Face the Muse-ic

Is the path well marked, O Muse,
the path of life on which we grope?
Will torches burn to show the way
along the cliff that leads to death?
Does the forest of happiness lie
in the mountains of our life,
or will we seek to find what's not
and watch what's been go floating by?
Black the path of life now seems
to us who are a few yards gone,
and as the black blots out the day,
all we sought seems to fade away.

O mortal, life is strange,
and often one's future is obscured
by melancholy; hopeless feelings
abound within faint hearts of men.
Happiness is not, but is to be
in the depths of yesteryear's sea.
Revealed is not the way of death
to mortal men with insight scant.
Crushed thy feeble brain would be
to see the future -- so you can't.
But on life's path, look ahead
and though you see not what you dread,
still it lies within your stead
to soon appear and make you see
that what you want can never be.

(These are also columns in which the Muse is invoked and posed a controversial question, which the Muse then answers -- most of which were published in the Western Montana College student newspaper, Wescolite, 1968-69 -- this one pondering the nature of existence.)

Tell of wily Red Eye, Muse,
and if he stand on rock or sand.
Is the mask from which he peers
concealing more than mortal name?
Does this critic match the wit
and ideals of we who stand
alone to take the brutal blows
for words we turn into mistakes?
Does air that whistles from his words
blow thoughts of hatred through our minds,
or will we listen, nod and turn
to walk away, the truth to find?

Mortal, mortal, do I detect
a wisp of wonder for he who hides
behind the mask of one Red Eye?
It's true that blurred his vision is
when through a mask he tries to stare
and then to rip at all in view.
Not called reform or criticism,
but a yearning of the mind,
is the single sheet of feeling
published when the urge is nigh.
Heed not the words of stinging passion,
for in time they will have died.
Quickly memories of Red Eye
reach their peak and then subside.

(a column about a mysterious underground publication at Western Montana College, reputedly written by journalist and poet, Glen Larum)

Tell of the sleeping giant, O Muse,
and why it chooses now to wake
from its sleep and try to take
the world apart -- mankind to break.
The years rolled by, and it wakened not,
and though the world from battle shook,
the stupor of the giant prone,
was not affected until the drone
of planes with bombs its flesh had blown
to little bits that scare had bled
before it turned to bloody red.

O mortal, yes this giant slept
for centuries but now awakes its plots once more
to lead the world as it did before --
to crush and kill with shout and roar.
Lowly man is near the day
when all his flesh will fast decay;
the trumpets of none will softly play
yet across the earth ill winds will blow.

(a column exploring national fear over China becoming a world power player)

Is opinion, O Muse, of man's creation
born and reared? Are minds so small
that what we read is timely,
terse -- and always true?
And those who rite, are they the molders
of man's brain of clay? Are many
now so put asunder by the greedy works
of blinded men that rue men suffer still
again beyond the ghastly grave?

Lewis, Hemingway and Kennedy
hear your words, ye mortal man --
and they smile. Always authors
augment not the greatness men should do,
but dwell on facts important not.
As to death the great men go,
so unknowns must search for fame.
Grahams and Hotchners will abound,
but those who read disgusting trash
should soon recall the speech of Brutus.
When men write, the public owns;
when man reads, the words are food.

(a column rebuking critical works that treated Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway and John F. Kennedy harshly)

Timothy Pilgrim