DEVILS

God made man and man made devils--
    All of earth's evils
Are shaped and moulded by mortal thought
Carelessly fashioned or carefully wrought,
Life after life and time on time,
Thought-forms grow into creatures of crime,
Roaming about in the Regions of Mind,
    Mischief to find.

Monstrous devils there are grown bold
    Through ages untold;
    Devils old
With sins repeated and unrepented,
    Devils demented
By their own passions and lusts and greeds,
Or by steady diets of moss-grown creeds--

History tells how these devils would boil
Their differing brothers in kettles of oil:
And we know how the Maid of Orleans fared!
    Still, if they dared,
Devils there are who would do it again,
Stalking among us as sanctified men.
Bleating aloud of their love for God,
    Yet using the rod
Or the scourge on some brother whose faith seems too broad.

Imps of jealousy, envy and spite,
Grow into big devils, sometimes in a night,
Big, black, red-eyed devils of war,
    Whom we all abhor.

There are feminine devils who must, I opine,
Have been mermaids or fishes, when seaward the swine
Ran over the cliffs and were drowned; but the Legion
Of devils was saved, for it found in that region
Mermaids and jelly-fish ready to give
All the comforts of home, and to help them to live.
    Then into forms human
    Each came as a woman:
Delilah, and Jezebel, Lilith and all
Females who stand but that others may fall:
And females who gossip and stir up strife,
And are thorns in the flesh of the neighbourhood life.

But the worst type of all, of the many that roam
Abroad in the land, is the devil at home.
A narrow-souled, mean little devil of self--
    A petulant elf
Who smiles on the street, but at his (or her) board
Sits scowling or groaning or saying some word
That hurts those who hear it;
A mosquito-like spirit
That keeps up a buzzing and maddening hum,
    And only is dumb
While sinking its sting into somebody's heart.
Oh this is the devil who plays a large part
In the world everywhere: yet full often his voice
(Or hers) in the churches is heard to rejoice
Over certain salvation for those who 'believe.'
Alas! You poor devils, you cannot deceive
The God of the Universe. You will be driven
Straight out of His heaven
Back into the sea by the Christ as of old:
  And you will behold
  Your thoughts and your deeds coming back on yourself,
  You mean little petulant home-spoiling elf.

  God made man and man made devils;
   But all earth's evils
  Will wear themselves out as the cycles roll,
  And nothing will live but the God in each soul.

Poems of affection. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1920.


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