In the lore of Greek myths, naiad Pirene was grief-stricken by the death of her son, Cenchrias. She dissolved into a fountain of tears outside the gates of Corinth. It was said the essence of a naiad was tied to her spring; she could no longer exist if the spring dried up, as is often the case with inspiration and poetry. Pirene’s fountain was one of three springs associated with Pegasus, and was sacred to the muses, who drank of the waters for fresh inspiration.
At Pirene’s Fountain, it is our hope that we can share of each other’s knowledge, and in the spirit of Ancora Imparo –“ I am still learning,” open our hearts and minds to inspiration.
"In days of yore, the poet's pen
From wing of bird was plunder'd,
Perhaps of goose, but now and then,
From Jove's own eagle sunder'd."
~ John Adams
Passion of the Pen
The keen instinct to spin folklore is embedded in our genes. For centuries, legends and myths were passed down in verse and song, until a permanent way to record was discovered. From the days of cave dwellers, who scratched images into the cave walls or dipped their fingers in crushed berries for markings, to the present times with a wide array of high-tech writing implements available, writers of the world have always been fascinated by their “pens.”
As early as 4,000 B.C., scribes were trained to engrave stone, which gave way to the stylus, closely related to the writing instruments of today. Developed by the Greeks, made from ivory, metal or bone, the stylus was used to scratch into wax-coated tablets, while the Egyptians cultivated papyrus for their hieroglyphics.
Later, people made crude pens, consisting of hollow straws or reeds that supported a short column of liquid, often used on parchment derived from animal skins. Quill pens were made from the wing feathers of geese and swans, until the development of steel-nib pens in the 1800’s. Some eastern cultures used fine, stiff brushes to paint characters like Kanji on rice paper.
The fountain pen's design came after a thousand years of using quill-pens. Early inventors observed the natural ink reserve in the hollow channel of a bird's feather and tried a similar effect with a pen that would hold more ink and not require constant dipping into the ink well. L.E. Waterman’s design was one of the earliest. In 1935, Laszlo Biro perfected the ballpoint pen, to great commercial success.
Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press with loose type in the 15th century. The mass production of typewriters began in 1873, with the Sholes and Glidden typewriter which set a series of standards that are still in use today, including the Qwerty keyboard.
These stunning 19th century innovations made way for personal computers, laptops and word processing programs, essential to all writers now. However, of all the writing implements, the most portable is the pen, which carries its own ink supply. Even today, with the multitude of sleek and fancy tools available, many writers prefer the intimacy of pen and paper.
For all writers, there is a seductive richness to ink; by virtue of imprinting itself on paper, the much coveted freedom of higher creation is set free. From nothing, a writer’s pen fashions magic—a mystical connection, from mind and heart through pen. Ink endures over time, possibly to be shared with a stranger in another century; where reader and writer come alive together for a space…as the words dance between them.
Rush Voice to Paper
River of ink
from sacred pen,
spill soul's lyrics
in gentle waves
across the page
as grace notes
from inner seas;
rush voice to paper
in fluid psalm,
from the ocean's
“Oh, what sorrow to have
poems off in a distance
of passion, and a brain
all stained with ink!”
Frederico Garcia Lorca
From: Book of Poems, July 1920