Lucifer, the Morning Star and a Poetry Challenge

Satan before the Lord by Corrado Giaquinto, circa 1750
Satan before the Lord by Corrado Giaquinto, circa 1750 | Source

A Powerful Symbol

The word "lucifer" is a powerful symbol in our language. It has two dramatically different meanings, however. When the word begins with a capital letter it generally represents the devil or Satan; when it begins with a small letter it sometimes refers to Christ.

For many people, Lucifer is synonymous with the devil. This wasn't the original meaning of the term, though. Lucifer is a Latin word that means bearer of light. In Ancient Rome it referred to the planet Venus. This planet is often called the morning star since it is very bright and is visible just before dawn.

The term morning star is also used in some Christian documents to represent Christ. If these documents are used in their Latin versions, as is sometimes the case, "lucifer" replaces "morning star". Therefore we end up with the very odd situation in which the word lucifer can represent both good and evil.

In this article I explore the meanings of lucifer using both prose and poetry. The poem was written for a poetry challenge established by another writer in honour of National Poetry Month, which takes place in April of each year.

Venus: Music From The Planets Suite by Gustav Holst

The photo at the start of the video above shows Venus. The planet is so bright because it's covered by thick clouds that reflect sunlight and because it's the closest planet to the Earth.

The Morning Star

Venus received its alternate name of the morning star because it's the brightest object in the night sky, apart from the moon, and because it appears in the eastern sky just before dawn. It also shines brightly at dusk in the western sky, when it's referred to as the evening star. Early astronomers were unaware that the morning star and the evening star were the same object. They were also unaware that the "star" was actually a planet.

In Ancient Rome, people used the word lucifer for the morning star and seemed to have had no concept of the word as a representation of evil. In fact, Lucifer was sometimes used as the first name of a male.

In the Easter Proclamation or Exsultet used by the Catholic and Anglican churches today, the term "morning star" is used to refer to Christ. Jesus also uses the term to refer to himself in Revelation 22:16. In the Latin version of the Exsultet, the word lucifer is used for both the morning star and Christ.

Lucifer before the Lord
Lucifer before the Lord | Source

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

— Isaiah Chapter 14, Verse 12 (King James Version)

Lucifer Reference in Isiah 14:12

The only biblical reference to Lucifer occurs in Isaiah 14:12 in the King James Version of the Bible. Modern Bibles use the terms shining one, shining star, day star or morning star to replace the word Lucifer.

The beginning of Isaiah 14:12 seems at first glance to be talking about the fall of the devil from heaven. However, Chapter 14 of Isaiah isn't about the devil, even though Isaiah 14:12 is often quoted to support the use of Lucifer as one of the devil's names. The chapter is in part a criticism of the King of Babylon. Like Christ and angels, kings were also known as morning stars.

Although many biblical scholars say that the word Lucifer isn't justified as a name for the devil, it's widely used in this sense. Some people use the word to refer to the devil while he was still in heaven but not after he was cast out.

Victory of Saint Francis over Temptation (represented by Lucifer fleeing from the saint); statues by Dionigi Bussola
Victory of Saint Francis over Temptation (represented by Lucifer fleeing from the saint); statues by Dionigi Bussola | Source

National Poetry Month

Poetry challenges can be fun at any time of year, but they are especially meaningful during National Poetry Month. The event is celebrated every April in the United States. It was created in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets and lasts for the entire month of April. The goal of poetry month is to increase both the awareness and the appreciation of poetry. National Poetry Month was established in Canada in 1998 by the League of Canadian Poets and is also celebrated in April of each year.

Many organizations hold special events during the month of April, including publishers, booksellers, libraries, literary organizations and schools. Events include poetry readings and festivals, poet interviews, book displays, media reports, workshops, contests, writing challenges and special lesson plans in schools.

Ready to write
Ready to write | Source

A Poetry Challenge

Writing challenges can be very useful for both prose writers and poets. They often trigger new ideas and can encourage people to write in a new genre. Although the rules of a writing challenge may at first seem restrictive, they can sometimes stimulate creativity as a writer tries to follow the requirements while still expressing their thoughts.

