Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Monday, October 15, 2007

Seriously Sick of the Muse

The 19th-century British poet Thomas Hood has a nice little poem in which he expresses weariness with the pressures of writing poetry, with the obligation to be a Serious Poet. The poem, by title, is dedicated to Minerva, Roman goddess/muse of poetry and other arts. The poem also mentions Thyrsis, a singing shepherd in Virgil's poetry, and it alludes to Pallas (Athena), the Greek predecessor of Minerva.

To Minerva

by Thomas Hood

My temples throb, my pulses boil,
I'm sick of Song and Ode and Ballad--
So Thyrsis, take the Midnight Oil,
And pour it on a lobster salad.

By rain is dull, my sight is foul,
I cannot write a verse, or read,--
Then Pallas, take away thine Owl,
And let us have a lark instead.

Thus Hood, on a lark, so to speak, produces an anti-serious-poetry poem.

In honor of Hood and poems written on a lark (to give Minerva a coffee break), a poem that larks about:

Just Between You and Me

I ponder you. You ponder me.
Thus we create a palpable
ponderability,
a kind of interstasis
or interpersonal oasis
that’s both and neither
Other and Self.
Shuck and jive and humming hive,
the twixt between us is alive.


from The Coast Starlight: Collected Poems 1976-2006, Hans Ostrom
Post a Comment