Back in the land of Adam and Eve,
Were both cast down to fell disease
Had both learned war, half wrath goddess
To fend off cold, themselves caress,
Their direst state could not restore
The universe they had before:
In heaven's fine palace once they dwelt,
Now daub and wattled, grass-roofed hell;
Where streams of silver flashed with gold,
Torrential soil and flotsam flowed;
Where lawns of dawn flashed emerald,
The landless paupers down stumbled;
And heaven's stars forbade them light,
Recoiled to specks and hid in fright
And so went on this dreadful fable:
She had Cain and he slew Abel
And brought more curses on his race
So man fell down in more disgrace.
The signs grew worse with passing years
And men were taught both crime and fear
So this went on for many a year.
Then came one whom all eschewed:
His force was great; his words were few.
And for this they thought him weird
This man roamed round and grew his beard
Till one day Satan came,
Of curiosity, inquired his name.
'To give you that would be your gain,
'Would yours augment and mine profane.'
The guarded fiend attempted stealth,
Intrigued by words and offered wealth,
If such a man as lived on earth
Could sink with him and share his mirth
Through dank black caves where riddled Styx
Flowed round an upturned crucifix
And all that 'scaped this Inferno
Would freeze in Hell's unthawing snow
Where none who came thus far below
Could back to earthly pleasures go
And thus old Lucy set his challenge
To go with him through flames deep orange
Past scoffing demons hissing loudly
Dismissed them all by waving proudly
And as they passed the evil herd
Some spat on him, some fangs they bared
Except their lord, who in his anguish
Began to, and did languish
So that his court which loomed more tall
Looked on as master shrank more small
And as they neared the ruddy gate
They stood in silence and did wait.
'What will you give me if I breach
This palisade that all should teach?'
He asked old Nick who by his side
Stood uneasy, though still he smiled.
He shook his head and all forlorn
Said, 'I will give you what I own,
'For in this kingdom guaranteed,
'There is a life of misery,
'And if you enter by this gate
'To stay in it will be your fate.'
He scratched his beard in grim debate
And weighed his love against his hate,
Which was less and which more great,
Till at long last all hell's legion
Were gathering round from every region
As one he thought of from above
The waiting votress whom he loved
Swelled his breast and gave courage
And in he went to hell's outrage.
There was a hush
Out he rushed with hell's great jewel,
A ruby kindled for the cruel,
Glowing angry, congealed blood
Not seen before but by God.
The demons who before did mock,
Their eyes bulged out and mouths were stopped
Though some began to smile with glee
To see such raw intensity.
To think his mistress pined up there
With skin of snow and golden hair
Would bring him out of this despair
Lifted up from scarlet lair.
So upcast through velvet tunnel
A chariot skyward did him funnel
Towards his grand apotheosis
No single demon did he miss
At first they lined the tunnel side
Till Nick himself starts to deride
And charges him to go to heaven,
Out of the oven as to leaven.
He casts the ruby far and wide ,
And in the rush he is baptized.
The white-robed maid awaits him still
Reclining on the sun-kissed hill
Like summer trapped by winter still.
He takes her up when all is done:
Traduced and sleeping, Rhine maiden
But now the earthly men of skill
Pursue him to confound his will:
The beggar bold, the scheming dwarf
With eloquence and lying art
Thwart his right, pervert his pleasure
And try to steal away the treasure
So now he rises with them high
Where bluer turns the cloudy sky
And clustered sapphires roundly shine.
The feathered angels there police
Until he reached the bow of space
The clustered stars where none dare race.
There far below across the void
The lesser ones look on annoyed
As beset in God's gemmed heaven
Shine sapphire clusters, at six and sevens.
Beyond the universe still dark
From whence all come but none embark
Each time returned from this clear void
They used upon him thorn and scourge
And six times hell like this annoyed
To this lone space through this was urged
And on the sixth and greatest effort
Celestial silver broached and wrought,
From the sphere tore sapphire cluster
With love and strength as gods can muster.
The seventh heaven to the same
Descends to mark and stake his claim;
From this brooch he tears a sphere
And forms a ring for his love dear
Which humbly on her finger fits
Restoring that which theft eclipsed.
All is over, all now one
Both fly up from whence they come
Heaven and earth enclosed in flame
Till they are formed in birth again.
You're at the bottom!