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{The Devil’s Case 1896}




“Far away, ’mong sea-girt islands
Dwelt a race of blue-eyed mortals—
From the happy groves of Hellas
Rose the lyric song of shepherds.

“Knowing nought of God the Father,
Innocent they were and happy,—
Merrily they piped, and round them
Danced my Satyrs and my Fauns.

“I, too, went and dwelt among them,
Gentle, wise, yet cloven-footed,—
Fruit and flowers they brought, and gladly
Hail’d me as the wood-god, Pan.”

While he spake his face grew gentle
As the shadows on the greensward,
From his throat came woodland music
Heard in Arcady of old.

“Taught by me they loved and welcomed                                            82 [5:i]
All the living powers of Nature—
Every tree was sweet and human,
Every fountain was a goddess.

“From the turquoise seas I summon’d
Aphrodité fair and naked—
Side by side we sang, and lovers
Gather’d hand in hand to listen.

“Fairer than the long-lost Eden
Seem’d the sea-girt land of shepherds,—
Never tree of fruit forbidden
Grew within the groves of Faunus.

“Suddenly the heavens above us
Darken’d, spirits passed in thunder,—
From the far Caucasian mountains
Came a cry of lamentation.

“Swift as light I travelled thither
Over waters torn with tempest,—
Nail’d unto a rock and bleeding
Hung Prometheus Purkaeus!

“While the vulture tore his entrails                                                       83
Not a sound the Titan utter’d,
But beneath the Cross lamenting
Gather’d woeful wailing women.

“Of my flesh this Christ was fashion’d,
From the side of me, the Devil,
He was born in the beginning,
Ev’n as Eve was born of Adam!

“On his calm undaunted spirit
Fell my heritage of sorrow—
Love for men, eternal pity
For the lot of living creatures.

“Then I knew that God was waking
From his stupor of inaction;
Darkly out of yonder heaven
Gazed the silent sphynx-like Face! . . .                                               [13:4]

“Taught by him, the mighty Titan,
Men had built a marble City,
Athens,—on the heights above it
Stood the snow-white Parthenon;

'In the streets and groves of Athens                                                     84
Calmly walk’d the seers and sages,
Words of wisdom dropped like honey
From the mouths of mighty teachers;

“Harp in hand went happy poets
With their singing robes about them,
Music as of birds and fountains,
Mingling sweetly, fill’d the air.

“Here, ev’n here, despite the Titan,
Priests of God and Death were busy:
In the Temples knelt the people
Seeking woeful signs and omens;

“There the image of Athené
Blink’d her eyes, and idols sweated,
While the Augurs, bloody-finger’d,
Read the entrails of the slain.

“Then to many a mighty poet
I unfolded Nature’s riddles:
Aeschylos, my word-compeller,
Sang the Titan’s martyrdom!

“Vain was all my loving labour!                                                          85
Tho’ I lavish’d gifts upon them,
Tho’ to witch their eyes with beauty
Phidias breathed his soul through stone,

“Tho’ the poets and the sages
Spread my peace and benediction,
Tho’ the laws of Earth and Heaven
Sifted were by gentle seers,

“Still the Priests of Heaven against me
Smote with all the strength of godhead,
Still the people, crouching dumbly,
Moan’d for miracles and signs.

“Vain was all my strife for mortals!
Vainly wrought my servant-angels!                                                      [23:ii]
Vainly toil’d Asclepios, vainly
Helen smiled, and Sappho sang!

“As a rainbow dies from Heaven,
As a snow-white cloud of summer
Breaks and fades, the pride of Hellas
Brighten’d, melted, past away!”                                                        [24:iv]


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
v.5, l.1: “Taught by me, they loved and welcomed
v.13, l.4: Gazed the silent Sphinx-like Face! . . .
v.23, l.2: Vainly wrought my servant angels!
v.24, l.4: Brighten’d, melted, pass’d away!’ ]




Piteously the stars of Heaven
Fix’d their million eyes upon him,—
While his dark form droopt, and slowly                                               [1:iii]
Darken’d, like a blackening brand;

Brightness of the Angel faded
Into darkness sad and baleful,—
Old at last he seem’d and human,
Bending ’neath the load of years;

In his voice I heard no longer
Music as of stars vibrating,
Sound of solemn psalms, or pipings
Of the merry flocks of Pan;

Nay, the voice that spake unto me
Broken seem’d, like chimes discordant
Ringing over lonely uplands
In the silence of the night.