The idea behind the challenge in which I participated was to create a story with a series of poems written by different people. The first poem in the series established the setting, characters and theme of the story. The last one presented the conclusion. The poems in the middle told the story. A similar challenge could be performed by other writing groups. A writer's position in the poetry chain could be chosen voluntarily or by choosing random numbers. It's very interesting to see the final story that's created when the poems are read in the correct sequence.

Even when multiple elements of a story are established in the first poem, it's still possible for writers to be creative, depending on the rules of the challenge. In my challenge, a poem had to follow these rules.

  • Each poem had to be no longer than ten lines.
  • The theme of the first poem presented to the writers had to be followed. This theme was the goal of the devil to obtain the soul of a woman who had just died. Another element of the first poem that I followed (although this wasn't essential) was the presence of a church.

An artist's rendition of the mythical phoenix. The phoenix periodically dies in a fire but is always reborn.
An artist's rendition of the mythical phoenix. The phoenix periodically dies in a fire but is always reborn. | Source

Meaning and Symbolism of Lucifer and Fire

In the last line of my poem, I've chosen the word "Lucifer" for its double meaning. The reader can choose which interpretation they prefer. Lucifer could represent Satan and indicate that the demonic force is tightening its grip on April, the woman who has died. The word could also symbolize the light of the morning star and might even suggest that April is being protected or saved by the Light.

The word "fire" is also an interesting symbol in literature and has multiple connotations. It often represents destruction but is also used to symbolize desire or cleansing. In addition, it is sometimes linked to rebirth, as in the legend of the phoenix. This mythical bird periodically dies in a fire, but a new phoenix is always born from the ashes.

April, a character in the poetry challenge, is dead. Her troubles are not over, however.
April, a character in the poetry challenge, is dead. Her troubles are not over, however. | Source

Lucifer's Desires

The flames of darkness glowed

and sent out tongues of lust,

empowered by desire

to grasp life's severed souls.

The ringing church bell choked,

smothered by the surge

of hatred for the loved;

and April's dead eyes shone,

her mind fed full with fire

by the light of Lucifer.

© 2014 Linda Crampton

More by this Author


Comments 58 comments

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Hi Alicia, that's fascinating to realise just how we have changed the name Lucifer over the years. I do remember it being the bearer of light, but just like chinese whispers we have changed and manipulated the word to make it sound evil, which is a shame. I love your poem, and have been following the poems in this challenge, nice one Alicia! voted up and shared! nell


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks for the comment, Nell. Yes, it is interesting how some words change their meaning in such a big way. It's a shame when a term that originally meant something good comes to mean something bad. I appreciate your vote and share, Nell!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

This was really fantastic how you have combined both research and your creativity. What an amazing job!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you so much for such a kind comment, Flourish! I appreciate it very much.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Really wonderful and when I ready your title, the first thought that came into my mind was, oh, AliciaC has contributed to Frank's challenge, and then I began reading the wonderful history about Lucifer and, yes, I know it refers to Christ at times, and to Lucifer before he was cast out of heaven

Then, much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed your wonder poem in contribution to Frank's challenge and boy does it ever follow Jodah's second contribution!!! Great job and really memorable poem.

Up and more, pinning and tweeting and sharing, of course!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend,

Faith Reaper


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, Faith! I appreciate all your support - the lovely comment, the votes and the shares - a great deal! I hope that tomorrow and the week ahead are wonderful for you.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Wow Alicia, I'm floored by this hub. What great information on the different interpretations of "Lucifer'. Thanks for mentioning me in the hub. I too thought it was a contribution to frank's challenge when I read the title, then thought otherwise when I began to read the hub. Then, there was your poem to add to the challenge, and it follows mine perfectly. Well done. Voted 'Awesome'.


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England

Hello Alicia. I didn't realise you had contributed (found out from one of Faith's comments). I'm trying to add everyone's links to mine.

