Musing and Muses

Vermeer's vision of Clio

I spent a good chunk of my time off with one of those Discover What You’re Best At books. It ended up feeling like quite a waste. It has a series of aptitude tests that you’re supposed to take to give you an idea what sort of career would best suit you.

Not so much of a help, I tested extremely high on logic (not a shock really) and business (!). Mechanical (also a surprise presumably for the visual aspects, I certainly don’t understand how things like cars work outside of in the vaguest of terms…) and social skills came in as close seconds. Basically I got a ‘you’re better than average at anything other than clerical or numerical skills.’ Which seem to be the two most useful skills for entry-level positions. So of course everything suggested was either cutthroat businessy or else requires advanced degrees.

Besides feeling frustrated and no better off, it reminded me of how I feel with a lot of the creative aspects. Somewhere between better than average but not quite enough. So two things: an old poem that still feels as appropriate as ever to me, and a question – how did you end up in the career you have/if you haven’t chosen one yet, how are you going about searching for one?

(a request of the Muses)


Crystal to water.
Pearl to milk.
Gold to honey.

May it please the muses…
(for they are judges,
as much as anything else)

Gone from the hills of Greece,
Ashes from an offering long cold.

From high-rise to desert dune,
Or a pasture between…

Hear me.

Yes, yes,
One more supplicant, sniveling on
(as least I don’t dress the role).

I beg for a sign of good will,
Help me. Or free me.

Lady of open books,
and mother of my major.
Give me a mind to read the past,
and a key to lock it in.
Let it prosper in me.
Let me prosper in it.
Or let me forget.

Help me to write,
to really really write,
epics of grace and aching beauty.
(And most importantly, with plot!)
Teach me,
or teach me to put down my pen
and keep my peace.

Let my words blend
beauty and conciseness.
(And shun the cliché!)
Let my poetry be pristine,
high and clear as your flute.
or let it not be.

Help me to write truly,
in notes that can be heard and felt.
Thought and depth in tiny movements.
Let me write like playing the lyre.
Keep my words grounded,
or let them fly away.

Let me render heart and soul,
and earn tears, true tears, not my own.
(As even I know that tears of
frustration count for nothing.)
Let me open a vein,
and let the right words come.
Or clot them.

Help me write
with warmth,
and passion,
and not out of rote.
Keep me awake with love of art,
not despair.
Let me keep my own voice,
and seek not to mimic.
Or let the pale imitation fade away.

They say the sky’s the limit
but it’s hard to breathe up there.
Let me judge reasonably,
and know when enough is enough.
Let me enjoy the stars
and not try to be one.

Comedy is not my best…
But let snideness be a virtue,
And sarcasm pointed, but not poisoned.
(Let them call me brilliant, not bitch.)

Coordination is none of mine,
What could I ask of you?
Lend me grace,
(not to dance, that would be too much!)
But give me the grace to give in and give up,
To walk away with a straight back
and not to mourn.

And to whatever modest muse
cares for the humbler arts,
I beg the same of you.
Give me your gifts in full,
some talent to pursue,
or take your half-given gifts back.
And leave me some peace.

I ask for help.


Answer me!


Crystal to water.
Pearl to milk.
Gold to honey.

Hear me.
Help me.
Or set me free.

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Filed under Poetry

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