“Thus,” he said, “the light of Hellas                                                      87
Died away in desolation,
Setting where it first had risen
’Mong the eastern pyramids!

“O’er the land of seers and poets
Blew the breath of God’s dark Angel,
Broken lay the marble statues
Of my tutelary gods!

“Meantime, like another Titan,
Rome had risen!—Strong and mighty,
From the mountains swarm’d the savage
Tribes of Romulus the shepherd.

“’Mong them walk’d my servant-angels
Teaching them the lore of Nature,—
Strong they grew and ever stronger
Till they conquered Earth and Sea.

“Earth and Sea I gave unto them,
Saying, ‘Surely ye are strongest!
Since no tyrants dwell among you,
Since ye know not fraud or fear!’

“Tutelary gods I gave them,                                                                88
Harmless gods whom they might worship,
Since I knew that in His creatures
God had sown the lust of godhead;

“Strong they grew and ever stronger,
Building thus their great Republic,—
Fair and great it rose, and o’er it
All the winds of plenty blew.

“Then, to mar my work forever,
God the Eternal Tyrant fashion’d
Lesser tyrants in His image,—
So His Cæsars rose, and reign’d!                                                       [12:iv]

“God’s they were, not mine, the Devil’s!
Nay, by Hades, I abjure them!
Freedom comes of Light and Knowledge,
Tyranny is born of God!

“Ever, since the world’s beginning,
I, the gentle Prince of Pity,
Taught one Trinity to mortals—
Wisdom, Love, and Self-control—

“‘Shed no blood, since God doth shed it!                                           89
Love each other, help each other,
Rise erect against all tyrants,’
Is my gospel evermore.

“‘Only for a little season
Shalt thou draw the breath of Being—
Try to make that little season
Bright and glad, in spite of God!’

“Turn the records of the Roman!
Read again the blood-stain’d pages!
See the spectres of the Cæsars
Passing on to endless night!

“Nay, but even here I triumph’d!
From the cesspool and the palace
Rose the cry of slaves and tyrants
Saying ‘Death alone is God!’

“So the crown of God descended
On the brows of Death, his angel!                                                      [19:ii]
So the Tyrant of Creation
Found no worshippers at last!

“Then, as in the eternal City                                                                90
I was wandering weary-hearted,
Outcast from the hideous revels
Where the crownéd Spectre reign’d,

“Sick of God and God’s creation,
I, the Devil, heard the crying
Of a voice amid the Desert,—
Saying, ‘Rejoice, the Christ is born!’

“Eastward flew I, and I found Him,
Best and worst of the Messiahs,
Walking meekly, meditating,
By the Lake of Galilee!”


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
v.1, l.3: While his dark form droop’d and slowly
v.12, l.4: So His Cæsars rose, and reigned!
v.19, l.2: On the brows of Death, His angel! ]




For a space his voice was silent—
In his hands his face was buried,
While the elemental Darkness
Clung about him like a cloud;

Wonderingly I gazed upon him,
For I knew that he was weeping—
Till, at last, again I saw him
Pointing angrily to Heaven.

Woefully, with snake-like glimmers,
Clung the coils of his black raiment,
Scornfully he laugh’d, and round him
Glimmer’d with a serpent’s eyes.

“Let Him rise, and keep his promise!                                                   [4:i]
Let Him wake who sleeps for ever!
King of poets and of dreamers
Was this moon-struck Son of God!                                                     [4:iv]

“Him I fronted in the desert,                                                                92
Pointing out his mad delusion,—
Fool, he wrapt his rags about him,—



“Feeble, gentle, Thaumaturgist!
What knew he of God the Father?
Pityingly I bent above him                                                                   [6:iii]
As he swung upon the Cross!

