Dante and Beatrice
Awake, O poet--the Muse has called your name.
For you did not choose your vocation, but you were chosen for it.
Thus spoke the angel.
I can see now, in the vision of hindsight, that it was given to me in my earliest days, a glittering star dropped from heaven and landing on my wide and wondrous eyes.
I did not know then what it was, nor that it was. It was only a seed, a gift and a talent, that yet required the nurturing of life's joys and the watering of life's pains.
It was nourished by wonder, by books and films and the world of nature and the love of family, by science and by science fiction, by flowers and by stars, by play and by dreams.
It was not until I had grown to become a man that I began to recognize it for what it was, and to take the first crude steps in learning the poet's magic art. Mine were still the simple singsong verses of children, which are the beginning of all poetry.
I began to discover my own voice, and to become more adept at wielding the wand that conjured visions. I became more aware of my peculiar destiny and my strange mission.
For many years I allowed the comfort and complacency and conventions of adulthood to settle over me, dulling my vision and almost making me forget who and what I was.
Yet I sensed deep within a longing and a loss, together with a hope that I might recover my vision and remember my destiny.
Then one day the blanket was taken from me, and I found myself face to face with myself, and only myself. And in that solitary space, the Muse revealed herself to me once more, and graced my soul with fire.
And the Muse gave me a strange and wondrous gift, a marvel of a thousand delights and twice a thousand sorrows. And she said unto me, With this treasure of heavenly beauty, you shall make Poetry.
My heart burned with a new flame, one that illuminated my soul and the hidden wonders within, and I began to draw them out and craft them into works of art finer and nobler and rarer than any I had yet made, nor knew I was capable of making.
Like all fires, it must be carefully tended. When kept within its proper bounds, the fire produces light and energy and life; when uncontrolled it burns and damages and destroys. To remain productive, it must be kept subservient to faith and hope and love.
The fire of heaven, bestowed by the Muse, burns with a bright and otherworldly flame. It is a fearsome gift, yet one I must not refuse. I have been called away from the tribe like a sacrificial priest, repeatedly slain by the sublime and terrible visions that are the secret graces of the sweet and tender Muse.
I can no longer see the world as I did before; the light has forever altered my vision. The spark that fell from heaven has been lit ablaze by strange and sparkling dreams, and the burning desire for beauties not to be found in this world.
These luminous dreams, says the Muse, have been granted you that you might turn them into Poetry. The vision is not given you to keep for yourself, but that you might give it to others.
Though the fire of heaven sometimes flares with a painful heat, I must not scorn this rare and precious gift. If I ever allow these flames to be extinguished, that is the day I shall cease to be a poet.