Tonight, out on the lash, I was given to recall a boy I knew once, who considered himself a poet. I should be less harsh. He was not the world’s best poet, but there are worse born everyday.
When he was younger and more impressionable, the poet wrote a long poem for a girl he hardly knew. It gave him great freedom, for it emptied him of the girl, and all that he thought he could be to that girl.
Leaving his poem as a placeholder, he carried on, his heart light, because what human love could have matched the crystalline beauty he had left in tribute? Why would he leave lesser organic smears where he had once poured himself into something which shone like the small stars, a token which, it seemed to him, would do him credit by outlasting him?
I consider the question then of what illusions muses wreck on those who are the best among us, the highest, the artists who burn to give every grey and fleshy dream of ours a tongue.
Van Morrison - Beside You - 1968
Angry, I want to argue - Go to sleep, poet; your muse is not worth your while. She comes greasy and impure, mordant and full of bile. Every swipe of her tongue betrays her. Every turn of her head shows her eyes cold and calculating. Beauty is strewn by the gods across the earth like seed for pigeons. It is picked up by those who deserve it least, and treasured the most by those who have the least of it.
But, maybe that is the miracle of art- that it can immortalize spoilt teenage brats, squalling infants, falling tyrants; that it can distill them all into something eternal and empyrean. Then, it is essential that you not sleep. Stay drunk, poet, so that you can lie about every halfwit girl you meet, so that you can spin a yarn about every two-bit crook on the street, every deceiver, every stumbling laughing child. Stay enchanted, stay gullible. The truth is too poor and the lie too necessary.