An Ode to Greece in the stanza of Spencer...
Argument, concerning Generation Omega of Greek Tragic Myth. From the foundation of the city of Mycenae to the post Trojan war decline of the Bronze Age.
Let present day fancies tell proud story,
Days of yore fond embattled angst,
Of olden times regaled in glory,
Far-sighted Aegean heroes glanced,
Heroines enchanting beauty danced,
Feelings full of another moral age,
Against our own narrowly distanced,
High-minded decadence suffuses rage,
Undignified rantings provoke us! Turn the page!
These times of plenty tempt us to squander
What the wise would so gladly put to use,
Fortune’s shadow oft’ leads minds to wander
And power’s shallow willingness abuse,
The amorous contented fit to lose
Sight of all that once felt and seemed mighty,
Overarching hierarchies fall prey, whose
Vision sees beyond local sovereignty,
Leads former truth into endless calamity.
Frail uncertainty of future life,
Has no bearing on an opponents fight,
Many noble souls’ unrepenting strife,
Each attempt descends into darkest night,
Every free spirit enchained, denied sight,
Of passions, took us away from that bond,
Servitude has known not of wrong or right,
Deep embittered patience still remained fond,
For conceptual beauty! We forever longed!
Then as now stumbling through an era,
Eventually to go by the name,
A classical age, Apollo’s lyre,
Or affinities holding true, the same,
Reminiscences, most have always been tame
Followers, few deserve remembrance,
Those who invent another type of game,
Set the dice rolling until decadence,
Misuse cultural riches through fat opulence!
All institutions plagiarize anew,
Give ethical clarity, sense denied,
The family where sons & daughters grew,
Was founded on a stone deep red blood dyed,
Against the instincts obligingly lied,
Suit propriety, avoid provocation,
True loves passion, forgotten, pushed aside,
Deadly union, honour’s destitution,
Mutual wealth poached into cold extinction!
Our world is abound with divine pretenses,
That have always sought to hold their harsh sway,
Divide unequally, raising fences,
To show who is banished and who can stay,
Invoking difference between those who’d say,
That we have no quarrel with each other, no!
Rather they would try to keep us at bay,
Final indictment their weak powers show,
Lofty in abundance! Yet spiritually low!
High-minded princes, bravery’s fountain,
Not always the case we see poets told,
Men suspicious, unbelieving, doubting,
Mythology cut off in days of old,
The relevance that such tales should hold,
Over disparity of meager ways,
Not caring for eloquence unless sold,
Something fit to wile away idle days,
The genius amongst us grudgingly displays!
The now ruined city of Mycenae
Was once founded by Perseus of fame,
Who rode the wingèd horse elegantly
And the snakes of Medusa’s hair did tame,
He brought low the Kraken, that very same
Threat to Andromeda, African bride,
Whose former suitor he was forced to maim,
Only the hauntiness of such Greek pride,
Could indulge romantic rivalry to be set aside.
The house of Perseus soon did give way
To Atreus’ like all dynasties,
That hardly can last when led far astray,
Power always needs must feign niceties,
Lest people below test its frailties
And dare to shed the blood thought such a crime,
Only the lofty insecurities,
Who consider their problems more sublime,
And for the angst of the many? Haven’t the time!
Kings can be remembered by words & deeds,
And Atreus as we know followed suit,
Devious butchery, the path to greed’s
Mad craving, the state coffers he did loot,
While holding opinion beneath his boot,
Fathered two young sons who’d even outdo
His own despicable vice, a deep root
Of wretched corruption had therein grew,
Agamemnon & Menelaus, they the two.
Brothers looking to further their domains,
Marry sisters equal in chastity,
One rules Mycenae, one in Sparta reigns,
Perfect vision of royal harmony,
Set aloof to an orphic symphony,
Till marital discord of course results
In husband’s scorn! Resort to armoury,
Harsh bronze, the brutal payback for insults,
Of Paris, Helen & Aphrodite’s gentle cults.
