Even then Cassandra, who, by the god’s decree, is never
to be believed by Trojans, reveals our future fate with her lips. 

Virgil, The Aeneid (Kline translation)

Surcease, Cassandra, stop that whining.
We’ve heard what you have said. Enough.
Come pour yourself a glass of wine and
make, as they say, not war but love.

It makes no sense to think that people
don’t want to live in grace and peace.
Nobody’s there. Wipe your spittle.
The horse is neat and you’re amiss.

We get it, Danaans are evil…
You may dislike them all you want.
While you continue with your drivel,
we’ll get the horse, Athena’s bond.

What can go wrong? Think for a moment—
you’ll understand that you are wrong:
the horse is nice, the Greeks are gone, and,
by all accounts, Troy is strong.

Instead of being paranoid,
appreciate this work of art—
that’s what behooves us. In we’ll roll it.
The Greeks are stupid. We are smart.

So says Sinon, as well he knows.
But if it’s you who’s right, so what?
The world is old, and if it goes—
it’s gods’ unalterable plot.

If there is something to beware,
it’s quite high time for that to come:
the world is far beyond repair.
If you lament it, you are dumb.

The world’s already past its summit.
It’s rolling to its bitter end…
So welcome ye the plague that’s coming—
it’s here by popular demand.
It’s back by popular demand.



Michael Vanyukov is a Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Psychiatry, and Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. He immigrated to the United States 30 years ago as a refugee from the Soviet Union.

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5 Responses

  1. Daniel Kemper

    Oh this is nice and so well set for our time. A mass of people who cannot see their most popular ideas are causing their (and maybe our, because I don’t identify with them) destruction. Ending echo’s like The Hollow Men.

  2. Margaret Coats

    The demented elderly King Priam seems unable to speak seriously, but can deal with any interpretation of the horse (including Cassandra’s) because he is too far gone in senility to care what disaster might be forthcoming. Says that Cassandra and others who care are vain and foolish. Timely indeed.

    • Michael Vanyukov

      Thank you! If only that king was but a single person…

  3. Michael

    Thank you very much. This surely was not an attempt to merely retell the old story. It does seem timely, even though written six years ago.

  4. BDW

    As per Andrei Badeew:
    Although this poem by Mr. Vanyukhov is of six years ago, one of the hallmarks of classical poetry is that it alludes to classical poetry, or, as in this case, uses a classical moment with a New Millennial slant. Traditional poetry, too, offers tremendous opportunities; poets can use works of other literary periods to speak about their own times. Just this week, for instance, I wrote on Vergil’s Aeneas gazing at the muraled walls of Carthage. I have also been using, particularly these past few years, 20th century Russian poetry and prose—recently because of censorship: this week, Anna Akhmatova, last week Osip Mandelstam and Varlam Shalamov. I also wrote a poem on Navalny this week. Although I have felt a deep kinship with Russian Romantic, Realist, Modernist and Postmodern literature for decades, it really resonates with me right now. Just this morning I was reading excerpts from short stories of the friends, Vasily Grossman and Andrei Platonov.


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