“Yea, and blest him, little knowing
How the seed of his delusion,
Sown in love and human kindness,
Should be reap’d on fields of blood.

“I, the Devil, as they style me,
Have dispensed a benediction!
He, the Christ, self-styled, self-chosen,
Has become a wingéd curse!

“Dead, his crown of thorns beside him,
In his sepulchre he slumbers,—
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes,
Never can he wake again!

“Yet the lies his folly father’d                                                               93
Live and multiply above him:
Lie the First! ‘A life hereafter
Shall redeem the wrongs of this!’

Lie the Second! ‘Love thy neighbour
As thyself!’ The dream, the fancy!
Were it true, each soul’s existence
Would be proved by self-negation.

Lie the Third! ‘About the morrow
Take no heed—sufficient ever
Is the evil of the moment—
Take no trouble to redress it!’

Lie the Fourth!—‘Lord God the Father
Loves his children and redeems them’—
He?—the loveless, pulseless, deathless,
Impotent Omnipotence!

“Well, he staked his life, and lost it!
Flock on flock of sheep have follow’d
That bell-wether of the masses
Into darkness and despair!

“Eighteen hundred years of Europe                                                      94
Have been wasted spite my warning:                                                   [15:ii]
‘Fools, one life is all God grants you,
Sweep your houses, heed your drains!

“‘Love each other, help each other,
Juggle not with dreams and phrases—
Make ephemeral existence
Beautiful, in spite of God!

“‘Pass from knowledge on to knowledge
Ever higher and supremer,
Clothe these bones with power and pity,
Live and love, altho’ ye die!

“‘Fear not, love not, and revere not
What transcends your understanding!
Keep your reverence and affection
For the brethren whom ye know!’

“Fools, they heard but did not heed me!
Far away from ’mong the vapours
Came the sound of their bell-wether
Tinkling to the same old tune!

“While the poets, priests, and prophets                                              95
Gather’d, crying ‘Listen! listen!’
To the church-bells’ ululation
Rose the Christian holocaust!

“While the haggard priests and prophets
Pray’d aloud and cried for wonders,
Christs of Cyprus and Tyana
Heal’d the sick and raised the dead.

“God had conquered, with his darkness
Blotting out my stars of promise;
Three times to the mad Plotinus
He revealed his sphinx-like features.                                                    [22:iv]

“God had conquer’d, Death was reigning
O’er the lands of Light and Morning;
Plato’s music turned to discord
In the mouth of Porphyry.

“Thro’ the world a spectral Shepherd
Walk’d, knee-deep in blood of martyrs,—
Death the Christ, whom men call’d Jesus,
Till they crown’d him Pope, at Rome!


v.5, l.4: ‘Satana, opisw mou!’ - “opisw mou satana”: ‘Get thee behind me, Satan!’ from the Bible, specifically Luke 4:8 (Christ’s temptation in the wilderness), but also occurs in Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33 when Christ uses the phrase to rebuke Peter. Buchanan uses the Greek version, and to avoid font problems I have used a .jpg.
Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
v.4, l.1: ‘Let Him rise, and keep His promise! [note: all subsequent pronouns referring to Christ are capitalised]
v.4, l.4: Was this moonstruck Son of God!
v.6, l.3: Pityingly I bent above Him,—
v.15, l.2: Have been wasted ’spite my warning:
v.22, l.4: He revealed His Sphinx-like features. ]




“Meantime, I, the Accurst, was busy!
I who firstly to the Titan
Brought the fire of human knowledge,
Love for man and scorn for godhead.

“While the poets, priests, and prophets,
Libel’d me beyond believing,
Pictured me a shameless Devil
Cloven-footed and obscene,

“I was strengthening my children!
I was comforting and cheering
Many a martyr in his prison,
Pale and ready for the stake!

“Nay, my word had raised Mohammed,
Strong and true, a creed-compeller,
’Spite the foolish Christian leaven                                                        [4:iii]
Mingled with his nobler clay.

“From the East I brought the Arabs                                                     97
With their wondrous arts of healing;
Small yet strong and cabalistic
Rose my mystic Alphabet!

