The trudger up stairs is not inclined
To walk down long corridors to find
By elevators as transports of delight
The exit where you go out of your mind.
For that “far, far better thing,” better bet on evasion
Of cages and hoists where you rise to the occasion,
Cars that you step in “to get on with your life,”
And service with Cerberus manning the station.
Escalators get stuck and stop, abrupt;
Moving stairs have all become corrupt;
Though fallen angels met with their come-uppance,
Sinners opt out, and saints ought to have stepped up.
So check your coats and leave your souls immured;
Abandon all hope, but kindly agree to be herded
Up the ramp, however the warnings be worded,
Towards that closed door forever sliding nearer. . .
That opens on an airshaft;
What did you fear?
That down the abyss you would tumble with Lucifer hurled?
Stick with the stairs where you only come down in the world.
NOTES for Students of English
Lethe – (Pronounced LEE-thee, th as in theater) — The river of forgetfulness in Hades.
Transports – Both meanings of the word: “transportation” and “rapture.”
“For that ‘far, far better thing'” – From “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done” — the last thoughts of self-sacrificing hero, Sydney Carton, on his way to the guillotine in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.
“To get on with your life” – A pun: “To enter while carrying your life” and “To continue your life.”
Cerberus – The giant 3-headed dog who guards the way to Hades.
“Abandon all hope” – From “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” — the inscription at the entrance to Hell in Canto III of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Lucifer – Satan, the rebel archangel.