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.
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,
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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