Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
Prayer and Praise, Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879)

The Savior

The Savior must have been
A docile Gentleman—
To come so far so cold a Day
For little Fellowmen—

The Road to Bethlehem
Since He and I were Boys
Was leveled, but for that 'twould be
A rugged Billion Miles—

--Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)



Invisible Light

Lord, shall we not bring these gifts to Your service?
Shall we not bring to Your service all our powers
For life, for dignity, grace and order,
And intellectual pleasures of the senses?
The Lord who created must wish us to create
And employ our creation again in His service
Which is already His service in creating.
For Man is joined spirit and body
And therefore must serve as spirit and body.
Visible and invisible, two worlds meet in Man;
Visible and invisible must meet in His Temple;
You must not deny the body.
Now you shall see the Temple completed:
After much striving, after many obstacles;
For the work of creation is never without travail;
The formed stone, the visible crucifix,
The dressed altar, the lifting light,
Light
Light
The visible reminder of Invisible Light.
--T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Adoration, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen.
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few believe
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve
“Come; see the oxen kneel

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

--Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
Nativity, Simon Bening (1483-1561)

The Christmas Moon

The Christmas moon shines clear and right;
There were poor travellers such a night
Had neither fire nor candle-light.

One plucked them stars out of the sky
To show the road to travel by;
So that the Ass go warily.

She had all Heaven safe in her hold,
Hidden within her mantle's fold--
All Heaven, and It was one hour old.

Her hair under, over Him spread
His spun-gold coverlet and His bed,
Twined with His little golden head.

She sang and rocked Him to-and-fro
Such songs as little babies know,
With Lullaby Sweet, and Lullalo.

He had no need of moons and suns,
Nor the gold-crested bird-legions,
Singing their lauds and orisons.

The Christmas moon shows a cold beam;
He hath His Mother, she hath Him:
Together they sleep, together dream.

--Katharine Tynan (1861-1931)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
Nativité, Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Before Dawn

Dim-berried is the mistletoe
With globes of sheenless grey,
The holly mid ten thousand thorns
Smolders its fires away;
And in the manger Jesu sleeps
This Christmas Day.
Bull unto bull with hollow throat
Makes echo every hill,
Cold sheep in pastures thick with snow
The air with bleatings fill;
While of His Mother's heart this Babe
Takes His sweet will.
All flowers and butterflies lie hid,
The blackbird and the thrush
Pipe but a little as they flit
Restless from bush to bush;
Even to the robin Gabriel hath
Cried softly, "Hush!"
Now night is astir with burning stars
In darkness of the snow;
Burdened with frankincense and myrrh
And gold the Strangers go
Into a dusk where one dim lamp
Burns faintly, Lo!
No snowdrop yet its small head nods,
In winds of winter drear;
No lark at casement in the sky
Sings matins shrill and clear;
Yet in this frozen mirk the Dawn
Breathes, Spring is here!
--Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Nativity, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Nativity, A Christmas Poem

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov'd imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod's jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

--John Donne (1572-1631)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Nativity, William Bell Scott (1811-1890)

Before the Paling of the Stars

Before the paling of the stars,
Before the winter morn,
Before the earliest cock-crow,
Jesus Christ was born:
Born in a stable,
Cradled in a manger,
In the world His Hands had made
Born a stranger.

Priest and King lay fast asleep
In Jerusalem,
Young and old lay fast asleep
In crowded Bethlehem:
Saint and angel, ox and ass,
Kept a watch together
Before the Christmas daybreak
In the winter weather.

Jesus on His mother's breast
In the stable cold,
Spotless Lamb of God was He,
Shepherd of the Fold:
Let us kneel with Mary Maid,
With Joseph bent and hoary,
With saint and angel, ox and ass,
To hail the King of Glory.

--Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Star of Bethlehem, Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)

That Holy Thing

They all were looking for a king
To slay their foes and lift them high:
Thou cam'st, a little baby thing
That made a woman cry.

O Son of Man, to right my lot
Naught but Thy presence can avail;
Yet on the road Thy wheels are not,
Nor on the sea Thy sail!

My how or when Thou wilt not heed,
But come down thine own secret stair,
That Thou mayst answer all my need--
Yea, every bygone prayer.

