tenth Muse", dedicating both the 'Coma Berenikes' and the 'Victoria Berenikes' in Books III-IV. French critics have acclaimed a series of dixième Muses who were noted by William Rose Benet in The Reader's Encyclopedia (1948): Marie Lejars de Gournay (1566–1645), Antoinette Deshoulières (1633–1694), Madeleine de Scudéry (1607–1701), and Delphine Gay (1804–1855).
Anne Bradstreet, a Puritan poet of New England, was honored with this title after the publication of her poems in London in 1650, in a volume titled by the publisher as The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America. This also was the first volume of American poetry ever published.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a Mexican poet, is well known in the Spanish literary world as the tenth Muse.
Gabriele d'Annunzio's 1920 Constitution for the Free State of Fiume was based on the nine Muses and invoked Energeia (energy) as "the tenth Muse". In 1924, Karol Irzykowski published a monograph on cinematography entitled "The Tenth Muse" ("Dziesiąta muza"). Analyzing silent film, he pronounced his definition of cinema: "It is the visibility of man's interaction with reality".
In The Tenth Muse: A historical study of the opera libretto Patrick J. Smith implicitly suggests that the libretto be considered as the tenth muse. The claim, if made explicit, is that the relation of word and music as constituted by the libretto is not only of significant import, but that the critical appreciation of that relation constitutes a crucial element in the understanding of opera.
Is Emily saying "she beckons, the 'words' start". Infering the fact that the Muse of the Woods or Mother Gaia Earth or Mother Gaia muse as Sue Dickinson nee Gilbert invokes the poetry muse named: Calliope. The Muse of Epic Poetry or Erato the Muse of Lyric Poetry and Song (thus the Lyre; a string instrument; makes me want to take up guitar all over again!)
Wonders why Emily did not mention this name; maybe due to the fact Emily is trying to incorporate the her personalized world in Amherst MA with the world stage of erudite literatae. There is a huge gap in this understanding as how Emily humbly accepts her humble surrounds and uses her surrounds as a direct source and inspiration for her poetry.
Somethings that appear simple or objects that appear smaller maybe looming larger in Emily Dickinson's poems. So few words, so much possible reference and inference. Please continue reading the PoemADay series and enjoy the unravelling of the Emily Dickinson poetic mysteries! This gives me an idea (yah, I know, it's been done!).
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Emblems of the Muses
Muse Domain Emblem
Calliope Epic poetry Writing tablet
Clio History Scrolls
Erato Lyric poetry Cithara (an ancient Greek musical instrument in the lyre family)
Euterpe Music Aulos (an ancient Greek musical instrument)
Melpomene Tragedy Tragic mask
Polyhymnia Choral poetry Veil
Terpsichore Dance Lyre
Thalia Comedy Comic mask
Urania Astronomy Globe and compass
Please enjoy some further studies in the classic perusage of the Muse in poetic history; the great writers/poets of fame;
Homer, in Book I of The Odyssey:
"Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy." (Robert Fagles translation, 1996)
Virgil, in Book I of the Aeneid:
O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate;
What goddess was provok'd, and whence her hate;
For what offense the Queen of Heav'n began
To persecute so brave, so just a man; [...]
(John Dryden translation, 1697)
Catullus, in Carmen I:
"And so, have them for yourself, whatever kind of book it is,
and whatever sort, oh patron Muse
let it last for more than one generation, eternally."
(Student translation, 2007)
Dante Alighieri, in Canto II of The Inferno:
O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!
O memory that engraved the things I saw,
Here shall your worth be manifest to all!
(Anthony Esolen translation, 2002)
John Milton, opening of Book 1 of Paradise Lost:
Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse, [...]
William Shakespeare, Act 1, Prologue of Henry V:
Chorus: 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!
Geoffrey Chaucer, in Book II of Troilus and Criseyde:
O lady myn, that called art Cleo,
Thow be my speed fro this forth, and my Muse,
To ryme wel this book til I haue do;
Me nedeth here noon othere art to vse.
ffor-whi to euery louere I me excuse
That of no sentement I this endite,
But out of Latyn in my tonge it write.
Chiccoreal aka logb aka Jane Jones aka Virginia Whitley (when the Muse is really bangon!)
Muse Offering "On Emily's Wings"
Oh wither go the Muse
That plagues my earthen mire
desiring that which snares
bares forth no fruit
brings back that
afear not the dreaded
That did dieth
upon my tableau
below dungeons and dragons lair
seeking that which appears not
to surface as soon as it ought
go into the heaven'ly domains
Find the capture time
to tame the Spirit
dusting off the carapace
(I knew I'd use this word, somewhere, sometime...again!)
O' Heav'n and Earth
dipping low this
The drinking gourd
gives birth in Virgo
as Leo contemplates
the next place
sup to devour
in the glimmering starlight
a poem sent
from Heav'n above
The Poet's Muse
The Lyrics' wood
Her scullery Maid?
Made good word.
Addendum: I just thought of something else; Emily Dickinson was going through a dry phase and all she had to do was walk through the woods and viola! Words flowed like the (name river here)rivers of MA. Indeedy! Yes! What do we call this? An artists dry spell? Any other names for this; (sure there are hundreds just got to do the domestic scene so cant spend all day on this if you)My dry spell wants to go to the desert and do some art as per Georgia O'Keefe or something like that...yah, It is more than a seven year itch for the now 10 muses! Wonders if old dead poets become muses unbeknownst? Anyone belief in reincarnation out there? Apparently there were some mention of it in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Slump? Anyone? Sapless Time; Eclipse, Blanky Blank? Doldrum disease? Dangnabit! Phaseneutral? Duhsville Time? Clanging Bell at Night Keeping YOu Up All Night, All Nighters, I've Got A Headache, MungyFinger Disease...Oh this is just getting silly! Ciao!
The Muses Clio, Euterpe, and Thalia, by Eustache Le Sueur courtesy Wikipedia.com re Muses