Twined Upon a Limb

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

The one in the middle, the garden amid:
        Touch it not, not even its fruit,
Thus the Lord, He did forbid:
         Disobeying at our racial root.

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

The woman it would beguile:
          the wife belonging to him;
To catch her eye, the reptile
          twined upon a limb.

It wound caduceus-like,
           but not as a healthy sign:
With venom ready to strike,
           it wasn't a creature benign.

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,
          and away her holiness chased!
And then Adam led to his fate,         
           when she gave it to him, to taste.

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

With an evil, malevolent glee,
            the serpent slithered away,
And slid sinuously off the tree,
           in a 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 poison passes on us,
            O we of kindred blood;
The serpent wanted 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:
And there, fore'er be 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 to enter another gate,
              by living in holy grace!    
The happiness there, is worthy of wait:
              to see the Lord, then 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 in 2019, 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 threatened 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 there's this information out there:
"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 01/31/20