Poem Hunter
Poems
0218 Paradise Known
MS (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0218 Paradise Known

O God - or may I call you Lord? –
I remember when I was a child,
You were my best friend, one who knew me
better than I knew myself;
and so I talked to You all the time,
especially when I’d been naughty;
then later on, it was taught me
that I’m made in Your image – that feels good…

I know, just as all children do,
what Paradise is, and where:
when the sun is out,
it’s in that wood beyond the field,
where I feel most myself;
but not quite out of sight of home;
and lots of other places just like that;
then when the sun goes in, I go in too,
and Paradise is - when I’m tired and fed,
and then all nice and read to, tucked up in bed;
and Paradise is in my head.

And then, I read in Genesis
how, out of Your immortal bliss,
the way You did it all;
and so, since we’re good friends
and I’m made in Your image,
I have some questions: You did a brilliant job
with fields and woods and animals
and human beings – well, some of them, the ones I like…
and it makes good sense
to have Adam there to look after it all, and to enjoy it;
and a nice idea too to have Eve as his companion –
who else could do the cooking while he’s out at work,
or remind him of the jobs to do around the house?
and if Adam had to have the babies too,
he wouldn’t then be able to go out and work as well…

But why couldn’t You have left it just like that?
you must have guessed that when grown-ups say
‘You’re not to eat the apples on that tree! ’
then you want to do just that,
not for the apples but
because you want to know
just why you shouldn’t do that anyway?
I mean, it’s human, isn’t it?

And if You don’t mind my saying this,
throwing them out of Paradise,
that seems a bit severe for such a crime?
couldn’t You have let them off, first time?

My teacher says ‘it’s all symbolic’ – that the message is
just to be ourselves, and not divide the world
into the ‘good’ and ‘bad’,
or always split our mind in two
or to think we know too much–
(did you tell my teacher that?) :
and that there are some of Your laws
which we must keep, which have just cause;
well, I’ll go along with that;
I never wanted – afterwards – to be naughty, anyway;
I’ve talked toYou about this often, and explained…

I’d like to think that when Adam and Eve
realised what they’d lost, and then said sorry,
they didn’t have to go around in guilt and sin
(Like miserable old Auntie Min..)
and, if Paradise is lost by us, but yet that’s known,
we can then return to what we own?
‘And they all lived happily ever after’
is what the old storybooks all tell me…
or is there perhaps some hidden clue,
like, we often ‘grow up’ and forget about You? …

*

My teacher says I’ve ‘simplified’ –
but didn’t You say, ‘Be as a child’?

Well, Lord, that’s how it seems to me;
and I’m Your child; would You agree?

User Rating: 2,1 / 5 ( 14 votes ) 6

Comments (6)

Not exactly an original conceit (a child questioning the Bible or talking to God in a bemused manner) , this poem is sort of reminiscent of Alice Walker's 'Dear God' letters that comprised 'The Color Purple. I was rather looking for something a little quirkier or edgier or satirical here, but I felt it lapsed into convention and sentimentality, ending with a 'we've heard this before' tone. Having said that, its a touching little poem, for despite the child's voice that narrates it, these are questions (God, death, Original Sin) we all grapple with from time to time. For that reason, the poem works.
Very deep poem yet very simple. I enjoyed it very much.
I love your descriptions of what Paradise was like! I love the rhyme with 'miserable old Aunt Min'... And the rest, well, it's nice to see the child in you so alive! Dealing with the Genesis muddle is tough, it does take a child.
You did indeed get in the mind of a child...but then they say that child still lives in all of us. This is a beautiful, questioning poem and sweet. There is more depth than meets the eye. Excellent. Raynette
Well-written and thoughtful.
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