“Out of fire I snatch’d the parchments
Scribbled o’er with ancient wisdom,
Pluck’d the books of Aristotle
From the cess-pools of the Pope.                                                       [6:iv]

“While the countless priests were lying,
I was preaching and beseeching—
Crying ‘The eternal godhead
Helps but those who help themselves;

“‘Pestilence, Disease, and Famine
Phantoms are of God’s creation—
Man alone hath power to slay them,
Knowing good and knowing evil;

“‘Eat, then, of the tree of knowledge,
As your parents did in Eden—
Eat, and though your limbs be naked
Earth will yield you decent clothing!

“‘God who knoweth, feeleth nothing,                                                  98
Cannot help you!—Tho’ ’tis written
Not a sparrow falls without Him,
Ne’ertheless—the sparrow falls!’

“Yea, by Hades, I was busy!
In the monasteries even,
Many a learnéd monk was lesson’d
By the Devil whom he dreaded;

“While the shaven head was nodding
Over parchment and papyrus,
I persuaded the good fellow
To transcribe my carnal books!

“Aye, and in their written Bibles,
Full of priestly contradictions,
I contrived to mingle deftly
Human truths with holy lies.

“True it is, indeed, I tempted
Both St. Anthony and Luther—
Proving to their consternation
Only fools despise the Flesh!

“I it was who fired the Painters,                                                          99
Bade them fling upon the canvas
Holy infants and Madonnas
Warm with nakedness and love;

“I it was who made them picture
Christ the Shepherd, sweet and human,
Bright and young, with fond eyes gazing
On the rosy Magdalena!

“Thus with Life and Love and Beauty
War’d I on the side of Nature,
Knowing well that Man’s salvation
Must be wrought of flesh and blood!

“Yea, and to the Priest I whisper’d:
‘Rise erect, thou Beast, in manhood!
Reverence thy sex and function—
Snatch the fruits of Love and Joy!

“‘He who scorns the Flesh despises
Nature’s Holiest of Holies—
In the Body’s Temple only
Burns that mystic lamp, the Soul!’

“I alone whom men call’d Devil,                                                          100
I, who fought for Truth and Knowledge,
I, the scorn’d and fabled Serpent,
Loved the human form divine!

“‘Crouch no more to gods or idols,
Crawl no more in filth and folly,
Stand erect,’ I cried to mortals,
‘Take your birthright, and be free!

“‘What ye take not freely, boldly,
From the brimming hands of Nature,
God the Lord will never give you,—
God the Lord gives all, yet nothing!’

“Still they heark’d to their bell-wether!                                              [23:i]
Still they stumbled in the shambles,
Still they fumbled with their crosses,
Dwindling back to brutes and beasts.

“Westward then I sent Columbus!
Southward then I sent Magellan!
Starward, sunward, I, the Devil,
Turn’d Galileo’s starry eyes!

“Crying, while the screech-owl Churches                                            101
Shriek’d their twenty-fold damnations,
‘See and know! demand your birthright!
Search the suns and map the spheres!’”


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
v.4, l.3: ’Spite the foolish Christian leaven
v.6, l.4: From the cesspools of the Pope.
v.23, l.1: ‘Still they heark’d to their bell-wether, ]




For a space the starry splendour
Flash’d upon him out of Heaven,
As, with eager arms extended,
Angel-like he upward gazed;

Then again the cloud of sorrow
Fell upon him; darkly drooping,
Grew his form more sadly human,
As he proudly spoke again.

“While the tribes of priests and liars
Rear’d their shrines and lazar-houses,
Sold their charms and absolutions,
Did their clumsy Miracles,

“I to shame their winking Virgins,
Sweating Christs, and minor marvels,
Was with all my might preparing
For a miracle indeed!

“Of my letters cabalistic                                                                      103
Tiny blocks of wood I fashion’d,
Ranged them patiently in order,
(Chuckling slyly up my sleeve);

“Then I fasten’d them together,
Smear’d them o’er with ink from Hades,
Stamp’d the words on leaves papyric,—
And the Miracle was done!

“I, the Devil, invented Printing!                                                            [7:i]
Calling to my aid the youngest
Of my sons, my little darling
Benjamin, the Printer’s Devil.

