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Paradise Interposed                     Discussion

Last wistful sighs resign last fretful looks;
Our Predecessor bends to clasp from trunk
Of Oak the Ivy's climb the bough to reach.
Yearning her looks and smiles the whisp'ring wind
Her murmurs mock. Her intercourse. Limbs rub
And moan: lichen and mosses moistly clad.
The brimming stream o'er hanging boughs fond notes
Conveys; melodies waft aloft and fade
Where poignant Adam at the ford still stands.
Upon its rushing current diamonds
His eyes bright mesmerize; and mildewed dung
Of herds and flocks his nostrils clot. Unclad,
His feet pay worship deep the wholesome mud
Which pulls and sucks his parting to restrain.
A splash! The heron's neck unfolds, withdraws
Her submerged head, returns to statue pose,
Posted in the marsh-fringed pool below.
Frogs leap and soar into bulrush clusters;
Rooks and crows diminish to shrieking clouds;
His eyes downcast, sad Adam rests alone.

        Around his limbs the purifying, stained
Blue-red waters distil the muck. A dove
Designed perfect for flight invites his sight
Upstream. Overshadowed with burdened vines
Ripened with globes of ebon blood the flow
Wantonly bleeds and tunnels. Expiated,
Adam crosses over. Scented breezes
Angel tears blow and dry his legs. The path
Up Elm Hill traced by deer heads towards
The Garden's centre, hemming neat the stream.
A patch of mockingbirds annuls its flight,
Heralding Adam with its cries of help,
Help, HELP.

        Concerned, Adam wonders what
Ill Eve, not capable of death or pain,
As Satan's prey incurs. Concerned, now
Adam hastens along the path to shield
His Love from Satan's fraud rupturing green
Eden's rapture respectfully God's will
To stay. Adam, still bent on speed, erupts
Into the glade around the Tree of Fruit
Forbidden, spreading clusters of hogs. In fear
Of his immortal Master's rage, a Lion
Despoiling a pair of deer takes hasty flight.

        Oh Adam my Redeemer, Saviour
And Lord of animals, Divine and Good,
Oh hear my plight. Through fate these words I speak
With words provided thoughts confused make known:
Words: currency of sense and feelings. Lord,
By chance I ate the sacred fruit with him,
Lying nearby, my husband, dear, and son.
Inadvertently we crossed the water
By succulent breezes and squeals ensnared
To fallen fruit, and greedily ate thereof,
Joining the Lion and hogs. Enraged, the lion
Ravaged to death my mate inseparable
And tore asunder my nether being. Unknown,
Death now lies there; I bleed and too shall die
If not fruit of the Tree of Life I eat,
Appeals the doe. In answer Adam speaks.

        Hath God not said I AM eternity,
From Me the universe ordained derived,
All creatures divine in My potency
Created free, free of Will not deprived?
Should not thee live unconsciously corrupted
By eating fallen fruit forbidden us?
My loving deer, my graceful doe unwonted
In this sad plight, the Lion with murderous
Intent thy body rent. Let just wisdom
Decide our choice and glad our Father make.
The Tree of Life provides this fruit, become
Complete and eat, lest thou thy life forsake.
    Images delirious form thy body supine,
    Woman in unity art thou too mine?

        Conjured, the doe transforms to woman sweet
While fallen eagles spirit the buck away.
Adam not unamazed steps back to flee;
She falls onto her knees, and grasps his legs
With natural passion, praying face uplifted
His succour yield. Mysterious is God's
Sagacity in all our destinies; God's
Handling emerges to foil incestuous
Nepotism's destruction, firmly resolved
Each organism increases and multiplies;
Redeem your sons to mingle my seed with Eve's!

        How art thou now a beautiful woman,
Eyes blue as Eden's noon skies mesmerize
Enamouring my hidden, tender soul,
Speaking with reasoned ardour cogent words
Inciting and stirring this unusual desire?

