Sample Stanzas from Part Three: Greece

33

Fine rosy fingers, bright Homeric dawn
Alight within the eyes of Bahdawils.
Across Olympus trots a shining fawn,
Soon transformed – mirror-eyes of Bahdawils –
Into the strong, swift doe who led our way
To Arzen’s hopes, that age of high delights
Till foiled by Neurod.  Greece now feels the sway
Of Bahdawils renewed upon its heights.
We spin, dissolve.  Opaque Olympian clouds
Enlivened by the sun ascend the peaks
Wherein we reassemble, treasured shrouds,
All set to fly.  Through us a comet streaks.
    The mountain rocks beneath us move and melt.
    Dawn's deepest shades are shapes that we have felt.

34

"That which is bright rises twice: I Ching's fire.
Enlight’ning, perpetuating brightness,
Illuminate the world.  To this aspire."
Vast kingdoms rise and fall.  Ching lightness
Passes, shimmering hot, from Bahdawils
To us.  We faint, rebound, and sail above
Long centuries of strife whose essence fills
Us – shrink, persistent pain! – with longing love,
And still we hope!  Come join our friends to feast.
We celebrate, at least, our firm pursuit:
"We've cleared much land and driven back the beast
That on us preyed; our crops have taken root."
    Can we hold and widely share our gain
    Then solve the pressing puzzles that remain?

35

A sea-bird circles, soaring high, our peak,
Cloud-gathering mountain top whereon stands
Zarathustra, laughing with all who seek.
(He laughed newborn within his mother's hands!)
Laughter celebrating life, rich laughter
With the sea-bird and our doe, his friends free
In the cloud-dissolving sunburst over
All.  Hear Zarathustra (and our memory):
"Leap light, awakening, disperse the mist
And warm the tree that struggles forth from stone.
How weary I am of the warrior's fist!
I’ve gathered strength, long having lived alone.
    Stay with me, watchful doe, and, by and by,
    We'll high and fast as soaring sea-birds fly."

      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

40

Long striding Zarathustra, peak to peak
Accomplished leaping, trail our sea-bird's flight
As we, along dense long-lost paths will seek
To tunes created ‘round our fires at night.
They open for us, meadows toward the sea
Below, the sea by mountain rivers fed.
Fine-tuned with you to river-melody,
I rest within your lotus lap my head,
And, brave Siddhartha, ferryman, your eyes
Throw fire from spinning suns to mine.  Before
Us, swim doe!  Swim the swiftest rivers.  Rise,
Dear Sisters, Brothers, see who thrives ashore.
    Their nightmare of the Minotaur jaw pales;
    Our riddle-solving Greeks unfurl their sails.

      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

44

Flawed but searching, clinging to their rocky soil,
Greeks sense great Change (and its approaching hour)
Butmen still claim exclusive rights to choose their toil,
While women, patronized, kept far from power,
Seek strength together as, from Age to Age,
Embracing (“Hold to one another!  Hold!”),
They save their children from the hunters’ rage.
For tender, fragile (as on Crete of old),
The young need guidance; sure of discipline
They’ll grow secure, ignoring king and priest,
Then individuality they’ll win:
Anarchist dreams and aims have never ceased.
    The rapture of Dionysus no less
    Than cool Apollo's inward turn caress.

      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Great efforts; astounding discoveries;
but our dark side is never fully banished

57

Past columned temples fair the thousands file.
Euripides, too, would have us hear:           
"Old Zeus, if Zeus there be, where is your smile?
By ‘owning’ slaves, men live in guilt and fear
For slavery puts us all in chains.
Trampled Melos, hear her innocent cries.
Athens kills . . . for what?  What justice now remains?
That peace of mind you seek forever flies
As pregnant women still you dominate;
Brave women, children at their breasts.  Rip, now,
Reweave Art’s fabric, seeking honor's state;
Regain male/female, yin and yang.  Now!"
    Deaf, Athenians pounce on Syracuse;
    In salt mines, chained, they pay for their abuse.

58

Hey, chatting, strolling Socrates, we hear
Your teaching ways.  Probe, caustic Socrates;
Extend your claws, those burning words; they sear
Dogmatic nerves in our soft thinking.  Ease
Not your grip, but trust us, gadfly-eagle;
Hear us when we point you toward the missing
Ones, the ones not at the banquet.  Regal
Are your guests; their laughter veers toward hissing.
Missing are the progeny of Thersites;
They have no place, no voice at table.
"Voraciousness!" they yell.  They need not please.
They’ll speak their mind; they’ll sleep in field or stable.
    Best cure for life, you say, is hemlock's tilt?
    Is life your bane, stern Socrates?  Or guilt?

59

And you!  Does victory bless your master's death,
Torch-bearing, torch-creating Plato?  Caves
Receive your light and his, yet still your breath
Can only warm the willing.  Madness raves
Unchecked, and when you, tiring of the fight,
Would over-simplify, paternally,
Lead, lull the gentle toward presuméd right,
You obfuscate our long-sought clarity.
Aristotle wraps heroic arms 'round
All the knowledge he can hold, and shares; yet
Lost – torch slipping from our hand – is the ground
That Reason’s honest questions might beget.
    To Philip fratricidal Greece will fall
    And, falling, fail to pass the torch at all.

      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

63

"Such hardships, Greece, I've suffered for your praise;
I've marched across the world and always won.
Here, at the Indus, wine to you I'll raise,
And then go on."  "No, no.  You’re through, my son."
"Who dares to tell me, 'No'?  An old man, feet
In river, not unlike Diogenes."
"See here your limit, Alexander.  Beat
Drums and trumpets blow; we hardly care.  Please
Tell me what you think you’re doing here.”
"As Menelaus avenged his Helen's theft,
All unjust rulers I will strike with fear!"
"Who strikes, and who is struck?  What will be left?"
    "I . . ."  Eyes opened, Alexander sees
    Siddhartha serene.  Autumn sears the trees.

64

India and Greece: the sculptors seal a bond
With fertile silences; our inner world
Illuminates our search for light beyond
The nursery’s tales.  What challenge has been hurled,
O restless day?  The great whales sail content
And sing blue harmony of sea and sky.
In tree and sky the apes swing indolent
And free; they swing and feel no need to fly.
O restless night, see Alexander's rage:
He hurls his lance at Cleitus, killing one
Who saved his life.  Remorse!  Siddhartha, sage,
When will our fever cool?  Is this age done?
    "Our voyage is long and though the sea is dark,
     Fear not, Brave Ones, as once more we embark."

Purchase Receptive to Fire   •   Next Part (Part 4)   •   Home Page