“First I printed (mark my cunning!)
God’s own Book, the Christian Bible,
Turn’d it out in fine black letter,                                                          [8:iii]
So that he who ran might read!

“Thus, observe, I pin’d the churchmen
Down to very verse and chapter!
Thus, Sir, for the good times coming,                                                [9:iii]
I was nailing Lie on Lie!

“This was only the beginning                                                               104
Of my Miracle! The moment
I produced that great invention,
Light and Liberty were born!

“Suddenly arose and blossom’d
Man’s new Tree of Good and Evil,
Shedding forth its leaves abundant,
Ripening to golden fruit!

“Large it grew and ever larger,
Ever putting forth fresh members,—
‘Lop it! cut it down! destroy it!’
Cried the churchmen, shriek’d the Popes.

“All the priests of all the Churches
Rush’d to smite it with their axes,—
Fools! for every twig so smitten
Out there sprang a magic branch!

“As from some strong oak, moreover,
Growing in the merry greenwood,
From my Tree of Good and Evil
Acorns dropt, and oaklings sprouted;

“Little birds pick’d up the acorns,                                                      105
Dropt them down in distant places,—
Wheresoe’er the seed was carried,
New trees rose, till forests grew!

“‘Shun that leafage diabolic!
’Ware that wicked fruit of Knowledge!’
Croak’d the ravens of the Churches,
Hovering o’er it in the air;

“But the maiden and the lover
Sat beneath its shade and listen’d,
While the merry leaves were lisping
Songs that shepherds sang of yore;

“Here the foot-sore and the weary,                                                     [18:i]
Creeping from the dusty highway,
Lay beneath and hearken’d smiling
To the magic talking branches;

“Kings arrived with trains attendant
Saying ‘Here at least ’tis pleasant!’
From my magic Tree they gather’d
Runes of Norseland, tales of Troy.

“Reaching to my Tree, Erasmus                                                          106
Gather’d gentle leaves of learning,
On the greensward underneath it
Petrarch and his Laura walk’d!

“Even rough old Martin Luther
Pluck’d a leaf and smiled approval!
Gazing upward in the starlight,
Abelard wept, and Tasso sang!

“Nay, the very monks came flocking
Open-mouth’d to look and listen,—
Charm’d they slyly sow’d my seedlings
In the monastery garden!

“Wheresoe’er my Tree enchanted
Spread its branches cabalistic,
Gladness grew, and wise men gather’d,
And ’twas Fairyland once more!

“Vain were all their winking Virgins,
Sweating Christs, and minor marvels,—
I, the Devil, had done the latest,
Greatest Miracle of all!


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
v.7, l.1: ‘I, the Devil, invented printing!
v.8, l.3: Turn’d it out in fine black-letter,
v.9, l.3: Thus, sir, for the good times coming,
v.18, l.1: ‘Here the footsore and the weary, ]




“Since that hour the Fight hath lasted!
Strong, beneficent, and gentle,
I, the foe of all the Churches,
Have remain’d the friend of Man.

“All the horde of Priests and Prophets,
Moonstruck, mad, have rail’d against me,
Crying to the weary nations
‘Fear the Flesh, and shun the Devil!’

“In the name of God the Father
They have sicken’d Earth with slaughter;
In the name of their Messiahs
They have lied, and lied, and lied!

“O’er the vineyards I have planted
They have scatter’d seed of thistles;
In the mansions of my making
They have swarm’d with fire and sword.

“Year by year, with God against me,                                                  108
I for Humankind have striven,
Winning patiently and slowly
Thro’ a small minority!

“Poor are all the Church’s martyrs,
By the side of mine, the Devil’s!
Those have died for Filth and Falsehood,
These for Liberty and Light!

“Mine the Seers and mine the Poets,
Stoned and slain in every nation!
Even those who most denied me
Learn’d thro’ me to stand erect!

“I it was who put the honey
On the tongue of Ariosto!
I who cast a light from Heaven
On Boccacio’s golden page!                                                               [8:iv]

“In the ear of many a monarch
I was whispering my reasons—
Taught by me, your bluff King Harry
Faced the Pope and flay’d the cowls!

