“Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris.”
[It is a solace of the wretched to have companions in pain.”]
—Mephistopheles to Faust from Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus
(an interlocking Rubaiyat sonnet)

The darkling demon, Mephistopheles, can tell,
Whether by instinct, special sight, or smell,
Or some weird other means those who’ve been led—
Whose souls are nearly lost—consigned to Hell.
And yet, he may, at first seek to dissuade,
Before such a one agrees that Debt be paid,
May seek to warn th’unwary not to sign
Their souls away when Earthly form is dead.

Yet Faust long, long ago, on that cursed line,
Pledged with his own blood to pay that fine—
Condemned himself to serve damned Lucifer
And to that master’s every whim resign.
What cost that pledge! That dark, that doomed surrender—
To give up all wondrous chances that once were!