Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday Poetry: Hughes and Serpent


"No, the serpent did not
Seduce Eve to the apple.
All that's simply
Corruption of the facts.

Adam ate the apple.
Eve ate Adam.
The serpent ate Eve.
This is the dark intestine.

The serpent, meanwhile,
Sleeps his meal off in Paradise -
Smiling to hear
God's querulous calling."

Ted Hughes

Wodwo is a collection of stories, poems, and a radio play published in 1967. Hughes' wife Sylvia Plath had died in 1963 and he had been writing mostly childrens' literature in the intervening years; Wodwo was his first all-adult work since that tragedy.

The title word comes from old English and is translated as 'the green man,' 'faun,' 'wood goblin,' or some such. Hughes is said to have thought of himself as one sometimes.

Hughes had this to say by way of explanation in a 1976 presentation:

"I wrote a series of lectures for an ideal college, where the whole lecture course would last about half a page. So the whole university went into about twenty pages. This is the theology:" and then he went on to read the poem above.

He had no idea what was to soon happen in his life.

As for me, I have no quarrel with what the poem says. It seems rather obvious, actually.

No comments: