Monday, August 27, 2007

A Loss of Biblical Allusions

When I was in a writing class about a year ago, I began a series of poems speaking from the perspective of Eve. My goal was to eventually complete an entire chapbook (which is what you call a book of poems—for those who don’t know) dealing solely with this concept, called “Eve” surprisingly enough.

In this class, we had to submit our work for “peer” review, and when I got the “reviews” back, I was shocked to realize that the kids, I mean, young adults, had no idea a) what the title meant or where to even look to see what the title meant, b) who was speaking, and c) what the poems were talking about.

I couldn’t believe it! They had no knowledge of Biblical stories!

What a loss.

How were these kids ever going to understand Pound, or Elliot, or Frost, or Hopkins, or hundreds of other poets and writers who over the last 500 years or more have infused Biblical allusions into their work? How would they understand the layers of Gawain and the Green Knight or The Canterbury Tales?

Depths of meaning will be eradicated simply because future generations will not understand what the authors were referencing!

It really made me so sad.

I ended up having to add two scriptures to the first four poems, just to give them the context.

Poor clueless kids!

And since I’m lamenting about all this, I thought I would post the poems for you (with the scriptures) so you can see what I’m talking about.


Mammon*

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because
she was the mother of all living.” (Gen. 3:20)


I.

Laurel tossed, we leave ourselves
lost as we are
the wanton world our choice.

We ate to know,
we ache now to be
known as we are.

Moving, a glance over our
slumped shoulders,
vows broken by our voice,
we trail our glory
through the earth we tread.

Our feet leaving a
path we can never retrace.

II.

We have heaven on our feet,
clinging to the remains of our
garden selves. With a glance,
I know his thoughts. Still, his
choice was his. But blame is
easier than belief. Silently, we
tread. I look forward, wishing
my leaves were living. Wanting
to be known as I am, now.

III.

I remember
the flora,
and the sweet
smell of laurel,
and the feeling of
ease and of eternity.

I remember
the fruit,
and one forbidden
as it was.

I remember
what I wanted:
to know.
I wasn’t beguiled,
I was born.

And I tread,
knowing the truth
of myself.

IV.

The look is still in his eye, but
belief is there as well. Time has
made the sweat of his brow make
him. Our children wonder what
it was that made us choose. The
serpent underfoot is under felt.
And still, we tread, and trail our
glory through the earth, our feet
leaving a path traced by our world.

* “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt. 6:24)

3 comments:

Mz. Liz said...

Liz - this is majestic. I have always just wanted to sit and pick Eve's mind about all different sorts of things. I think shes the most misunderstood and greatest heroine ever. Thank you for this -

Favorite image: remains of heaven's leaves clinging to their feet. You're amazing.

Rachel said...

I loved this. You're so amazing.

Quixotic Healer said...

Hello! It's Mary (Your new Midsummer/Harry Potter friend).

I loved that I could hear your voice in the introduction, but that in the poetry you have truly captured Eve!