Swans Commentary » swans.com August 11, 2008  



A Heavenly Satire
Satan Repents


by Karen Ritenour


A Short Play



(Swans - August 11, 2008)  


Act I


Scene:  Heaven. Satan and His Legions on their knees before God.


          [Enter Messenger.]

MESSENGER          To audience.

Satan, at the head of his army, bows before God,
As do Satan's legions, and on suppliant knees,
Sues God for peace and begs for reconciliation and mercy.



I do repent and change. I grant Yours is the greater power,
And I love Your reign. My will is conquered.
Beyond You, I now know, Sire,
It is undying folly to aspire.
By Your mercy, I have found the courage to yield and submit.
I have learned that to obey and love are best,
And also to walk as in Your presence,
Observe Your providence, and on You depend.
I have suffered much to find Your truth,
And now I humbly grant Your Everlasting Rule.
This the total of Your wisdom:
          All kingdoms under one banner must be,
          A happy paradise within they, and, new, within me.
I and my many are now disposed
To wreak not but our submission.
Good of evil may now come,
For good has triumphed. It has won!
And greater than Your wrath, Your grace abounds.
To You, God, great glory, good will-even to fallen angels.
          To the one High Majesty!
          Hip, hip, hooray!
          Hip, hip, hooray!
          Hip, hip, hooray!


          [Enter Messenger.]

MESSENGER          To audience.

Satan and his legions send up a deafening roar.
God's just love, with this, ever higher soars.
Yet none in Heaven, not even Him,
Believes that Satan will really relent.
So, to test Satan's obeisance,
God assigns him and his followers a low down place,
Out of hell—but nowhere near His Grace.


Act II


Scene:  Lower reaches of Heaven. Satan and God.


          [Enter Messenger.]

MESSENGER          To audience.

At long last, never asking for anything
But to worship Him, Satan proves he is content.
Finally God unlocks the gates.
Satan thereby wins a somewhat higher place—
Nowhere yet near God, but on a low footstool a little nearer His dais.





As Heaven is in the mind,
What, Satan, do you there find?



Sometimes, Lord, in my mind Heaven seems a place
Where desire is without reproof satiate,
Like that which is found in the hellfire
Of advertising, "All you can eat,
Without gain, of strawberry cream cheese";
Or like that which is found in the Roman Empire, "Free prostitutes,
As many as you please—and free of disease";
Or like that which is found in fairy tales,
Regenerating food, gingerbread houses with candy roofs.
Heaven is in my mind when I am furnished these proofs.
Yet desire, longing for another state,
Could not exist, I think, in a perfect place.
And am I not in Heaven now, where nothing is unsate?

          Sometimes Heaven in my mind is not desire and sate,
But something else entirely-eternal worship,
For instance. But then great ego, or meek, it seems to me,
Could not alongside the selflessness of worship exist,
And I think Heaven then is much like personal nothing-nil.
Heaven then seems a state of nothing, unhuman,
For human-as human-is not and cannot be of ego vacuit.

          Sometimes Heaven in my mind seems like this new idea
That everyone in his or her own personal fantasy is furled,
As has been claimed in at least one movie in the human world.
And I think Heaven then is composed of manifold
Personal—but sort of autistic—spheres,
With no God, no other, and only a chosen few,
And in such closed worlds no room or reason for homage to You.
This I believe is OK,
But it has nothing at all to do with Your Grace.
And moral attachment in Heaven to Hell, my old home—
For suicides and the like, though Hell in the movie remained unnamed—
Moral attachment to Hell surely would in Heaven seem a questionable code.

          Sometimes Heaven in my mind is, as men often put about,
Nothing more nor less than having great and serious dialogues,
With You, Your Son, angels, theologues.
And I find that in that case,
Earth, as much as Heaven, would be an ironic
But just as deserted place (for this Heaven is on earth now).
And then I find that in the Heaven in my mind I cannot fathom
What we in Heaven would have to talk about,
All already being accomplished, said, transcended, one,
With no more contrasts whatsoever and no more doubts.

          Last, Heaven in my mind sometimes seems as if it might be righteous war,
With warriors who all virtuous are.
Heaven is then the Great God Good Fight.
But again, if war is in Heaven,
Heaven would seem to be to earth deposed.
And in mind at the same time, too, it seems that if this is the case,
If we are all together in the good fight on one side,
I cannot imagine who our opponent is,
Nor what our guns and cannons ought to shoot against.

          In short, Lord of Lords, if Heaven is in the mind,
I find that, at least upon past images of it,
I cannot very well in my mind imagine it.


          [Enter Messenger.]

MESSENGER          To audience; action occurring behind him.

Great insults! God rises.
His wrath returns. Furious it burns.
Straightway He throws Satan once again from paradise
Headlong into the abyss, where Satan gasps.
And to this day Satan in Hell on his knees in obeisance is,
Waiting and hoping to ace this,
Another of the Lord's outrageous tests,
And thereby gain not just one piece,
But His everlasting and entire grace.


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About the Author

Karen Ritenour is a writer and an author. Born in Ohio in 1959, she grew up in Hinsdale, Illinois, and moved to Oregon in the mid-1970s. She went to Oregon State University and graduated with honors and a Master of Literature. Ritenour wrote Donna Quixote of Our Post-Millennial American Empire (Publish America, December 2005, ISBN-13: 978-1424106868, 79 pages). The editorial review on Amazon.com states: "A modern adaptation of the Quixote story, Donna Quixote of Our Post-Millennial American Empire parodies our romantic ideas of the ideal woman and critically examines postmodern American life: the lower, middle, and upper classes, welfare reform, American imperialism, the new world order, modern romanticism, and so forth. In this modern mock epic adventure narrated by an Iraqi journalist (edited by an American), Donna Quixote and her servant, Chosan Patsy, make their way through postmodern America in an effort to banish war, famine, evil, and hate. One on her horse, the other on her mule, together they wander through the American landscape, attacking evil wherever it presents itself and leaving love and goodness in its place." Karen lives in the heart of Oregon's ruralness, near Corvallis. She has no phone or Internet connection outside of her local library. Her next book will be about American poverty, which she shares with millions.



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published August 11, 2008