The Contrary Muse

Poet (kneels stiffly):
I beg you, Muse, come down, come down and redeem me! 
You used to arrive any time, you would come for no reason.
Now, though the sweat of death stood on my forehead,
No song would be shaken.
I pay no heed to prayers or to reproaches.
I bless those who burn, but they must not burn only for me.
Turn your passion elsewhere. Then, when least you remember
My touch, I may touch you.

Copyright © 1994 by Naomi Replansky. “The Contrary Muse” originally appeared in The Dangerous World: New and Selected Poems, 1934-1994 (Another Chicago Press, 1994). Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights reserved.