This is a great hub. You've given a full interesting reason behind your superb poem. I didn't realise lucifer could mean good as well as evil.

Great contribution! Will add your link. Ann


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Awesome you have such great thoughts and your imagination runs wild with your great mind.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

There was quite a response to Frank's challenge, and you met that challenge quite well.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the comment and the vote, Jodah! I enjoy writing poetry very much, but I need something to stimulate my imagination before I can create one, Your poem did just that!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, annart. Thank you very much for the lovely comment and for linking my hub to yours! I'm looking forward to reading your poem.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for the kind comment, DDE! I appreciate your visit.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks for the visit and the comment, Bill.


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 2 years ago from Pennsylvania

I did not know that lucifer maent anything other than the devil. Interesting history!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Maren Morgan. Yes, I think the history of the word is interesting, too! Thanks for the visit.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

Interesting and well-needed information and thought-provoking poem.

There was a time I believed all the myths about Good and Evil. Since I became a writer in 1992 I could clearly see through them. Humans need myths and metaphors to understand Good and Evil, Life and Death. I have no problem accepting and respecting any beliefs that enable a person to be happy and contented.

I have to quote Shakespeare: “What's in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.”

The connotations we associate with names (and words) are rammed down our throats by people and literature....

Your poem, Alicia, is profound and thought-provoking :)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Martie. Thank you for the visit and the comment. I very much agree with your fourth and fifth sentences. Myths and metaphors can be very important to help us through our lives, even if we don't believe that an event described in a myth actually happened. One of my favourite quotes is "Myths are things that never happened but always are", which is attributed to Sallustius, a writer from the fourth century.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

Love the quote: "Myths are things that never happened but always are." Very true!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Yes, I love this quote! It seems very true to me, too.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Lovely poem and image - I love the old masters. There's another meaning connected with light, as well: in the old days a lucifer was a match for lighting fires.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the comment and for sharing the interesting information, Blossom. I enjoy looking at the paintings by the old masters, too!


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Great writing and so meaningful you came up with a fantastic thought!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Wonderful poem Alicia, voted up AI and shared. All to April Poems are great, I am glad that I would not be the one to choose the best.

Shyron


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 2 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Lovely poem Alicia. The church has twisted the meaning of many things over the centuries and a lot of our modern concepts of Satan/Lucifer are based on the old pagan gods they wished to vilify. And sadly there are many people who fear the light more than they do the dark


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much, DDE!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you so much for the comment, the votes and the share, Shyron. April is an interesting character!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Cynthia. Yes, I find it very interesting to examine the links between paganism and Christianity! Thank you for the visit and the comment.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

Somehow i missed seeing your challenge response. This is beautiful! Very interesting, your info. about the name Lucifer. Strange how time changes words and meanings. I read Blossom's comment about the match, amazing.....


Author Cheryl profile image

Author Cheryl 2 years ago

Nice hub voted up.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

Very informative AliciaC. I did not know all of that about lucifer/Lucifer. Your contribution was hot. It was awesome and interesting at the same time. I gave it thumbs up and more.

Kevin


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

So interesting Alicia--


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, always exploring. I appreciate your visit. It is strange how names change over time!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, Author Cheryl. It's nice to meet you!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the comment, Kevin. I appreciate the votes, too.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks for the visit and the comment, Audrey.


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

Great poem, and I am sure it will spark a rage of controversy, as such topics usually do here when the hub pages inquisition crawls out of the woodwork. I enjoyed this hub and your poem, and good luck to you!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for the comment and the good luck wish, Mel. I hope there's no inquisition! I created this hub as an exploration of a character that I found interesting and thought fitted the theme of the poetry challenge. I hope that it can be enjoyed by both people who do believe in Lucifer or Satan as a real being and by those who don't!


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

Great job Linda. I was not aware of Frank's poetry challenge, although I'm not sure I could contribute anyway. I love how you educated us about the dual meaning of "Lucifer" and "lucifer" and worked this theme into a wonderful poem. You are very creative :)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much, Bill. I appreciate your kind comment!


