(from MYTH WAKING: HOMERIC HYMNS A MODERN SEQUEL, St. Elizabeth Street Press, Brooklyn)
By V.B. Price
For those engaged in winning the future.
Wisdom is an armed rebellion,
A pure uprising to restrain
And break apart the rules,
Scorn the use of ice maps in the desert,
Overthrow the impulse
To dead habit.
In the dirty wars, the random voids, the moral tics
Like Wall Street, Gulags, Los Alamos, any place that disappears dissent,
Athena in Her wisdom
Dispossesses the absurd;
So flexible She is unexpectable;
She catches the rigid and the stupid,
The tyrant-thieves off guard. In secret,
She advises us, Odysseus, Penelope and the rest,
To be unfathomable and like
An unstoppable knife,
Silent as eyes.
Athena, warring with the obvious,
“tameless,” She knows how to do
what She wants every time,
She is so patient, She wins
With no loss of love.
Odysseus to do
Who he knows he should be.
She gives him certainty
As friendship he can trust
To never blind him,
Never punish him
She sees to him,
Sees to it
That he can’t be compromised
While his will to strive, Her first
Defining gift to him, still thrives.
So both are chaste, in their own ways.
Odysseus chaste of immortality,
So mortal his purity appeals
To Wisdom’s love of everything.
Athena, pure of all negation:
She even makes Penelope’s sly chastity so wise
Her patience seems to her like sleep.
To earn the prize of prizes,
Athena’s loving gaze, which, gray-eyed, knows
All differences of shade,
We must be, first, like Her
Without Her help,
Unforgiving, without fatigue,
Inventing as easily as breathing,
As much at peace with yes and no
As maybe not and maybe so.
Peace conserves. Anger, She abhors it,
The infrugality of war.
But once She’s crossed, She never loses.
Imagine! Never loses. Her rule:
Never trust the rules,
Never think you know enough;
Trust chance, jujitsu dance with it,
Erase defeat, open your brain and let it go,
Rely on no one
Until you’d bet your life on her,
Look to wisdom, as She smiles on you,
With a giving, grateful smile.
Athena has no wiles;
Crafty with conscience,
She outsmarts everyone at knowing
Who her friends really are.
Say to her, my brain is open,
Please move in.
She knows the ropes, which strands of contradiction
Strangle us, which true ambivalence is safe to show.
She is our true transparency.
With Her we can always
See through our selves.
She’s why we keep on course,
Why we sense there is a course at all,
A way that is ours, given to us as it happens,
An integrity through time
That we can never see,
Without Her ease,
The example of Her endless view,
So like the ease of having been
When you know
How it’s all worked out
Before it has.
(Image by Lemsipmatt)