Ballade of Evil

Original Text: 
Tom MacInnes, Rhymes of a Rounder (New Yorik: Broadway, 1910): 51.. Internet Archive.
1Evil! What poor argument
2    We mortals hear to make us trust
3That as for God he never meant
4    To bait this hook of pain with lust!
5    Then by what devil was it thrust
6Thro' the filmy first upheaval
7    Of our planetary dust?
8No man knoweth the end of evil.
9By dint of wishing, sages say,
10    Things shape themselves much as we see;
11And filth and pain are the price we pay
12    Largely for the will to be;
13    That we evolve contingently
14On such acceptance and receival:
15    Is this the measure of God's mercy?
16No man knoweth the end of evil.
17Say if you choose there is naught but good:
18    Harden your heart and soften your brain:
19Say wrong is right misunderstood:
20    Close your eyes to filth and pain:
21    Swear all is right and all is sane,
22And all correct from days primeval:
23    And then--well, then what will you gain?
24No man knoweth the end of evil.
25We strive in mud forever obscure,
26    Forever in hope of some reprieval,
27But living or dead we are not sure:
28    No man knoweth the end of evil.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
2011
Rhyme: 
Form: