Underrated: “Glass”

* * * B

glassOnce again, the critics get it wrong. “Glass”, the sequel to M. Night Shyamalan’s fantastic “Split“, which in an epilogue twist was revealed to be the sequel to his second film, “Unbreakable”, is a worthy conclusion to the trilogy. The ending is surprising and I can certainly see why it disappointed some. It was the film’s weak point, though it tied the story up nicely. The critics gave it a mere 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film opens as David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark, who played young Joseph in Unbreakable) are on the hunt for The Horde (James McAvoy), who are back to kidnapping young women, hoping to release The Beast once more. Dunn and The Horde are captured and put in the care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson of American Horror Story), along with Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson).

Staple claims to be an expert in the rare disorder that makes the three think that they have superhuman powers. She enlists Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), The Horde’s former captive, to help her reach Kevin Wendell Crumb, The Horde’s alter ego. Meanwhile, Mr. Glass, who has been sedated for the past 15 years, has been playing the long game, and still hopes to show the world that super-humans exist.

I won’t spoil the several twists that occur. Watching Mr. Glass and Dr. Staple play cat and mouse is entertaining, Willis is solid as Dunn, and McAvoy once again steals the show playing the various personalities of The Horde. While the ending prevented me from enjoying the film as much as Split, I agree with the Rotten Tomatoes audience, who gave the film a 72% fresh rating.

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Overrated: “Bumblebee”

* * C

BumblebeeBumblebee, a prequel to the Michael Bay Transformers movies, is highly overrated. It scores a 92% fresh rating with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Even the audiance gave it 75%, though IMDB’s rating is a more reasonable 68%. I give it a mere “OK” rating.

The film starts off with the Autobot’s origin story, which is flashy. Bumblebee is sent to prepare the Earth as a sanctuary for the Autobots. On arrival, he battles a Decepticon, losing his power to speak in the process. Seeing a VW beetle, he transforms into it before running out of power.

Years later, Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) finds him in her uncle’s junkyard (how did he get there?) and is somehow able to start him and drive him home (do Autobot’s have an ignition switch? Why would they?). He reveals his true form and they become friends.

Bumblebee’s reactivation is detected by the Decepticons, who team up with John Cena to find him. Meanwhile, Charlie and her dorky neighbour Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) embark on a John Hughes style side plot to punish the resident mean girl.

In the final act, the Decepticons come after bumblebee, while simulataneously revealing their plan to summon an army to wipe out humanity, leading John Cena to team up with Bumblebee and Charlie to stop them.

While not terrible, the film was a mediocre retread of the original (and only good) Transformers film. Cena won’t win any awards, though I did find Steinfeld endearing. The character of Memo was a bland and useless side kick, and Charlie’s mother was an annoying example of the same “stupid parents” trope used in the original film.

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More Frankenstein

For all of you reading my modern English adaptation of Frankenstein, I’ve just added another chapter, the first chapter of Victor Frankenstein’s back story. Hope you enjoy it.

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The Cask of Amontillado

By the last breath of the four winds that blow,
I’ll have revenge upon Fortunato,
Smile in his face, I’ll say “Come, let us go,
I’ve a cask of Amontillado.”
— Alan Parsons/Eric Woolfson

I had borne the thousand injuries of Fortunato as I best could, but when he ventured to insult me, I vowed revenge. Those who know my nature well would not imagine that I made a threat. In time I would be avenged–that was certain–but the very certainty with which I was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish him, but punish him with impunity. A wrong is unpunished when retribution overtakes its avenger. It is equally unpunished when the avenger fails to make himself known as such to the one who has done the wrong.

I give Fortunato no cause to doubt my good will, neither by word nor deed. I continued, as was my practice, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile was now at the thought of his immolation.

Fortunato had a weakness, although in other ways he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself as a connoisseur of wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit; most merely pretend enthusiasm to suit the time and opportunity, to posture for the British and Austrian millionaires. In painting and the study of gems, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. I too was knowledgeable of the Italian vintages, and bought in quantity whenever I could.

Near dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, because he had been drinking heavily. He was dressed as a fool. He had on a tight fitting dress, striped in many colours, and a conical cap and bells on his head. I was so pleased to see him that I thought I might never stop shaking his hand.

“My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met,” I said to him. “How remarkably well you look today! I have received a large cask of what I believe to be Amontillado, though I have my doubts.”

