The Muses Companion

The Muses Companion – May 20, 2024

Good day, readers. Today is May 20th, the 141st day of the year 2024, with 225 days remaining.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.


Today in Literary History:

On this day in 1799, Honoré de Balzac, a French novelist and playwright, was born. His keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society make his works, especially the sequence of novels and stories collectively entitled La Comédie Humaine, a cornerstone of European literature in the 19th century.

Notable Birthdays:

John Stuart Mill, born on May 20, 1806, was an English philosopher, political economist, and civil servant. An influential thinker in the theory of liberty, Mill’s works, including On Liberty and The Subjection of Women, explore the interplay between individual autonomy and societal norms, continuing to provoke thought and discussion today.

Today’s Readings:

From Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac: “The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime that has never been found out, because it was properly executed.”

Literary Fact of the Day:

On May 20th, 1873, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis received a U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets. The creation of this iconic American garment has inspired its fair share of cultural commentary and has appeared in a variety of literary contexts as a symbol of American ingenuity and style.

Poem of the Day:

“The Old Astronomer” by Sarah Williams:

Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, ’tis original and true,
And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and wiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles!

You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate;
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

This eloquent poem speaks to the passion and pursuit of knowledge, reflecting an astronomer’s dedication to his studies and his fearless approach to the unknown, reminiscent of Balzac’s exploration of human nature and societal depths.

Advice for Writers:

Inspired by Plutarch’s perspective on the mind, think of your writing as an opportunity to ignite curiosity and provoke thought rather than merely convey information. Strive to engage and stimulate your readers, encouraging them to think deeply and critically about the subjects you explore.

Have an enlightening and inspiring day, dear readers. Until tomorrow, may your writings light up the minds and spirits of those who delve into your stories.

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