For a contest, I wrote this poem–in it the speaker addresses the Greek Goddess Athena, who emerged from the ancient pagan culture of Greece. When I submitted it I also added what my meaning was in writing this, which you will find at the end of the poem. First, however, read the poem and try to guess its context.
Thy Virgin Goddess, thine somber beauty undisturbed,
Thine perennial presence of thine graceful figure,
Wrought with the hue of sun luminance, and unperturbed
Is thy pose; poised upon the proud citadel, of thine ravished city,
But its protector remains inveterate, in her place.
Thy ivory arms flourished, and uplifted face,
Reflect thine unalloyed felicity, mingled with gravity
Of the patronage thine patronage grants, this fêted city.
Scrutiny haunts the dusk in thine eyes, thy equanimity
United with plaintive wisdom, reveals portended futures
Forgotten. What knowledge did thy mind hold?
What silent counsel did thee wish to unfold?
Thy nation fell, thy state diluted, undone, and taken;
O Virgin Goddess, is thine mind still dwelling on the past?
A past of glory, gilded and potent, yet now forsaken,
The eminence and vision mounted alike; built by intellect of minds,
Sage and thought. O high citadel with city below spread
Which thou gave thy name as namesake instead
Of those people’s father god’s ocean brother.
First unrivaled on the sea but overcome by another,
This city thus gave heart to intelligence, of which thee mothers.
But as the years weave on, into centuries they progress,
Thus did thy wisdom’s city traverse—into the sunset power diminishing
No stable base, but thy presence, till crumble did Athens; so finishing.
Thee were held in esteem in their hearts. But beyond thine wisdom what did there lay?
Did Love, mercy, and grace abide? Did thy steel-gray eyes hold greater wisdom
Than the art of warfare and academic erudition? The wisdom of creation’s every day?
Did the mortals of the city kneel and pray upon the altar, for guidance, hope and healing?
And did you bestow it—peace of mind, faith in life, assurance and humane feeling?
It is told in every myth concerning thee, celestial goddess.
Ruthless favoritism did thou sport, and never fully modest,
Thee aided the men who flattered and made a seemly offer for every promised solace.
Thee cursed those who insulted and turned against thine celestial neighbor.
An offspring of deceit and pain, thee emerged to wield thine wisdom and power
For self recognition and worldly gain. No affection within thee bloomed and flowered.
O Athena, thou shield of thy sacred city which birthed democracy
Thou rooted thy sagacity, thy symbol of flourishing wisdom—the olive tree.
Thy poised atop that high acropolis, daughter of aristocracy
And gazed upon the bustling Agora, the temples and wandering pedestrian,
The crying philosopher and lustful businessmen.
Still did thee stare steadily upon the ruins in the later epoch; motionless.
Motionless were ye in heart, mind and soul; exceedingly loveless.
Thy visage promised power and supremacy, but thy spirit of marble remained lifeless.
So stand there, O Athena, on thy high pedestal, with the sunlight in thy eye.
Stand there and crumble as the years wear on, for long ago, on the wind of myth thee died.
Having just finished studying about Greek mythology in school, I saw a distinct line between God and the celestial beings the Ancient Greeks believed in. And this brought to mind the significant difference between those fickle immortals, who were birthed merely in the Greeks’ imagination,and the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God who is very real, and who feels for his creation, amazing love, grace, mercy… My wish is that readers will see how Athens fell, as did all of Greece, and every civilization that did not base its foundation upon God and his Word. Athena was stone. Emotionless. I hope this stirs hearts, and awakens a realization, that lacking God, you lack the base of a nation.