27 October 2013

The Muse

File:Illustration at page 201 in Europa's Fairy Book.png
From Europa's fairy book (1916) (New York Public Library, scanned by nicole deyo)
Obtained from
 IA.org: europasfairybook00jaco, via Wikicommons.




Her mask looks back at her from the mirror—
Dark brown dripped-wax and feathers on Papier-
Mâché molded form—she pretends to be
Helen up sky high with her Daddy Zeus.

She wants to reveal how using beauty
To trick and betray is a classic ruse
How cancelled a woman is in the role
Of face: the face that launched a thousand ships.

She sympathizes with Marilyn Monroe
And other beauty queens, McGuffins all
And asks her Helen what she would be if
She could remove her set plot, mask and fate.

Helen, her dark eyes glaring, says:  I'd be
My Own Muse, Oh! the drama you would see!



Inspired by Michael's Mini-Challenge: Masks at IGWRT, and posted for Poets United Poetry Pantry #173.


Copyright © 2013  S.L.Chast





42 comments:

Mary said...

I think many women have historically used their beauty for one purpose or another. I think it would be HARD to be truly 'beautiful' as one must always wonder if you were liked for yourself or your beauty.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

What a very cool poem, and story! I love it. Especially the glowering response at the end.

Vandana Sharma said...

Really want to see what is the result of being one;s own muse

Brian Miller said...

i think we all allow ourselves to be submissive to something....imagine the world if we all felt the freedom to just be ourselves and embrace our own muse and not what society expects of us....

Sumana Roy said...

wow....what a dramatic end....wonderful

Björn said...

What drama.. and Helen can surely update herself...

TALON said...

I love all the references here to the beauty of the female...and how Helen is certain she's beautiful no matter what mask she dons. :) I loved this! Sometimes masks seem more comfortable for some than revealing what lies beneath.

Kathryn said...

Oh to be our own muse, now that would be something wouldn't it.

grapeling said...

this line is quite creative:

"how cancelled a woman is in the role"

and the final couplet is so strongly emotive.

Thank you for sharing to the challenge, Susan ~ M

Kerry O'Connor said...

I love this free form sonnet, Susan, with your nod to the classics and a strong message. This is well done.

Stormcat Poetry said...

Entertaining, I giggled when I read this delightful musing. I think Narcissus was his own muse maybe that's what you have to be to be your own muse.

Ella said...

I love the strength revealed in your couplets~
This line really grabbed me:
"how cancelled a woman is in the role"
Bravo Susan

Gabriella said...

Great exploration of identity and mask, of what we choose to show to others! Helen is certainly an eternal figure.

Susie Clevenger said...

How cancelled a woman is in the role...how true. Great strong commentary on the mask of a woman.

Nataša Dolenc said...

i like how you entwined history into it, and put yourself in her shoes..

Robert Bourne said...

so much is layered in these words...inner conflicts loved the poem and the questions posed...



































































Margaret said...

"And asks her Helen what she would be if" Very intriguing line. Yes, what if we all embraced what we were meant to be.

Jim said...

Thank you Susan ~~ Your portrayal of a woman's true thinking along these lines helps me to understand them better.

"I'd be my own Muse" reminds me of writing. Carrying a pad and pen or pencil helps us to be our own here. I am trying to extend thoughts along these lines for beauty and self importance appreciation. Being an engineer for the first 22 years of my life has developed a "wants this to happen" in life.

Kay L. Davies said...

A woman's dilemma...am I loved for myself? But a lot of it depends on how she sees herself.
Well done, Susan. "It gives me to think"!
K

whimsygizmo said...

How amazing. So much so, that it snuck up on me that this is a sonnet.

Susan said...

Perhaps. I wouldn't know! But women were a medium of exchange between men, so I wouldn't be surprised if they used beauty as they could!

Susan said...

Do you have an external muse?

Susan said...

Sounds like a bit of that here and there, now and then, would be just lovely. We might find a renaissance of art and caring!

Susan said...

Thank you, Sherry.

Susan said...

Thank you, Sumana.

Susan said...

Is she not doomed to keep living the story line she was given?

Susan said...

Interesting point you make. Thank you, Talon. Of course, after being told about and warned about her beauty over and over again, how could she doubt it?

Susan said...

Do you think your writing would change a great deal?

Susan said...

Good challenge! Thank you.

Susan said...

Thank you, Kerry. My own muse.

Susan said...

Maybe. Ha! But couldn't he also have been kind? giving? empathetic?

Susan said...

Thank you, Ella.

Susan said...

More pity her. But I do like thinking about her parts in the myth.

Susan said...

Thank you, Susie.

Susan said...

Thank you, Natasha.

Susan said...

Thank you, Robert.

Susan said...

Thanks, Margaret. I think we poet/artists do somewhat.

Susan said...

I know what you mean. But as you go about it, I hope you honor the engineer in you too!

Susan said...

And then to rest, I hope, and more writing from who you are. Thank you, Kay.

Susan said...

Ha! Thank you, WG. I write lots of sonnets.

Karen said...

Poor Helen. She took all the blame, when after all, who could resist Paris? ;)

Susan said...

That's the truth!