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CASSANDRA, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: And mirth was in the halls of troy
Last Line: Hangs black on ilion.
Alternate Author Name(s): Schiller, Friedrich Von
Subject(s): Cassandra; Mythology - Greek

AND mirth was in the halls of Troy,
Before her towers and temples fell;
High peal'd the choral hymns of joy,
Melodious to the golden shell.
The weary had reposed from slaughter —
The eye forgot the tear it shed;
This day King Priam's lovely daughter
Shall great Pelides wed!

Adorn'd with laurel boughs, they come,
Crowd after crowd—the way divine,
Where fanes are deck'd—for gods the home —
And to the Thymbrian's solemn shrine.
The wild Bacchantic joy is madd'ning
The thoughtless host, the fearless guest;
And there, the unheeded heart is sadd'ning
One solitary breast!

Unjoyous in the joyful throng,
Alone, and linking life with none,
Apollo's laurel groves among
The still Cassandra wander'd on!
Into the forest's deep recesses
The solemn Prophet-Maiden pass'd,
And, scornful, from her loosen'd tresses,
The sacred fillet cast!

"To all its arms doth Mirth unfold,
And every heart foregoes its cares;
And Hope its busy in the old;
The bridal-robe my sister wears.
But I alone, alone am weeping;
The sweet delusion mocks not me —
Around these walls destruction sweeping
More near and near I see!

"A torch before my vision glows,
But not in Hymen's hand it shines;
A flame that to the welkin goes,
But not from holy offering-shrines;
Glad hands the banquet are preparing,
And near, and near the halls of state
I hear the God that comes unsparing;
I hear the steps of Fate.

"And men my prophet-wail deride!
The solemn sorrow dies in scorn;
And lonely in the waste, I hide
The tortured heart that would forewarn.
Amidst the happy, unregarded,
Mock'd by their fearful joy, I trod;
Oh, dark to me the lot awarded,
Thou evil Pythian god!

"Thine oracle, in vain to be,
Oh, wherefore am I thus consign'd
With eyes that every truth must see,
Lone in the City of the Blind?
Cursed with the anguish of a power
To view the fates I may not thrall,
The hovering tempest still must lower —
The horror must befall!

"Boots it the veil to lift, and give
To sight the frowning fates beneath?
For error is the life we live,
And, oh, our knowledge is but death!
Take back the clear and awful mirror,
Shut from mine eyes the blood-red glare
Thy truth is but a gift of terror
When mortal lips declare.

"My blindness give to me once more —
The gay dim senses that rejoice;
The Past's delighted songs are o'er
For lips that speak a Prophet's voice.
To me the future thou hast granted;
I miss the moment from the chain —
The happy Present-Hour enchanted!
Take back thy gift again!

"Never for me the nuptial wreath
The odor-breathing hair shall twine;
My heavy heart is bow'd beneath
The service of thy dreary shrine.
My youth was but by tears corroded, —
My sole familiar is my pain,
Each coming ill my heart foreboded,
And felt if first—in vain!

"How cheer'ly sports the careless mirth —
The life that loves, around I see;
Fair youth to pleasant thoughts give birth —
The heart is only sad to me.
Not for mine eyes the young spring gloweth,
When earth the happy feast-day keeps;
The charm of life who ever knoweth
That looks into the deeps?

"Wrapt in thy bliss, my sister, thine
The heart's inebriate rapture-springs; —
Longing with bridal arms to twine
The bravest of the Grecian kings.
High swells the joyous bosom, seeming
Too narrow for its world of love,
Nor envies, in its heaven of dreaming,
The heaven of gods above!

"I too might know the soft control
Of one the longing heart could choose,
With look which love illumes with soul —
The look that supplicates and woos.
And sweet with him, where love presiding
Prepares our hearth, to go—but, dim,
A Stygian shadow, nightly gliding,
Stalks between me and him!

"Forth form the grim funereal shore,
The Hell-Queen sends her ghastly bands;
Where'er I turn—behind—before —
Dumb in my path—a Spectre stands!
Wherever gayliest, youth assembles —
I see the shades in horror clad,
Amidst Hell's ghastly People trembles
One soul for ever sad!

"I see the steel of Murder gleam —
I see the Murderer's glowing eyes —
To right—to left, one gory stream —
One circling fate—my flight defies!
I may not turn my gaze—all seeing,
Foreknowing all, I dumbly stand —
To close in blood my ghastly being
In the far strangers' land!"

Hark! while the sad sounds murmur round,
Hark, from the Temple-porch, the cries! —
A wild, confused, tumultuous sound! —
Dead the divine Pelides lies!
Grim Discord rears her snakes devouring —
The last departing god hath gone!
And, womb'd in cloud, the thunder, lowering,
Hangs black on Ilion.

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