Greek Temples, Agrigento – Gillian Edwards

The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
1965 Crabbe Memorial Competition – First Prize
Adjudicators: Ronald Blythe, Dr Anernethy Rev. J. Gilchrist

No Greek ever pays his penny
Back over Styx, I said;
They do not sleep unquiet
They lived and they are dead.
No wraith in sculptured linen
or marble-naked stirs
among these silent pillars,
this tranquil universe.

The sun whom they should honour
blesses their golden stones
and earth, the timeless mother,
breeds flowers from their bones.
Stooping, the guide gathered
a green and classic leaf,
held it beside its image
carved in bas-relief,
and I saw the toothed acanthus,
the olive and the vine,
unchanged from Dionysius’
distant day to mine.

I saw Sicilian features
arrogant, chiselled, tanned,
echoing the profiles
that weather in the sand.
I made my mind a mirror
and found reflected there
wisdom, strength, and beauty,
Hector and Helen the fair,
Plato, Aristotle –
they are not far to seek,
the roots that I have sprung from,
and half of the are Greek.

The dead, the unremembered
whom time could not fulfil,
walk, but not these people;
they live still.

Copyright © Gillian Edwards 1965


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