It’s All Greek To Me

When you wear that frowning mask and speak,

it is, to me, nothing but gibberish, Greek,

and though you claim to be a tragedienne

I see you as nought but a comedian

like Aristophanes and his tale of frogs

or Priapos sporting his big phallic logs;

nor could any deus ex machina save

you from the shameless melodrama you crave

while you appeal to the chorus in strophe

to win you your Dionysian trophy.

Though you claim a Stygian monopoly,

your woes are less like that of Thermopylae

and more like Artemisia upon her prow,

lost to hysterics, smashing fleets like a plow.

Euripides grants no ambiguity

about your woes, or any gratuity;

he would offer you not one word of solace

while the mad mobs chased you out of the polis,

nor would Sophocles offer you a short verse

of sympathy for your much-lamented curse —

he would invite the Great Sphinx to devour you

or entomb you with Electra, out of view.

Aeschylus could not pity you any less,

sending after your sobs the Erinyes.

And poor old Homer, though so blind to the task,

could see how loose you wear that aggrieving mask,

thinking you like a Paris as you flee, thus,

from your lover ’s first husband, Menelaus.

Oh, but the Greeks haven ’t enough of such tales

to match your sobs and moans and woebegone wails,

so perhaps I should look to later, to Rome,

and therein find you a theatrical home

far from the fall of Troy, the Aeneid now,

the rise of Rome, or Augustus, anyhow,

and tracing Virgil to Catullus, in time,

and on to Ovid and each beautiful rhyme —

not to praise you, my persona non grata,

nor any of the other automata

that imitate tragedy out of boredom

like a debauchee lounging in his whoredom,

but to show how drama and poetry mean

more than an actor speaking lines for a scene.