“How?” said he. “Amontillado? A large cask? In the middle of the carnival? Impossible!”

“I have my doubts,” I replied, “and I was foolish enough to pay the full price of Amontillado without consulting you in the matter. You were nowhere to be found, and I feared to miss out on a bargain.”

“Amontillado!” he repeated.

“I have my doubts,” I reiterated.

“Amontillado!”

“And I must satisfy them.”

“Amontillado!”

“Since you were busy, I was on my way to see Luchesi. If anyone has critical ability, it is he. He will tell me—”

“Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.”

“And yet some fools say that his taste is a match for your own.”

“Come, let’s go.”

“Where?”

“To your vaults.”

“My friend, no. I will not impose upon your good nature. I see you have plans. Luchesi—”

“I have no plans. Come.”

“My friend, no. It’s not just your plans, but the severe cold that I see you are afflicted with. The vaults are insufferably damp. They’re encrusted with saltpetre.”

“Let’s go, despite it; this cold is nothing. Amontillado! You have been swindled. And as for Luchesi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado.”

Fortunato took my arm. Putting on a black silk mask and drawing my knee-length cloak closely about me, I allowed him to hurry me to my home.

There were no servants at home. I had told them that I would not return until morning, but had given them explicit orders not to leave the house. These orders were sufficient, I knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned, and as expected, they had left to merrily celebrate the holiday.

caskofamontillado2I took two torches from their sconces and, giving one to Fortunato, ushered him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I went down the long and winding staircase, asking him to be careful as he followed. We came at last to the foot of the stairs, and stood together on the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresor family.

My friend’s gait was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he walked.

“The cask?” he asked.

“It’s further on,” I said. “Look at the white web work which gleams from these cavern walls.”

He turned to me and looked into my eyes, his own filmy orbs rheumy with intoxication.

“Saltpetre?” he asked, at length.

“Saltpetre,” I replied.

At that moment, Fortunato had a huge coughing fit.

“How long have you had that cough?” I asked.

He found it impossible to reply for many minutes.

“It is nothing,” he said, at last.

“Come,” I said decisively, “we will go back. Your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved. You are happy, as I once was. You are a man who would be missed. For me, it is no big inconvenience. We will go back; you are ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchesi—”

“Enough,” he said. “My cough is nothing. It won’t kill me. I won’t die of a cough.”

“True, true,” I replied. “I didn’t mean to alarm you unnecessarily, but you should take all proper precautions. A draft of this Bordeaux will defend us from the damp.”

I knocked off the neck of a bottle that I drew from a long row of its fellows that lay upon the ground.

“Drink,” I said, presenting him the wine.

He raised it to his lips with a leer. He paused and nodded to me familiarly, while his bells jingled.

“I drink,” he said, “to the buried dead that repose around us.”

“And I to your long life,” I said.

He took my arm again, and we proceeded.

“These vaults,” he said, “are extensive.”

“The Montresors,” I replied, “were once a great and numerous family.”

“I forget your arms,” he said.

“A huge, golden human foot, in a field azure, crushes a rampant serpent whose fangs are embedded in its heel.”

“And the motto?”

“Nemo me impune lacessit”, I replied, knowing he would know what it meant: ‘No one attacks me with impunity’.

“Good!” he said.

The wine sparkled in his eyes and his bells jingled. My own imagination grew warm with the Bordeaux. We passed between walls of piled bones, with casks intermingled, to the inmost recesses of the catacombs. I paused again, and this time I made so bold as to seize Fortunato by his arm above the elbow.

“The saltpetre!” I said. “See how it increases. It hangs like moss upon the vaults. We are below the river’s bed. Drops of moisture trickle among the bones. Come on, let’s go back before it’s too late. Your cough—”

“It is nothing,” he said. “Let’s go on. But first, another draft of Bordeaux.”

I broke open and passed him a flagon of Bordeaux from the vineyards of Punta de Grâve. He emptied it in a single draft. His eyes flashing with fierce light, he laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I didn’t understand.

I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement—a grotesque one.

“You do not comprehend?” he said.

“No,” I replied.

“Then you are not of the brotherhood.”

“What?”

“You are not a mason.”

“Oh, yes,” I said, “I am.”

“You? A mason? Impossible!”

“A mason,” I replied.

