On Milton and Dante

To each their own: let others speak
of hells where self-damnation wreaks
eternal havoc on the mind and soul;
its torments let their thoughts embrace,
imagining some devil’s face.
I will not heed such useless folderol.

It should suffice that where we are
has troubles quite enough to mar
our whim’s concept of beauty and heart’s ease,
but to repel all good there is,
for unseen promise, is hubris,
and shows our vain humility in shame.

What hells you make, keep for your own;
and if that means you must disown me,
then so be it — I am not to blame.

I do not worry for my fate,
on sulphured brimstone meditate,
or wince imagining my flesh on fire.
Instead, I seek right now right here,
to walk straight on, and have no fear,
accepting both the roses and their briar.
For if you’re acting kind and nice
in hopes of reaching paradise,
you’re only seeking payment or reward,

but I try to do good because
it’s worth the doing. If that’s flawed,
I’d rather know that Devil than your Lord.

20 JAN 2005

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