Adam and Eve
Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her,
Alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams
And our desires. Although she strews the leaves
Of sure obliteration on our paths, ...
--from Wallace Stevens' "Sunday Morning"
In Eden fair did Adam and Eve
live in perfect harmony.
"No plant or animal devoureth we,
only ripe fruit as falls from the tree."
By bright-green lily-pads in sphagnum bogs
the herons waded gracefully,
bullfrogs croaked their deep, clear calls;
bluebells, delicate yellow buttercups
were rampant; larks sang in the mulberries.
"No pain or hunger knew we there,
only the sameness of Eden fair."
Even the bounty, the beauty, the civility,
the rich perfection, stretching out like the wall
of the great oval garden, day after day,
year after year to eternity,
"No shame in our nakedness knew we ...
nor lust, nor desire, nor carnality."
It's the exogamous, the unfamiliar,
which stirs in us the deepest passion,
the basso continuo of mortality
which gives to desire its piquancy
--of which they knew nothing in deathless Eden.
"We wanted to look outside the wall.
We didn't mean from God's grace to fall."
Their lack of control, their disrespect
But to deny what one feels,
to deny what one is
is to risk even greater calamity....
"God expelled us from the Garden.
Now we'll know death and all that's human."
Discord ... despair.... Are you better off?
Coaxing grain from the cracked, parched earth?
Maybe you paid too much for your freedom?...
Maybe you wish you were back in the Garden?...
"There be good inside the Garden;
there be good outside....
There is no perfect Eden."
Hear Jerry/Lucius read this poem (at https://humanist-art.org/old-site/audio/SoF_095_adam_and_eve.MP3 ). This poem is part of the Scraps of Faith collection of poems ( humanist-art.org/audio/SoF_095_adam_and_eve.MP3 ).