Author Cheryl profile image

Author Cheryl 2 years ago

I love reading good hubs. Voted up.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks again. Author Cheryl.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 2 years ago from West Virginia

Oh yes and that is how they did with the name of demons. They were, in Greek, very good to have around one and they were good. Then Rome came along and now they are taught to be evil beings and not so good to have around. Interesting twists in the politics of religion. Thanks for this article and I am going to share it.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the comment and the share, Lady Guinevere. I think that the history of word meanings and the ways in which they change over time are very interesting.


WriterJanis profile image

WriterJanis 2 years ago from California

This was very interesting about the different meanings of the word Lucifer. I read your poem and it's great. I hope you do well in the challenge.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks, WriterJanis. I appreciate your comment. The poetry challenge isn't a competition, but it's fun to join other writers in the effort to create a story.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Oh my gosh, I can't imagine having a child named Lucifer today. Thanks for the meaning and history of this name. WEll done.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the visit and the comment, Dianna. Yes, Lucifer would be a very unfortunate choice of name for a child today!


epbooks profile image

epbooks 2 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

This is fantastic. I had always associated Lucifer with the devil. Very educational hub!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much, epbooks! I appreciate your visit and comment.


CarolynEmerick profile image

CarolynEmerick 2 years ago

Alicia, I really enjoyed both your exploration of Lucifer as well as your poem. I'm listening to the music in the youtube video you added as I read and write here ;-)

Your hub got me thinking... well some deities that I am interested in are a trio of Baltic/Lithuanian goddesses who stand for the Sun, the Dawn, and the Evening Star. And I am also very interested in Ostara/Eostre, who is thought to be not just a Springtime deity but also a goddess of the Radiant Dawn (connected to Aurora)... so with my interest in the Evening Star and the Radiant Dawn, the concept of the Morning Star is intriguing... I'm not saying I think Lucifer is connected to Ostara, but obviously I'm attracted to light/star/celestial deities, so this has definitely piqued my interest.

And your poem was really nice. It was thoughtful and reading it with the music really transported me. I enjoyed it very much.

Anyway, upvoted, and I will give this a share on a Mythology page I admin on FB :-)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the comment, the vote and the FB share, Carolyn! I appreciate them all. I love The Planets Suite, so I was happy to write a hub that suited it. Like you, I enjoy learning about the ancient deities and their significance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the goddesses. They are very interesting!


cecileportilla profile image

cecileportilla 2 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

Hi AliciaC:

Very interesting and informative hub about the origins of the word Lucifer. You poem was well done. Voted up!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, cecileportilla. I appreciate your visit, comment and vote!


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 2 years ago from Somewhere in the West

Hi Alicia provoking hub to who do not understand the term or meaning of Lucifer. I for one do not associate the name Lucifer with evil, reason being that's the name God give to satan when he was in heaven and he was a good angel. God would not give his angels bad names. Also as you correctly said Lucifer means "Bright and morning star" and yes in a sense Jesus is also associate with the name "Bright and morning star". For example in the sound "Lily of the Valley ; It goes like this, He's the lily of the valley the bright and morning star (the he in that song refers to Jesus), makes no difference what they say I'm gonna get on my knees and pray....etc.

However we won't just use the word Lucifer literally to describe Jesus , knowing who once carried the name it puts a stain on the name itself. It's a good name but I've never heard anyone naming their child Lucifer and i guess its for the same reason. That satan once carried that name.

Have a bless day and thanks for sharing this interesting write.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for the interesting and informative comment, Lady Fiddler. I hope the week ahead is a good one for you.


CYong74 profile image

CYong74 8 months ago from Singapore

What had always struck me as weird is how Lucifer became so notorious, when he's barely even mentioned in the Bible, as you noted. Maybe this is proof that mankind is unable to understand supreme good without a contrast of supreme evil. One of those abstract theories on duality, etc.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 8 months ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

That's an interesting thought, CYong74. Thank you very much for the comment.

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