Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 23, 2013

From the Muse’s Lips (for S. J. Tucker)

[A while back–perhaps late August or early September, I think–S. J. Tucker had a contest in relation to a new song she had just released. Due to various circumstances, I was not able to participate in the contest, and even if I had, I probably wouldn’t have won anyway; but, I wanted to do what I said I’d have done all the same, and so what follows is exactly that. She asked people to make art in response to/as accompaniment to her song. While I did do visual art a great deal more in the past, and would love to get back into it more, I have not had the materials or the opportunity to do so. Writing a poem or short story based on her song didn’t seem the right thing to do either. So, I thought the creativity I’d invest in the project would be mostly in the innovative use of the medium of expression: theological commentary! Read on, if you like, therefore…!]


The Muse speaks:

If I am a little bird
next time I open up my eyes,
well I’m gonna have to learn
how to spread my wings and fly,
and turn loose of all the things
that try to hold me to the ground.
I got no time to be afraid,
so you’re not gonna catch me looking down.

The Muse begins by speaking in the voice of Icarus, son of Daedalus, who was given wings of wax and feathers in order to escape the palace of Minos in Crete. Icarus speaks here of daring, of single-mindedness, and of not possibly thinking of failure. Though failure was the ultimate result of his flight, the confidence required to fly from captivity, and for humans to fly at all, is the key which The Muse focuses upon here in order to suggest that with such confidence, it is possible for humans to accomplish deeds as great as the heroes, and even approaching the gods in their wonder.


The Muse speaks:

I’m gonna shake my tail
and spread my wings,
gonna catch that wind as it’s rushing by.
I’m gonna raise my voice and sing!

It is little known that Icarus, son of Daedalus, was unlike his father, a student of the Muses, and of the school of Orpheus. It is said that in his flight, before he went higher than he should have, he busied himself with a singing competition against the Sirens upon their rocks. Though he nearly overpowered them with his own song, he kept his distance from them so that he would not fall prey to their spell. Wanting to hear their song, however, but not be entirely given over to it, he flew slightly higher so that the wax from one of his wings would melt and fall from his arms into one of his ears, thus half-blocking his senses to the enticements of their melody. This he did by flying higher than he should have, but with one wing deficient, he could not stay aloft, and soon tumbled to his death.


The Muse speaks:

If I am a little flame
or else a dancing thunderstorm,
I’m gonna have all kinds of ways
to keep my little spirit warm.
I might scare somebody here & there
so they wish me on my way.
That’s how it goes when you’re too much
or big and bad and here to stay!

I’m gonna shake my tail
and spread my wings.
Gonna catch that lightning for my very own!
I’m gonna raise my voice and sing!

Here, the Muse refers to the Daktyloi of Pherekydes, the great workers in metal who taught the Cyclopes their trade before Hephaistos amongst the fires of the forge, and even smithed the thunderbolt of Zeus himself. It was they who pioneered the art of goetia in their works of magic and smithcraft, and thus their song is referred to here as well. The Idaean Daktyloi, along with the Kouretes who shared their craft, danced and sang to protect the infant Zeus in his hiding place on Crete.


The Muse speaks:

Ooh, if what you’re seeing doesn’t feed you,
It isn’t that your appetite’s gone wild.
Ooh, if what they’re selling doesn’t serve you,
I double dare you to do your own thing, child!

Pherekydes says that these lines were the last song sung to the youthful Zeus before he left the peace of their protection to face his father Kronos. Still others say that the first two lines were the first words said by Zeus to his father Kronos, who had swallowed a stone instead of Zeus, and the following two lines were Kronos’ reply back to Zeus in defiance of his challenge to his rule of the gods.


The Muse speaks:

If you feel a little lost
and some days you just wanna scream,
chin up, little fish.
I bet there’s something good upstream.
Keep on swimming
and chasing after your big dreams.
I cannot tell a lie:
I’ve seen that even fish can fly!

On another occasion, the gods under Zeus had taken refuge in Egypt, for Typhon had raged against them and overthrown Zeus temporarily by stealing the sinews from his body. The gods were in animal form–Apollon as a raven, Artemis as a cat, Hermes as a baboon, and so forth–and Pan had taken the form of a goat-bodied fish. In this form, he invited Typhon to a feast, and together with the creatures of the sea, they surprised Typhon and overpowered him long enough for Hermes to steal back Zeus’ sinews and return them to him, whereupon Zeus took his revenge on Typhon by imprisoning him in Mt. Aetna of Sicily. To commemorate this victory, Zeus raised the goat-bodied fish to the heavens, as if it were a bird in flight, and called it Aegipan, that is, “Pan of Egypt,” which the learned now call Capricorn of the Zodiac.


The Muse speaks:

C’mon, shake your tail!
Spread your wings!
Catch that sweet current swirling by!
raise your voice and sing!

Shake your tail!
Spread your wings!
Catch that wind. Let it lift you high
as you raise your voice and sing!
Raise your voice and sing!

These final choruses hearken back again to the advice of Orpheus to all who would learn his arts, practice magic and goetia, and enact their devotion to the Muses. For one does not sing in this manner without being granted the breath of the gods upon the winds, and doing so raises the spirits of those who sing to the point that their souls become as gods upon the earth, and in the afterlife they may even reach the blessed state of the heroes and immortals who have been initiated into the mysteries of theosis. Indeed, there is nothing higher, and thus like Icarus–though mislead–one is encouraged to spread one’s wings and aspire to such heights by being lifted on the breath of the Muses–indeed, the very words spoken here–to dwell amongst the gods and heroes in the heavens by raising one’s voice in song.


The Muse speaks still…What does she say to you?



  1. […] this album, way back in October of 2013 (I can’t believe it was that long ago!), when I wrote a theological commentary on the song “Little Bird.” It happened so long ago, I’m afraid, that when I first heard the song, I was going […]

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