Jane Wilde

27 December 1821 – 3 February 1896

Cassandra. From Schiller

Joy in Ilion's hall resoundeth,
Ere the mighty city fell;
Festive hymns of triumph sounded
With the gold harp's richest swell.
Each stern warrior rests at last
From that strife of direst slaughter;
For the brave Pelides weds
Royal Priam's loveliest daughter.

Troop on troop, with laurel garlands,
Slowly swept the bridal train
Onward to the sacred temple
Where arose the Thymbrian's fane.
By them ran, with long hair streaming,
Ivy‐crownéd Mænades;
One alone, of sorrow dreaming,
Wandered in her wretchedness.

Joyless, while they chant their praises
None to soothe her, none to love
Did Cassandra tread the mazes
Of Apollo's laurel grove;
To the wild wood's deepest shadow
Fled the mystic maiden now,
And she dashed the priestess‐fillet
Wildly from her throbbing brow.

"Everywhere are sounds of gladness,
From each happy heart awoke;
I alone must rove in sadness,
I alone must grief invoke.
Joy illumes my father's features,
Garlanded my sisters stand
Yet I hear the rushing pinions
Of Destruction o'er our land.

"Wildly high a torch is flashing,
But 'tis not from Hymen's hand;
Upward see the red stream dashing,
But 'tis not an altar brand.
Costly viands, festal dances,
Wait the bridegroom and the bride
Yet the Avenger's step advances,
Who will crush them in their pride.

"And they mock my prophet wailing,
And they scorn my words of woe;
Fatal gift and unavailing
Still I've wandered to and fro,
Shunn'd by all the happy round me,
Scorned by all where'er I trod;
Heavily thou hast foredoomed me,
Oh! thou mighty Pythian God!

"Why on me was laid the mission:
Lift the future's mystic shroud?
Why to me the seer's vision
'Mid a spirit‐darkened crowd?
When the mortal arm is weak,
Wherefore give the prophet's power?
Can it turn the stream, or break
Clouds of woe that darkly lower?

"Wherefore lift the pall o'ershading
Dark and dread Futurity?
Ignorance is joy unfading
Knowledge, death and misery.
Oh! recall thy mournful mission
Take the future from my sight:
Fatal is the prophet's vision
To the form that shrines its light.

"Give me back the happy blindness,
Ere my childhood felt thy spell;
Never sang I in joy's wildness
Since I heard thy oracle.
Clear the future lies before me,
But the present veiled away;
Oh! to life and joy restore me
Take thy cruel gift away!

"Never round my perfumed tresses
May the bridal wreath entwine;
'Mid thy temple's drear recesses
Doomed in loneliness to pine.
Never o'er my youth of weeping
Did one happy moment rise
Never aught but sorrow reaping
From thy fatal mysteries.

"See my gay companions round me,
Blessed with all that love can give;
I alone, my youth consuming,
Live to weep, and weep to live.
Vain to me the sun, the skies,
The flowers on the green earth bending;
Who the joys of life would prize
That could know their bitter ending?

"Thou, Polyxena, art happy
In thy love's first deep excess,
Hellas gives her bravest hero
To thy young heart's fond caress.
Proudly is her bosom heaving,
Conscious of her bridegroom's love,
Whilst her dreams of pleasure weaving,
Envies not the Gods above.

"And I, too, have trembled gazing
Upon one my heart adored
In his deep eyes' soft appraising
Reading love's unspoken word.
Bridal vows I'd fain have uttered,
Oh, to him how willingly!
But there stepped a Stygian spectre
Nightly between him and me.

"Pale and hideous phantoms haunt me,
From the realms of Proserpine;
Ghastly shades of gloom confront me,
Everywhere my steps incline;
Even in festive scenes of pleasure,
Stifling bright youth's careless glee
Oh! that I could know the treasure
Of a young heart's gaiety!

"Ha! the murderer's steel is beaming!
The murderer's eye glares wildly bright!
Whither shall I fly the gleaming
Of the Future's lurid light?
All in vain I turn my glances
Still the vision's ghastly hand
Points my doom as it advances:
Death within the stranger's land."

Does the phophet‐maiden falter?
Hark! those wild disordered cries!
Slain before the sacred altar,
Dead the son of Thetis lies.
Eris shakes her wreathed serpents
All the Gods their temples shun
And a thunder‐cloud is resting
Heavily on Ilion!
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