“Show me a sign,” he said.

“It is this,” I answered, producing a trowel from beneath the folds of my roquelaire.

“You jest,” he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. “But let us proceed to the Amontillado.”

“So be it,” I said, replacing the tool beneath the cloak, and again offering him my arm. He leaned upon it heavily. We continued our quest for the Amontillado. We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and, descending again, arrived in a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our torches to glow rather than flame.

At the furthest end of the crypt, it opened onto another, less spacious one. Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this interior crypt were still decorated in this manner. From the fourth, the bones had been thrown down, and lay everywhere upon the ground, forming a mound of some size at one point. Within the wall exposed by the displaced bones, we saw a recess, about four feet deep, and three in width, in height, six or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for no special purpose, but merely formed the interval between two of the colossal supports of the roof of the catacombs, and was backed by one of their circumscribing walls of solid granite.

Fortunato, lifting his dull torch, tried in vain to see into the depths of the recess. The feeble light did not enable us to see its back wall.

“Proceed,” I said. “The Amontillado is in here. As for Luchesi—”

“He is an ignoramus,” interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily forward.

I followed immediately at his heels. In an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche and, finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly, bewildered. Embedded in surface were two iron staples, about two feet apart, horizontally. From one of these, a short chain hung; from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it took only a few seconds to secure it. He was too astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key, I stepped back from the recess.

“Pass your hand over the wall,” I said. “You cannot help feeling the saltpetre. Indeed, it is very damp. Once more let me implore you to return. No? Then I must positively leave you. But I must first render you all the little attentions in my power.”

“The Amontillado!” ejaculated my friend, not yet recovered from his astonishment.

“True,” I replied; “the Amontillado.”

As I said these words I busied myself among the pile of bones. Throwing them aside, I uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and the aid of my trowel, I began to wall up the entrance of the niche.

I had scarcely laid the first tier of masonry when I discovered that Fortunato’s intoxication had worn off in great measure. I heard a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. It was not the cry of a drunken man. Then there was a long and obstinate silence. I laid the second tier, the third, and the fourth, and then I heard furious vibrations of the chain. The noise lasted for several minutes, during which, so that I might listen to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labour and sat down upon the bones. When at last the clanking subsided, I resumed my work with the trowel, and finished without interruption the fifth, sixth, and seventh tiers. The wall was now nearly level with my chest. I paused again and, holding the torch over the brickwork, threw a few feeble rays upon the man within.

A succession of loud, shrill screams burst suddenly from the throat of his chained form, and seemed to thrust me violently back. For a brief moment I hesitated—I trembled. CaskofAmontilladoUnsheathing my rapier, I began to feel about the recess with it. But then a thought reassured me. I placed my hand upon the solid walls of the catacombs, and felt satisfied. I came back the wall and replied to his yells as he clamoured. I echoed, aided, and even surpassed them in volume and in strength. As I did this, his clamouring grew still.

It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close. I completed the eighth, ninth, and tenth courses. I had finished a portion of the last, the eleventh. There was only a single stone left to be fitted and plastered in. I struggled with its weight; I placed it partially in position. As I did, a low laugh came from the niche and raised the hairs upon my head. It was succeeded by a sad voice, which I had difficulty in recognizing as that of the noble Fortunato.

“Ha! ha! ha!—a very good joke indeed—an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo—he! he! he!—over our wine—he! he! he!”

“The Amontillado!” I said.

“He! he! he!—yes, the Amontillado. But isn’t it getting late? Won’t they be waiting for us at the palazzo, Lady Fortunato and the rest? Let us go.”

“Yes,” I said, “let us go.”

“For the love of God, Montressor!”

“Yes,” I said, “for the love of God!”

I listened in vain for a reply to these words. I grew impatient.

“Fortunato!” I called aloud.

No answer.

“Fortunato!” I called again.

No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. Only the jingling of bells came forth in return. My heart grew sick, on account of the dampness of the catacombs. I hurried to finish my task. I forced the last stone into place and plastered it up. Against the new masonry, I reerected the old rampart of bones which for half a century no mortal had disturbed.

Rest in peace!

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The Masque of the Red Death

Edgar Allen Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death is a Gothic tale of horror and of the comeuppance of the nobility who revel while the poor die of the plague. I hope you enjoy this modernized but faithful adaptation.

