Category Archives: The Race of Myths

Homer and Calliope

I call upon My Muse:
Please let me sing your glory,
But this time, I would like to hear your story.
Tell me about the Bard, I ask, the blind one,
The first true poet. Tell me the tale
Of how he found his fame and lost his sight for you.
He would be the greatest poet ever seen,
The earliest poet ever remembered
(past maybe the fifth generation).
What made him so special?
What made you love him so much?
Was it his qualities? Was it his poise?
Did you take pleasure in his bearing?
Was it some glint in his eye that proved his devotion to you?
Is that how we seduce the Muse?
Or was it his discipline?

That Homer must have been a fine young fellow,
A smart young lad,
To assemble all those verses, those stories, from bits and scraps.
Who was he? Was he even Greek
Or a captive barbarian with an adopted tongue
Taken from his old world to the new across the sea,
That sea that he said looked the color of wine.
When did you find him? As a boy?
Precocious and at odds with his tutors?
Or as a man? At court? Or in the streets?
What were your first thoughts when you saw him?
When you heard him speak?
Did you hate him at first, like in the modern love stories?
Or did you choose him before he even knew himself?

And did he always love you?
Did you come to him in a moment of blinding revelation
To knock him on his back?
Or did he come to you, sculpting your pedestal with his words,
And sacrifice himself upon your altar?
How long did it take him to woo you
Before you succumbed to his words?
And when you did, how blessed was the night?

But you were no blushing bride even to Homer, were you?
No, you were already married.
What did your husband think when Homer caught your eye?
Has Apollo the jealousy of his stepmother?
Did he gnash his teeth? Foam at the mouth?
Or was he dismissive of this mortal’s advances?
Was to him Homer’s impending renown the stuff of mere legends
Whereas He was a living Myth?
What were his words?
How long did it take him to show his wrath?
How long did it take Homer to feel it?

Did he know the doom that awaited?
He must have–but did he even know who you were?
Were you revealed to him?
Did you warn him of what was in store?
Had you no share in your husband’s gift of Prophecy,
Or did He keep it from you?
Still, you must have known the danger.
Did you come to the bard disguised?
As a swan? As a laurel tree?
Or perhaps as a human girl, a woman for him to fall in love with?
Then how could he have known?
What would you have shown him?
What would he have felt?

For the doom that awaited could not have waited long.
What did Apollo do when he knew himself cuckold?
How long did he wait? Did he strike at once
With heavenly fire
This insect who would steal from the sun?
Or did he first seek to prove himself,
As Pallas with the spider at the loom,
In a contest for his own wife’s heart?
And would the Muse still choose him?
Would you have chosen him over your mortal pet? Having done that?

But maybe this isn’t how it went at all.
Maybe you only came to Homer in dreams,
As a voice in his head, as a whisper in his brain
When he sang for his supper and posterity.
Maybe Homer was only said to be blind
Because he called the sea dark like wine
Because he lacked the words, the language, to describe it
To the satisfaction of the ages.
But that is not your story.

Homer loved you so well, Homer loved you so deeply
That he shamed the God of Light with his words,
And so he was plunged into darkness.
But did he forget there’s no drowning a voice in the silence?
Did he not know, not foresee, that darkness only makes a voice louder,
Only makes a heart more full of its own light, of its own brilliance,
So he had elevated his rival with a very seat on Olympos
Alongside the Gods in perpetuity.
Could he not have known? Perhaps he, too, loved the Blind Bard,
Perhaps even long before you did, and fostered him for you,
To be sacrificed on the altar of narrative art.

But that is for you to decide.
Because this is your story.