The journey of the Odyssey throughout the centuries has been almost as fascinating as that of its protagonist, and its story has reverberated over two millennia, with its themes and structures explored by countless subsequent artists, rendering Homer’s epic a true womb of inspiration and creativity, intertwined with our universal cultural fabric. The invocation of the Muse, featured at the beginning of the poem, is a central element of the Odyssey. Along with being a plea for inspiration, and an effort to guarantee the favour of the inspiring addressee, it is also an innovative structural element as the poet conducts a meta-analysis of his work in revealing the source of his information and entrenching his statements in divine authority. There are countless translations—and indeed, interpretations—of Homer’s invocation to the Muse: from T.E. Lawrence’s ‘Divine Poesy / Goddess-daughter of Zeus, / Sustain for me / This song of the various-minded man’ (1928) to R. Fitzgerald’s ‘Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story / of that man skilled in all ways of contending, / the wanderer, harried for years on end’ (1961), and S. Lombardo’s ‘Speak, Memory – / Of the cunning hero / The wanderer, blown off course time and again’ (2000), readers have an abundance of choice for examining and decoding Homer’s work, and for the inspiration it provides.
The invocation of the Muse is portrayed in Ancient Greek texts as a necessary—and even sufficient—condition for the successful completion of the artistic endeavour.
Beyond the treeless sand-brown hills / —new double-story houses, driveways / holding vans and cars, a thick man
Faster, says my soul, but it is not my soul / Which says it. The soul knows; the brain / is Only an accoutrement.
I made a wreath of leaves, / each leaf a light. / A breathing forest floor. / A flicker knocking.
O! King of time and fortune, / Listen, for I’m losing sanity / In seeing how, to a face sculpted
When Man was not but found in those who lived / And verse was still to sing old reigns and seas, / Some stood on gracious hills of Aegean washed
Approximately ten minutes separated the moment he understood his relationship of almost five years was over, and the moment he found himself sprawled out on his back in the middle of a busy road.
Under morning's glowering sky, / John bends to his visions, washes sails, and stitches, / fights needle through stiff canvas;
Cast a circle, burn the sweetgrass, and raise a cup of wine. / This is prayer of invocation; a call into the darkness / for the long lost gods of yore.
o child, all the chances that you have / to cull these smooth, white days / are fouled by the winds. this is a velocity
They called her Ino, the beauty of Boeotia, mother to Learchus and Melicertes, and daughter of Cadmus of Thebes.
I wouldn’t exactly say that Rawls is my muse. The terminology seems a bit weird and the reader might imagine something quite different—especially given that the context is the stimulus for La Piccioletta Barca magazine’s 28th Issue.
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