Money or The Muses?

Perhaps it will be the case that you’re called to be an artist. If so, take that fate upon yourself and bear it–its weight and its greatness.

–Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Crinagoras 9.234 (Greek Anthology)

“Tormented soul, how long will you put off
All your dreams except your dreams of riches?
Empty hopes wing you to the closest cold cloud.
Know this: things worth having don’t just come to man.
You must pursue the gifts of the Muses!
And as for your mind’s dim fancies,
Leave them to crazy people.”

ἄχρι τεῦ, ἆ δείλαιε, κεναῖσιν ἐπ᾽ ἐλπίσι, θυμέ,
πωτηθεὶς ψυχρῶν ἀσσοτάτω νεφέων,
ἄλλοις ἄλλ᾽ ἔπ᾽ ὄνειρα διαγράψεις ἀφένοιο;
κτητὸν γὰρ θνητοῖς οὐδὲ ἓν αὐτόματον.
Μουσέων ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ δῶρα μετέρχεο: ταῦτα δ᾽ ἀμυδρὰ
εἴδωλα ψυχῆς ἠλεμάτοισι μέθες.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at

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