--George MacDonald (1824-1905)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Wise Men, Minerva Teichert (1889-1976)

Journey of the Magi

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt.
I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like
Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these
Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

--T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
Journey of the Magi, James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902)

The Three Kings

Three Kings came riding from far away,
Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;
Three Wise Men out of the East were they,
And they travelled by night and they slept by day,
For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.

The star was so beautiful, large and clear,
That all the other stars of the sky
Became a white mist in the atmosphere,
And by this they knew that the coming was near
Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.

Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows,
Three caskets of gold with golden keys;
Their robes were of crimson silk with rows
Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,
Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.

And so the Three Kings rode into the West,
Through the dusk of the night, over hill and dell,
And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast,
And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest,
With the people they met at some wayside well.

"Of the child that is born," said Baltasar,
"Good people, I pray you, tell us the news;
For we in the East have seen his star,
And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,
To find and worship the King of the Jews."

And when they came to Jerusalem,
Herod the Great, who had heard this thing,
Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them;
And said, "Go down unto Bethlehem,
And bring me tidings of this new king."

So they rode away; and the star stood still,
The only one in the grey of morn;
Yes, it stopped --it stood still of its own free will,
Right over Bethlehem on the hill,
The city of David, where Christ was born.

And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard,
Through the silent street, till their horses turned
And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard;
But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred,
And only a light in the stable burned.

And cradled there in the scented hay,
In the air made sweet by the breath of kine,
The little child in the manger lay,
The child, that would be king one day
Of a kingdom not human, but divine.

His mother Mary of Nazareth
Sat watching beside his place of rest,
Watching the even flow of his breath,
For the joy of life and the terror of death
Were mingled together in her breast.

They laid their offerings at his feet:
The gold was their tribute to a King,
The frankincense, with its odor sweet,
Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,
The myrrh for the body's burying.

And the mother wondered and bowed her head,
And sat as still as a statue of stone,
Her heart was troubled yet comforted,
Remembering what the Angel had said
Of an endless reign and of David's throne.

Then the Kings rode out of the city gate,
With a clatter of hoofs in proud array;
But they went not back to Herod the Great,
For they knew his malice and feared his hate,
And returned to their homes by another way.

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Birth of Jesus, Chinese Bible Painting, 19th Century

A Christmas Carol

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the Kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood at Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him
And all the stars looked down.

--G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
Virgin and Child, Stefano da Verona (1375-1438)

The Holy Night

We sate among the stalls at Bethlehem;
The dumb kine from their fodder turning them,
Softened their horn'd faces,
To almost human gazes
Toward the newly Born:
The simple shepherds from the star-lit brooks
Brought visionary looks,
As yet in their astonished hearing rung
The strange sweet angel-tongue:
The magi of the East, in sandals worn,
Knelt reverent, sweeping round,
With long pale beards, their gifts upon the ground,
The incense, myrrh, and gold
These baby hands were impotent to hold:
So let all earthlies and celestials wait
Upon thy royal state.
Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!

--Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Adoration of the Shepherds, Caravaggio (1571-1610)

Christmas

The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul's a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is Thy word: the streams, Thy grace
Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
Outsing the daylight hours.
Then will we chide the sun for letting night
Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should
Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching, till I find a sun
Shall stay, till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,
As frost-nipped suns look sadly.
Then will we sing, and shine all our own day,
And one another pay:
His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,
Till ev'n His beams sing, and my music shine.

--George Herbert (1593-1633)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
Angels Singing and Playing Instruments, Jan Van Eyck (1395-1441)

The Heavenly Choir

What sudden blaze of song
Spreads o'er th' expanse of heaven?
In waves of light it thrills along,
Th' angelic signal given--
"Glory to God!" from yonder central fire
Flows out the echoing lay beyond the starry quire;

Like circles widening round
Upon a clear blue river,
Orb after orb, the wondrous sound
Is echoed on forever;
"Glory to God on high, on earth be peace,
And love toward men of love--salvation and release."

Yet stay, before thou dare
To join that festal throng;
Listen and mark what gentle air
First stirred the tide of song;
'Tis not, "the Saviour born in David's home,
To whom for power and health obedient worlds should come:"

'Tis not "the Christ the Lord:"--
With fix'd adoring look
The choir of angels caught the word,
Nor yet their silence broke;
But when they heard the sign, where Christ should be,
In sudden light they shone and heavenly harmony.