“Aye, and in your thronéd Virgin                                                         109
I inspired both wit and learning—
I was hunting gladly with her,
When she whipt the wolves of Spain.

“While the Priests were busy burning,
I created Merrymakers!
Rock’d, despite the shrieking Churches,
Rabelais in his easy-chair!

“In your land of fogs and vapours,
Where the church-bells toll’d for ever,
I, the Devil, upraised the DRAMA
Still by priestcraft shun’d and curst:

“First I bribed the monks to help me,
Made them place on mimic stages
(Little ’ware what they were doing)
Plays of miracles absurd.

“God Himself and little Jesus
Were by mortals represented,
While myself and other devils
Join’d them in the pagan dance.

“Thus, without a word of warning,                                                      110
Rose the THEATRE, my Temple!
Sunny as the soul of Nature,
Fearless, beautiful, and free!

“‘Shun it! shun the Devil’s dwelling!’
Shriek’d the jealous cowls; but straightway,
Loud, the prelude of the battle,
Thunder’d Marlowe’s mighty line!

“There I taught your gentle Shakespere                                               [17:i]
What no shaven monk could teach him—
Mingled wit and wisdom, foreign
To a God who never smiles!

“Churchmen curst, and still are cursing
What transcends their sermonizing,
Hating, in the way of traders,
Rival shops with smarter wares.

“In my Temple rose the voices
Of the Seers and Music-makers,—
Shapes of beauty and of terror
Waken’d to the conjuration!

“There the glad green world was pictured,                                          111
There the lark sang ‘tirra-lirra,’
There the piteous human pageant
Broke to tears or rippled laughter—

“‘Shun it, shun the Devil’s dwelling!’
Croaked the jackdaws from the steeple—
Long as Shakespere’s lark is singing,
Still my Theatre shall stand! . . . .

“Then I mock’d their tracts and sermons
With my songs and my romances:
Light and Freedom, Mirth and Music,
Scatter’d sunshine through the air.

“Milton even, tho’ intending
To exalt the Lord Almighty,
Spread my teaching Manichœan—                                                    [23:iii]
Who’s his hero?—I, the Devil!

“Aye, and when his voice demanded
Freedom for my printing presses,
Liberty of speech for all men,
Who inspired him? I, the Devil!

“Then, to mock their monkish fables,                                                 112
I invoked my Story-tellers!
Till at last, full-blown and bounteous,
Bloom’d the Modern Novelist!

“True, the Novel is elephantine,
Pachydermatous, long-winded,
Of all Art the large negation,
Yet, by Heaven! it serves a turn!

“My Cervantes and my Fielding
Struck the rock of human knowledge,
Freed the founts of Fun, still foreign
To a God who never laughs!

“How the Priests and Preachers trembled
At my quips and cranks and fancies,
Furious when I requisition’d
Rogues, like Sterne, within the fold!

“Evermore my printing presses
Labour’d, and across my kingdom,
Thick as leaves in Vallombrosa,
Fell the merry carnal books!

“Then, like sunshine made incarnate,                                                   113
Rose the merry Djinn of Fiction,—
How the laughter of my Dickens
Scared the ravens and the owls!

“Then, the knell of all ascetics
Sounded, as my Reade upstarted,
Flooding all the gloomy Cloister
With the fires of Hearth and Home!


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
v.8, l.4: On Boccaccio’s golden page!
v.17, l.1: ‘There I taught your gentle Shakespeare (note: and subsequent spellings)
v.23, l.3: Spread my teaching Manichæan— ]




“Meantime, God had not been idle!
Angry at my benefactions,
He was wakening very slowly
To the peril long impending. . . .

“Over yonder, where the people
Groan’d like oxen yoked together,
Goaded on o’er stony fallows
By the Princes and the Priests,

“Where the Abbé curl’d and scented
Told his beads and lay with harlots,
While the Christ of Superstition
Dallied with the Pompadour,

“I, the Devil, in indignation
Raised my periwig’d Alter Ego,
Darling son of my adoption,
Whom the people named Voltaire!

