Monday, September 05, 2005

Poem of the Week 9/5/05: Adam's Dream

Adam's Dream

They say the first dream Adam our father had
After his agelong daydream in the Garden
When heaven and sun woke in his wakening mind,
The earth with all its hills and woods and waters,
The friendly tribes of trees and animals,
And earth's last wonder Eve (the first great dream
Which is the ground of every dream since then) --
They say he dreamt lying on the naked ground,
The gates shut fast behind him as he lay
Fallen in Eve's fallen arms, his terror drowned
In her engulfing terror, in the abyss
Whence there's no further fall, and comfort is--
That he was standing on a rocky ledge
High on the mountainside, bare crag behind,
In front a plain as far as eye could reach,
And on the plain a few small figures running
That were like men and women, yet were so far away
He could not see their faces. On they ran,
And fell, and rose again, and ran, and fell,
And rising were the same yet not the same,
Identical or interchangeable,
Different in indifference. As he looked
Still there were more of them, the plain was filling
As by an alien arithmetical magic
Unknown in Edenm a mechanical
Addition without meaning, joining only
Number to number in no mode or order,
Weaving no pattern. For these creatures moved
Towards no fixed mark even when in growing bands
They clashed against each other and clashing fell
In mounds of bodies. For they rose again,
Identical or interchangeable,
And went their way that was not like a way;
Some back and forward, back and forward, some
In a closed circle, wide or narrow, others
In zigzags on the sand. Yet all were busy,
And tense with purpose as they cut the air
Which seemed to press them back. Sometimes they paused
While one stopped one -- fortuitous assignations
In the disorder, whereafter two by two
They ran awhile,
Then parted and again were single. SOme
Ran straight against the frontier of the plain
Till the horizon drove them back. A few
Stood still and never moved. Then Adam cried
Out of his dream, "What are you doing there?"
And the crag answered "Are you doing there?"
"What are you doing there" -- "you doing there?"
The animals had withdrawn and from the caves
And woods stared out in fear or condemnation,
Like outlaws or judges. All at once
Dreaming or half-remembering, "This is time,"
Thought Adam in his dream, and time was strange
To one lately in Eden. "I must see,"
He cried, "the faces. Where are the faces? Who
Are you all out there? Then in his changing dream
He was a little nearer, and he saw
They were about some business strange to him
That had a form and sequence past their knowledge;
And that was why they ran so frenziedly.
Yet all, it seemed, made up a story, illustrated
By these the living, the unknowing, cast
Each singly for his part. But Adam longed
For more, not this mere moving pattern, not
This illustrated storybook of mankind
Always-a-making, improvised on nothing,
At that he was among them, and saw each face
Was like his face, so that he would have hailed them
As sons of God but that something restrained him.
And he remembered all, Eden, the Fall,
The Promise, and his place, and took their hands
That were his hands, his and his children's hands,
Cried out and was at peace, and turned again
In love and grief in Eve's encircling arms.

Edwin Muir 1950, 1952

Lovely evening friends and family! Why must we always choose words like "good" for greetings. How about "luminous" or "phantasmoragic" or "quivering"? Sounds like a plan to me! Anyway, if you'll excuse the ramble, I want to go ahead and congratulate whoever finished this poem. It's the longest PotW yet, and I had to type it twice. I actually enjoy having to type out the poems; it forces one to slow down and absolutely pay attention to every word.

That said, I left off doing the close read for this PotW for a while, because

That said, this is another one of those poems that I am postponing the close-read on. I have to read and sleep, besides the fact that I want to actually tackle this poem and my writing's feeling sub-par tonight. I have written a lot today, and a lot is enough for one day. But it will come out in time, and I hope you all have a phantasmoragic evening!


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