UnPoetia:Paradise Abridged/Book IX

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The Argument


Satan, having compass’d the Earth, returns as a mist by night into Paradise, and enters into the Serpent sleeping. Adam and Eve, meanwhile, awake and go forth to their labors. Eve suggests the two separate; Adam consents not; Eve, resenting the implication that she is not as firm or resolute as Adam, insists; Adam, not wanting to deal with that shit, consents. The Serpent seeks out Eve, and through his fork-tongued flattery convinces her to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

The Verse

No more talk of where God or angel guest [1]
With Man, as with his friend, made small talk mild:
I now must change those notes sung to tragic:
Disloyal transgress on the part of Man;
Foul distrust, revolt, disobedience; [5]
On the part of Heav’n, distance and distaste;
Anger and just rebuke, and judgment giv’n,
That brought into this world a world of woe,
And all because some bitch ate an apple.[1]
Anyway, Satan, who late fled before [10]
The threats of Gabriel out of Eden,
Now his strength and malice recover’d,
His bitchy cowardice long shed, now’s bent
On Man’s destruction though temptation, fraud,
But most of all through female flattery. [15]
Satan, then, through subterranean stream
Sprouting off the Tigris,[2] underneath the
Garden, came up through a fountain near the
Tree of Life as a dark and airy mist.
In his compass of the Earth, the Arch-Fiend [20]
Survey’d all the world’s creatures, and found the
Serpent the subtlest beast of the field;[3]
Subtlest, and best to suite his wiles, the
Fittest vessel, fittest imp of fraud, best
To enter, and his dark suggestions hide. [25]
Thus he resolv’d, but first from inward grief
His bursting passion into ’plaints thus pour’d:
“What the fuck is this shit? I am Satan,
Fall’n Archangel, once leader of full third
Of Heav’n, Lord of Hell, self-created (or [30]
At least I’m pretty sure), and here I am
Taking refuge in a mortal serpent?
And to beguile mortal mankind, only
Two? To God’s ten thousand thousand angels?
(Any one of whom excels man by far.) [35]
The indignity of it all! To be
Usurp’d, replaced by creatures fallible.
And just what sense does it make? None at all!
For what God after better worse would make?”
So saying, through each thicket dank or dry, [40]
Like a black mist low creeping, the Arch-Fiend
Enterèd the mazy folds of Serpent.
The night pass’d uneventful, th’ Arch-Fiend in
The Serpent sleeping, waiting, ’til the morn.
The morning came, and Man’s first pair awoke, [45]
Said their prayers, their day-labor discuss’d, when
Eve to her husband Adam thus began:
“Adam, well may we labor still to dress
This Garden, still to tend plant, herb and flow’r,
Our pleasant task enjoined, but till more hands [50]
Aid us, the work under our labor grows,
Luxurious by restraint; what we by day
Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind,
One night or two with wanton growth derides
Tending to wild—” And here our father, tir’d: [55]
“Eve, my lovely, what are you getting at?”
The Adam yawn’d, and scratched his head, and stretch’d,
His exchange with Raphael fresh in mind.
“What I was saying, Adam,” began here
Eve, “was that we have lots of work to do. [60]
I suggest we split up to cover more
Of the Garden.” Adam this consider’d,
But remembering th’ Archangel’s advice,
Namely, the ‘tell your wife’ bit, here realiz’d
That he hadn’t, and begun: “Remember, [65]
Eve, God’s one order’d commandment to us?
That we are not to eat of the fruit of
The Tree of Knowledge? Well, I suggest that
We don’t split up, because you might—” and here
Interjected Eve: “Adam! Never would [70]
I willingly break God’s one commandment!
Why don’t you trust me by myself, Adam?”
Here Adam, tir’d, thought, and realized that he
Couldn’t, wouldn’t, win this exchange, so he
Relented. “I’m sorry, Eve, go ahead.” [75]
So then the pair broke up, Adam and Eve
Going temporarily their separate
Ways. Eve went to prune the Garden’s many
Flow’rs, not knowing at this moment search’d the
Fiend, mere serpent in appearance, intent [80]
On ruining all at once all of mankind.
So Satan Eden search’d, and Eve sep’rate
From her husband spied, alone, unaided;
Nearer he drew, and many a walk travers’d
Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen, [85]
Now at her feet, rais’d up, and to Eve said:
“Wonder not, sovereign mistress, if perhaps
Thou canst, who art sole wonder, much less arm
Thy looks, the Heav’n of mildness, with disdain,
Displeas’d that I approach thee thus, and gaze [90]
Insatiate, I thus single, nor have fear’d
Thy awful brow, more awful thus retir’d.
Fairest resemblance of thy Maker faire,
Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine
By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore [95]
With ravishment beheld, there best beheld—”
When interjected Eve, in much amaze:
“Holy shit, a talking snake!” “Yes, fair Eve,”
Resum’d the hidden Fiend, “Now capable
Of speech I am after eating of a [100]
Certain tree. Come, follow, I will show you
Where it lay.” So Eve then follow’d Satan,
Not knowing it was Satan in the snake,
And brought by him she was to the foot of
The Tree of Knowledge. “This is the tree whose [105]
Fruit,” resumed the Fiend, “Has brought to me speech.
Eat of it, and you shall be a goddess,
Rais’d up a step or two, as I” said
The Fiend, conceal’d. Eve this consider’d, but
Realiz’d what tree she stood beneath, and said: [110]
“This is the Tree of Knowledge, whose fruit is
Death to taste! I am forbidden!” to which
The Fiend as Serpent thus replied: “So what?
I have eaten of the tree, yet live, and
Am better, smarter, for it, and besides: [115]
Who are you going to believe, God, or
A talking snake?” Eve consider’d this strong
Rhetoric, and at last relented, thus
Dooming all mankind. “That’s a good apple!”
Said she. “And yet you live,” replied Satan. [120]
Eve, excited, thus took the damning fruit
To her husband Adam, who was working.
Began Eve, with fruit in hand, to Adam:
“Hast thou not wonder’d, Adam, at my stay?
Thee I have miss’d, and thought it long, depriv’d [125]
Thy presence, agony of love till now
Not felt, nor shall be twice, for never more
Mean I to try, what rash untried I sought,
The pain of absence from thy sight. But strange
Hath been the cause, and wonderful to hear: [130]
This Tree is not as we are told, a Tree
Of danger tasted—” “Awesome, Eve, breakfast!”
Adam, then, not knowing his sin, took with
Great delight and ate of the good fruit of
The Tree of Knowledge. “Well,” said Eve, “How do [135]
You feel after eating of the fruit of
The Tree of Knowledge?” Adam, soon as he
Heard of the fatal trespass done by Eve,
And realiz’d with amazement his own sin,
At the top of his lungs said: “Dammit, Eve!” [140]

Clicketh Here for Book X

The Annotations

  1. It is actually held by most Biblical scholars that it was (or would have been) a pomegranate that Eve ate, though what the fruit actually was is never specifically mentioned in Genesis. The tradition of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge being represented as an apple actually goes back to Dark Age Christian iconography, in which blah blah blah blah blah.
  2. The Tigris is a river in present-day Iraq—convention of the day often placed the spot of Paradise somewhere in the Middle East, a notion that certainly seems extremely funny and ironic to the modern reader.
  3. Here, ‘subtlest’ is used in its archaic sense, meaning ‘phallic.’
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