Advent Themes (iii): two poems on Hell

by Kim on December 7, 2008

Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,
Said then the lost Arch Angel, this the seat
That we must change for Heav’n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so ….
… Hail, horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang’d by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th’ Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n.

John Milton (1608-74)
Paradise Lost, I:242ff.


Hell is neither here nor there,
Hell is not anywhere,
Hell is hard to bear.

It is so hard to dream posterity
Or haunt a ruined century
And so much easier to be.

Only the challenge to our will,
Our pride in learning any skill,
Sustains our effort to be ill.

To talk the dictionary through
Without a chance word coming true
Is more than Darwin’s apes could do.

Yet pride alone could not insist
Did we not hope, if we persist,
That one day Hell might actually exist.

In time, pretending to be blind
And universally unkind
Might really send us out of our mind.

If we were really wretched and asleep
It would be then de trop to weep,
It would be natural to lie,
There’d be no living left to die.

W. H. Auden (1907-73)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }


dh 12.08.08 at 2:53 am

Wow, these men really do seem to not really understand the concept of Faith in Christ for Salvation. “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” Isn’t the purpose for Salvation in Christ serve AND to reign? Isn’t God calling us to serve Him? Wouldn’t “reigning in hell be equivilient to being satan? Didn’t Satan and his angels falling equivilent to the “better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven concept”?

Also, why do these people not believe that hell is an actual place? Makes no sense in light of Scripture regarding hell.


DmL 12.08.08 at 4:40 am

dh, I think the first is from Satan’s perspective… so I guess you’re right in a way. : )


Kim 12.08.08 at 7:13 am

DH, I suspect that you would read Alice in Wonderland and say seriously what Damon Runyon said in jest: It’s nothing but a pack of lies. And there ought to be a law against you reading the book of Revelation.


ee 12.08.08 at 11:22 am

And some might say that hell is indeed a pack of lies, yet so utterly true:
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.

What a line! Brilliant.


Anonymous 12.10.08 at 2:52 am

The excerpt from Milton’s opus was stunning. Thanks for sending it our way.


Rick O'Donnell 12.10.08 at 3:00 am

The excerpt from Milton’s opus was grand. Thanks for sharing.


dh 12.10.08 at 4:01 pm

EE, you will gald to know that I don’t make a “heaven of hell” or a “hell out of heaven”.

Hell is NOT a pack of lies but literally true in light of Scripture. It isn’t me that says it but God’s Word. Kim this belief is beyond what Revelations says. There are many many Scripture explaining it as literal fact including from the Gospels. For to you focus myself on Revelation is a little shortsighted on your part Kim.

After reading the exerpt from Milton: Could the heaven out of hell concept be the philosophy of those who don’t believe in hell as a literal place? Something to think about.


Kim 12.10.08 at 7:37 pm

Earth to dh, earth to dh, come in, please …


dh 12.10.08 at 8:14 pm

Kim, what is there you don’t understand from my point of view?

To me if one believes there is no hell and everybody goes to heaven then to me that would be “making heaven out of hell” (since there is a literal hell, if one believes for the sake of argument that all the people who go to hell actually goes to heaven then the “heaven out of hell” philosophy would be what is prescribed by people who believe there is no hell), IMHO.

Earth to Milton, come in Milton. Earth to Kim, come in Kim.

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