The Noonday Demon [*POEM*]



Indomitable, indomitable! 
This you need to be, you sad bag of bones.
Rest easy. Your sins are forgivable.
Down on your knees and kiss the holy stones!

The noonday demon eats your heart away.
Day follows dreary day and no delight
Of kiss or human kindness can allay
These leaden pangs, the spectres of midnight.

Let the lions roar, let the lions come,
And tear you apart with their ravening jaws.
The unbearable will be overcome
And all our days be dead as dinosaurs.

God’s ways are so mysterious only he
Knows why the things he made are meant to be.

17 thoughts to “The Noonday Demon [*POEM*]”

  1. Unless of course God chooses to tell us why.
    (He can’t keep a secret)
    I went looking and I’ll be darned if I didn’t find quite a few clues, hints, quotes, nuggets and even a real gem or two.
    Here’s one!

    1. hp
      I know I’m probably nitpicking when I say this, but in these contexts referring to Divinity I prefer use of the word “Its” instead of the pronouns “He” or “His”. To me it provides a more complete understanding of spiritual energies reflecting the yin and the yang….for what its worth

  2. Why is the poem called “The Noonday Demon”?
    Firstly, why “demon”? Secondly, why the adjective “noonday”.
    Would someone like to speculate?

    1. The “noonday demon” is a biblical allusion and comes from Psalm 90 (or Ps 91 in the King James version of the Bible). Here are the famous words:

      Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror by night; nor the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.”

      — Psalm 91 (KJV), 5-6

      The forerunner of the modern mental condition known as “depression” was known as “melancholia” in Shakespeare’s time. Throughout the Middle Ages it was known as acedia (“accidie” in French), the equivalent of ennui, listlessness, tedium vitae, a sense of stupefying futility.

      Why “noonday demon “? you ask. Good question. Answer: because the monks of the Middle Ages who suffered from this form of acute depression reported that the depression was always at its peak around midday. After 2pm it would gradually ease off.

      For more details, see here:

      1. “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour”. John 12:27 – King James Bible
        In Romanticism, melancholy presented itself through a positive aspect that was much appreciated. It was considered as a disease that enabled the person to go through an experience that enriched the soul. Labelling Melancholy as depression and even involving Freud just makes one cringe when having accepted and embraced ones own soul as a living entity. Yes, Melancholy is a profound deep sadness, even “hopelessness”, just like a feeling being “far from a loving home” that ones heart (and soul) has not forgotten and constantly longs for fundamentally in ones existence – when not being distracted through a very needy and “attention grabbing” physical body, that is prone to depression naturally as it is hopelessly finite – just as the panthers circling behind bars in Rilke’s poem the panther.

        His weary glance, from passing by the bars,
        Has grown into a dazed and vacant stare;
        It seems to him there are a thousand bars
        And out beyond those bars the empty air.
        The pad of his strong feet, that ceaseless sound
        Of supple tread behind the iron bands,
        Is like a dance of strength circling around,
        While in the circle, stunned, a great will stands.
        But there are times the pupils of his eyes
        Dilate, the strong limbs stand alert, apart,
        Tense with the flood of visions that arise
        Only to sink and die within his heart.

  3. Noonday demon—(revulsion at) old age … either never heard before or didn’t pay attention.
    I think it targets women more than men, just as beauty rewards them more, so in a way, it would be a lament for the mask of beauty of flesh slipping away, like the expiry date nears on perishable groceries.
    But that’s the way of flesh, from the breaching moment, isn’t it, it is only that at some point person starts paying attention to that date—and that is good, it is meant to be, to start reflecting on what might be the true nature of being.
    And maybe at some happy point, the realization dawns that it is entirely ephemeral and that it is one of the big lessons to learn, that chrysalis approaches as well as return to the root format—that the matter is just a dream byproduct of the creative spirit, a Noonday Joke.

    Easy for me to say at 2pm.

