Good and Evil: A Poem Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's Short Novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
You are my pollution, my vile, thick, sticky, black tar of primordial savageness
You are everything I get not to be, everything I ought not to be, and every-
thing I detest in others. You are the depository of my most base instincts and
monstrous inclinations. You are my frontman, my middleman. You are my
lightning rod, deflecting and absorbing away the wrath of God from me.
That means you are my sin and my deserving place in Hell, a Hell I will never see.
You are the dirt beneath my nails, but I love you, but I cannot embrace you.
I need you, but I cannot acknowledge you. You, stinking, foul, abominable beast
from the center of the Earth! You... You... darling, darling, darling man. You
are the true course of my arrow of benevolent vengeance. It is benevolent,
for I am a good man, just as the day is long in the Summertime. For I
punish no one who does not properly deserve it: an irresponsible, hack
reporter; a wanton, silly, cheating tart of a woman; a scientific society
made up of fools who confound me and reject my ideas and proposals!
But my public face is like the sun, brightly radiating its forgiving light
on one and all, warming them pleasantly and endowing them with
vitality. I am the light by which children play in the daytime, where a
young man charms his young lady, where the old warm bones that
chill too easily, where life thrives after a Spring renewal. I am the
unimpeachable proof of God's inexhaustible solicitude. For, He so
loved the world that He sacrificed His only Son. Isn't that right?
Oh, evil one, sometimes I wish I could take you with me to Heaven!
But He wouldn't understand. Our Lord is such a perfectionist, a truly
demanding Father, who thinks His Heaven is too good for the likes of
you, too pristine, too fine, too subtle, too elegant, too morally clean,
too spiritually sterile for one such as you, a contaminant of the soul,
you, the very abscence of light in your darkness.
But make no mistake, sinister colleague of mine. You shall not drag
me to Hell either. It is not a valiant heart that makes me say this.
It is fear, for I am afraid to die. I am afraid to die in the flesh.
How much more so am I afraid to die in the spirit.
My good man, do you really think you can escape me?
Do you think you can use me and discard me like a condom?
Do you think you can cleave me away from you blameless?
My good man: Is it not true that the criminal---if he must be caught
and face punishment---always desires that his confederates, who-
ever they may be, should face the condemnation of society and God
with him? Would he face such things in solitude, alone, by himself?
Isolated? Frightened? Yes, I can feel fear, you know.
The criminal transgresses the law of man and God because
there is something he wants, which he cannot... will not wait
for or toil for like some lunch pail-carrying slob. The criminal
acts for a reward. You win some and lose some, doctor.
Do you think that if I must lose one, doctor, that I will sit
there, not only denied my reward forever, but endure my
soul to be condemned forever, alone, all by myself?
What a weasly little man you are! You are like Jacob, who
cheated his brother Esau out of his blessing. You are like
the brothers of Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery
in Egypt. I will not let you go. I will not let you go.
Don't you know that I live vicariously through you, as you do
through me? Don't you know that? Didn't you ever suspect?
As a man of science, doctor, you should have at least recalled
that what goes up must come down, and that what is down
sometimes goes up. Yes, doctor, I enjoy getting to slip into
your skin and be loved and admired by the brightly lit world
of respectable society, walking down the street and tipping
our hat to white-haired matrons from old money families,
being given tax breaks and subsidies for our research---research,
which, after all, brought us together, you and I, doctor, smiling
at young beauties and having them smile back, instead of
shriek at me in fear because I am a beast!
Let me tell you this, my good man: You will not escape me!
I will coil myself around you inextricably like a killer King
Cobra, loudly proclaiming our unity, our partnership, your
guilt. And as one, doctor, fate will do with us what it will.