Roy Ernest Ballard
Delphic Oracle - Poem by Roy Ernest Ballard
Transported, allocated, hoovered-up,
scanned by machines, jet-sucked like carpet fleas
from Gatwick to a dusty strip of Greece,
we stand like packages among our bags
and baggages in fabled Attica,
beset by motor traffic, fumes and noise.
And so to Delphi in a motor coach.
No tramping feet of ours shall touch this road;
we are no bearers of long-shadowed spears,
leading the oxen here in clouds of dust,
with arms and armour flashing in the sun
to warn Apollo's priest of our approach.
Gone is the gold of Sardis, vainly poured
by foolish Croesus, ton by precious ton,
the lion, ingots, girdles of the Queen,
the basins, mixers, necklaces and all
the bowls and sprinklers, all refined in gold.
The gold is gone but now the dollars flash.
I move away, the guide will urge us on
to where he gets commission from the sales.
So from the dusky gypsies selling charms
and slickly lifting purses in the crowd
I move away towards a mystery…
towards a woman in a gypsy dress
‘Counting the grains of sand on ocean's floor
I heard your voiceless plea' this woman says
‘To know the destiny of man, so hear.
Your fate is to be made by your own hands:
you shall be superseded by machines'
and then the Pythoness, if it were she,
is gone and leaves me speechless, wonderstruck.
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