--John Keble (1792-1866)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Shepherds, Arnold Friberg (b. 1913)

New Prince, New Pomp

Behold a silly tender Babe,
In freezing winter night,
In homely manger trembling lies
Alas! a piteous sight.

The inns are full, no man will yield
This little Pilgrim bed;
But forced He is with silly beasts
In crib to shroud His head.

Despise Him not for lying there,
First what He is inquire;
An orient pearl is often found
In depth of dirty mire.

Weigh not His crib, His wooden dish,
Nor beasts that by Him feed;
Weigh not His mother's poor attire,
Nor Joseph's simple weed.

This stable is a prince's court,
This crib His chair of state;
The beasts are parcel of His pomp,
The wooden dish His plate.

With joy approach, O Christian Wight!
Do homage to thy King;
And highly praise this humble pomp
Which He from heaven doth bring.

--Robert Southwell (1516-1595)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Star of Bethlehem, Lord Frederick Leighton (1830-1896)

The Hymn

But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of light
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.

Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
(If ye have power to touch our senses so)
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time;
And let the bass of Heaven's deep organ blow,
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.

But see! the Virgin blest,
Hath laid her Babe to rest,
Time is our tedious song should here have ending,
Heaven's youngest teemed star,
Hath fix'd her polish'd car,
Her sleeping Lord with hand-maid lamp attending:
And all about the courtly stable,
Bright-harness'd Angels sit in order serviceable.

--John Milton (1608-1674)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
Madonna and Child, Madame Lo Chang, 20th century

Some Children See Him

Some children see Him lily white
the infant Jesus born this night
Some children see Him lily white
with tresses soft and fair.

Some children see Him bronzed and brown
the Lord of heav'n to earth come down
Some children see Him bronzed and brown
with dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed
This Saviour whom we kneel beside
Some children see Him almond-eyed
With skin of yellow hue.

Some children see Him dark as they
Sweet Mary's Son to whom we pray
Some children see Him dark as they
And, ah! they love Him so!

The children in each different place
Will see the Baby Jesus' face
Like theirs but bright with heav'nly grace
And filled with holy light.

O lay aside each earthly thing
and with thy heart as offering
Come worship now the infant King
'tis love that's born tonight.

--Alfred Burt (1920-1954)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
Virgin of the Rocks, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

New Birth
(For N.)

In the snow, a Lily blooms,
Its warmth belies the frost;
It waits for one to shelter it
Regardless of the cost.
Through the mist, its fragrance swells
And softens winter's air;
Breathe it in, and learn the way
To Heaven's gardens fair.

In the gloom, a candle burns,
Though brightly, all unseen;
It lights the way to happiness
For those with eyes more keen.
Through the storm, that beacon shines
With beams of radiant gold;
Follow it, not looking back,
And haven safe behold.

In the waste, a fountain springs
Though bracken thorns conceal;
The rocky path is worth the pain
The parchèd soul to heal.
Through the drought, this river flows
Its water, living grace;
Come, drink of it, and find anew
Home's compassing embrace.

Hope...Light...Love...
The seeds, yet deep, will bear.
And soon the hour when forth will flow'r
Their gifts, so fine and rare.

Every heart's a broken circle that longs to be complete.

--Luisa Perkins, b. 1966


video

The verses above are actually lyrics to a song I wrote with my friend D. Fletcher; I wrote it to mark the occasion of the adoption of a lovely little girl by two of our best friends.

Since Blogger won't allow straight audio clips, I've made a little movie with some semi-random photos. Jeff Hardy is singing, along with Jonathan Austin and another tenor whose name I don't know. D. is accompanying. I hope you enjoy it.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Census at Bethlehem, Pieter Bruegel (1525-1569)

Bethlehem

The day was done, and slowly in the west
Judea’s sun was sinking low to rest,
And o’er the top of Gedor cast a glow
Of deep’ning crimson. The twilight fadings grow
Far in the east, and with their waning light
Throw dark’ning shadows, heralds of the night,
O’er Bethlehem. Fair Bethlehem, set in
Mid scenes of beauty; city of the King
Of David, Juda’s pride; the sun’s last ray
Kisses thy walls with love, then fades away.