Hardly impractical Helen once back
In her place at Menelaus’ side,
Set to make up for all the former lack
Of love he’d had, his comrades who’d died
Below the walls of Troy and supplied
A metaphor of frustrated desire,
Helen ever the seductive queen lied,
And won over his hapless unquenched fire,
Weaving her way, exulting him all the higher.
There is a rupture, a moment of bleak
Empty wilderness a time lost to all,
Before whence all idealists did seek,
To test their skills unprepared for the fall,
The house of old Mycenae’s blood drenched hall,
Familiar bonds not always so dear,
A king though in stature may be quite tall,
Orestes’ doom, to complacently hear,
Furies’ cry for lifeblood, his lineage clear.
Tell me how could any such Delphic bard,
Make song of sparse eons’ austerity?
When even muses themselves find it hard,
The act of fine vocal dexterity?
Long gone are days of kind sincerity,
A feature so common among equals,
Fully knowing harsh pending levity,
That weight of a Bronze age that now appalls,
The pending curtain call which upon greatness falls.
Orestes, son of family dispute,
To whom it fell the burden of vengeance,
Against his own kindred, to raise his boot,
Blot out the life that gave him essence,
Electra too, in his sister’s presence,
Brought down retribution on his own head,
Furies sought unremitting repentance,
They drove him forth to Athens, where it’s said,
Trial by reason! Passions soothed and put to bed!
Barely come of age, the soft hairy down
Of his chin still smooth, quite easily seen,
Such youth commits matricide for the crown,
For Clytemnestra’s end he was too keen,
The hot-headed impatience of a teen,
Brought about further dynastic shift,
She having been in turn also too mean,
Orestes merely repeating to lift
The knife by which his father too was set adrift.
Hardly avoidable his destiny,
Punish a mother of so little love,
For a husband long lost at war away,
Agamemnon returning felt her shove
His war weary personage from above,
Down into Hades’ waters thereabout,
Polluted bloodshed the peace of a dove,
Long since denied during Troy’s tragic rout,
Likewise, nobody cared for his own final shout.
Despite his depravity, such an act,
The duty of honour should deserve praise,
To avenge a father who but lacked,
Nothing to a son which should amaze,
Agamemnon’s vengeance he obeys,
A brother & sister seem justified,
Forgetting that father’s very own craze,
Iphigenia, their sibling once sighed,
Ritual sacrifice! The Greek cause obliged!
What a farce tragic theatre has but made
Epic myth set to vulgar applause,
Degrading stories, celebrities played
Any rendering true or not to laws
Of traditional dogma flouting flaws,
Contemporary adaptions, no respect
For source material. Morals & mores
Left dull and lifeless, fully inept,
Devoid of content, entertainment we accept.
Greek tragedians were as bad as any,
Tinkering with myth to follow their whim,
Iphigenia found alive! Many
Plainly thought what’s the point of such a hymn?
If back from the dead, that land of the dim,
Anyone comes, fitting plots make a mess,
She turned up in Taurus or so they sing,
What enmity! For her sake, bitterness
Had bled! Generations of pointless prolonged stress!
Yet to all things soon come a time of peace,
Or stagnation whatever you’d call it,
Times of imagination came to cease,
Stories of grandure no longer seemed fit,
Tales of valour, strength, iron & grit,
Gave way to a dark age with nought to tell,
Orestes’ legacy obscurely lit,
Life lived beyond its means may often knell
Decline from the heights into ignorance and hell.
Helen, let’s not forget, had a daughter,
By Menelaus before having fled,
Hermione for many a winter,
While her parents’ quarrel at Troy bled,
Waited. Euripides’ passion has said,
That the girl grew refined yet lecherous,
Neoptolemus fought for her soft bed,
Against Orestes for the dangerous
Bride. Fitting prize for the cunningly murderous!