The “red death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. It caused sharp pains, sudden dizziness, profuse bleeding from the pores, and finally death. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially the face of the victim, were the symptom which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow men. The whole seizure by, progress and termination of the disease took only half an hour.

Nevertheless, Prince Prospero was happy, undaunted and perceptive. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned a thousand healthy and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and retired with them to the deep seclusion of one of his fortified abbeys. It was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince’s own eccentric yet dignified taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. The wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and heavy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave no way of in and no egress to any falling to the impulses of despair or of frenzy within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions, the courtiers bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve or to worry. The prince had provided all means of pleasure. There were buffoons, improvisers, ballet dancers, musicians, beautiful people, and wine. All these and security were inside. Outside was the red death.

Toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, while the pestilence raged furiously abroad, Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends with a masked ball of most unusual magnificence.

It was a voluptuous scene. The masquerade was held in seven rooms—an imperial suite. In many palaces, such suites form a long and straight line of rooms, while folding doors slide back nearly to the walls on either side, so that the view of the entire space is scarcely impeded. This suit was very different, as might have been expected from the prince’s love of the bizarre. The apartments were so irregularly arranged that one’s vision embraced little more than one at a time. There was a sharp turn every twenty or thirty yards, and at each turn a new effect. To the right and left, in the middle of each wall, a tall, narrow, gothic window looked out onto a closed corridor which followed the windings of the suite. These windows were of stained glass whose colour varied in accordance with the prevailing hue of the decorations of the chamber onto which it opened. The easternmost room was hung, for example, in blue—and its windows were vividly blue. The second chamber had purple ornaments and tapestries, and here the panes were purple. The third was green throughout, and so were the casements. The fourth was furnished and lighted in orange, the fifth white, and the sixth violet. The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that covered the ceiling and hung down all the walls, falling in heavy folds to a carpet of the same material and hue. In this chamber only, the colour of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes here were scarlet—a deep blood red. In none of the seven apartments was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof. No light of any kind emanated from a lamp or candle within the suite of chambers. But in the corridors outside the suite, there stood a heavy tripod outside each window bearing a brazier of fire that projected its rays through the tinted glass and glaringly illumined the room. This were produced a multitude of gaudy and fantastic appearances. In the westernmost and black chamber, the effect of the firelight that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood tinted panes was extremely ghastly, and cast so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered, that few of the company were bold enough to set foot within it.

In this apartment, a gigantic clock of ebony stood against the western wall. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang. When the minute hand had made the circuit of its face, and the hour was to be struck, a sound came from the brazen lungs of the clock that was clear, loud, deep, and exceedingly musical. It chimed with such peculiar notes and emphasis that, at the top of each hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to listen to the sound, the waltzers were forced ceased their revolutions, and the entire happy company was briefly disconcerted. While the chimes of the clock rang, the giddiest of them grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands across their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation. But when the echoes had fully ceased, light laughter at once pervaded the assembly. The musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows to each other that the next chiming of the clock should produce no similar emotion in them. Then, after sixty minutes had passed, the clock chimed once more, causing the same discomfort, nervousness, and meditation as before.

In spite of these things, it was a happy and magnificent revel. The tastes of the prince were peculiar. He had a fine eye for colours and effects. He disregarded the decore of mere fashion. His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre. Some thought him mad. His followers did not. It was necessary to hear, see, and touch him to be sure that he was not.

He had directed, in great part, the decoration of the seven chambers for the occasion of this great fete. His own guiding taste had given character to the masqueraders. To be sure, they were grotesque. There was much glare and glitter, provocative and phantasmic. There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There were delirious ideas of the kind a madman would fashion. There was much beauty, wantonness, and bizarreness, something of the terrible, and more than a little of the disgusting. To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked a multitude of dreams. These dreams writhed in and about, taking their colour from the rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to seem like the echo of their steps. Soon enough, the ebony clock which stood in the hall of black velvet would strike. Then, for a moment, all was still and silent save the voice of the clock. The dreams were stiff, frozen as they stood. But the echoes of the chime died away—they endured for only an instant—and a light, half subdued laughter floated after them as they departed. Again the music swelled, and the dreams lived, and writhed to and fro more merrily than ever, taking colour from the many-tinted windows through which light streamed from the braziers. But to the chamber which lay furthest to the west of the seven, none of the maskers ventured, for the night was waning away. A ruddier light flowed through the blood coloured panes, and the blackness of the sable drapery appalled, and to one whose foot fell upon the sable carpet, there came from the nearby clock of ebony a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic than any which reached the ears of those who indulged in the more remote revelry in the other apartments.

