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The Poet and The Muse by Adelere Adesina


He is known to write
as he's done his rite:
he will letter not
than the altar's sought.

In my experience, the poet is—like every other artist—first, a newly born baby; then, an infant growing and learning about the environment; then, a child with milk in its teeth; then, a teenager whose heart is far cleverer than his elders, whose heart yearns for their understanding, but never seems to want to understand; then, an adult, left alone to take care of themselves. In my experience, the baby is subject to several manipulations of the understanding of its environment; hence, it cannot learn beyond the limits of the environment—but the adult can just learn and learn till he sees there is more to the lore of his ancestors than is said to or known by him. In my experience, the tender poet writes with extreme care, with strict strictures laid by men of good heart, who honestly want them to grow. However, it happens that when this poet turns a teenager, he screams, _Freedom_—and painfully finds something is dying in him, as is in felt in the teenager, his muse. This is when he comes to self-awareness, to the knowledge of writing something for something. Does a baby know why it has to learn the language? Does not a teenager know why they have to learn the grammar? The story of the poet and the muse at this time—if I duty myself to tell all of it—is an unending turmoil, one that consumes more attention and life of the poet than the brain does the amount of food taken in. This I cannot plunge into now, for time and space. Nevertheless, I can very well plunge into — in fact, dive to the depths, if you will require me to—the fact the teenager should know to prepare himself/herself for adulthood.

The poet is you, I know you know. The poet is you who write a poem about something, and in a style: love, hate, war, peace, friendship, enmity, light, darkness, nature, fantasy; elegy, eulogy, lyric, ballad, ode, etc. You have done this — you can bear testimony to — several times in an excruciating manner. There have been those days you spend hours constructing a poem — to make it express your feelings and dance, at the same time, to both rhyme and rhythm — days you reread some parts of your works and removed words; no, lines; no, verses — replacing them with seemingly better ones. The same poet who spent hours making a poem up — well, honestly, so the world may praise you and so your message may pass to them — is now worried about his loss of energy, of some inner energy and passion to write. This is just the end of the child you are. This wonderful poet now starts to look for a way out. He reads a couple more of rules to follow when writing, a few more of guides, a little more of others' poetry. Painfully, the painstaking effort to get his self to write as terrifically as he used to seems to be in vain. O dear! It appears poetry is leaving you. You then come across the word 'muse'. You are made to believe this means the source of your inspiration such as life, love, family, friends, philosophy, culture, society, etc. Phew! You seem relieved that you can now always write in line with your muse — eureka! This is the way a teenager — I believe you know — reasons and makes such mistakes.

Oops! Did I just say mistakes? Yes. Why, after a while, you start to fall and fail again. You then go very bitter like a frustrated teenager—bad news is frustrated teenagers naturally make (except for, well, certain exceptionalness that may cause a little adjustment) frustrated, troubled and perplexed adults. Frustrated poets later come to make confused, vastly stereotypic poets and, pitifully, most times, critics, editors and judges who tend to mislead the coming generation, their new babies.

The mistake lies not in identifying that the muse is a part of the poetry, but in being made to identify the wrong muse.

Just think — if you have written about love and hate and war and everything else done before coming to know anything about the muse, what happened to the muse then? Was the muse, say love, very volatile — and unsure of itself — that it changed one night and allowed you to write the beautiful piece about war and hate? Let us examine it this way: assume you are a poet whose inspiration is love; assume you are a poet whose inspiration is war; assume you are a poet whose inspiration is religion; assume you are a poet whose inspiration is society. In all of the assumptions, only one has not changed. This is the very muse. Experiencing a lot of changes, but itself not changing — itself only adapting to the environment, to the weather of its environment.

Let us put apart the veil and see what has been meant so far. In all of the assumptions, 'you' did not, have not, will not, and can not change. You are the centre of your poetry. The muse is you. When you realise you can make yourself see both love and hate in the same, you have found the constant, the muse, you. Think yourself into a man staring at the blue sky from the dawn of a day till the dawn of the other: the sky was grey in your presence; it turned blue in your presence; it turned grey again in your presence; while you remained watching, the sun came and went; remaining there, the moon came and went. How — if you did not think of the sun as ever staying ever with you — would you not be able to write about the sun and the moon?

At the start of this text, I have written a poem about the poet and his muse. The poet is known to write as he has performed his rite: and you write as you have perceived your source and if you have perceived your source well. This poet — certainly you — will not dimension beyond the limit, the thirst, of the source. To understand quite well, put in the place of muse, your inspiration, Muse, a goddess of art and literature in ancient Greece and Rome. To stand quite well, put in the place of Muse, the goddess, MUSE, the pen who pens the penned in poetry.

I nearly forget to tell you: in their etymology, the words 'poet’, ‘poetry' and 'poesy' are from root words that primarily mean 'creator' (or 'maker'), 'creation' and 'creation' respectively. The word 'poem' comes from the same root word, but varies in that it is 'created'. Now, YOU are the creator of the created. YOU determine the soil to use in the creation — not the soil nor the creation determines you.

Now, what's your muse?


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Allah has answered the prayer of the weaker animals
None think that you will survive such attack
By those big lions
For whatever they chase,
They make sure is no longer breathing
on earth
You are a rabbit that survived harassments by
Those dark dogs
Inside that forest
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It is the protection of Allah
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Of which some are weak
While some are strong
The weak is always threaten by the strong
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With one another


Muhammad Auwal Ibrahim is a young Nigerian writer, playwright and poet. He was born in the year 2001. He attended Gombe Children School for his nursery and primary school education. He is a final year student at Gombe High School. He is a member of Poets In Nigeria, Gombe Connect Center. Some of his works have been published in Tuck online magazine. He started writing at sixteen. He believes that writing will bring change in o…