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Given to Noah in his hand,
There with Plato as he taught,
Not evil omens from lost land,
Since antiquity it could be bought.

A gesture that can make a friend,
And ancients could have lit,
Holy at the Vatican,
From the grove it's split.

Some have tried to make it better,
It gets refined more and more,
But further from the fruit,
The more it becomes impure.

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    $\begingroup$ The pun in the title is somewhat clever, but also quite politically charged (at least here in the USA) and perhaps in poor taste. $\endgroup$ – Michael Seifert Jul 18 '16 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelSeifert, thank you. Puns are always in poor taste, and in the interest of not causing mass hysteria or even loss of life, I've changed it. $\endgroup$ – John Jul 18 '16 at 20:26
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You are referring to an

olive

Given to Noah in his hand,

After the flood, a dove returned an olive branch to Noah.

There with Plato as he taught,

Plato's Academy contained olive trees.

Not evil omens from lost land,

Nothing at the moment.

Since antiquity it could be bought.

Wikipedia: "As far back as 3000 BC, olives were grown commercially in Crete; they may have been the source of the wealth of the Minoan civilization."

A gesture that can make a friend

"To extend an olive branch is to make an offer of peace or to approach a foe in the spirit of conciliation."

And ancients would have lit

Olive oil was used as lamp/torch fuel long ago.

Holy at the Vatican

Rosary beads are often made from olive wood.

From the grove it's split.

Olive grove; splitting olives.

Some have tried to make it better, It gets refined more and more,

Olive oils are refined for different uses/grades.

But further from the fruit, The more it becomes impure.

The highest quality olive oil is the least refined.

Title:

'All lives' = 'olives => Olives always matter.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081353/?ref_=ttqt_qt_tt

Fun fact:

I despise olives.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can I at least assume you didn't already know Plato had olive groves? But I didn't know you hated olives. Unfortunately this was easier than I thought it was. Looking for olive oil specifically, but olive is fine. Didn't know about the rosaries either. I was referring to holy oil. Good work. $\endgroup$ – John Jul 18 '16 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ For the "evil omens" line, maybe referring to Aeneas offering an olive branch to Pallas? He's from a lost land (Troy) but this isn't an evil omen. $\endgroup$ – Daphne B Jul 18 '16 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ I know a decent amount of Biblical stuff, so the Noah bit tipped me off right away. Had no prior knowledge of the Academy's landscaping. $\endgroup$ – kayzeroshort Jul 18 '16 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ The fragment "evil omens" contains the word "olive" backwards. Not sure this is at all relevant though. $\endgroup$ – Paul Beckingham Jul 18 '16 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ @PaulBeckingham, I accepted the answer without it because it was so off the beaten path. Wish I could say it was related to Daphne's fine thought, but you have the correct answer for that one. $\endgroup$ – John Jul 19 '16 at 1:34
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I'm pretty sure it's an

Olive Branch, Since in Genesis 8:11 it states - When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf (Bough in some translations)! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.

Additionally,

olives are fairly plentiful in Greece (where Plato was from / lived).

And a gesture that could make a friend

could be extending an olive branch, used as a symbol of making peace

And ancients could also have lit

Branches from the olive tree could have been used as a torch, in addition to the oil itself being flammable

From the grove it's split.

Branches would have been split off from trees in a grove

Some have tried to make it better, It gets refined more and more,

Olive oil is frequently refined and attempted to be made more pure

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Puzzling.SE. This seems to be a good first answer :) $\endgroup$ – ABcDexter Jul 18 '16 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! I thought it was pretty good until I saw kayzeroshort's answer pop up. $\endgroup$ – Reibello Jul 18 '16 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ Aah, it's completely fine my friend. You'll definitely learn a lot here, welcome aboard... $\endgroup$ – ABcDexter Jul 18 '16 at 20:27

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