In Inspiration’s Throes

NaPoWriMo DAY FOURTEEN 14 April 2020


Oh inspiration, wherefrom?

In school, early on,

I fell in love with Hoelderlin,

his lyrics captured sublime beauty,

thrilling Greek myths,

sweet teacher Sister Gerardis

relentlessly rooted for him.

Hyperion was fun, no pawn,

one of the poet’s favorites,

none less than a Titan,

he fathered Helios (Sun),

Selene (Moon) and Eos (Dawn),

irresistibly drawn.

Hyperion’s Song of Destiny began:

“Holy spirits, you walk up there

in the light, on soft earth.

Shining god-like breezes

touch upon you gently”:

easy to be a fan.

Lost on me was the ending, where

“suffering humans

decline and blindly fall…

like water thrown

from cliff to cliff…

down into the Unknown.”

Until the day I stumbled, bad luck,

across Hoelderlin’s life story,

struck me like a knife, ice cold

we’d not been told

he’d gone mad at 36

spent the next 36 years of a life

as if hexed, in a room, that’s all,

in a tower in an old city wall.

This secret knowledge I dared

mention to no one weighed heavy,

poetry had turned into a lethal power.

Sister Gerardis could not comprehend

I let her down, the school didn’t win

the prize for poetry she’d expected,

the chosen subject rejected,

the new theme politics, not Hoelderlin.

But I’ve become brave by now

take risks, there’s much at stake

sent in a poem for Offshoots 15

poetry group’s collective publication,

this morning news on my screen:

“Pelican Perfection” part of the show:

reason for celebration.  

Tonight I’m less sure, just found

Hoelderlin’s first name Friedrich,

as he’s always called, is his third,

the two preceding, his true firsts,

“Johann Christian” of all names,

sound eerily familiar, grounds

to feel disturbed.

So, inspiration comes and goes,

has its highs, has its lows,

sigh, breathe deep, and back

you dive into life’s throes,

whatever, smile, you’ll thrive,

you count on the surprise rain check.

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