I was struck by a rather enjoyable poem wherein the devil played a major role: whereas I could find pleasure in the poem as mere fiction along the lines of mythology, I found it jarring the way in which Satan’s character was portrayed. I would almost describe him as naive regarding human nature, wants, and desires. Having just come off of reading The Monk, by Matthew Gregory Lewis, and holding a concept of Lucifer that in no way lends itself any semblance of misapprehension toward the human heart, I was taken completely aback by this poem’s conclusion.
And so upon my bed I tossed that night pondering the Accuser. My mind turned on his pride, how he would be God (Isaiah.) What a terrible god he is, how true C. S. Lewis’ description in the Screwtape Letters that all would be consumed by, as Screwtape himself puts it, “Our Father below.” Would be, if he were God.
But the poem was good, and such inversions of the devil’s character may have literary merit. What I’m concerned with, at least from a Christian perspective, is my culture’s general abeyance of recognizing evil, especially complex evil. The devil is not the mustache twirling black hated cartoon villain, or more precisely, he is not that in his entirety. Speaking neither from the experience of age, nor the authority of one well learned upon the subject—my only right to speak may be in that all too human condition: the embroilments of sin—I would paint the character of the devil as one close to perfection, and borrow the old image of the fallen angel.
He does not start as the villain, per se, nor does he approach you as one. How true the adage: The road to Hell is paved in good intentions. Are we tempted to evil by the stench of evil? no. Man follows the sweet perfumes of what seems right, of going any of the thousand ways his machinations and schemes draw him. It is in this that error comes: we like the builders of Babble think to seat ourselves in God’s throne.
What was it that serpent of old sang? Did he tempt Eve with promises lewd and filthy? Far from it. He promised her a lie; told her that she could be as God, knowing good and evil. It is here that all temptation leading away from the ordinate is distilled into its base component. We see it in Star Wars when Vader offers Luke rule of the galaxy, and we know it in ourselves when we decide we know what is good and what is evil, when we try to sit in God’s throne.
I would suggest—if you can enjoy a fictionalized devil—that you check out the poem, The Devil and the Girl, but more so would I say: be ye wary of imagining yourself the arbiter of truth.
As an aside let me state that I really enjoyed Sable’s poem, and this is in no way meant to detract from her art.