by Helen Graebner

What unknown artisan
Wrought here so truly?
Two thousand years ago
Used chisel on the rough,
Resisting marble
To shape these slender columns
Standing lined against the azure
Of this cloudless
Summer sky?

Three columns only still remain
Above the ruins that were Corinth --
A once proud, bustling Latin city
In this parched, rocky
Land of Greece.

Was he, the workman, once a Grecian freeman,
Now enslaved, serving a Roman master?
Did he go home at night
To a small stone hut
To eat a meal of cheese and bread and olives,
Content with work well done?

Did he one day drop tools
And go with others --
Shepherds, soldiers, merchants,
Housewives, students,
Romans, Greeks, Egyptians,
Persians, Hebrews --
To stand together in the market place
To listen to a teacher --
One called Paul:
Jew, Roman-citizen, Apostle --
Talk about good news of a new kind of God
Whose name was Jesus
Whose call was one of love?

And did perhaps he hear
Paul say that day
What later on the Apostle wrote:
"These three abide:
And the greatest of these is love."
And did the mason listen and believe
Or did he turn away, unheeding,
Back to the old familiar gods and ways?

The oleanders bloom today
In pink and white
As they did then.
Above the gnarled and twisted trunks
The silvery grey leaves of olive trees
Still ripple in the wind.
The heat waves shimmer
From the ancient rocky Corinth street.

Three pillars stand against
The brilliant sky
Of Greece.
Three words come sounding
Down the years:
The greatest of these is Love.

Corinth Ruins
by Diane Graebner

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