Neoptolemus, that son to surpass
Exploits of his father Lord of the dead,
Swift footed Achilles, yes, he the mass
Murderer who to hungry hounds had fed,
Priam’s son Hector, the one who had led,
Troy’s only hope, defiance resistant,
The son won Andromache who still shed
Tears for fine Hector, her husband distant,
Indulging Neoptolemus not an instant.
He was such a match for his father plus,
The same instinct for ruthless savagery,
He also goes by the name of Pyrrhus,
Shorter an appellation, you’ll agree,
Than Neoptolemus, I’m sure you’ll see,
It’s intolerable to use again,
Too many syllables! Bad poetry!
Half a line gone, if you count up to ten,
A scribe has got to limit the use of his pen.
Well Hermione like I was saying
Wasn’t too pleased by the sordid idea,
Of a rival, Pyrrhus’ heart straying,
She was quite happy to stand by and cheer,
As Pyrrhus fought Orestes, we now hear,
For her own love! Yes, those men can sweat!
But against a slave, Andromache dear,
She saw nothing more than a foreign threat,
Compassion for the vanquished unlearnt as of yet.
All this envy though soon came to nothing,
It’s often the case in confusing myths,
Grandiloquence we find somehow soothing,
Just as we gossip over lovers’ tiffs,
So, what happened next? There are many ifs,
Ancient sources are always vague and sparse,
History is full of bores squares & stiffs,
Repeating, reliving the same old farce,
At least here you’ve got the plain original dance!
There’s one thing of which we can be sure,
Pyrrhus made his way to the Delphic shrine,
Above Mount Parnassus, below azure
Skies of central Greece, now in sad decline,
But then in its heyday, high in its prime,
There by Apollo’s columns of marble,
Doric in stature and encased in lime,
The stones by which Orestes would gamble,
Hermione’s hand in open bloody battle.
Here wanton poets really meet their test,
Gore soaked stanzas, not for the faint-hearted!
Yet tragedy puts action off stage, lest
Crowds listened as eloquence departed,
Maybe that’s why I just can’t get started,
On unavoidable confrontation,
The clash of Bronze, tell me! Who’ll be martyred?
Warriors without ill hesitation,
Lovers of these fine arts would show indignation.
Off with Hermione, his promised wife,
Hardly worth repeating, Orestes won,
Pyrrhus, like father, threw away his life,
He’d fought desperately, yet all he’d done,
Was upset Apollo, spoil his fun,
Who’d favoured Orestes long since the days,
When he’d begged sanctuary on the run
For murdering his mother in a craze,
Thus the archer god shows benignity, Homer says.
After his ordeals Orestes went
Back to his homeland pacified and won,
Ruled over his people, a landed gent,
Accepting his mastery he’d begun
To rule by decree and to blindly shun,
The needs of a people little heeded,
He hired politicians who then spun,
Any old mantra that kept motives hid,
Ignoring what poverty and hunger pleaded.
In little time the whole Peloponnese
Was united, bowing down at his feet,
Mycenae flourished in a time of ease,
Agamemnon’s son did grander a feat,
Than in those old times of his father’s seat,
All wasted on foreign intervention
Wars were won, but bringing homebound defeat,
People neglected of education,
Invest not in the future but segregation.
Rebellious streak fiercely indignant,
The Greeks have had since those forgotten days,
Filled their streets with oratory and chant,
They forgive little of abusive ways,
A spirit hardly willing, never pays
To passively look on as the corrupt,
Try their tricks, saying it’s only a phase,
Squeeze the economy! Ruin, disrupt,
Our swindled hopes brought to an end abrupt!
Untolerated a tyrant returns
In yet another form more sleekly clad,
With ways to pilfer what the worker earns,
Always devious, malicious and glad,
Rejoicing to take away all we had,
While daring to say it’s his divine right,
Only common people recognise bad,
But never cease to dream! What’s far from sight?
Never lower their heads nor wallow in their plight!