Hellenica

by Lorna Frankel

Sing, rhapsode, the poetry of ages,
Where Homer stitched his verse to please Apollo,
And Aphrodite heard the island harp
and lines of lyric Sappho as she strummed.

From southern undeciphered ancient Cretan
And syllabic pictographic Linear B,
To towering Attic temples and the harbours
That launched a thousand ships for Helen’s face.

The wars of poleis ceasing at Olympia:
Myth and meaning reaching out its hands
For us to carry on its torch long after
Testaments depose their human gods.

“It’s Greek to me,” they joke, of rates of change,
Nonsense, geometry, and algebra.
The sun-kissed isles of ABBA and of Byron
Give name to all the species of the earth.