Allegory Of The Cave by Stephen Dunn
He climbed toward the blinding light
and when his eyes adjusted
he looked down and could see
his fellow prisoners captivated
by shadows; everything he had believed
was false. And he was suddenly
in the 20th century, in the sunlight
and violence of history, encumbered
by knowledge. Only a hero
would dare return with the truth.
So from the cave's upper reaches,
removed from harm, he called out
the disturbing news.
What lovely echoes, the prisoners said,
what a fine musical place to live.
He spelled it out, then, in clear prose
on paper scraps, which he floated down.
But in the semi-dark they read his words
with the indulgence of those who seldom read:
It's about my father's death, one of them said.
No, said the others, it's a joke.
By this time he no longer was sure
of what he'd seen. Wasn't sunlight a shadow too?
Wasn't there always a source
behind a source? He just stood there,
confused, a man who had moved
to larger errors, without a prayer.