Glancing Back

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, The Muse History, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Coy Clio,
with half-smile and backward glance,
her stance unsecured–
she balances time and chance.
Reflected in the glass,
her image wavers, not quite straight,
always moving, she knocks down Fate.
She leaves her scent in dusty tombs,
and book-filled rooms, and there within
a musty cell, a faded ledger in a bin.
There are cries from eras long forgotten,
she sighs through silk and ships of cotton,
whispers through graveyards and dockets, ill-gotten
gains and weathered remains of centuries, unexplained.
Ask her for enlightenment, not for glory,
still she replies there are many untold stories–
look at the monuments, partly erased, salted
and wind-kissed, the lines spaced
unevenly in past’s embrace.
And here, a doll, a letter, a locket
that falls from a red-splattered pocket—
love and connections, a mystery,
blood-drenched fields, the history.

This is in response to Ingrid’s dVerse prompt this week to write a poem invoking a muse. Some of you know I have a history book chapter that I need to finish writing (like now), so perhaps a poem about Clio, the muse of history will help. I’m posting this for today’s dVerse Live Open Link Night.

45 thoughts on “Glancing Back

  1. I love, love, love this. The way you evoke imagery is amazing, vibrant, and beautiful. This just blew me away. 😀 My mind is still reeling in from this. Hang on, please stand by.

    I really loved these few lines:

    “She leaves her scent in dusty tombs,
    and book-filled rooms, and there within
    a musty cell, a faded ledger in a bin.
    There are cries from eras long forgotten…”

    I also did not notice the rhyme scheme until looking back. Somehow that’s when I know that I was really into a poem if I didn’t notice it rhymed at first or had a rhyme scheme, hahaha. This is very well written and beautiful. Hopefully, the muse of history helps you finish your history book chapter too. 🙂 All the best.

    • I so love your exuberant praise, Lucy. Thank you so much! I can’t ask for much more than to leave you reeling, and I’m so pleased the rhyme was subtle.
      Yes, I’m facing a deadline, so it will get done,
      but I prefer writing poetry. 😀

  2. HOW do you do this? A deep deep poem that I’ve read several times. I never knew about Clio the history muse. I’m guessing Clio is quite pleased and will help you finish that chapter.

  3. This is incredibly gorgeous, Merril! The tone, the language, the pacing that lends to glimpse of Clio is skillfully woven in this poem 😀 This particular bit stood out for me; “There are cries from eras long forgotten, she sighs through silk and ships of cotton, whispers through graveyards and dockets, ill-gotten gains and weathered remains of centuries, unexplained.”💝💝

  4. An excellent piece, tight, taunt, and rife with nostalgia and history..History the mother, mistress, teacher and herald, too often unheard, unseen, forgotten, pushed aside.

  5. Yes, the “enlightenment / not glory” line is outstanding re what we should ask of Clio, but the whole damn poem rocks, Merril. I bow.

  6. For me, it’s the small, everyday objects that bring history to life:
    ‘a musty cell, a faded ledger in a bin.’ I love that you wrote this poem to the muse of history. I hope it inspired you to finish your book chapter 🙂

  7. I love how you’ve personified history through the metaphor of Clio. Aside from enjoying how well-crafted the poem is, I’m thinking that if anyone wants to understand the study of history, as well as our relationship to history, they should just read this poem. It will tell them everything they need to know.

  8. So many stories left to tell… I love your poem…
    She leaves her scent in dusty tombs,
    and book-filled rooms, and there within
    a musty cell, a faded ledger in a bin.

    It will be much easier to erase history in the digital world!

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