Hell on Earth

Shakespeare’s sonnets might be his finest work. He could put into just a few words volumes of knowledge of the human spirit. In the following sonnet he grasped the essence of hell, that waste land of desire of desire, hunger for hunger, that endless quest for the “lost object” (if I might speak Freudian!) I’m not for sure where this quote came from but someone described this person as “pursuing the object which recedes from the knowledge of it.” This person is portrayed in mythology as the ouroborous, the snake swallowing its own tail.

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad:
Mad in pursuit, and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

All this the world well knows; yet none knows well

And I conclude with the quote from the Ibsen play which I used just days ago about the self-intoxicated self:

Its here that men are most themselves, themselves and nothing but themselves sailing with outspread sails of self. Each shuts himself in a cask of self, the cask stopped with the bung of self and seasoned in a well of self. None has a tear for others woes or cares what any other thinks….Now surely you’ll say that he’s himself. He’s full of himself and nothing else, himself in every word he says himself when he is beside himself…Long live the Emperor of Self.  (Ibsen, Peer Gynt)

And yet, we are so wont to pontificate about the horrors of hell in the hereafter when if we were honest enough, discerning enough, we would recognize that this hell abounds in our day to day life. Perhaps we should seek salvation from this hell.

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2 thoughts on “Hell on Earth

  1. Debbie

    Reminds me of The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis about a most unusual bus trip based (I think) on William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and concepts from Milton, and Bunyan and Dante and others.
    Grey town – hell on earth.

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    Reply

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