SCENE 1

In Heaven. THE LORD, resplendent in His glory, sits upon his throne, the ANGELIC HOST kneeling before Him. The four ARCHANGELS are standing beside the throne. Intense light.

ANGELIC HOST
Glory to God in the highest,
Heaven and earth do both Him praise,
Who with one Word brought all things into being
And continues to uphold them with His gaze.
He all Power, all Knowledge and all Rapture,
We the merest shadow of His splendour,
O come let us adore him in His Grace
Of which we may partake by His sweet tender.
The Eternal Concept is made flesh, behold
The consummation of His will to form
As from His creatures now The Lord awaits
Appropriate homage to His Seat of State.

THE LORD
It’s done, the great act of creation.
The maker rests. The wheel’s in motion
And will rotate upon its axle for
A hundred million years before
A single cog wears out. Take wing
My sentinels, begin your orbiting.
Once more let me admire and hear the sweet
Sound of your circuit, smooth beneath my feet.
The Guardian Spirits of the stars pass by the throne, rolling before them one or two planets, comets and nebulae of various colours and sizes. The music of the spheres is faintly heard.

ANGELIC HOST
Look at that brave ball of fire:
So overweening its effulgence,
Unaware it merely serves
Some distant galaxy’s indulgence.
      This you’d think a feeble lantern
A winking-blinking little planet,
But O how huge it seems to those
Unnumbered souls that thrive upon it.
      Two spheres contend with one another,
Rush close, repel and sharply veering
Spin away. Their opposition
Steers them through such wild careering.
      Terrifying all observers,
Thunderously one helter-skelters
Downward-yet what peace and joy
It offers to those hordes it shelters.
      How humble is this other’s bearing -
A star of love in preparation,
Tender be the hands that nurture
Humankind’s own consolation.
      There worlds labouring to be born
Here the tombs of worlds departed:
A warning to the overweening,
Encouragement for the faint-hearted.
      A monstrous comet hurtles madly
Out of chaos to disaster:
But see! it mends its crooked motion
When bidden by its Heavenly Master.
      Come beloved, youthful spirit
With your changing sempiternal
Sphere of woe and celebration,
Cloaked in white or green and vernal.
High heaven shower blessings on you,
Onward, undaunted: what collisions
Your narrow shores are doomed to witness,
What wars, between conflicting visions.
Fair and foul, and tears and laughter,
The winter’s and the spring’s endeavour,
Constitute the light and shadow
Of our Master’s wrath or favour.
The Guardian Spirits of the stars withdraw

ARCHANGEL GABRIEL
Thou who compassed the infinitudes,
Creating matter out of nothing,
And with one word wrought out of matter’s being
Both measure and weight, we offer to Thee
Our hosannas, Concept Eternal.
He falls to his knees

ARCHANGEL MICHAEL
Thou who fused the changeless and the changing,
Establishing both perpetuity
And time itself, uniting entity
And nationhood, we offer to Thee
Our hosannas, Power Eternal.
He falls to his knees

ARCHANGEL RAPHAEL
Thou flood and fountain of our happiness,
Bringer of the body to self-consciousness,
Allowing the entire world to partake
Of Thy wisdom, we offer to Thee
Our hosannas, Virtue Eternal.
He falls to his knees.
Silence

THE LORD
You there, Lucifer, proudly standing apart,
No word of praise from you? Are you still silent?
Does something in my work, perhaps, displease you?

LUCIFER
And what should please me? That certain substances,
Having been imbued with properties
Of whose existence You were ignorant
Until, perhaps, they revealed themselves to You,
(Though it may well be You had no power to change them)
Are now screwed up into these tiny globes
That chase, attract or else repel each other,
Awaking a few worms to consciousness
Till all of space is tilled at last, grows cold,
And only the indifferent slag is left?
If man’s at all observant he’ll concoct
Some hash like this with his poor instruments.
Having placed him in your cosmic kitchen
You now indulge his bungling awkwardness,
His godlike postures, his botched cookery.
But when he comes to spoil your favourite dish
You’ll flare up in a rage-too late by then.
But what can You expect from such a dabbler?
What is the point of the whole exercise?
A poem of self-praise is all it is -
You match it to this feeble hurdy-gurdy
And listen to the same old weary tune
Whine on and on in endless repetition.
Is it becoming to Your ripe old age
To play with this contraption fit for children?
A spark of life within a little clay,
A simulacrum, not a faithful likeness;
Free-will and fate in mutual pursuit:
It lacks all harmony, all sense of meaning.

THE LORD
I merit praise alone, not condemnation.

LUCIFER
I only render what is in my nature.
Pointing to the angels
This wretched crew will serve to flatter You,
Not surprisingly since they’re Your creatures.
You begat them as light begets a shadow
But I had pre-existence, and am ageless.

THE LORD
Such impudence! Were you not born of matter?
What power had you before? What sphere? What realm?

LUCIFER
I might perhaps enquire the same of You.

THE LORD
What here is bodied forth into existence
Had life in me before the dawn of time.

LUCIFER
You never sensed that void in Your conceptions,
That barrier to every mode of being
Whose very presence compelled You to create?
That barrier was one named Lucifer,
The underlying spirit of negation.
You triumphed over me since it’s my fate
Incessantly to fail in all my struggles
But then, revitalized, to rise again,
When You made matter I gained my estate;
There stands life, and there beside it, death,
Joy on the one hand, discord on the other,
Shade follows light, and doubt succeeds to hope -
And see, I’m always with You everywhere.
Knowing You as I do, why pay homage?

THE LORD
Out of my sight, you spirit of sedition!
I could destroy you utterly - but no,
Fight on, abhorred, in exile, in the mire,
Forbidden every solace of the spirit,
And in your bleak and anguished solitude
Let this one thought be an eternal torment:
However you may shake your chains of dust
Your struggle with the Lord is doomed to failure.

LUCIFER
No, not so fast-I won’t go just like that,
You can’t discard me like a broken tool.
We are both creative spirits - I demand
My portion.

THE LORD scornfully
      Just as you wish. Look down to earth:
In the heart of Eden stand two slender trees.
I curse the pair of them: now they are yours.

LUCIFER
No wonder you are mean, you have the means.
The merest patch of ground will do for me.
A foothold I require, no more, you’ll see,
To sow negation and spread anarchy.
He sets off

ANGELIC HOST
Out of the sight of God, accursed traitor?
All praise to the Almighty Legislator.


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