Monologue for Cassandra

05/02/2012 § Leave a comment

It’s me, Cassandra.
And this is my city covered with ashes.
And this is my rod, and the ribbons of a prophet.
And this is my head full of doubts.

It’s true, I won.
What I said would happen
hit the sky with a fiery glow.
Only prophets whom no one believes
witness such things,
only those who do their job badly.
And everything happens so quickly,
as if they had not spoken.

Now I remember clearly
how people, seeing me, broke off in mid-sentence.
Their laughter stopped.
They moved away from each other.
Children ran towards their mothers.
I didn’t even know their vague names.
And that song about a green leaf–
nobody ever finished singing it in front of me.

I loved them.
But I loved them from a height.
From above life.
From the future. Where it’s always empty
and where it’s easy to see death.
I am sorry my voice was harsh.
Look at yourselves from a distance, I cried,
look at yourselves from a distance of stars.
They heard and lowered their eyes.

They just lived.
Not very brave.
Doomed.
In their departing bodies, from the moment of birth.
But they had this watery hope,
a flame feeding on its own glittering.
They knew what a moment was.
How I wish for one moment, any,
before–
I was proved right.
So what. Nothing comes of it.
And this is my robe scorched by flames.
And these are the odds and ends of a prophet.
And this is my distorted face.
The face that did not know its own beauty.

Wislawa Szymborska

trans. Grazyna Drabik and Sharon Olds

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