    And B-hawk, I beg to differ, I think that it is right and proper to refer to Creator as He, He-of-the-Spirit, the Designer (not Designer-person).
    Because of this built-in dichotomy, reflected in Christian (and many other, Sumerian, Hindu, Egyptian) scripts,
    conceptus de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine“,
    from drawing board to machine shop, male principle to female.
    Just say no to political correctness—after Christ, one man had more genuine regard and respect for women than anyone else and that man was Adolph Hitler, who never told a lie.
    True that if everything is thrown onto a giant heap and thoroughly mashed, the world becomes IT, what kabalists mockingly refer to as Diversity, which is anything but … but I beg to differ 😉

    Hm, one more thought to put burr under your saddle, LD—anyone who doesn’t commit suicide is driven by will to live—i.e., the will to get old and enjoy visit of the demon for another noon.

    Of course there is always the Faustian bargain of transhumanism—how much do I pity them, the most tragic losers of all (including some in my own family)—it may even underwrite the platform of JEWISH RITUAL MURDER AND BLOOD SACRIFICE, I urge everyone to lend an ear to this and ponder the deeper meanings, when the circle of futility closes on itself.

  4. Lobro
    You make a good point. The “He” of the spiritual equation reflecting the Male as Protector.

    That aside, I don’t particularly like that portrayal of Jesus in the painting. There’s too much of a woebegone conveyance there. He already knew that not enough of his listeners would HEAR. Had they……..and the rest is history

    1. @ Traducteur

      I had no idea! That’s really interesting to know. I wonder how and when this expression — “le démon de midi” — became an idiom signifying middle-aged lust? Any idea?

      I kind of associate this idiomatic usage with the French decadents (e.g. Baudelaire, who was a sex addict) or perhaps with Proust.

  5. Whenever I see the word, ‘noonday demon’, I can’t help but to immediately think of Psalm 90. Pretty sure this is the last Psalm of Compline on Sundays. An excellent nighttime prayer if there ever was one. In it we see the words Christ spoke to Satan as he was tempted in the desert. We also hear directly from God in his explanation as to why he protects his own. A rarity in the psalms.

    Qui habitat. The just is secure under the protection of God.

    [1] The praise of a canticle for David. He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob. [2] He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust. [3] For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word. [4] He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust. [5] His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.

    [6] Of the arrow that flieth in the day, of the business that walketh about in the dark: of invasion, or of the noonday devil. [7] A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee. [8] But thou shalt consider with thy eyes: and shalt see the reward of the wicked. [9] Because thou, O Lord, art my hope: thou hast made the most High thy refuge. [10] There shall no evil come to thee: nor shall the scourge come near thy dwelling.

    [11] For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways. [12] In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. [13] Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon. [14] Because he hoped in me I will deliver him: I will protect him because he hath known my name. [15] He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.

    [16] I will fill him with length of days; and I will shew him my salvation.

    1. @ RICH

      Whenever I see the word, ‘noonday demon’, I can’t help but to immediately think of Psalm 90.

      Well yes, that’s where it comes from: Psalm 90. (in the Vulgate Latin and in all Catholic translations). However, Psalm 90 becomes Psalm 91 in the King James version and in all Protestant Bibles. I’m not sure why.

      1. @Sister Monica,

        I believe the reason is that when the Protestants were putting together the King James version, which was actually finished after the Rheims NT and Douay OT, they cut Psalm 9 in half. Therefore Psalm 9b, according to the Douay, became Psalm 10 in the King James Version.

        Reading the original Rheims and Douay is a very enlightening experience. It’s more to the point. And the foreign sound to my ears in the Elizabethan slows me down just enough to read it with contemplation. The notes espousing the reasons for the Counter-Reformation, and why the Protestants are still wrong, especially concerning the Eucharist as worthy of study as it is convincing.

        1. @ Rich

          Thanks for explaining that so well, Rich: how Psalm 90 in the Catholic version became Psalm 91 in the Protestant version. Is this Psalm always sung at Compline, by the way? Or can it be sung at some of the other Divine Offices.

          In regard to the various versions of the Bible, I can reveal that both LD and I have the Vulgate Latin version, the Douay version, and the King James’ version. For sheer beauty of language, we prefer reading the King James version. Its prose is unmatched. However, the Douay version is far closer to the Vulgate Latin version. Word for word and phrase for phrase, it’s almost a literal translation.

