In November (or possibly late October), I wrote this poem to offer to the Gods while doing exercises to improve my grasp of formal poetic meter and rhyme — sitting down at my dining table, noise-cancelling headphones filled with ethereal meditative cello music by the artist The Wong Janice.
I was reminded in passing, through a lucky ambient encounter with some words online, that things we offer to the Gods are theirs. It made me realize that I had been reluctant to share this because this prayer is personal, with limited utility beyond my own person; it wouldn’t be appropriate to profit from it in any way even though I’m working on two more religious poetry collections simultaneously. One collection has a narrower theme that is playfully looking at modern cosmology/astronomy and Platonism, and the other one is broader, but more focused on personal verses and reflections that occur to me while praying. I seed many poems from transient verses and concepts that occur to me while praying. When I pound them out from the raw, I’m always amazed at how keenly the polished, developed verses, even simple ones, express what I had previously struggled to put into words. It makes me notice, in gratitude and love, just how interwoven we are with the Gods, and the words from the end of one of Proclus’ Republic essays about Apollon and poetry hum in the back of my mind as a grounding point for that fondness.
Enough of that. Here’s the offered poem. Again, it is playing with formal meter and rhyme, with some unrhymed final lines to create tension and novelty. I backed myself into a little rhyming corner in one pair (see the glissade bit, lol), but the result was pleasing overall and useful for a personal devotional context. I will use it for my lunar calendar Day 12 prayer going forward.
I hymn the Gods beyond the Muses’ gate
who flow forth with fire, quickening the mind
while past each brambled vine, I slowly wind,
drawn by deep desire to acculturate
all within until I hold your light steady,
awake to what lies bedrocked beneath
Ananke, the root cause of each eddy
rippling forth, seeing beyond my frail sheath.
Apollon, core of all things, laurel-crowned,
whose gaze pierces like arrows, robes unbound,
may my words be pounded incense, perfumed
gifts to the Gods alight in readers’ minds.
Mousai, chorus encircling the bright God,
rulers of artistic skill, chord to glissade,
may Providence make me worthy to cross
your gates’ threshold to drink from your sweet streams.
Mnemosyne, recollecting all time,
who splits and divides our descent and climb,
may my brain strongly remember, unspoiled,
and persist quick and capable for life.
Hermes, God of ink, deft with words, great friend,
wayfinding from beginning to best end,
may knowledge and skill, luck and divine grace,
nurse my creative words, bringing them forth.
Root my soul in your expansive power,
great Gods, and through your care, let me flower.
Grant me focus, the drive to finish,
zest and stamina without diminish,
a steadfast devotion anchored in love,
and insight that mirrors the sights above.