Saturday, December 20, 2008

Katha Politt: "The Expulsion"

Poet, Essayist, Controversialist
(Image from Wikipedia)

Two days ago, I posted A.D. Hope's counterfactual account of the Fall; yesterday, I posted my own no-account account; and today, I am posting Katha Pollitt's somewhat-less-subjunctive interpretation.

My copy of this poem comes from a posting on the Milton List by Judith Herz, who teaches at Concordia University, in Montreal.
The Expulsion (2002)
Adam was happy -- now he had someone to blame
for everything -- shipwrecks, Troy,
the gray face in the mirror.

Eve was happy: now he would always need her.
She walked on boldly, swaying her beautiful hips.

The serpent admired his emerald coat,
the Angel burst into flames
(he'd never approved of them, and he was right).

Even God was secretly pleased: Let
History Begin!

The dog had no regrets, trotting by Adam's side
self-importantly, glad to be rid

of the lion, the toad, the basilisk, the white-footed mouse,
who were alse happy and forgot their names immediately.

Only the Tree of Knowledge stood forlorn,
its small hard bitter crab apples

glinting high up, in a twilight of black leaves:
how pleasant it had been, how unexpected

to have been, however briefly,
the center of attention
Crab apples? I could have sworn the fruit was peaches! Odd that we should have so little knowledge of the Tree of Knowledge. Perhaps our lapsarian birth was but a sleep and a forgetting. Yet if Katha Pollitt's report be the correct one, then I can readily accept the crab apple tree as Tree of Knowledge, for that would explain the crabby state into which we've fallen.

But only briefly the center of attention? We're still harping on about that tree today.

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