This lecture, a tribute to the Muses, was delivered by Norman O. Brown for his class of 1971, “To Greet the Return of the Gods.” It is spoken with the preacher's rhythmic diction and charmed hieratic voice, and is transcribed here to include Brown's intentional pauses, halting rhythms, repetitions, asides, and idiosyncratic quotes. As in the Orphic tradition, the professor becomes what he's professing: Brown teaches us to sing a love song according to the Muses, finding the meaning in the singing and in the etymology of the names of the divine sisters. Brown's nearly liturgical list of names is propelled by devotion to the feminine and to language, above all to Kalliopê, chiefest of Muses. The gift of the Muses to mortals, Brown argues, is a poetical politics essential in the ongoing iron age described by Hesiod. Poetry as prayer—yet the Muses make it new, “so everything can shine again.”

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