The Riddle of the Sphinx

For eons the Sphinx reposed motionless in the sand, serenely untroubled by outer or inner occurrences.

One day a strange but appealing sound drifted on the desert wind, arousing a restless curiosity in the Sphinx. It rose and followed the sound to a man holding a stringed instrument.

"What is that sound?" the Sphinx asked.

"It is called a poem," the man said. "A Greek word meaning 'to make.'"

"How does one make a poem?"

The man tried to answer the question, but his explanation so confused the Sphinx that it lost patience and ate him.

For some time the Sphinx rested, hoping it would absorb the man's poetic ability. When that did not happen, it set out to rove about the world seeking poets to whom it posed the question. None could produce a satisfactory answer. So it ate all of them.

Finally it encountered wandering Homer and asked:

"How does one make a poem?"

Homer smiled, his blind eyes gazing far in their own way.

"Don't make the poem," he said. "Let the poem make you."

The Sphinx crouched down in the sand to ponder those words.

It is still there.