The Seven Nights of Creation

(the ‘Argument’)


The Devil each night of the seven days of Creation
works in emulation of the Creator and produces
baneful things—fogs, poisonous plants, venomous
creatures, etc.—and at last tries to make a man in
imitation of Adam. He fails, recognises his failure,
and is obliged to own that his power cannot rival that
of the Creator, and that evil is less powerful than good.

Lo! what is this I make! Are these his limbs,
Bent inward, tottering 'neath the body's weight?
The body crutched by hairy spider-arms,
Surmounted by a face as who should say,
'Why hast thou made me? wherefore hast thou breathed
Spirit in this foul body? Let me be!'
The piteous visage puckers with its woe,
The strange black lips are working with a cry—
A cry and protest. Lo! the wrinkled palms
Are stretched forth helplessly and beat the dark.
So did not my great foe when he was made.
I saw his eye glow with the sense of power,
I saw all wild things crouch beneath that eye;
God gave him great dominion over all
And blessed him. Shall I bless my handiwork?
After thy kind be fruitful, lust, and eat;
All things I give thee in the earth and air—
Only depart and hide thee in the trees.
He rises from the ground to do my will
And seek a shelter. Can the being speak?
Stay, thing, and thank me for thy quickening.
The great eyes roll—my meaning is not there
Reflected as God's word was in the man's.
I, maker, bid thee speak, if speak thou canst!
Lo! what is this? My labour is in vain.
He plucks the grass-tufts aimlessly, and works
Palm within palm, then for a moment's space
Breaks off rough bark and throws it on the ground.
He hears me not. Oh! would the dawn delay,
So I might rise and perfect that I make,
Or rise and build again. Alas! the light
Is flaming forth to mock me. See, he sits
Helpless, uprooting grass. While all the world
Is thick with life renewed that fills my ears,
My last and greatest work is mockery.
Depart, O Ape! Depart and leave me foiled.

Choose another poem