Friday, April 29, 2011

Old Material, New Post

About 2 years ago, I took a course on the first 11 chapters of Genesis.  One of the final assignments in that class was a creative presentation based on something found in those chapters.  For your reading pleasure, I present to you my first attempt retelling a biblical story through poetry.

I should note that Gates was one of my classmates, and he referred to a poem by Wendell Berry in his presentation the week before I did mine.  Joyce Kilmer is the author of the poem "Trees", which is quoted towards the end of my poem. I'm sure most of you will recognize this famous poem in my first two lines.  Also, I'll try to make the strategic pauses noticeable as this poem was meant to be heard, not read silently. (The class was not aware it was a poem until after I had started.)
I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
Last week, Gates inspired me
to do something with poetry.

By now...I'm sure that most of you can see
that I am speaking rather candidly.
I decided to be as plain as can be
And am putting forth rhymes blatantly

Last week's poem was heard problematically
By those of us who think mathematically
And its rhyming scheme A B C
Followed by D E F and G.

Maybe repeating an A or a B,
But thus ends the rhymes of Wendell Berry.
Now back to that poem about a lovely tree
Of which Joyce Kilmer does speak rather highly.

In the beginning there was a garden, you see,
And in the middle of which there was a tree.
Right there in the middle, it did stand freely
Created by God, it showed its beauty

This poem talks of such things so poetically
That I felt I had to share it with all of...
This poem is so beautiful, you'll see.
Just follow it...
    for a bit...
    with me.

Roses are red, violets are blue...

No, that's not it at all
I want to speak of a time before the Fall.
Please forgive me, I've lost my place.
Let's go back to the start of the human race.

When God sat down and created we
(I know I'm not speaking grammatically)
God created us so that we could be
Forever with God in eternity.

But all of that changed when they ate from the tree
That the Lord God had made so beautifully.
And this rhyme has gone on rather endlessly.
I will change it before we reach infinity.

That crafty serpent, oh so clever
Asked of Eve if she could never
Eat of any tree made by the Lord God.
A question that, I'm sure, sounded odd.

For God had told Adam in words quite clear
Of the foods they could eat in the garden, here.
And Adam, I'm sure, told his partner, Eve,
Who one day unto him would surely cleave

But I've jumped ahead in this narrative story.
(I've gone back to that rhyme! I'm terribly sorry.)
Let's get back to the question, there's much at stake.
And this was Eve's response to that crafty snake.

She stood, defiant, and lifted her head
And told that snake what she thought God said.
"'Of the trees in the garden you are free to eat
All of those that bear fruit which taste so sweet

"Except for the tree that stands in the middle.'
It's placement here is, to me, a riddle.
God said this, I don't know why.
On the day that we eat it or touch it we'll die."

But the serpent said, "Oh, that's a lie.
Surely this fruit will not cause you to die.
Take a look at the fruit, it's juicy and sweet.
Just the perfect thing for you to eat.

"God knows that this fruit will make you wise,
And there can be no equals in God's eyes.
You will know good and evil if you eat of its fruit,
And, if Adam also eats, he'll be less of a brute."

Eve stood there. She was almost sold
After hearing the story the serpent told.
She stood and looked at the tree in awe.
A magnificent view, I'm sure, she saw.

She started to turn herself around,
But then she heard a compelling sound.
Soft, but clear, she heard the serpent's voice
Reciting the words of Kilmer, Joyce:

"I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

"A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

"Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems were made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree."

I tell you all, it's not quite often
That we get to see the cinch in our coffin.
But there it was when Eve did take
The fruit of the tree that God did make

She took a bite of the fruit so sweet
And gave to Adam for him to eat
What was the fruit? An apple or pear?
I do not know (I wasn't there)

This, sadly, is where my story ends
But where our collective history begins:
When Eve in a new light did see
The knowledge of good and evil tree.

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