The other apartments were densely crowded, and the heart of life beat feverishly in them. The revel went whirling on, until midnight midnight was sounded by the clock. Yhen the music ceased, the revolutions of the waltzers were quieted, and there was an uneasy cessation of all things as before. But this time, there were twelve strokes to be sounded by the bell of the clock. So it happened, perhaps, that more thought crept, with more of time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among those who revelled. So too, it happened, perhaps, that before the last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk into silence, many individuals in the crowd had become aware of the presence of a masked figure who had caught the attention of no single individual before. The rumour of this new presence spread itself whisperingly around, and a buzz arose from the entire company, a murmur of disapproval, surprise, and, finally, terror, horror, and disgust.

In such an assembly of phantasms, it might be supposed that no ordinary appearance could have excited such a sensation. In truth, the night’s masquerade gave the revellers nearly unlimited license, but the figure in question had gone beyond the bounds of even the prince’s indefinite decorum. There masque-of-the-red-deathare chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jokes, there are matters of which are not to be joked of. The whole company seemed to deeply feel that the costume and bearing of the stranger had neither wit nor propriety. The figure was tall and gaunt, shrouded from head to foot in the garments of the grave. The mask which concealed its visage was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest scrutiny would have had difficulty in detecting the fraud. Yet all this might have been endured, if not approved of, by the mad revellers around him, had not this person gone so far as to assume the look of a victim of the red death. His clothes were dabbled in blood, and his broad brow, and all the features of his face, sprinkled with the scarlet horror.

When the eyes of Prince Prospero fell upon this spectral image which, with a slow and solemn movement, as if more fully to sustain its role, stalked to and fro among the waltzers, he convulsed for a moment with a strong shudder either of terror or distaste. In the next, his brow reddened with rage.

“Who dares?” he demanded hoarsely of the courtiers who stood near him, “to insult us with this blasphemous mockery? Seize him and unmask him, so that we know who we have to hang at sunrise from the battlements!”

Prince Prospero stood in the easternmost blue chamber as he uttered these words. They rang throughout the seven rooms loudly and clearly, because the prince was a bold and robust man, and the music was hushed at the wave of his hand.

The prince stood in the blue room, with a group of pale courtiers at his side. At first, when he spoke, this group made a slight rushing movement in the direction of the intruder, who at the moment was near at hand, and, with deliberate and stately steps, approached the speaker more closely. But the mad pretensions of the figure had inspired a nameless awe in the entire party, and no one put forth a hand to seize him. Unimpeded, he passed within a yard of the prince. The vast assembly, as if with one impulse, shrank from the centers of the rooms to the walls, and he made his way uninterrupted, but with the same solemn and measured step which had distinguished him from the beginning, through the blue chamber to the purple, the green, the orange, the white, and finally to the violet, before any movement had been made to arrest him. Prince Prospero, maddened with rage and shame of his own momentary cowardice, rushed hurriedly through the six chambers, though none followed him, due to a deadly terror that had seized them all. He held his drawn dagger, and approached, in rapid impetuosity, to within three or four feet of the retreating figure. The masked man, reachin the far wall of the velvet apartment, turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer. There was a sharp cry, and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet, upon which, an instant later, Prince Prospero fell prostrate in death. Summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revellers threw themselves into the black apartment, and, seizing the man, whose tall figure stood erect and motionless in the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped in unutterable horror at finding the grave-cerements and corpse-like mask which they handled so violently, uninhabitted by any tangible form.

Now they acknowledged the presence of the red death. He had come like a thief in the night. One by one, the revellers dropped in the blood bedewed halls of their revel, and died in the despairing postures in which they fell. The life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of them, and the flames of the braziers expired, and darkness and decay and the red death held illimitable dominion over all.

