During the balmy noon the Muse of Poesy descended yesterday into the fancy Tudor Hall of the Folger Shakespeare Library to beam on five poets no longer young.

Exenia Butler's verse began the 40-minute session, musing on the interior life of the usual human who sees the world only through hopes, alarms and various interior lenses.

"I shall play to great audiences, there is no question," the verse sang.

Dorothy C. Donath, 81, dared anapests. Like St. Joan unafraid of the devil. She also tried iambics, and then some less formal rhythms. One of her attractive images: ". . . speaking in more than words."

In theory, you take your lunch to the Folger for these weekly sessions (yesterday was the first of the season) of "The Midday Muse," and feed the mortal man as well as the soul. But in practice nobody yesterday seemed to be chomping on anything.

The sould was flawless, so the words could be heard distinctly, and the poets all read well. If you missed a word, you could go up and ask the author afterward, and tell them how much you enjoyed it all.

June Fitzpatrick, 63, read a quite interesting poem in which monosyllables were given enormous weight and length:

"To come. Go.

Wind. Wave. Snow."

Mary Mylecraine, 52, viewed the long steps of time, in which substances change:

"Lived and died to power my bright light."

The allusion was to fossil fuels, made up of the now dead creatures of the Carboniferous.

Thirty-five people listened closely as the poets, in turn, walked modestly but not shyly to the podium (and one rode a wheelchair) to share their verse, not expecting, nor receiving, any fanfare, but all keen to express things that had seemed to them important.

A verse of Elizabeth Pendleton, who died several days ago, spoke perhaps of the festival of life that one wishes to continue always in others, even when it is time to leave:

"Dancing on the campus terraces, when he had to slip away."