Theogony IV: The Gathering of Demons

by Paul Martin Freeman (June 2024)

The Fall of the Rebel Angels— Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1562



And so they gathered on Celestial Soil
And looked across and saw their Evil twins.
From what must come does none in fear recoil
And with this firm resolve the War begins.

Opposing them are Armies of the Damned,
Composed of Wicked Things of every kind.
All filth and rankness in their ranks is crammed
And stench that even now torments Mankind.

But now, like bees, a swarm of souls arrive:
A multitude of creatures yet unborn.
Strange Essences not properly alive
And yet to God’s Eternal Purpose sworn.
In numbers teeming as the desert sand,
And like a starling murmuration trail,
They spiral upwards in a streaming band
Incomparable in majesty and scale.
They wrap a Cloud of Souls around the Angels,
Defending them from harm on flank and side.
In like and manner and the stuff of fables,
A Shield of Love they lovingly provide.
Yet so it is with noble human souls
Who sacrifice themselves for what is right.
No Timorousness nor Cowardice controls
Nor undermines their steadfast will to fight.
But now have Satan’s Demons, too, arrived:
Rough, feral types and rowdy Hounds of Hell.
Though all in cunning guises are disguised
They recognise each other by their smell.
And now these, too, assume their given places
In phalanxes with rusty iron shields.
They plod like tortoises with hidden faces,
Polluting with their tread Celestial Fields.
Armorials and crests adorn their armour,
But all is Scorn, Contempt and High Disdain;
And where they pass the air itself turns darker,
Befouled by black Despair and blacker Pain.
Their crests bespeak those secret depths of Hell
Where Darkness overwhelms the brightest Light:
Inverted realms where Truth can never dwell
But right is wrong and foulest wrong is right.
They also come with music of a kind:
Scratchy, violent, insistently discordant.
Uncouth and coarse, the din attacks the mind
And scours and scars it like corrosive mordant.
Yet sometimes strains of Beauty, too, are heard
Which in these ruins the more delightful sound.
Between the Good and Bad the gap is blurred
When these to Beauty’s peerless power redound.
For Beauty, though of God, appeals to Evil:
It soothes the Beast, releasing it from pain.
In this alone are Good and Evil equal,
Restoring all to blessèd peace again.
For Evil loathes itself for causing Woe
And longs to find again the Dreamer’s Rest.
And only torment does the Devil know
In exile from the Kingdom of the Blessed.
The more the Woe, the more the Devil’s Pain,
Forever trapped within his vicious spiral;
And down he goes to never rise again,
Despairing as he tumbles in denial.
And thus eternally he falls and falls:
No bottom is there to the Devil’s Hell,
And only Pain he finds within those walls
Where Truth and Loving-kindness never dwell.
And so the first of Satan’s Spawn is Hatred:
Love’s evil twin and enemy eternal
Who in the guise and semblance of the Sacred
Relentlessly pursues his goals infernal.
He counterfeits the Angel Righteousness
Or messenger of God himself proclaims;
But hiding underneath is Spitefulness,
And all he claims he cynically defames.
And with him, sneering, stands his mate Injustice:
Tormentor vile and torturer of men.
With victims’ blood his armour is encrusted
And flesh of souls who’ll never breathe again.
His joy is preying upon the poor and weak
And those who can’t against Oppression fight.
With Weasel Words, Pretence and Doublespeak
Injustice lusts to aggravate their plight.
Then, next in line to him is Jealousy:
An ugly ghoulish Sprite with eyes of green.
She poisons minds with Lies and Enmity
And all is base, despicable and mean.
She knows her sister’s every last possession,
And dearest friend’s attainments, virtues, wealth;
And all become the fuel for her obsession
To bring her trusting victim down with Stealth.
And like the Angels, these can change their gender,
Becoming male or female as it suits.
Yet whether male or female or whatever,
They’re known forever by their deadly fruits.
For when these Wicked Things infest a soul,
Like rats and vermin tunneling inside,
They never stop until they reach their goal
But burrow on until the soul has died.
And others are there present, just as evil:
Dishonour, Vileness, Viciousness and Greed.
And these, too, face their opposite and equal
To whom the field they, too, refuse to cede.
And some were known by name in ancient Greece:
Apate, Pseudea, Peitho and Dolos.
With these the treacherous Trojans broke the peace,
Inviting Ate, Nemesis, and Ponos.
And Malice, too, and Bullying are there
Who taunt and mock and spurn their silent foe,
While these with Dignity and Grandeur rare
Refrain from all such self-debasing show.
And many Mutant Types arrive as well:
Unrecognisable by smell or form.
Commanded from the Howling Bowels of Hell,
Their raucous entrance presages the storm.
And these have nothing set or fixed about them,
But constantly they morph and shift in shape,
As barreling roughly into others round them
Their own Brutality they dully ape.
Such Demons have their human counterparts:
Benighted souls that chase the latest trend;
In fashion are they found and in the arts
Where Vanity and Folly never end.
Misshapen Spirits all these Hounds of Hell:
Ignoble, cruel and savage in extreme;
Purveyors of everything corrupt and fell
Inhabiting the Fiend’s tormented dream.
Then, in the rear, the Hangers-On of Evil:
Those multitudes whose silence it condones;
Our culpability the same and equal
When feigning deaf to Satan’s victims’ groans.
And so they stood upon the Plains of Heaven,
Or else above in dark formations flew,
Where none will offer quarter nor concession
In all the tests of arms that must ensue.


Table of Contents


Paul Martin Freeman is a former art dealer. The present poem is the third of five parts of Theogony. His book, A Chocolate Box Menagerie, is published by New English Review Press and is available here.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


6 Responses

  1. Paul, you have created, delivered the world in a whorl of wonder words, a masterwork elevating language itself. Shakespeare, Homer, and Lincoln applaud your Grand Slam bringing them home.

  2. Howard, that’s an extraordinary compliment. Writers don’t know what they’ve done until they get a response from their readers. Only then do they know whether their efforts have been worthwhile. So thank you very much.

  3. “They recognise each other by their smell.” Among so much that’s enjoyable, this piece of sarcasm sent me roaring with laughter. A wonderful read overall that kept me agape with delight and anticipation. Thanks!

    1. Very glad you enjoyed it, Lev, and thank you as always for your comment. Please read next month’s conclusion.

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