Image by Harry Clarke from the digital collection of the British Library

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The First Book of Enoch: Wonders of the Earth

Previous Chapter: Hell and Purgatory

From there, we went to the midpoint on the surface of the earth, and I saw a blessed place in which there were trees with branches alive and blooming. There was a holy mountain, and towards the east was another mountain higher than this one. Between them lay a deep and narrow ravine, in which a stream ran south. To the west thereof there was another mountain, lower than the first and of lower elevation, and a deep, dry ravine ran between them. There were other deep, dry ravines at the extremities of the three mountains. All the ravines were deep and narrow, formed of hard rock, and no trees grew upon them. I marvelled at the rocks, and the ravines.

“What is the reason for this blessed land that is entirely filled with trees, and the accursed valleys between?” I asked.

“The accursed valley is for those who are accursed for ever,” said Uriel. “Here those who speak against the Lord and of His glory will be gathered together. This will be their place of judgment. In the last days, the spectacle of righteous judgment will fall upon them, in the presence of the righteous, for ever. The merciful will bless the Lord of glory, the Eternal King. In the days of judgment over the former, they shall bless Him for the mercy in accordance with which He has assigned them their lot.’

I blessed the Lord of Glory and set forth His glory and lauded Him gloriously.

We travelled east, into a mountain range in the desert, and I saw a wilderness and it was lonely, but full of trees and plants. Water gushed forth from a spring high above, rushing in a copious watercourse that flowed northwest. It caused clouds and dew to rise on every side.

From there we went to another place in the desert, approaching the eastern slopes of the mountain range. Aromatic trees, similar to the almond tree, exhaled the fragrances of frankincense and myrrh.

Beyond these, we travelled far into the east, and saw another place, a valley full of waters. There, a tree grew that was the colour of the resinous mastic tree. On the sides of the valleys grew fragrant cinnamon.

Proceeding eastward, we saw other mountains, and among them groves of pine trees, and aromatic galbanum flowed forth from them. Beyond these mountains I saw another mountain to the east of the ends of the earth, on which aloe trees grew, and almond-like trees that were exuding stacte which, when one burnt it, smelled sweeter than any other fragrant odour.

[Chapter 32]

After these fragrant odours, we went north over the mountains, and I saw seven mountains covered in choice spikenard, fragrant trees, and cinnamon and pepper. We went over the summits of all these mountains, in the far east of the earth, crossed the Erythraean sea, and went far from it, and passing over the angel Zotiel. We came to the Garden of Righteousness, and from far off saw great trees in profusion. Among them was a tree that were exceptionally large, beautiful, glorious, and magnificent. It was the tree of knowledge, whose holy fruit give those who eat it great wisdom. The tree was as high as a fir, its leaves were like those of the carob tree, and its fruit like beautiful clusters of grapes. Its fragrance travelled far.

“This tree is so beautiful, and so attractive to look at!” I said.

“This is the tree of wisdom,” said Raphael, “from which your ancestors ate, learned wisdom, had their eyes opened, knew that they were naked, and they were driven out of the garden.”

From there, we went to the ends of the earth and saw great beasts, all different from each other. There were birds, also differing in appearance, beauty, and voice from one another. To the east of these beasts, I saw the ends of the earth on which the heavens rest and three open portals in the heavens. There were many small portals above them. Through each of these small portals, the stars of heaven passed and ran their course to the west on the path which was given to them. I saw how the stars of heaven came forth, counted the portals out of which they proceeded, and wrote down the outlet of each individual star, its number, name, course, position, time, and month, as Uriel showed me. He showed all things to me and had me write them down, telling me their names, their laws, and their companies.

We went northward to the ends of the earth, and there I saw three portals open in the heavens. The north winds proceeded through each of them. When they blew, there was cold, hail, frost, snow, dew, and rain. They blew out of one portal for good, but when they blew through the other two portals, it was with violence and affliction on the earth.

We returned to the western ends of the earth, and saw there three open portals in the heavens like I had seen in the north, and the same number of small portals and inlets as were in the east. From there we went to the southern ends of the earth, and saw there three open portals from which there come dew, rain, and wind.

I continued to bless the Lord of Glory who had wrought these great and glorious wonders, to show the greatness of His work to the angels, to spirits, and to men, so that they might praise His work and all His creations, and see the work of His might and praise the great work of His hands and bless Him for ever.

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The First Book of Enoch: Hell and Purgatory

Previous Chapter: A Vision of Tartarus

These are the names of the holy angels who watch: Uriel, who watches over the world and over Tartarus; Raphael, who watches over the spirits of men; Raguel, who takes vengeance on the world of the luminaries; Michael, who is set over the best part of mankind and over chaos; Saraqael, who is set over the spirits who sin in the spirit; Gabriel, who watches over Paradise, the serpents, and the Cherubim; and Remiel, who God set over those who rise.

