May 19, 2007

Lucifer Shivers

...the devils also believe, and tremble. — James 3:19

I saw the vast immensities of light,
the three-ringed circles of the Three-Self’d-One;
I, standing under, understood aright,
discerning God the Father, Spirit, Son.
But then, when God made Man, I had begun
To lose the thread of what God was about
In making creatures who, without a doubt,
Resembled and reflected God so well.

For this, and this alone, I went to Hell,
because I can not fathom, see the way
or why of God’s self-image-making; fell
to dark, cold exile from eternal day.
For this I lost my lofty seat above:
I can not grasp this mystery called “Love.”

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Allen said...

A lovely and ingenious sonnet. Is the form -- rhyme royal transitioning to English sonnet -- your own invention? When the form is taken together with the subject, the poem evoke echoes of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton (not to mention today's gospel.)

Anonymous said...

It is indeed formally lovely, and the subject matter is especially intriguing. God through Lucifer's eyes is a perspective one doesn't often encounter. At the moment, I can think of only one other poem written entirely from that perspective, Lucille Clifton's eight part poem, "Brothers." If you'd like to read it, I found a copy here.


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks for the kind words, allen and fs. As to the sonnet form, this is my sort of compromise form between Petrachian and English. I like having the sextet in which to develop the "response" but (as a former Shakespearian actor) I love the closing couplet too much to omit it. I also like linking the rhyme scheme between the octet and sextet in terza rima style -- so there's also a salute to Dante!

The real inspiration for the subject, in addition to the verse from James, is the Anglo-Saxon verse version of Genesis, in which Satan has a long address. It's said Milton was familiar with this text. My favorite line is "Ic a ne geseah lathran landscipe" -- I've never seen a loathlier landscape!

The thing that fascinates me about Satan, as portrayed in the tradition, is how "he just doesn't get it." And that's what I've tried to capture here.