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         Twined Upon a Limb


The Lord cast Adam in depth of sleep,
         and fashioned Eve from his rib of bone:
And He gave the two, a command to keep:
        Eat not of a certain tree, of one
alone...

The one in the middle, the garden amid:
        Touch it not, not even its fruit;
Thus the Lord, He did forbid:
         with their obedience at its root.

But a serpent crept into Eden's shade
          and made the garden its lair;
This cunning creature, made
          a vile plan, the couple to ensnare.

The woman it would beguile:
          the wife belonging to him;
With its wicked wile, the reptile
          twined upon a limb.

It wound a bit caduceus-like,
           but 'twas not a healthy sign:
Beneficial not for man,
           nor was it a thing benign.

In Adam God had breathed,
           in his nostrils a living breath;
But the serpent deceived,              
           to bring to Adam death.

The serpent told Eve she wouldn't die,
            from the fruit forbidden to eat;
A falseness it uttered in lie;
            with a forked tongue, it spoke deceit.

When she touched the fruit and ate,
           away was her sanctity chased
And they both did suffer a mortal fate,         
           when she gave it to Adam to taste.

With an evil,malevolent glee,
            the serpent slithered away,
And sinuously slid from the tree,
           in victory ill-won that day.


When our first parents fell,
            their nature was debased.
Their nature is ours as well
            and we enter the world ungraced.

The effect of its venom passes on us,
            to we of kindred blood;
The serpent wants humans to truss,
            to take to the fiery lake, its flood.

It seeks to coil us round,
             and draw us down to the pit infernal:
To be there forever bound,
             in an unending stay eternal.
 
Abandon all hope ye who enter here  1
             is on the gate of hell, its portal!
O ponder this, with healthy fear,
             with a heart of humble mortal!

Trust with hope to enter another gate,
              ye who live in holy grace!    
The happiness there, worthy of wait:
              to see thy Lord, face to Face.
                                    
                             ― John Riedell

Post script:
Of temptation, know
this much,
            our will is only drawn to what is good,
But even to evil, portrayed as good, and as such,
             is manifest as other than it should. 
  
 

  1. From the epic poem, the Divine Comedy, by the Italian writer Dante Alighieri, which he started writing about 1300 and finished just prior to his death in 1321.  Dante called his work Commedia (comedy) because it ends happily.  Later, others added the word Divine to it.  It's divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso (Hell, Purgatory and Paradise).  Each part consists of 33 sections called cantos, written in stanzas of three lines called terza rima.   The Roman poet Virgil leads Dante through the first two domains.  In Paradise, Virgil turns Dante over to an idealized woman named Beatrice, who is based on a real love in his life.

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A note: Near the end of August on the 29th, I was driving out of our yard when I saw something dark on the lawn, and stopped to investigate it.     I think I wondered at first whether it was a fallen limb of some length when I saw it stretched  out on the lawn.  A large oak stood nearby.     Not long before I had gathered up a sizeable piece of deadwood lying on the ground and put it in a cart along with some other wood from the hedge, to take and dump it.     

I discovered this dark thing was a black snake, of quite sizeable length.   I estimated that it could be more than three feet long.    I took some pictures of it and at one point the creature seemed to feel theatened as it assumed the wound up, looped shape.   It slithered from near the oak, across the hedge line and into the neighbor's yard

It was curious, as in recent days I'd been working on this poem called Twined Upon a Limb, about the serpent in Paradise and what happened to Adam and Eve.  

My neighbor Bill had identified it as a rat snake, and the friend emailed this information:
"The Black Rat Snake is a proficient climber. Often it goes rather high up into trees..."     JR
 

 

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Site Last Updated on 09/03/18