Theogony V: Creation

by Paul Martin Freeman (July 2024)

Creation (detail), Cabinet panel of the ancient sacristy of Bramante, Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy




Now all these wonders happened instantly
Although in sequence here their story’s told:
The Plains of Heaven in Eternity
A realm where old is young and young is old.
Events that followed though are part of history
As now in plodding time our tale proceeds.
And though Eternal Truth is wrapped in mystery
Yet science records those long-forgotten deeds.
For of a huge explosion scientists tell us
Creating Matter in expanding Space:
A bang that ever outwards will impel us
That formed the Cosmos, Time and Human Race.


Now stand we at the moment of Creation:
The scene is set and all must take its course.
The Archangels assume their place and station
In lines of golden chariot and horse.
And Principalities and Seraphim
And Giants that dwarf the tallest mountain peak
With every visor down and visage grim
All imminent and dreadful war bespeak.
Dominions, Thrones and Powers in gleaming armour
Vast phalanxes of Light and Beauty form;
And in the van, all pure untrammelled ardour,
The Cherubim advance towards the storm.
And other Spirit Beings are present too,
Of types and kinds unknown today to Man,
Their names forgotten now which once we knew
When in a world apart our world began.
For mortals only see what mortals see,
Confined to what their senses apprehend,
But these are Creatures of Eternity
Where Time and human understanding end.
And yet they live inside us still as Feelings
And Presences that overlook our lives,
That witness all our daily human dealings
Where God eternally with Satan strives.
And these as well are on the Plains of Heaven,
Equipped with all the furnishings of war,
Prepared to meet aggression with aggression,
For Angel Blood exacting Demon Gore.
And Virtues soar aloft with blazing shields
And dazzle with the brightness of their arms;
They climb in fire above Unblemished Fields:
No fear these Spirits entertain nor qualms.
And Angels on the wing ascend in Glory
In certain knowledge all will surely die,
For death for these is central to our story
In which must all with Destiny comply.
For all is present in Eternity,
And time is thus primordially preset;
And all that comes to pass is meant to be
As thus to Destiny we pay the debt.
And facing them is Satan’s rotting army:
All viciousness and wickedness obscene;
A vile and putrid, bestial hierarchy
That smells of Death and everything unclean.
And these have come for fun as much as battle
For killing is the thing they most enjoy;
And yet themselves as well they see as cattle
Which Angels in their fury must destroy.
So much, indeed, does Evil hate itself,
It cares not whether killing or being killed.
In loving Death the Fiend is most himself
Who ruins worlds because he cannot build.
And as he stands there in Eternity
And looks across and sees his hated foe,
He points to this malign fraternity
And pledges an Infinity of Woe.
And so, as though according to a script,
The sides in deadly combat now converge,
And for their endless war with arms equipped
Like two titanic battling oceans merge.
And just as tiny atoms forced in fusion
Create enormous energy and light,
That mighty shock induced a huge explosion
Which formed the wondrous starry world of night.
The joining of unyielding opposites,
Of twins impossible to reconcile,
Producing thus that flash of scientists
Our wanting lines the War in Heaven style.
Events occurring on the Plains of Heaven
Prefiguring those of trudging Father Time,
For all that passes in his long procession
Is merely one eternal, endless rhyme.
And so that timeless conflict, now we see,
With all its struggles and enduring fray,
Is fought forever in Eternity
And in and all around us every day.
It’s here, it’s there, it’s everywhere at once:
It never stops nor takes a moment’s rest;
The Universe is all its many fronts,
As life and human history, too, attest.

Yet this is but a story that we tell,
And things, we know, are never what they seem;
And God and Satan, Heaven, even Hell,
And we perhaps ourselves are all a dream.
For mortals only know what mortals know,
And made of Matter are to Spirit blind;
And all there is is just an endless show
That runs and runs inside the Dreamer’s Mind.


Table of Contents


Paul Martin Freeman is a former art dealer. This is the final part of Theogony which concludes the writer’s collection of stories, The Bus Poems. His book of whimsical verse, A Chocolate Box Menagerie, is published by New English Review Press and is available here.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


9 Responses

  1. The Poem’s Meaning

    In Theogony I have attempted a cosmogonic myth combining elements from the Judeo-Christian story with that told by science and other traditions to present a drama consistent with reason and human experience while still rooted in the universal mystical experience at the heart of authentic religion.

    My main departure from the orthodox Judeo-Christian story is in the form of an undifferentiated Oneness ontologically prior to God. This Oneness, which I call the Nameless One or Noble Dreamer, relates to the Godhead of mediaeval Christian mystics and Original Face of Zen. The Dreamer, absorbed in its own essence, exists outside time and space which only come into being with the emergence of thought from the inchoate activity always present within it.

    With the birth of thought, the Dreamer’s peace and unity are shattered giving rise to a dualistic and divided world ineluctably leading to discord and evil. Thought creates form, time and space and all that is necessary for its own functioning. The marriage of form and evil gives birth to the Devil, but in a dualistic world this requires an opposite or twin. This is God presented as the ever-present and eternal Dreamer’s active phase.

