Thursday, December 18, 2008

A.D. Hope: "Paradise Saved"

A.D. Hope
Not Anno Domini Hope
(Image from

Australian poet Alec Derwent Hope (1907-2000), better known as A.D. Hope, is one of those well-known poets whom I'd never before heard of . . . never before Milton scholar John Rumrich posted on the Milton List a poem by Hope's that presents a version of the Fall other than the one Milton presents in Paradise Lost:
Paradise Saved
Adam, indignant, would not eat with Eve,
They say, and she was driven from his side.
Watching the gates close on her tears, his pride
Upheld him, though he could not help but grieve,
And climbed the wall, because his loneliness
Pined for her lonely figure in the dust:
Lo, there were two! God who is more than just
Sent her a helpmeet in that wilderness.

Day after day he watched them in the waste
Grow old breaking the harsh unfriendly ground,
Bearing their children, till at last they died.
While Adam, whose fellow God had not replaced,
Lived on immortal, young, with virtue crowned,
Sterile and impotent and justified.
I suppose that there are always consequences, but if -- as the poet says -- God is more than just, why would He leave Adam bereaved? Perhaps because of Adam's pride? Yet, pride is a sin -- the authentically original one -- so why would Adam remain in Paradise? Because he didn't break the sole command not to eat of that tree in Hope's counterfactual reconstruction? Therefore no punishment? Or was the penalty for his pride the punishment of remaining, unloved, in the Garden?

Tomorrow, I'll post another poet's different interpretation of the expulsion.

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At 7:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I admit. I rather like Mr. Hope's version better (admitting of course some tediousness with Mr Milton).

But I have to say, if subsequent events are true, then the Old Fellow wasn't precisely "sterile and impotent."


At 7:29 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, I can't say that I like Hope's version better, though I do like it, but why do you think that Adam wasn't quite "sterile and impotent"?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noticed I capitalized both letters? I know from experience I can be obtuse at times.

I wasn't referring to Adam.


At 11:21 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You're not obtuse, JK, but perhaps obscure. I'm the obtuse one.

As best I can figure, your choice of "Old Fellow" might allude to Adam's "fellow," namely, Eve (as in the poem). But the poem didn't describe her as "sterile and impotent," so you must mean something else.

I give up.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh dear Lord.


At 12:55 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, we must be reading the poem very differently, for I'm drawing a blank.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:07 AM, Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

Lovely poem! Perhaps the poet is saying that, no matter the choice, ignorance is lost for both sides. And that Adam's loss of faith with hsi partner has its own ensuing 'lesson'.

Or, you could take this poem and ask a third question: What would have happened had Adam, having refused to eat the fruit, had chosen to join Eve in exile? Maybe the choice itself did not matter after the question was presented?

And then there's the question of Hell and punishment. Does Adam suffer more in this poem, or Eve? Who is really being punished? (I've always thought that banishment wasn't really a punishment but the story was an allegorical reference to how all children grow up and leave first the womb, then childhood and puberty, and finally their nurturing homes to launch into independent adulthood.)

At 3:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Good questions, WW, and you'll find some of these same questions raised -- both explicitly and implicitly -- by my own response to Hope's poem in the blog entry that follows this one.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Adam is with Eve, he's just watching her live her life with another man (the helpmeet that God justly provided for her), which is why he is still sterile.

At 3:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, I can't figure out whom you are disagreeing with.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:47 PM, Blogger PL said...

Was Hope following some old variant of the story, perhaps rabbinic or gnostic?

At 4:37 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

There are so many variants, that Hope might be alluding to one of them.

Jeffery Hodges

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