          The Vulgate Latin version in my possession (“Biblia Sacra”) is pretty unique in that it has NO PUNCTUATION! Not a single comma or full stop to be found on any page! This naturally slows down the reading process. Punctuation, as we know it today, simply did not exist in the Middle Ages.

          Imagine that. 1,980 pages of extremely small print with not a single comma or full stop to be found anywhere. Weird.

  6. @Sister Monica,

    Where was your Vulgate Latin version printed? And I am also curious as to who published it. I am in admiration of you and Lasha that you both read the text in Latin. I will have to take a few moments and read some passages in the King James version. I am still sore that Luther got rid of 7 books and even tried to get rid of The Catholic Epistle of St. James because St. James presents the case for the need of good works. Cooler heads prevailed and his advisors talked him out of it.

    I am glad you understand that slowing down the reading process due to lack of punctuation, or in my case, almost reading a foreign version of English, works well with the prayerful reading of the material. There is a rhythm to it and a cadence that makes me believe it all.

    You might be interested in checking out this site. It is called Divinum Officium and it has the Catholic Breviary in every rubric ever used by the Church. It is also in Latin and a multitude of languages. Including Maygar.

    The man who put this together did it for free and an act of love. He passed away about 5 years ago. It is now run by a traditional priest. As it turns out, I met his wife after he died. He went to the sister parish of my traditional Ecclesia Dei parish in Chicago. He was originally from Hungary and lived there as a child during World War II and spent the rest of his teen years trying to flee from Communists. He was a big success as a computer engineer. One of the first. And this is what he did with his spare time.

    I have bought sets of breviaries that have cost me over $1500. Not bragging, just trying to point out the expense involved and the time it would take to learn to use this for every day in the Liturgical Year.

    And here is is all set out for you.

    My favorite rubrics are Divino Afflatu promulgated by Pius X in 1911.

    Although I also appreciated the 1960 rubrics as they paid attention, once again, to the Lenten Ferial Days. Very important. Divino Afflatu has too many Feasts. For instance Divino Afflatu will celebrate St. Thomas Aquinas on March 7th. Then a brief commemoration of the Feria will be said. Just a Collect, Secret, and Post Communion.

    The 1960 rubrics tell the entire Faith from Septuagesima, where we begin reading chapter one of the Book of Genesis, through the Ferial Days of Christ’s Public Ministry, to Tennebrae, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday. If you were to pray the Divine Office every day during this period, I dare say you would know the Faith better than 99% of the priests walking the earth today.

    I hope you find this of interest.

    1. @ Rich

      Thank you for your fascinating and most informative comment. In regard to your question: “Where was your Vulgate Latin version printed? And I am also curious as to who published it.”

      The details are as follows: BIBLIA SACRA, Iuxta Vulgatam Versionem. Published in Germany by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. Copyright 1969, new editions in 1975, 1983, 1994. My edition is the 1994 one. Maybe there have been more since then. (Very expensive book!)

      The book runs to 1,980 onionskin-thin pages. Each page has the Latin text in two columns, each verse numbered, very small print but readable with good eyesight. Textual notes at bottom of page, no commentaries. Book starts with many pages of prefaces, beginning in 1969, by Roger Gryson, the Prefaces being in Latin, German, French and English, in that order. The book contains many other Biblical texts left out of the Douay and King James versions, including all the books found in the ‘Apocrypha’, e.g. Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom of Solomon, Judith, Tobit, Maccabees, etc. etc. However, completely unpunctuated throughout.

      A few months ago I found a very small pocket-sized ‘Biblia Sacra’ hidden away in a musty second-hand bookshop for the ridiculously low price of £4 ($5). Couldn’t believe my luck, snapped it up at once! To most people the book was valueless, being in Latin and with the print so microscopically tiny that few would venture to read it without a magnifying glass. This book was printed in London (no date) and was punctuated throughout. I’d say it was mid-Victorian. Title: Biblia Polyglotta, Versio Latina. The text would be readable, I thought, if expanded photocopies were obtained, tripling or quadrupling the size of the print.

      LD had done this with all the Gospels but lost them all in a sea voyage — over 24 exercise books.

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