Treasure Island

Caedmon

(600 - 670 / England)

Genesis BK XI


ll. 442-460) Then God's enemy began to make him ready, equipped
in war-gear, with a wily heart. He set his helm of darkness on
his head, bound it full hard, and fastened it with clasps. Many
a crafty speech he knew, many a crooked word. Upward he beat his
way and darted through the doors of hell. He had a ruthless
heart. Evil of purpose he circled in the air, cleaving the flame
with fiendish craft. He would fain ensnare God's servants unto
sin, seduce them and deceive them that they might be displeasing
to the Lord. With fiendish craft he took his way until he came
on Adam upon earth, the finished handiwork of God, full wisely
wrought, and his wife beside him, loveliest of women, performing
many a goodly service since the Lord of men appointed them His
ministers.

(ll. 460-477) And by them stood two trees laden with fruit and
clothed with increase. Almighty God, High King of heaven, had
set them there that the mortal sons of men might choose of good
and evil, weal and woe. Unlike was their fruit! Of the one tree
the fruit was pleasant, fair and winsome, excellent and sweet.
That was the tree of life. He might live for ever in the world
who ate of that fruit, so that old age pressed not heavily upon
him, nor grievous sickness, but he might live his life in
happiness for ever, and have the favour of the King of heaven
here on earth. And glory was ordained for him in heaven, when he
went hence.

(ll. 478-495) The other tree was dark, sunless, and full of
shadows: that was the tree of death. Bitter the fruit it bore!
And every man must know both good and evil; in this world abased
he needs must suffer, in sweat and sorrow, who tasted of the
fruit that grew upon that tree. Old age would rob him of his
strength and joy and honour, and death take hold upon him. A
little time might he enjoy this life, and then seek out the murky
realm of flame, and be subject unto fiends. There of all perils
are the worst for men for ever. And that the evil one knew well,
the wily herald of the fiend who fought with God. He took the
form of a serpent, coiled round the tree of death by devil's
craft, and plucked the fruit, and turned aside again where he
beheld the handiwork of the King of heaven. And the evil one in
lying words began to question him:

(ll. 496-506) "Hast thou any longing, Adam, unto God? His
service brings me hither from afar. Not long since I was sitting
at His side. He sent me forth upon this journey to bid thee eat
this fruit. He said thy strength and power would increase, thy
mind be mightier, more beautiful thy body, and thy form more
fair. He said thou wouldest lack no good thing on the earth when
thou hast won the favour of the King of heaven, served thy Lord
with gladness, and deserved His love.

(ll. 507-521) "In the heavenly light I heard Him speaking of thy
life, praising thy words and works. Needs must thou do His
bidding which His messengers proclaim on earth. Broad-stretching
are the green plains of the world, and from the highest realms of
heaven God ruleth all things here below. The Lord of men will
not Himself endure the hardship to go upon this journey, but
sendeth His ministers to speak with thee. He sendeth tidings
unto thee to teach thee wisdom. Do His will with gladness! Take
this fruit in thy hand; taste and eat. Thy heart shall grow more
roomy and thy form more fair. Almighty God, thy Lord, sendeth
this help from heaven."

(ll. 522-546) And Adam, first of men, answered where he stood on
earth: "When I heard the Lord, my God, speaking with a mighty
voice, He bade me dwell here keeping His commandments, gave me
this woman, this lovely maid, bade me take heed and be not
tempted to the tree of death and utterly beguiled, and said that
he who taketh to his heart one whit of evil shall dwell in
blackest hell. Though thou art come with lies and secret wiles,
I know not that thou art an angel of the Lord from heaven. Lo!
I cannot understand thy precepts, thy words or ways, thy errand
or thy sayings. I know what things our Lord commanded when I
beheld Him nigh at hand. He bade me heed His word, observe it
well, and keep His precepts. Thou art not like to any of His
angels that ever I have seen, nor hast thou showed me any token
that my Lord hath sent of grace and favour. Therefore I cannot
hearken to thy teachings. Get thee hence! I have my faith set
firm upon Almighty God, who with His own hands wrought me. From
His high throne He giveth all good things, and needeth not to
send His ministers."

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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