The Muse

Oct 03 2019

Some may wonder why I chose such a strange header image and title description for the blog. Others who know me as Rebecca may wonder why I use the strange pseudonym Polyhymnia here. I will explain.

The Blog Name

As I stated previously, This Mortal Life comes from a line in a hymn written by Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress is Our God. It is a hymn very beloved to me. You can read the powerful lyrics and my thoughts on the hymn in my post Rhyme and Reason. It was not my original name choice, but it’s much better than my original choice and I am so glad the domain name was available. 

The Psuedonym, Polyhymnia

Polyhymnia was one of the Greek Muses. The Muses were represented by the Greeks as women, embodiments of the arts such as tragedy, comedy, dance, and astronomy. The Nine Muses are depicted in my header image, which is a sketch of an engraving from the 2nd century Muses Sarcophagus, currently on display at the Louvre in Paris. The Nine Muses represented:

Polyhymnia seemed to fit me best for this blog. Diodorus Siculus wrote, “Polyhymnia, because by her great praises she brings distinction to writers whose works have won for them immortal fame…” She embodies the pensive seriousness that I wanted for this blog. She also probes deeply into the meanings of hymns and stories, something that comes naturally to me. 

To the ancient Greeks, sacred hymns meant something completely different than the Biblical hymns I adore. But the Greeks created their hymns before they knew of Christ. After hearing the gospel, they were one of the most supportive ethnic and political groups that embraced Christianity. So much of what the Greeks had created in their culture had prepared them for Christ. When they heard that He had come, they were ready to embrace Him. 

The Blog Description

This is a line from Dante Aligheiri’s Divine Comedy. He mentions Polyhymnia by name in the section Paradise, Canto XXIII, line 55.

Now were all
Those tongues to sound, that have, on sweetest milk
Of Polyhymnia and her sisters, fed
And fatten’d; not with all their help to boot,
Unto the thousandth parcel of the truth,
My song might shadow forth that saintly smile,
How merely, in her saintly looks, it wrought.
And, with such figuring of Paradise,
The sacred strain must leap, like one that meets
A sudden interruption to his road.

But he, who thinks how ponderous the theme,
And that ’tis laid upon a mortal shoulder,
May pardon, if it tremble with the burden.

The phrase seemed to fit very well with my blog title and my way of life right now. Despite the hectic pace of life, the sacred strain must dominate my journey. Sometimes it has to jump up and over obstructions. 

Reason

I don’t mean to sound more educated (aka, snobby) than I am. I have always loved Greek history and hymns and literature, but my education is very spotty in these topics. Still, I am attracted to the beauty of them. The language of literature and verse has a delightful cadence and the words are so filled with meaning. I can overlook the primitive pagan influences of the Greeks and see how they were searching for God through His creation. I am reminded of Psalm 19: 

Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,

Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.

Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the LORD is perfect…

So anyway, this is my blog, defined. I hope I have answered some curious questions about its design. Thanks for reading.

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