canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999


by David Solway

The fiend plunges out of light into abyss,
out of love into hate and envy,
out of much wealth into wretchedness,
ut dicit Ambrosius super Lucam.
The fiend is obstinate in evil
and cunning and subtle among all beings
and by convenable mingling of elements
he brings forth mischiefs of diverse kinds.
And what we may accomplish in due time
the fiend may do it suddenly
as did Pharoah’s wizards produce suddenly
serpents and frogs,
ut dicit glosa super Exodum.
The fiend summons tempests from the sea
by malignant insufflation,
he destroys the fruits of the earth
and the habitations of men
and even angels cannot withstand his malice.
When the fiend does one evil
immediately he grows tetchy to do another
and if he is put out of a man
he enters into swine
to trouble unreasonable beasts.
He snares men with guile of temptation
and darkens the eye
for lechery and discord and strife
and also he softens and buckles the will
to the love of things unlawful
by venomous pestilent persuasions.
The fiend is current
in all languages save Latin
which he disdains to speak from principle
and as a point of honour
but communicates mainly through appetite
which is his chief vernacular.
At the end of the world
he shall be so much more fervent to deceive
and to show the evil that he can do.
But when all the court of heaven
comes to the edge of the dome
then shall the fiend, the grizzly beast,
be clapped in chains
and hurled once more into abyss,
ut patet Apocalypsis.

But I am not consoled or comforted
although I love and fear the Lord,
for well I know
the fiend is my companion always,
now and at the end of the world,
awake in the midst of my slumber
as logothete and arch-preceptor,
the teacher who has taught me darkness,
and that such knowledge as the fiend conveys
no less than the Lord’s inspiring
is imperative to my craft,
ut dicit Bartolomaeus.




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ISSN 1494-6114. 

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