The Muses Companion

The Muses Companion – January 17, 2024

Good day, readers. Today is January 17th, the 17th day of the year 2024, with 349 days remaining.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

William James

Today in Literary History:

On this day in 1706, Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a prolific author, inventor, and philosopher, was born. Franklin’s writings, which include the influential Poor Richard’s Almanack and his autobiography, have made a lasting impact on American literature and thought. His keen observations and witty aphorisms encapsulate the spirit of the Enlightenment in Colonial America.

Notable Birthdays:

Anne Brontë (January 17, 1820 – May 28, 1849), the youngest of the Brontë sisters, was born on this day. Although often overshadowed by her sisters Charlotte and Emily, Anne’s novels, such as Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, are celebrated for their realism and social criticism, particularly concerning the struggles of women in Victorian society.

Today’s Readings:

From The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

Literary Fact of the Day:

On January 17, 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown by a group of American businessmen and sugar planters supported by a division of U.S. Marines. This event has been examined in numerous historical works and novels that explore the complex dynamics of colonialism and cultural conflict.

Poem of the Day:

“Renascence” by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I’d started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.

Over these things I could not see:
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so small
My breath came short, and scarce at all.

But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back I’ll lie
And look my fill into the sky.
And so I looked, and, after all,
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
And—sure enough!—I see the top!
The sky, I thought, is not so grand;
I ‘most could touch it with my hand!

And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.
I screamed, and—lo!—Infinity
Came down and settled over me;
Forced back my scream into my chest,
Bent back my arm upon my breast,
And, pressing of the Undefined
The definition on my mind,
Held up before my eyes a glass
Through which my shrinking sight did pass
Until it seemed I must behold
Immensity made manifold;
Whispered to me a word whose sound
Deafened the air for worlds around,
And brought unmuffled to my ears
The beating of the hearts of stars
That once I dreamed of long ago,
When all the universe I thought
Hung on a golden chain I wrought.

“Renascence” explores themes of awakening and transformation through a vivid description of the natural world, mirroring the expansive scope of human understanding and personal revelation.

Advice for Writers:

Inspired by Anne Brontë’s critical perspective on social norms, consider how your own works can challenge societal expectations. Crafting narratives that confront and critique cultural and historical norms can provide valuable insights and promote discussions that resonate with contemporary readers.

Have a meaningful and reflective day, dear readers. Until tomorrow, may your creative endeavors inspire and provoke thought.

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