Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cassandra's Band

The Greek myth concerning Cassandra daughter of King Priam has become a literary metaphor for a situation in which someone's accurate prophecy or warning is ignored.

The day is green and clear—so clear—
And down the street the people hear
Cassandra's band, so drab and drear
'Mid transient colors of the year.

The day is green and oh so clear—
“Hear, hear us,” cries Cassandra, “hear!
Your minds are poisoned with false cheer
For money is the god you fear.”

The day is red—Isaiah cries,
“Take heed, you hearts that once were wise!
From bloody hands God turns his eyes,
And will not bless this people's lies.”

The day is red—a poet speaks,
The wisest man: “This country reeks
Of death and dying babes, and seeks
Prosperity to reach its peaks—

“Yet children are a great reward,
A heritage from God the Lord.
This point you people have ignored;
Prepare to face the wrath you've stored.”

The day is dark—cries one young seer,
“Your women have no children dear;
Your men lost faith and reason here.”
—At Kipling's voice th'assemblied leer.

The day is black, and all is clear
But at the dreary band they jeer.
Cassandra sheds one lonely tear
And knows the promised time is near.

Edwin Arlington Robinson, "Cassandra."
Isaiah 1:15-17
Psalm 127:3-5
Rudyard Kipling, "The Gods of the Copybook Headings."

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