Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MALIGNED MORTALITY, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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MALIGNED MORTALITY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In upper space, in the nether abyss
Last Line: And that heaven does her right.
Subject(s): Heaven; Hell; Paradise


In upper space, in the nether abyss,
'Twixt which our Earthly spheroid drifts,
Rapture there is and torment there is --
But never the mortal gifts.

As in upper azure, in nether night
Where the wicked are flayed for their souls' rebirth,
They know pain as the virtuous know delight --
But both have need of Earth.

When the virtuous grow too good for God,
When the spirit of sin seems quenched, not changed
To a purer and braver flame -- His nod
Shows them the Earth they ranged.

Then, while demons lean on their goads, the bad
With tormented eyes upturn their sight
To the vivid human life they had,
Passing above their night.

Then the cherubs point from Heaven to praise,
And the flustered spirits may not pray,
But peer from on high, and must mark the ways
Of such folk as once were they.

How salutary for blessed and cursed,
Where goodness and sin are so much discussed!
For most of Heaven was just -- at first --
This humorous human dust!

And most of Hell dreamed noble strife,
On Earth, with such thieves as Time and Fate.
Re-viewing the dauntlessness of life
They feel less desolate!

So, though many a creed discount her worth,
Here is a dream for the dead of night:
That Hell takes heart at our mother Earth
And that Heaven does her right.





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