A monologue from the play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Eight Dramas of Calderon. Trans. Edward Fitzgerald. London: Macmillan & Co., 1906.
  • LUCIFER: Rash leap to necessary non-conclusion
    From a premiss that quarrels with itself
    More than the deity it woulg impugn;
    For if one God eternal and all wise,
    Omnipotent to do as to devise,
    Whence this disorder and discordance in--
    Not only this material universe,
    That seems created only to be rack'd
    By the rebellion of its elements,
    In earthquake and tempestuous anarchy--
    But also in the human microcosm
    You say created to reflect it all?
    For Deity, all goodness as all wise,
    Why create man the thing of lust and lies
    You say reflects himself in his false god?--
    By modern oracle no more convicted
    Of falsehood, than by that first oracle
    Which first creation settled in man's heart.
    No, if you must define, premise, conclude,
    Away with all the coward squeamishness
    That dares not face the universe it questions;
    Blinking the evil and antagonism
    Into its very constitution breathed
    By him who, but himself to quarrel with,
    Quarrels as might the many with each other.
    Or would you be yourself one with yourself,
    Catch hold of such as Epicurus' skirt,
    Who, desperately confounded this confusion
    Of matter, spirit, good and evil, yea,
    Godhead itself, into a universe
    That is created, roll'd along, and ruled,
    By no more wise direction than blind Chance.
    Trouble yourself no more with disquisition
    That by sad, slow, and unprogressive steps
    Of wasted soul and body lead to nothing:
    And only sure of life's short breathing-while,
    And knowing that the gods who threaten us
    With after-vengeance of the very crimes
    They revel in themselves, are nothing more
    Than the mere coinage of our proper brain
    To cheat us of our scanty pleasure here
    With terror of a harsh account hereafter;--
    Eat, drink, be merry; crown yourselves with flowers
    About as lasting as the heads they garland;
    And snatching what you can of life's poor feast,
    When summon'd to depart, with no ill grace,
    Like a too greedy guest, cling to the table
    Whither the generations that succeed
    Press forward famish'd for their turn to feed.
    Nay, or before your time self-surfeited,
    Wait not for nature's signal to be gone,
    But with the potion of the spotted weed,
    That peradventure wild beside your door
    For some such friendly purpose cheaply grows,
    Anticipate too tardy nature's call:
    Ev'n as one last great Roman of them all
    Dismiss'd himself betimes into the sum
    Of universe; not nothing to become;
    For that can never cease that was before;
    But not that sad Lucretius any more.