        Nourished from fruit the Tree of Knowledge gifted
Enlightenment I have acquired: words
Rhetoric, Tropes, and Figures cast harmonic
All patterned by numbered measure sublime;
The Tree of Life Eternal, God's image.
My name is Dawn since eyes, adoring, glimpsed
Thy sunrise ablutions, adorned with wreaths;
Adoring eyes begat unverbalized,
Conflicted sighs, not thought, unconsummated,
As words me escaped. A roar! The Lion returns!
Quickly, Adam! Flee! Flee with me in haste.

        Dawn leads; Adam follows; and Dawn follows
When Adam leads unto a hilltop ground,
Circled in adequate wideness athwart
By reddish-brown Arbutus and slender Pine,
Focused on a slated knoll. This altar she
Manages as Adam mounts in celestial
Sacrament Dawn's heathen Gods to revere;
Blue jays assemble as grouse thickets disperse;
Hooded woodpeckers their tight drums abuse;
Now Day her height attains, and o'er Eden
The Sun remains immobile sinners to watch:
Exhausted bodies intertwined, they rest.

        Much wondering how delight intensifies
Smiling vitally forgetting what to say;
Passion and love survives never denied;
I must get back to Eve our noon repast
partake. His natural joys sinlessly
Satisfied, our Father walks away.

        An azure haze of blue, reflecting God's
Adoring countable stars, envelops her
Image and carries her victorious
To mountain shadows sheltering her son.
Sacred mother, speaks Death, I am wounded;
The Seraphim shielding the Tree of Life
Repelled my hastily cast dart back unto
My manly parts rendering me impotent:
In time's eternal womb I also wane.

        Son, from the mist that bore me here I saw
Our Father on a brook encircled Isle
Lolling in conjugal embrace with Eve.
She bears our brother Cain, speaks Sin. I bear
Your sister Morgan, his intended wife.
From now together, Sin and Death will reign
Their progeny to cleanse as God resolves.
We cannot stop mankind's ordained rise
In God's hierarchy; created sublime
In God's image, His love never alters.
Eternity 's before us; come let us
Present Father our bridge 'cross Chaos to hell,
Thereby his love and admiration gain
To take his blessing 'til the day foreseen
When mingled seed, incest atoned pure,
Cleansed chaste, receives God's impregnation.

      Man irrational pride's envy derived
      Jointly with reason His Son deified.

© Elmer Wiens

Paradise Interposed: Discussion

Within the context of John Milton's Paradise Lost, what happens to Adam during the morning after Eve suggests they divide their work and she leaves him alone? Does Adam keep working? Is he worried enough to search for Eve? Does he have a presentiment that Eve has fallen?

In my scenario, Adam wanders off from his work. He is drawn to a stream's ford, lying downstream from the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. When he reaches the stream, Eve has already sinned, and the effects on the flora and fauna of Eden are immediate. Eden resembles overripe fruit, slightly rotten around the edges.

A flock of mockingbirds lure Adam along a deer trail upstream to where a Lion, a pair of deer, and a group of hogs have eaten forbidden fruit that the Serpent and Eve left lying on the ground. With his newly acquired knowledge of evil, the Lion attacks the deer and hogs, killing the buck (Death incognito), and seriously injuring the doe (Sin incognito).

When Adam bursts onto the scene the hogs and the Lion scatter. The doe asks Adam to give her fruit from the Tree of Life to save her life. Adam deliberates on the nature of free will in a sonnet, and when Adam gives her the fruit, she transforms into a beautiful woman, called Dawn. Meanwhile, fallen eagles spirit the buck away.

Adam and Dawn depart to a secluded hillside clearing, where they make love on a dais. At noon, Adam runs off to meet Eve.

A mist carries Sin to some mountain shadows where Death awaits her. They relate their experiences. Sin explains how Satan's son, Cain, and her daughter, Morgan, are also the parents of mankind.

