Now We Are Ten

NINE Muses sulk, their social work diminished,
Now that the tenth Muse comes; her house is finished,
With sewers, pipes and heating all complete,
Down at the bottom of the Muses’ street;
Kraft Ebbing did her kitchen, Freud her study,
A mystic rose in dressing room is ruddy,
While Havelock Ellis, read or left unread,
Presides the guardian genius of the bed;
French windows from the public rooms escape
Into the garden, which is every shape,
Discreetly hedged (with gaps for peeping through),
And paved with crazy paving old and new;
Mendelian flowers their choicest tints begin
To mix, the gardeners watering them with gin;
Sweetly they blush, all Helicon is blush,
The nightingales gape tongue-tied into hush,
Satyrs crowd round, soft nymphs awake from slumber,
And Country Life prepares a special number.
And here the friends of Helicon unite
For the housewarming; they are loud tonight.
Declaiming each his own, with none to hear,
The poets of the present day appear,
All in their order, busy at the bar —
Anthologies will tell you who they are:
Old Tories, hounded out of home and metre,
Dreaming of spacious days when song was sweeter;
Surviving Georgians, conscious of old worth,
Still comforted by clods of English earth,
Prescribing for all kinds of present ills
Mother Earth, Mother Sea and Mothersills;
Columbia’s woodnotes, Pound and Robert Frost
And E St V Millay (Love’s Labour’s Lost);
The static images of Imagists
Carved full of form, but let him read who lists;
The wise old rebels who would like to be
Reborn or die, but how they cannot see;
And those who travel down the path to Rome,
Russia, Vienna, any place but home,
Castles in Kafka, Innisfree or Spain,
Byzantium, Samarkand, New Hampshire, Maine;
Lawrence from Taos, all who tell of Lawrence
Tepid with unpremeditated torrents;
The Shropshire Lads, the Sussex lads (with beer)
Escape, traumatic complex, all are here,
The Lady Precious Stream of consciousness,
The Trobriand Islanders, Los Angeles,
The good, the even better, and the poet,
The bad, the worse, and those who still don’t know it;
Even the poets of the people go
Speaking for once a tongue the people know,
Elliptically they move, a social band
Taking the golden road from the Waste land;
Good-bye to cactus, now they sing of fat
Potatoes for the proletariat,
Though some of them on cactus thorns still sit
With private fun buoyed up (they publish it);
Last but not least, though often on the shelf,
An author whom I like to read, myself;
But all alike are happy, old and young
Of every shade, all to one song give tongue;
About themselves all sing; the song is hearty
And fitting at a literary party.
But look, her sulking over, every Muse
Comes to the party and is in the news:
Now Clio poses for the March of Time;
Thalia giggles, every laugh a dime;
Euterpe whistles little solo whims
On her tin whistles; Polyhymnia hymns;
Wanting to dance, the maid Terpsichore
Gathers her stags, hangs up her harp on hickory;
Urania dances relatively well,
Not better, for her many light-years tell;
Only Calliope is sad, her song
Once epic now is merely much too long;
But, if you want a sublimation, see
The once cathartic Muse Melpomene —
Lonely she sings, the youths prefer to go
Dancing and making love with Erato,
Who dressed in misty blue remotely shows
The tenth Muse taught her most of what she knows.
Enough: the mistress comes — Now we are ten.
She is the queen of Muses and of men,
Of public and of private prose or verse
The only judge, for better or for worse;
Narcissus leads her home, and on the air
Echo announces her beyond compare;
Beyond description are her dress and looks —
Better to drink her health and burn our books.
The Nine bow stunned, then rise and sing her on,
Psychology is come to Helicon.