To Bethlehem this winter’s eve there come
Two travelers, who haste ere day is done
To reach the inn: and one of them, a man,
Of stately mein, with eagers eyes does scan
The roadway through the town—a princely form
Tall and erect, his liquid eyes, so warm,
With tender friendship shone; and by his side
Upon a patient animal, does ride
A woman veiled, but see, her veil falls low,
Her face is clear, lit by the sunset’s glow.

Surpassing fair, by right, for it is she
Who is the mother of the Christ, to be:
‘Tis Mary, and her soul’s exceeding grace
Is greater than all else. They reach the place
Of rest, they stop, and Joseph, for ‘tis he,
Enters, but soon returns and plain to see
With disappointment weighed, ‘tis true not there
Is room for them; it seems as though nowhere
They may find rest. At last he leads the way
Out of the town, out in the twilight gray.

Sadly they wander on, the dying day
Now fading fast has almost fled away,
The Virgin fainter grows, but soon they see
A hillside cavern—here their rest shall be.
They haste, they reach the place, they enter in,
The cave is cold, ‘tis full of shadows dim.
It is a stable, for against the wall
Are straw-filled mangers, meant for cattle stall.
Here is their rest, they raise their hearts above
With grateful prayers for God’s protecting love.

--Henry S. Kirk (1895)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Dream of St. Joseph, Georges de La Tour (1593-1652)

The Temptation of Saint Joseph

Joseph:
All I ask is one
Important and elegant proof
That what my Love had done
Was really at your will
And that your will is Love.
Gabriel:
No, you must believe;
Be silent, and sit still.

--W.H. Auden (1907-1973)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Visitation, Piero di Cosimo (1462-1521)

May Magnificat

May is Mary's month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunest
And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?—
Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Nature's motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring's universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfed cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ's birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Annunciation, John Waterhouse (1849-1917)


The Annunciation

The angel and the girl are met,
Earth was the only meeting place,
For the embodied never yet
Travelled beyond the shore of space.
The eternal spirits in freedom go.

See, they have come together, see,
While the destroying minutes flow,
Each reflects the other's face
Till heaven in hers and earth in his
Shine steady there. He's come to her
From far beyond the farthest star,
Feathered through time. Immediacy
of strangest strangeness is the bliss
That from their limbs all movement takes.
Yet the increasing rapture brings
So great a wonder that it makes
Each feather tremble on his wings.

Outside the window footsteps fall
Into the ordinary day
And with the sun along the wall
Pursue their unreturning way
That was ordained in eternity.
Sound's perpetual roundabout
Rolls its numbered octaves out
And hoarsely grinds its battered tune.

But through the endless afternoon
These neither speak nor movement make,
But stare into their deepening trance
As if their gaze would never break.

- Edwin Muir, 1887-1959

This is a re-post from last year, but it's too good not to include again.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937)

Sonnet

This is that blessed Mary, pre-elect
God's Virgin. Gone is a great while since she
Dwelt thus in Nazareth of Galilee.
Loving she was, with temperate respect:
A profound simpleness of intellect
Was hers, and extreme patience. From the knee
Faithful and hopeful; wise in charity;
Strong in grave peace; in duty circumspect.
Thus held she through her girlhood; as it were
An angel-watered lily, that near God
Grows and is quiet. Till one dawn, at home,
She woke in her white bed, and had no fear
At all, yet wept for a brief period;
Because the fulness of the time was come.

--Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Prophet Isaiah, Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

--Anon. 12th century, trans. John Mason Neale 1851
Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
Lone Tree in the Morning Mist, by Jack R. Johanson


Spring and Fall
to a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By & by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep & know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:00 AM
The Guardian of Paradise, Franz von Stuck (1863-1928)

The Expulsion

Adam was happy--now he had someone to blame
for everything--shipwrecks, Troy,
the gray face in the mirror.

Eve was happy: now he would always need her.
She walked on boldly, swaying her beautiful hips.

The serpent admired his emerald coat,
the Angel burst into flames
(he'd never approved of them, and he was right).

Even God was secretly pleased: Let
History Begin!

The dog had no regrets, trotting by Adam's side
self-importantly, glad to be rid

of the lion, the toad, the basilisk, the white-footed mouse,
who were also happy and forgot their names immediately.

Only the Tree of Knowledge stood forlorn,
its small hard bitter crab apples

glinting high up, in a twilight of black leaves:
how pleasant it had been, how unexpected

to have been, however briefly,
the center of attention.

--Katha Pollitt, b. 1949