Caedmon

(600 - 670 / England)

Genesis BK XVI


(ll. 918-924) And unto Eve God spake in wrath: "Turn thee from
joy! Thou shalt live under man's dominion, sore smitten with
fear before him. With bitter sorrow shalt thou expiate thy sin,
waiting for death, bringing forth sons and daughters in the world
with grief and tears and lamentation."

(ll. 925-938) And on Adam the Eternal God, Author of life,
pronounced an evil doom: "Thou shalt seek another home, a joyless
dwelling. Naked and needy shalt thou suffer exile, shorn of thy
glory. Thy soul and body shall be cleft asunder. Lo! thou hast
sinned a grievous sin. Therefore shalt thou labour, winning thy
portion on the earth by toil, eating thy bread in the sweat of
thy brow while thou dwellest here, until that grim disease, which
first thou tasted in the apple, shall grip hard at thy heart. So
shalt thou die."

(ll. 939-951) Lo! now we know how our afflictions came upon us,
and mortal misery! Then the Lord of glory, our Creator, clothed
them with garments, and bade them cover their shame with their
first raiment. He drove them forth from Paradise into a narrower
life. By God's command a holy angel, with a sword of fire,
closed fast that pleasant home of peace and joy behind them. No
wicked, sinful man may walk therein, but the warden has strength
and power, dear unto God in virtue, who guards that life of
glory.

(ll. 952-964) Yet the Almighty Father would not take away from
Adam and from Eve, at once, all goodly things, though He withdrew
His favour from them. But for their comfort He left the sky
above them adorned with shining stars, gave them wide-stretching
fields, and bade the earth and sea and all their teeming
multitudes to bring forth fruits to serve man's earthly need.
After their sin they dwelt in a realm more sorrowful, a home and
native land less rich in all good things than was their first
abode, wherefrom He drove them out after their sin.

(ll. 965-987) Then, according to the word of God, Adam and Eve
begat children, as God had bidden. To them were born two goodly
sons, Abel and Cain: the books tell us how these brothers, first
of toilers, gained wealth and goods and store of food. One, the
first-born, tilled the fields; the other aided with his father's
cattle; and after many days they both brought offerings to God.
The Prince of angels, Lord of every creature, lifted up His eyes
on Abel's offering and would not look upon the gift of Cain. And
the heart of Cain was bitter; wrath shook his soul, and envy
burned within him. Then with his hands Cain wrought a deed of
shame, struck down his brother Abel, and poured his blood upon
the ground. The earth drank in his blood poured out in murder.

(ll. 987-1001) After that mortal blow came woe and tribulation.
From that shoot grew more and more a deadly bitter fruit, and the
boughs of sin stretched far and wide among the nations;
grievously the twigs of evil touched the sons of men (and do so
yet), and from them grew broad blades of wickedness. With
lamentation must we tell that tale of evil fate, not without
cause. Grievous the ruin the lovely woman wrought us by that
first of sins that ever men on earth had sinned against their
Maker since Adam first was filled with breath from the mouth of
God.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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