Poetry and People

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Cassandra is a poem written by Wislawa Szymborska, here the poet is speakin in the guise of mythical Cassandra. The poem begins with the poetic persona making an affirmation. (It’s me, Cassandra). A picture of Poland under the Soviet rule is painted in the first stanza. Just as Cassandra’s prediction fell on deaf ears, even the poet’s voice was unheard. Nobody paid attention to her literary works. She said the situation would lead the country into destruction, but those who believed her were the people who had no power in their hands. She recounts as to how she has failed the city (… only those who do their job badly) and everything has turned into dust and debris now. When the poet was obligated to tell the truth, the people edged away, and nobody respected her words or the truth. People stopped laughing, talking and dispersed. Children were afraid of the elders’ silence that they ran to their mothers. The song about the green leaf was never finished; it was aborted, just like the people’s happiness. Next the poet moves on to talk about her failure, both as a poet and a prophet. Her failure lied in the thought of considering herself different from the rest. When she stood on the pedestal and tried to talk to her people, no one paid heed as she was not amongst them. As her voice was superior, they thought she had no idea of their woes and troubles. She regrets the fact that she dint behave like a commoner. The people did not live, they merely existed. They were not very brave. There was an understanding of the problem but it was combined with powerlessness. The poet concludes by saying, though the prophecy was right it was too late. She takes us back to the mythical Cassandra and tells us just like how Cassandra met her end; even the poet faced her failure. And so did her city, the beautiful land was distorted and depicted the end.