The Muses Companion

The Muses Companion – January 21, 2024

Good day, readers. Today is January 21st, the 21st day of the year 2024, with 345 days remaining.

Every moment is a fresh beginning.

T.S. Eliot

Today in Literary History:

On this day in 1921, Patricia Highsmith, an American novelist and short story writer known for her psychological thrillers, was born. Highsmith’s works, including Strangers on a Train and the Ripley series, delve into the intricacies of the human psyche and the moral ambiguities of her characters, influencing both literature and film noir.

Notable Birthdays:

Ethan Allen (January 21, 1738 – February 12, 1789), although primarily known as a Revolutionary War patriot, also authored philosophical treatises and pamphlets that questioned the religious and social norms of his time, contributing to early American political literature.

Today’s Readings:

From The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith: “Anticipation! It occurred to him that his anticipation was more pleasant to him than the experiencing.”

Literary Fact of the Day:

On January 21, 1793, King Louis XVI of France was executed by guillotine during the French Revolution, an event that has been depicted in numerous historical novels and biographies. This marked a pivotal moment in French history, deeply influencing the nation’s literature and shaping the narrative of liberty and justice.

Poem of the Day:

“To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell:

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.

My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

This classic poem by Andrew Marvell is a witty and eloquent argument for making the most of our time, particularly in the pursuit of love and life’s pleasures, before it is too late.

Advice for Writers:

Inspired by Patricia Highsmith’s exploration of dark characters and psychological depth, consider how you can weave complex moral dilemmas and intricate character studies into your own stories. This approach not only adds layers to your narrative but also engages readers on a more profound intellectual and emotional level.

Have a thoughtful and inspiring day, dear readers. Until tomorrow, may your writings reflect the complexity and beauty of human nature.

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