(S 1)
335 A greater darkness waited, a worse reign,
If worse can be where all is evil’s extreme;
Yet to the cloaked the uncloaked is naked worst.
(S 2)
There God and Truth and the supernal Light
Had never been or else had power no more.
(S 3)
340 As when one slips in a deep moment’s trance
Over mind’s border into another world,
He crossed a boundary whose stealthy trace
Eye could not see but only the soul feel.
(S 4)
Into an armoured fierce domain he came
345 And saw himself wandering like a lost soul
Amid grimed walls and savage slums of Night.
(S 5)
Around him crowded grey and squalid huts
Neighbouring proud palaces of perverted Power,
Inhuman quarters and demoniac wards.
(S 6)
350 A pride in evil hugged its wretchedness;
A misery haunting splendour pressed those fell
Dun suburbs of the cities of dream-life.
(S 7)
There Life displayed to the spectator soul
The shadow depths of her strange miracle.
(S 8)
355 A strong and fallen goddess without hope,
Obscured, deformed by some dire Gorgon spell,
As might a harlot empress in a bouge,
Nude, unashamed, exulting she upraised
Her evil face of perilous beauty and charm
360 And, drawing panic to a shuddering kiss
Twixt the magnificence of her fatal breasts,
Allured to their abyss the spirit’s fall.
(S 9)
Across his field of sight she multiplied
As on a scenic film or moving plate
365 The implacable splendour of her nightmare pomps.
(S 10)
On the dark background of a soulless world
She staged between a lurid light and shade
Her dramas of the sorrow of the depths
Written on the agonised nerves of living things:
370 Epics of horror and grim majesty,
Wry statues spat and stiffened in life’s mud,
A glut of hideous forms and hideous deeds
Paralysed pity in the hardened breast.
(S 11)
In booths of sin and night-repairs of vice
375 Styled infamies of the body’s concupiscence
And sordid imaginations etched in flesh,
Turned lust into a decorative art:
Abusing Nature’s gift her pervert skill
Immortalised the sown grain of living death,
380 In a mud goblet poured the bacchic wine,
To a satyr gave the thyrsus of a god.
(S 12)
Impure, sadistic, with grimacing mouths,
Grey foul inventions gruesome and macabre
Came televisioned from the gulfs of Night.
(S 13)
385 Her craft ingenious in monstrosity,
Impatient of all natural shape and poise,
A gape of nude exaggerated lines,
Gave caricature a stark reality,
And art-parades of weird distorted forms,
390 And gargoyle masques obscene and terrible
Trampled to tormented postures the torn sense.
(S 14)
An inexorable evil’s worshipper,
She made vileness great and sublimated filth;
A dragon power of reptile energies
395 And strange epiphanies of grovelling Force
And serpent grandeurs couching in the mire
Drew adoration to a gleam of slime.
(S 15)
All Nature pulled out of her frame and base
Was twisted into an unnatural pose:
400 Repulsion stimulated inert desire;
Agony was made a red-spiced food for bliss,
Hatred was trusted with the work of lust
And torture took the form of an embrace;
A ritual anguish consecrated death;
405 Worship was offered to the Undivine.
(S 16)
A new aesthesis of Inferno’s art
That trained the mind to love what the soul hates,
Imposed allegiance on the quivering nerves
And forced the unwilling body to vibrate.
(S 17)
410 Too sweet and too harmonious to excite
In this regime that soiled the being’s core,
Beauty was banned, the heart’s feeling dulled to sleep
And cherished in their place sensation’s thrills;
The world was probed for jets of sense-appeal.
(S 18)
415 Here cold material intellect was the judge
And needed sensual prick and jog and lash
That its hard dryness and dead nerves might feel
Some passion and power and acrid point of life.
(S 19)
A new philosophy theorised evil’s rights,
420 Gloried in the shimmering rot of decadence,
Or gave to a python Force persuasive speech
And armed with knowledge the primaeval brute.
(S 20)
Over life and Matter only brooding bowed,
Mind changed to the image of a rampant beast;
425 It scrambled into the pit to dig for truth
And lighted its search with the subconscient’s flares.
(S 21)
Thence bubbling rose sullying the upper air,
The filth and festering secrets of the Abyss:
This it called positive fact and real life.
(S 22)
430 This now composed the fetid atmosphere.
(S 23)
A wild-beast passion crept from secret Night
To watch its prey with fascinating eyes:
Around him like a fire with sputtering tongues
There lolled and laughed a bestial ecstasy;
435 The air was packed with longings brute and fierce;
Crowding and stinging in a monstrous swarm
Pressed with a noxious hum into his mind
Thoughts that could poison Nature’s heavenliest breath,
Forcing reluctant lids assailed the sight
440 Acts that revealed the mystery of Hell.
(S 24)
All that was there was on this pattern made.