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Cassandra

Friedrich Schiller 1759 (Marbach am Neckar) – 1805 (Weimar)



Mirth the halls of Troy was filling,
  Ere its lofty ramparts fell;
  From the golden lute so thrilling
  Hymns of joy were heard to swell.
  From the sad and tearful slaughter
  All had laid their arms aside,
  For Pelides Priam's daughter
  Claimed then as his own fair bride.

  Laurel branches with them bearing,
  Troop on troop in bright array
  To the temples were repairing,
  Owning Thymbrius' sovereign sway.
  Through the streets, with frantic measure,
  Danced the bacchanal mad round,
  And, amid the radiant pleasure,
  Only one sad breast was found.

  Joyless in the midst of gladness,
  None to heed her, none to love,
  Roamed Cassandra, plunged in sadness,
  To Apollo's laurel grove.
  To its dark and deep recesses
  Swift the sorrowing priestess hied,
  And from off her flowing tresses
  Tore the sacred band, and cried:

  "All around with joy is beaming,
  Ev'ry heart is happy now,
  And my sire is fondly dreaming,
  Wreathed with flowers my sister's brow
  I alone am doomed to wailing,
  That sweet vision flies from me;
  In my mind, these walls assailing,
  Fierce destruction I can see."

  "Though a torch I see all-glowing,
  Yet 'tis not in Hymen's hand;
  Smoke across the skies is blowing,
  Yet 'tis from no votive brand.
  Yonder see I feasts entrancing,
  But in my prophetic soul,
  Hear I now the God advancing,
  Who will steep in tears the bowl!"

  "And they blame my lamentation,
  And they laugh my grief to scorn;
  To the haunts of desolation
  I must bear my woes forlorn.
  All who happy are, now shun me,
  And my tears with laughter see;
  Heavy lies thy hand upon me,
  Cruel Pythian deity!"

  "Thy divine decrees foretelling,
  Wherefore hast thou thrown me here,
  Where the ever-blind are dwelling,
  With a mind, alas, too clear?
  Wherefore hast thou power thus given,
  What must needs occur to know?
  Wrought must be the will of Heaven--
  Onward come the hour of woe!"

  "When impending fate strikes terror,
  Why remove the covering?
  Life we have alone in error,
  Knowledge with it death must bring.
  Take away this prescience tearful,
  Take this sight of woe from me;
  Of thy truths, alas! how fearful
  'Tis the mouthpiece frail to be!"

  "Veil my mind once more in slumbers
  Let me heedlessly rejoice;
  Never have I sung glad numbers
  Since I've been thy chosen voice.
  Knowledge of the future giving,
  Thou hast stolen the present day,
  Stolen the moment's joyous living,--
  Take thy false gift, then, away!"

  "Ne'er with bridal train around me,
  Have I wreathed my radiant brow,
  Since to serve thy fane I bound me--
  Bound me with a solemn vow.
  Evermore in grief I languish--
  All my youth in tears was spent;
  And with thoughts of bitter anguish
  My too-feeling heart is rent."

  "Joyously my friends are playing,
  All around are blest and glad,
  In the paths of pleasure straying,--
  My poor heart alone is sad.
  Spring in vain unfolds each treasure,
  Filling all the earth with bliss;
  Who in life can e'er take pleasure,
  When is seen its dark abyss?"

  "With her heart in vision burning,
  Truly blest is Polyxene,
  As a bride to clasp him yearning.
  Him, the noblest, best Hellene!
  And her breast with rapture swelling,
  All its bliss can scarcely know;
  E'en the Gods in heavenly dwelling
  Envying not, when dreaming so."

  "He to whom my heart is plighted
  Stood before my ravished eye,
  And his look, by passion lighted,
  Toward me turned imploringly.
  With the loved one, oh, how gladly
  Homeward would I take my flight
  But a Stygian shadow sadly
  Steps between us every night."

  "Cruel Proserpine is sending
  All her spectres pale to me;
  Ever on my steps attending
  Those dread shadowy forms I see.
  Though I seek, in mirth and laughter
  Refuge from that ghastly train,
  Still I see them hastening after,--
  Ne'er shall I know joy again."

  "And I see the death-steel glancing
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:18 min read
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Friedrich Schiller

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet philosopher historian and playwright During the last seventeen years of his life Schiller struck up a productive if complicated friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang Goethe with whom he frequently discussed issues concerning aesthetics and encouraged Goethe to finish works he left merely as sketches this relationship and these discussions led to a period now referred to as Weimar Classicism They also worked together on Die Xenien The Xenies a collection of short but harshly satirical poems in which both Schiller and Goethe verbally attacked those persons they perceived to be enemies of their aesthetic agenda. more…

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