An illustration from Dante's Inferno, by Dore‘Everlasting’: A Blank Verse Poem by C.B. Anderson The Society February 19, 2022 Blank Verse, Culture, Humor, Poetry 13 Comments . Everlasting I must admit, when I arrived in Hell I was surprised. Not, as you might surmise, Because I never reckoned it was real— And surely not because I thought I’d led A sinless life—but owing to the fact I did not know that I had died. You see, It happened in my sleep, the way one hopes It will, with just a bit of luck. So there I was, awake, my vision clearing till I saw I was surrounded by my friends, Who looked at me expectantly, as though They waited for a punch line to sink in. And then I got it. All of them were pals Who’d predeceased me. This was Hell, no doubt! The way things looked, it seemed a party had Been going on for several days at least: Spent pizza boxes, beer cans, bottles … O The bottles!—every one was empty, had Been from the very first. My friends just shrugged, As though it didn’t matter. Then I saw What must have made them so indifferent to The lack of stimulating drink. Across The deadness of that grand salon were half, At least, of all the women I had kissed Or known in any way, and many more Besides—and they were smiling too, at me, The latest to arrive. Each one of them Looked primed and in her prime. And this was Hell? My friends then nudged me with their quiet eyes As if they wanted me to give it my Best shot, and I obliged. I took a breath And squared my most miraculously straight And solid shoulders, taking strides the likes Of which I hadn’t made in twenty years. Babes beckoned. I pressed on. But when I reached That coifed and comely covey I was stunned To find that I felt nothing, not a god- Damned thing. Desire was absent in my loins, Just as desire was missing in those breasts That once had been my heart’s delight. I touched Some anyway, and afterward we all Sat down and wondered where the life had gone. And later on I asked about a small Concern I had, about the Lord of Dark Supposed to rule this place, and I was told He hardly ever comes around, but when He does it’s only to suffice his need For exercise—he never hassles us And seems well pleased that we have joined him in The static corridors of his demesne. The boundless time apportioned us allows A space for speculation: What’s the point Of brand-new bodies if we’ve been deprived Of lust? So how much worse could Heaven be? Eventually our minds adjust, and we Become resigned to the new status quo. First published in Northwoods Journal (2003) . . C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India. His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. NOTE TO POETS: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 13 Responses Jared Carter February 19, 2022 Menschliches, allzu Menschliches. Reply C.B. Anderson February 20, 2022 Yes indeed, Jared — perennial Man, if you will. Reply Brian Yapko February 20, 2022 This is really a very entertaining poem, C.B. — and something of a departure for you since I don’t believe I’ve seen any of your blank verse poems before — a factor, I’m sure, of this poem being from an earlier period of yours. I’m quite intrigued by your vision of Hell — neither a place of obvious punishment nor of lust denied so much as lust eliminated — almost like an amputation which unmans (or unwomans) the unfortunate victim. By analogy, it would be like a glutton who is not hungry and deprived of food but, rather, who is deprived of the appetite for food. A somewhat subtler form of torture. And the casual tone and colloquial language makes this poem almost the antithesis of Dante. I enjoyed reading this vision of yours. Let’s hope we never have to find out whether you’re right! Reply C.B. Anderson February 20, 2022 Yes, Brian, you’ve not seen any blank verse from me before because I’ve not published any here before. The occasion of this piece was a desire to publish a piece in an obscure journal put out by a printer in Thomaston, ME who wanted to print a journal of poetry and short stories but who found end rhyme distasteful (and who knew nothing of meter). My vision of hell, as you point out, is not eternal torture but rather eternal boredom. And I do wonder whether, if hell should look like this, then must heaven be somewhat similar, though perhaps a bit more joyful? Either we’ll find out, or we won’t. Reply Norma Pain February 20, 2022 I enjoyed this poem C.B. It is dreamlike, funny and entertaining, as I find most dreams that I experience. Is blank verse the same as free-verse? Reply C.B. Anderson February 20, 2022 Blank verse is not the same as free verse, Norma, and I’ll bet that the moderators here can direct you toward an essay published here somewhere that explains the difference. Reply Mike Bryant February 20, 2022 Here ya go… https://pediaa.com/difference-between-blank-verse-and-free-verse/ Norma Pain February 20, 2022 Thank you for the article on blank verse vs free verse Mike. I do see the difference and understand why I enjoyed C.B.’s poem a lot, compared to many of the poems that throw words at the paper, some seemingly randomly. Susan Jarvis Bryant February 20, 2022 C.B., when I read this poem for the first time, I bypassed the obvious and was left feeling a little uncomfortable and somewhat numb, apart from my delight at “coifed and comely covey” – great use of consonance, great image. A little strange and shallow, I thought to myself… but, that’s the whole point… a sinner in Hell with booze and breasts on his mind… the temptations that ensured the devil was his landlord. And then I read it again… I love it! I hope he discovers the meaning of true love with one of the luscious lovelies and develops wings that will fly him to eternity with compassion, gratitude, and joy in his formerly sleazy soul. Reply C.B. Anderson February 20, 2022 Nah. There’s no way out, Susan. The narrator will just get used to it, as he did in life. There is no exit. Eternity is a long time. Unless one believes in an after-afterlife, redemption is no longer a possibility. Reply Jeff Eardley February 20, 2022 CB…Thank you for cheering me up on a dark, wet and windy Sunday over here. I often lull myself to sleep thinking of long ago romantic liaisons. It only takes a few seconds as there weren’t that many. You have convinced me that the afterlife could be a load of old friends sitting around a brazier ( or even brassiere) with a bottomless supply of Jack Daniels and Old Nick popping in now and again. Brilliant and entertaining. Thank you. Reply C.B. Anderson February 21, 2022 You like Tennessee whiskey, Jeff? I’d prefer some nice Auchentoshan, Linkwood, or perhaps Talisker. Whatever floats your boat. Reply Tamara Beryl Latham March 21, 2022 C.B. Anderson, Your poem exemplifies excellence in blank verse. You have certainly mastered the form. The theme that is woven throughout the lines is (because of your actions on this earth) you are banished by God to hell everlasting. In a nutshell, upon arrival in hell, you are met by your many friends, who too have sinned on this earth. Satan visits you from time to time, but also allows all of you to continue doing what you initially did on earth that was considered by the Lord to be bad behavior or sinful. You detail beautifully (although lust is now absent from your mind) there is no escape from hell and the punishment you have been given is everlasting. . The poem reminds me of the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 24:42 and the Luke 16:24 scripture. Yet, if you believe in the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 18:21, 22, then you would know when Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive his brother, who has sinned against him, “As many as seven times?” Jesus said, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” . With that in mind it takes a lot for the Lord to send people to hell for eternity. Jesus took the sins of the world upon himself, so that even a murderer can be forgiven. Mark 3:28-29 Remember, ALL SINS ARE FORGIVEN except ONE SIN and that is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Thanks for sharing such outstanding work with us. 🙂 Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.