Hymns in the Devil’s Hall

Hark, the violins
Are swooning through the mist. The great blue band begins,
Playing, in dainty scorn, a hymn we used to know,
How long was it, ten thousand thousand years ago?

There is a green hill far away
     Beside a City wall!
And O, the music swung a-stray
With a solemn dying fall;
For it was a pleasant jest to play
Hymns in the Devil’s Hall.

And yet, and yet, if aught be true,
This dream we left behind,
This childish Christ, be-mocked anew
To please the men of mind,
Yet hung so far beyond the flight
Of our most lofty thought
That—Lucifer laughed at us that night.
Not with us, as he ought.

Beneath the blood-red lamp of Mars,
Cloaked with a scarlet cloud
He gazed along the line of stars
Above the guzzling crowd:
Sinister, thunder-scarred, he raised
His great world-wandering eyes,
And on some distant vision gazed
Beyond our cloudy skies.

Poor bats,” he sneered, “their jungle-dark.
     Civilisation’s noon!
Poor wolves, that hunt in packs and bark
     Beneath the grinning moon;
Poor fools, that cast the cross away,
     Before they break the sword;
Poor sots, who take the night for day;
     Have mercy on me, Lord.

 —from “Lucifer’s Feast” (A European Nightmare) c. 1906