I imitate Milton's blank verse, iambic pentameter, enjambment, elision of extra-metrical syllables, and trochaic (inversion of feet) substitutions. I use spondaic or pyrrhic substitutions in some instances. In one instance Adam speaks a sonnet to his lover Dawn, and I end my poem with a rhyming couplet.

Types of elision:
The application of the rules of elision depends on the demands of the metre. In almost all of Paradise Lost, elision will render a foot with three-syllables into a two-syllable foot (Sprott 64-98). In Paradise Interposed, I replicate this practice in all but a few instances. As examples:

      a. Elision of a vowel between words that end and begin with a vowel - the two vowels are glided together - called synaloepha: line 140 "bridge 'cross."
      b. Elision with semivowels l, n, and r: line 4 "whisp'ring."
      c. Elision of vowels and semivowels within a word: line 63 "creatures," line 126 "hastily."
      d. Elision by contraction: verbs ending in ed: line 21 "stained," line 26 "expiated."

Inversion of feet:
The most prevalent substitution for the iambic foot is the trochaic foot. This substitution can occur in any of the five feet of the underlying iambic pentameter line. Milton's rule is that the "stress syllable of the preceding foot must be strongly accented or followed by a definite compensatory break" (Sprott 100). Multiple trochaic substitutions are possible in one line. In Paradise Interposed, a trochaic substitution in the first foot usually follows a punctuation mark at the end of the previous line.

Milton's semi-colons and colons, while stressing the independence of the enclosed components, permit the association of the components in thought or reading until the period is reached. I retain this pointing with my use of semi-colons, while I use the colon in its modern context. Punctuation marks falling naturally at the caesura enhance the forward movement of the poem (Treip 56).

Sentence Structure:
Milton's convoluted sentences arise from the way he combines words within phrases and clauses, and from his abundant use of glossing subordinate clauses, which often depend on other subordinate clauses. While I avoid Milton's subordination, I choose the syntax of my sentences to mimic Milton's convoluted style. For example, the sentence, "Yearning her looks and smiles the whisp'ring wind Her murmurs mock" spreads nicely onto two lines of iambic pentameter with a caesura in the second line, and it scans much like Milton's phrase, "Under a shade on flow'rs, much wond'ring where And what I was" (IV 451).

Milton's sentences (ending in a full stop) can be characterized by whether they begin and/or end at a line break (end stopped). Milton's Paradise Lost sentences (my Paradise Interposed sentences in parenthesis) distribute as follows: both ends stopped, 29.8% (28%), one end stopped, 50.2% (50%), and neither end stopped, 20% (22%) (Corns 38).

Narrative versus invocatory (speech) sentences:
My sentences are on average shorter than Milton's, 17 words per sentence versus 24 words. My narrative sentences are a little longer than my invocatory sentences, 18 versus 16 words per sentence, whereas Milton's are, 24.4 versus 23.7 (Corns 33).

Paradise Interposed and Paradise Lost:
While Paradise Lost elaborates on the Biblical explanation of creation and the fall of man, many questions remain unanswered. Whom do Cain and Seth marry? How does "Death" die? Why does God wait such a long time before allowing Jesus Christ to be born? Why do many people attribute a sexual context to Satan's seduction of Eve? In Milton's story before Satan tempts Eve, why does Eden require more attention from Adam and Eve? Is Eve's narcissism and Adam's "uxoriousness" a given or a choice? What did Adam do, sexually, before God created Eve?

Works Cited and Consulted

Corns, Thomas N. Milton's Language. Oxford: Blackwell, 1990.

Bridges, Robert. Milton's Prosody. Oxford: Clarendon, 1921.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Indianapolis: Odyssey, 1962

Sprott, S. Ernest. Milton's Art of Prosody. Oxford: Blackwell, 1953.

Treip, Mindele. Milton's Punctuation. London: Methuen, 1970.

© Elmer Wiens




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