Imperial Adam – A. D. Hope : Comments

Imperial Adam

Imperial Adam, naked in the dew,
Felt his brown flanks and found the rib was gone.
Puzzled he turned and saw where, two and two,
The mighty spoor of Yahweh marked the lawn.

Then he remembered through mysterious sleep
The surgeon fingers probing at the bone,
The voice so far away, so rich and deep:
“It is not good for him to live alone.”

Turning once more he found Man’s counterpart
In tender parody breathing at his side.
He knew her at first sight, he knew by heart
Her allegory of sense unsatisfied.

The pawpaw drooped its golden breasts above
Less generous than the honey of her flesh;
The innocent sunlight showed the place of love;
The dew on its dark hairs winked crisp and fresh.

This plump gourd severed from his virile root,
She promised on the turf of Paradise
Delicious pulp of the forbidden fruit;
Sly as the snake she loosed her sinuous thighs,

And waking, smiled up at him from the grass;
Her breasts rose softly and he heard her sigh —
From all the beasts whose pleasant task it was
In Eden to increase and multiply

Adam had learned the jolly deed of kind:
He took her in his arms and there and then,
Like the clean beasts, embracing from behind,
Began in joy to found the breed of men.

Then from the spurt of seed within her broke
Her terrible and triumphant female cry,
Split upward by the sexual lightning stroke.
It was the beasts now who stood watching by:

The gravid elephant, the calving hind,
The breeding bitch, the she-ape big with young
Were the first gentle midwives of mankind;
The teeming lioness rasped her with her tongue;

The proud vicuna nuzzled her as she slept
Lax on the grass; and Adam watching too
Saw how her dumb breasts at their ripening wept,
The great pod of her belly swelled and grew,

And saw its water break, and saw, in fear,
It quaking muscles in the act of birth,
Between her legs a pigmy face appear,
And the first murderer lay upon the earth.

A. D. Hope

This is a well-crafted eleven stanza poem with rhyming scheme (abab) and more importantly showing plenty of imagination, and what a wonderful build-up to an immense last line.

S1 and S2 – well here is Adam … hopefully he did not experience any pain during the night … remembering in his sleep hearing a voice … perhaps he had a dream of something beautiful … ‘the spoor of Yahweh’ – well he himself is a similar product. It is interesting that the word spoor is chosen as this associates the creator as animal. We will see later that the animal world is very evident in this poem.

S3 – what a shock … but he knew her at first-sight … woman part of man … woman and man inextricably connected … he noticed her in need (allegory of sense – poetic expression of this urge – allegory = a picture that can reveal a hidden meaning) … (he didn’t say ‘I have a bone to pick with you’!)

S4 – and what was this that winked at him … he was aware of the difference … Eve not tempting with an apple but with other fruit … a nice touch that a pawpaw is associated with Eve

S5 – again another fruit reference (nice to have different fruit from the Eve-apple association) – a gourd (hard celled fruit for decoration) … such an appropriate choice … and the typical female seductive stereotype written by a male in snake terms

S6 – all the animals that have been enjoying sex are there watching … nice contrast … and interesting when later we see these animals are of a friendly nature

S7 – so Adam in line with the animals … copying … has the first sexual act with a woman … it might have been a surprise to find the changes to his body in this encounter

S8 – Eve has achieved her purpose … her need satisfied … a triumphant cry while the animals watch and in S9 and S10 become loving midwifes as Eve’s body changes with pregnancy … great imagination … all the animals seem friendly and Adam is regarded as one of them

S11 – Adam watches the first human birth in fear … and then that confronting last line that stuns the thought of the reader.

And so began the fragmentation of the empire of Imperial Adam.

Here is a link to the Australian poet A. D. Hope on Wikipedia …

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