Saturday, March 13, 2004

Vain Virtues

What is the sorriest thing that enters Hell?
None of the sins, -- but this and that fair deed
Which a soul's sin at length could supersede.
These yet are virgins, whom death's timely knell
Might once have sainted; whom the fiends compel
Together now, in snake-bound shuddering sheaves
Of anguish, while the pit's pollution leaves
Their refuse maidenhood abominable.

Night sucks them down, the tribute of the pit,
Whose name, half entered in the book of Life,
Were God's desire at noon. And as their hair
And eyes sink last, the Torturer deigns no whit
To gaze, but, yearning, waits his destined wife,
The Sin still blithe on earth that sent them there.

-- Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I like Christina Rossetti's poetry better than her brother Dante's, but Dante wrote a ton of sonnets and this one caught my eye tonight. Rossetti says that the saddest thing in Hell is a fairly virtous person... a person The Lord has weighed just slightly wanting and sent to Hell.

A nice thought to sleep on.

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