    Thus our world, the dualistic world of time and space, is one of equally balanced, endlessly battling forces behind which lies an eternal non-dualistic, non-oppositional world of peace. This accounts for the persistence of evil: there is no end to it. While the peace referred to is the peace of God: “the peace that passes all understanding”––literally, as it is lies on the other side of dualistic thought.

    Rewriting God as a warrior deity makes possible the redefining of goodness in more chivalric terms, setting the scene for the eternal war in Heaven. The principal virtues are still love and justice of Christianity and Judaism, but to these are added others connoting nobility of spirit: honour, self-restraint, loyalty, gratitude, modesty, diligence, etc. Similarly, their counterparts of evil connote baseness: hatred, injustice, jealousy, dishonour, vileness, greed.

    Angels and demons, the combatants in this war, are not mere representatives of generalised good and evil. Nor are they personification of moral and ethical qualities. They are the reality of those qualities which permeate our experience. All these spirits perish in the eternal war in Heaven but are instantly reborn to carry on the struggle in eternity which is no other than the here and now of our own world. This is the heart of the poem.

    Human being thus straddle both dimensions which are really one and the same. As well as inhabiting the dualistic world of birth and death, we also partake of the Dreamer’s primal unity, making individual salvation possible. The realisation of this timeless, non-oppositional dimension within ourselves releases us from fear. But that equanimity is lost when thinking returns us to duality and our familiar oppositional world.

    Put differently, only God sees the world as it is and only God is real. Our habitual way of seeing things is therefore upside down. This is because, as creatures of matter, we are blinded by our own senses and thinking to the world of spirit. Nevertheless, we have the possibility of seeing into this greater reality, although that vision is always partial and ephemeral.

    In this context, the Fall is presented as both an event in deep history, but also as one outside time: our permanent existential condition caught between good and evil.

    This leads back to the question of time. Like God, what is real is what is eternal, and only God’s time, eternity, is real. Moreover, all time is present in eternity, therefore all time is preset. We access this truth through our sense of destiny by which we feel called upon to act out what in some sense has already happened and meant to be. The poem presents this in two ways. Firstly, eternity is presented as having existed prior to time. This is the view from time: Man’s view. Secondly, eternity is always present as underlying time. This is the view from eternity: God’s view.

    The second is given expression in Ecclesiastes 3:15:

    That which is hath been already; and everything to be hath already been; and God seeketh again that which is passed away.

    The poem enjoins acceptance of what we are afforded by God and destiny, but at the same time fighting to be the best we can. Even angels have no control over events; but even human beings can choose how to respond to them.

    With matter, time, space and causality in place, and using the simile of nuclear fusion, the clash of the opposing forces of good and evil is presented as engendering the Big Bang of science; and, of the Bible, Creation.

    The poem finishes by suggesting the story presented is just that: a story to accord with human understanding as we are creatures of stories. But in the end, everything is a dream. Only the Dreamer is real.

  2. No need for prose explanation — or “argument,” as Milton would put it. The verse tells all this pretty well, all by itself. One of course can argue with the underlying ideas — I certainly would object to the implied denial of free will — but not with the fact that those ideas were expressed in an exquisite way.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Lev.

      I don’t think the poem denies free will. It strongly advocates exercising the freedom that we sense we have for good as the source of all our value as human beings.

      Accept what God and Destiny afford thee;/
      Yet also fight to be the best you can./
      And think not how or when or who’ll reward thee,/
      But simply be a woman or a man.

      In my recasting of God for our times as a warrior God, He wants us to be fighters too.

  3. Paul, I am pleased to be tasked to inform you that your readers insist that the entities you exposed be deposed to explain the justification for their continuing existence.
    Where is the elucidation of loyalty, duty, persistence of self-shame ignorance, and structure of values as conscience?

    1. Hello Howard. I think you’re asking where conscience fits in. Among the different types of angels are those who fill that role. They are introduced here in part V in quatrain 7 and this function is made clear in quatrain 9.

  4. A really glorious epilogue to the Theogeny poems – and so true! As mortals, we are creatures of stories, bound by our limited human understanding and, therefore, blind to the spirit world. Only the Dreamer is real.

  5. In your epic description of totality I would enjoy your resolution, among the unreal, only dreamed good and evil, right and wrong, correct and wrong, dualities and paradoxes finally resolved in absorption in The Dreamer. Allow your phoenix-like recycling occur with new ‘yugas’ having new dream variables of dualities, triplities, … . This effort will naturally put you in perpetual service to at least, humanity, and perchance The Dreamer Itself, with a Sense of Humor.
    Many thanks. Best wishes from Homer, Dante, and the Indian tattle-talers.

  6. Thank you, Howard. I’m very glad you liked it. I tried to tell the story of everything in a way that makes sense to common experience while still rooted in what I regard as the foundational experience of authentic religion. Those who know that world will be able to say whether I have done it justice or not.

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