“Repentance” is one of four poems which together constitute a longer work entitled “The Liar’s Psalm.” The epigraph that precedes “The Liar’s Psalm” states the subject and sets the tone for the entire work. It is a quotation from the beast-fable, “Reynard the Fox,” one of the many medieval versions of the adventures of an immoral predator who manages through cunning to avoid the punishment he deserves. The epigraph begins by pointing out that, while it takes neither “art nor cunning” to tell the truth, a skillful liar “may do wonders.” Motivated by the “hope of gain only,” he can rise high in the secular world or in the Church. Almost as an afterthought, the speaker adds that, though lying is indeed an “art,” it inevitably ends in “misery and affliction.”
With its emphasis on Reynard’s accomplishments rather than his downfall, this epigraph establishes the ambivalent tone that is evident throughout “The Liar’s Psalm.” Andrew Hudgins, the poet, cannot but admire a creature with the artistic talent of the fox; on the other hand, Andrew Hudgins, the moralist, knows that though truth may seem dull, lies are the devil’s instrument.
“Repentance” is the second segment in “The Liar’s Psalm.” It is preceded by “Homage to the Fox,” in which the fox’s gifts are praised and his worldly success emphasized, while the truth is characterized as both cowardly and unimaginative. The section that...
(The entire section is 537 words.)