And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.
-Edgar Allan Poe, 1843
I have always loved this poem… there is a certain hope that stands in the shadows just off stage, that lurks in the meter, even as the subject matter of the poem is the despairing end of all men. Perhaps it is just me, for I know the end of this act is not, in point of fact, the end of the play. The “heroism” of the worm will be triumphantly cut short. Yet much in the flavor of Ecclesiastes – a book Poe was intimately familiar with in thought, if not in word – there is a hopelessness that thrives under the sun, for often things appear hopeless indeed. The tragedy of man seems, in each successive generation, to be at its crescendo.
But to be a follower of Christ is to know Hope, deep in your bones. And having known it, you start to see it everywhere. Perhaps just the slightest hint of a bud, a smear of green on a single branch far out on the edge of reality’s despairing tree. But we see it, and our souls know it for what it is.
So the funeral pall comes down, and the storm rages, and angels weep, and the cruelty of man expressed in the hatred of his neighbor seems a stain that can never be washed from the world, no matter the downpour…
And we linger in that moment just before the Hero comes to save the day.