Edmund Griffiths  

E d m u n d   G r i f f i t h s

In Colchis

We’re too clever for miracles now––and no bad thing.
Few of us make the dangerous pilgrimage East
                to watch useless fire spurting from the soil
                by a different sea; we care little for our grandparents’

surly leviathan gods, and the Ríoni now
runs sparkling through Colchis unfreighted with bronze and blood,
                nor, in my time, has any eccentric attempted
                the Fleece. Their majesties have quite given up

performing the dance that recalled the springtime to Colchis
from the cuckoo lands: they find it comes unbidden.
                And their daughter Medea explores in the garden
                like any child, her playthings a coloured stone,

a curving branch,—but never the moon and stars.
I expect she will not be taught the songs to calm
                that old giant in the North still screaming from his rock
                or the Lady of the Animals who haunts our woodland;

just as even we, the much-laughed-at ‘palace conservatives’,
admit she may never need and will never learn
                more than the rudiments of the ancient sovereigns’
                rigorous arts. It is not those days.

And we would, I think, be wrong to feel any nostalgia;
though it’s probably true we’ve lost as well as gained
                by rejecting the wonder and dread and spectacle
                of the former times as thoroughly as we have.