“Diabolically smiling,                                                                           115
Up to Priest and Prince he strutted,
Tap’d his snuff-box, and politely
Crack’d his jokes at the Madonna!

“Nought of holy reputation
Scaped the ribald rascal’s laughter—                                                 [6:ii]
Far away as Rome the Churches
Echo’d with his jests profane.                                                             [6:iv]

“Then behold, a transformation!
Suddenly he rose transfigured,
Periwig and snuff-box vanish’d,
And an Angel stood reveal’d!

“In his hand my sword of Freedom
Flashing on the eyes of Europe,—
While the hounds of persecution
Paused, and Calas kiss’d his feet!

“Then, while far as Rome the tumult
Rang, and voices shriek’d ‘destroy him!’                                           [9:ii]
‘Lo, ’tis Antichrist arisen!
Smite him, in the name of God!’

“At the lifting of my finger                                                                   116
Stormy spirits gather’d round him—
Strong and calm arose Condorcet,
Strong and fierce stood Diderot.

“Day by day the war was waging,—
I, the Devil, and my Titans,
’Gainst the God of Popes and Bibles
And his deputies on earth!

“Till at last the flames of battle
Caught the curtains of the palace,—
Panic-stricken ’mong the people
Rush’d a monarch God-anointed.

“Then began the conflagration,—
Mitres, crosiers, crowns and sceptres,
Mingled up with moaning mortals,
Fed the ever increasing fires!

“I, the Devil, wept for pity,
While the bale-fires rose to Heaven,—
I, the Ishmael of the Angels,
Sicken’d at the fumes of blood.

“Midst that carnage all the cruel                                                          117 [15:i]
Parasites of God were busy,—
IGNORANCE, his page-in-waiting,
DEATH, his master of the hounds!

“Vainly to the madden’d people
Cried my Titans, interceding
For the innocent and gentle
Seized to feed the conflagration.

“Not a hair of beast and mortal
Ever fell through me, the Devil,—
From the first my rebel spirit
Bled and wept for the afflicted.

“Death and Pain were God’s conception,
Never mine, the Prince of Pity’s!
If they dwell within my kingdom,
I, the Devil, am not to blame.

“I for ages after ages
Had proclaimed the truth to mortals—
‘God is powerless to redeem you,
In yourselves abides salvation;

“‘Love each other, help each other,                                                    118
Eat the golden fruit forbidden,—
Out of Knowledge ripely gather’d
Wisdom comes and Freedom grows!’ . . .

“Out of evil, evil springeth,—
Even so, in Hell and Paris,
Centuries of evil sowing
Turn to aftermath of Hate!

“Lastly, from the conflagration
Sprang a spirit, man or Devil,—
Whether God or I begat him
I could never quite discover!

“Diabolically clever,
Strong as any of my Titans,
Impudent as any Devil,
Rose the little Corporal! . . .

“I incline to think the fellow
Was a sort of blood-relation
Who, by lust of loot perverted,
Join’d the legions of the Lord!

“O’er the nations sick with slaughter                                                  119
Many a night and day he gallopt—
God had lent him Death’s White Charger
(Well described in Revelations);                                                       [25:iv]

“Death himself, afoot, ran after
With the hosts of the Grand Army,
Feeding well, where’er he followed,
On the flesh and blood of mortals. . . .

“After all, and on reflection,
I reject this Demi-devil,
Since within his soul there quicken’d
Neither love nor human kindness,

“(Which, I hold, are the supremest
Qualities of true revolters);—
Yes, God played a trick upon me,
Thro’ a devilish renegade!

“Down in Hell are decent people,
Honest souls who love their fellows;—
To the cruel God of Battles
I relinquish Buonaparté!”


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
v.6, l.2: ’Scaped the ribald rascal’s laughter—
v.6, l.4: Echo’d with his jests profane;
v.9, l.2: Rang, and voices shriek’d “Destroy him!”
v.15, l.1: ‘ ’Midst that carnage all the cruel
v.25, l.4: (Well described in Revelation)— ]



The Devil’s Case continued

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The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law


The Critical Response
Harriett Jay


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