From the prison of the errant stars, we returned to a place that was even more horrible. A great fire burnt and blazed there, and the place was cleft by an abyss filled with great descending columns of fire. I couldn’t see its extent or magnitude, nor could I conjecture.

“How frightening this place is and how terrible to look upon!” I said.

“Enoch, why are you frightened?” asked Uriel.

“Because of this fearful place, and because of the spectacle of pain,” I answered.

“This place will be the prison of the angels, and here they will be imprisoned for ever,” Uriel said.

We were joined by Raphael, and travelled back to another place, the mountain of hard rock. There were four hollow places in it, deep, wide, and very smooth.

“These hollow places have been created for the spirits of the souls of the dead to assemble in,”said Raphael. “All the souls of the children of men will assemble here. These places will receive them til the great day of judgment comes upon them.”

I heard the spirit of a dead man pleading for justice, and his voice went up to heaven.

“This spirit that pleas, whose is it, whose voice go forth to heaven?” I asked Raphael.

“It is the spirit of Abel,” he answered, “who was slain by his brother Cain, and he pleads for justice against Cain until Cain’s descendants are obliterated from the face of the earth, and annihilated from among the children of men.”

“Why is one hollow separated from the other?” I asked.

“Three have been made so that the spirits of the dead can be separated,” he replied. “A division has been made for the spirits of the righteous, in which there is a bright spring of water. One has been made for sinners who die and are buried in the earth without having judgment visited on them in their lifetime. Here their spirits are set apart in great pain until the great day of judgment. Then their spirits will face punishment, torment, and retribution, forever cursed and bound. The final division has been made for the spirits of those who plead and make disclosures concerning their destruction, when they were slain in the days of the sinners. They are the spirits of men who were not righteous but who were sinners, complete in transgression, and they shall be companions of the transgressors . But their spirits will not be slain on the day of judgment, nor shall they be raised from where they are.”

“Blessed be my Lord, the Lord of righteousness, who rules for ever,” I prayed.

We were joined by Raguel, and returned to the westernmost ends of the earth. I saw the burning fire which ran without resting, not pausing in its course day or night,”

“What is this stream that never rests?” I asked.

“This course of fire which you see is the fire in the west that torments the luminaries of heaven,” said Raguel.

Joined by Michael, leader of the angels, we crossed a mountain range of fire which burnt day and night, and beyond it I saw the seven magnificent mountains, each different from the other. Their stones were magnificent and beautiful, and they were magnificent as a whole, glorious and fair. Three lay towards the north, one founded on the other, and three towards the south, and they were separated by deep rough ravines, no one of which joined with any other. The seventh mountain was in the middle of these, and it exceeded them in height, resembling the seat of a throne, with fragrant trees encircling the throne. Among them was a tree unlike any I had ever smelled, and it was unlike any of the others. Its fragrance was beyond all fragrance, and its leaves and blooms and wood never withered. Its fruit were beautiful, resembling the dates of a palm.

“How beautiful this tree is, and fragrant, and its leaves are fair, and its blooms delightful in appearance,” I said.

“Enoch, why do you ask me regarding the fragrance of the tree,” said Michael, “and why do you wish to learn the truth?”

“I want to know about everything, but especially about this tree,” I answered.

“This high mountain you see, whose summit is like the throne of God, is His throne. The Holy Great One, the Lord of Glory, the Eternal King, sits here when He comes down to visit the earth with goodness,” he said. “As for this fragrant tree, no mortal is permitted to touch it til the great judgment, when He shall take vengeance on all sinners and bring everything to its final conclusion. Then, it shall then be given to the righteous and the holy. Its fruit shall be the food of the elect. It shall be transplanted to the holy place, the temple of the Lord, the Eternal King. They will rejoice and be glad, and enter the holy place. Its fragrance will permeate their bones, and they shall live a long life on earth, as your forefathers did. In their days, no sorrow, plague, torment, or calamity will touch them.”

“Bless the God of Glory, the Eternal King, who has prepared these things and promised to give to them to the righteous,” I said.

Next Chapter: Wonders of the Earth

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