a poem by
LACHLAN BROOKS | Actor + Poet
Most of my poems come about when I suddenly think of a phrase, usually two or three words strung together in some unusual way, and then the poem fills in all around that kernel. In my own life, it is sources of both joy and frustration that drive the desire to write, and often a combination of the two—when the trains are delayed and I’m stuck underground, or when I hear a clichéd phrase, and it strikes me in a new way. I’ve never liked the saying “ignorance is bliss,” and this poem came about when I began to think of its implications for the pursuit of knowledge.
Photo by Zohre Nemati
BLISS, she said—blustering Cassandra,
bloated with futures, rewarded with pasts,
and met, in between, with the diabolical shrug,
and the tug of knowledge, the firsts and lasts;
blistering Cassandra, festering Cassandra,
soliloquy and jestering Cassandra,
gesturing at nothing, all jitters and shudders,
the gloaming of endtimes, all starts and stutters—
oh, silly Cassandra! oh, classic Cassandra!
Always full of tomorrows, predictions and fictions,
all knotted with sorrows—oh, false Cassandra,
falsetto Cassandra, keening and careening
into hells and hereafters, where ignorance is bliss,
where ignorance is comfort and comfort is this—
blindness, the kindness of being ill–informed:
to know or know nothing, knowledge deformed—
but blissful, no bluster, no muster, no wist,
but wistful, unknowing, but knowing of this:
the fact of the matter for the former, the latter,
for knowing–unknown and ignorant she,
is that, in an instant, she would offer her sight
for a minute of darkness, hagridden she,
bliss, she said, forgotten Cassandra, the kiss,
she said, of floating free, of gloating and smote
by a blast of cold, smitten, frostbitten, obscured
by the old, the chthonic ideal that still has hold:
that if wisdom is grief, then ignorance is cure,
the tiniest wisdom takes an age to unfold,
and if wisdom is tainted, ignorance is pure.
Bliss, she said, crying–wolf Cassandra—
but charisma fails the best of minds, behind,
left behind—it’s a failure of delivery—
if anything; her honesty sounds like mockery,
and her audiences flock elsewhere, stop,
go, going, gone, beware of false messiahs,
peddling silence, and peddling bliss, and
the nightmare of knowledge comes down to this:
sublime, the words that history forgets:
those who know little inflate most, the abyss; it’s
the weightlessness of ignorance, of history’s wreck:
and supreme and terrible, the arrogance of bliss.
Actor + Poet
I am a New York City based writer and actor, and a recent graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, with a B.F.A. in drama and a minor in linguistics, having studied in New York and London. My poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Chronogram, Sheila-Na-Gig and Her Heart Poetry. In May 2017, I received NYU Tisch’s undergraduate Artist and Scholar Award. Aside from my acting work, I balance several jobs doing academic research (mostly regarding Shakespeare and Renaissance studies), personal assistant work, and proofreading. My spare time is taken up by playing the piano, studying languages, and visiting museums. I see all of these areas of interest as feeding off of and enhancing one another; I would not act without an interest in language; I would not write without an interest in academic research.
Enjoy more of Lachlan’s work at her website, lachlanbrooks.com.