What is the significance of the title to the theme of the Stephen Vincent Benet's "By the Waters of Babylon"?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The title is taken from the first line of Psalm 137, “By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept,/ when we remembered thee, Oh Sion.” The Israelites in this Psalm have been taken captive in Babylon and are mourning their exile from their holy city of Jerusalem, and yet at the same time, the psalm looks forward to when the Jews shall be freed from this captivity and Babylon destroyed. Thus the title of the story has the sense of the post-nuclear society as one of exiles lamenting their situation. But also, New York, like Babylon, has been destroyed because of its own warlike nature. The grief in the story is both for the destruction of the cities (like New York) and for exile from them.


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