This is an abridged version of the original. A reading of the original can be found here.

A chilling breeze blew through the trees, which filtered beams of light
That danced in play as dying day gave way to shades of night.
As in a dream, each golden beam waned slowly as the dark
Spread far and wide, a rising tide, to fill up Eden’s park.

There in the gloom, a bride and groom, both naked and afraid
Fell to their knees beneath the trees, far from the open glade,
Their conscience bruised, their thoughts confused, they trembled full of fear,
Not knowing how their God would now respond when He drew near.

On other days, His watchful gaze had made their hearts rejoice
When He came near to meet them here and speak with tender voice;
The thought was sweet that He would greet them at the end of day,
But now that thought, with terror fraught, moved them to run away.

Until this hour, they’d loved to flower beneath His shining eye,
But now the two in fear withdrew from Him, lest they should die.
In vain they tried, from Him to hide among the shrubs and trees,
For well they knew all they could do would not His wrath appease.

By pale moon’s glow, they tried to sow two aprons made of leaves
To hide from view the sin they knew a holy God aggrieves.
They burned with shame, yet would not blame themselves for what they´d done
Instead, through pride, each tried to chide and blame some other one.

They grieved to know they had let go of life upon the sod
By one vile choice to heed the voice of one who hated God,
What could they say? They´d thrown away the gift of life forever;
Now death would cleave what they’d received from God and all hope sever.

Just then a sound came from the ground to fill their hearts with fright,
The rustling step of one who crept in silence through the night,
The sound made clear He´d soon appear and find them in that spot,
And would declare His judgment there and tie the hangman’s knot.

A second sound made their hearts pound with fearful apprehension
A voice that spoke—which hardly broke the atmosphere of tension!
It rumbled loud, as from a cloud, “Where are you?” were the words
That shook the trees (and Adam’s knees) and scared a flock of birds.

Then standing tall to heed God´s call, despite the mess he´d made,
The man replied, “I tried to hide because I was afraid,
You see, I knew if I met you without my garment on,
In your pure eyes, I´d be despised, and all hope would be gone.”.
“So now you´re bare? Please tell me where you gained this self-perception.
Did you dare swim,” God asked of him, “in waters of deception?
In sin´s black lake, did you partake of what I had forbidden,
And now, would you obscure from view that which cannot be hidden?

You cannot hide the stain inside, since of your own volition
You ate the fruit which did not suit your creaturely condition.
Did I not say that on the day you ate from that one tree,
You and your wife would lose the life you might have had with me?”

Then Adam groaned as God intoned His sentence on the pair,
Including, too, the serpent who had brought them to despair.
In fact, the snake, for mankind’s sake, received the harshest sentence
For only he, among the three, showed no sign of repentance.

Then in that place, before they faced their final marching orders
God gave them hope, a golden rope to take beyond those borders,
A holy tie, which by and by would lead them back to Eden
When ages hence, at Christ´s expense, redemption’s work would be done.

God swore an oath to them, and both were filled with faith on knowing
That though they lay condemned to pay the price of death for sowing
The seed of sin, yet God would win and save them from the tomb
Through One whom He would send to free them from eternal doom.

Thus, having set the stage, God let them say their last farewell
To this dear scene, so lush and green, where life had started well.
He let them know that they must go, then sent them on their way,
As faint beams shone across the dome of heaven at break of day.

The lilac’s bloom, its sweet perfume that filled the piquant air,
The wafting breeze, the swaying trees, the starlight everywhere
The cricket’s trill, the whipporwill’s incessant lonely cry
Made their eyes weep, as with such deep regret, they said goodbye.

Their two hearts rent, they sadly went, as misting drops of dew
Fell on the grass where they did pass, and glowing fireflies flew.
They looked around, and kissed the ground in thought, and longed to stay,
But God was clear, and no man’s tear could wash His Word away.

Then in His grace, God wisely placed an angel at the gate;
With flaming sword to point them toward the world where they must wait
For God to act, so that the pact He made with His dear Son
Might be fulfilled, and death be killed, and paradise re-won.

So as they left that place, bereft of joy, but not of hope,
They did believe God would not leave them in the dark to grope,
And so went forth, His Word their north star on the sea of life,
To guide them through what there might brew—wild tempests, storms and strife.

The wind blew chill beyond the hill as they began to roam
In unknown grounds where creepy sounds made them feel far from home,
They looked behind as if to find some sign their hope to spark,
And where they gazed, a red sword blazed so brightly in the dark!

 

 

Martin Rizley grew up in Oklahoma and in Texas, and has served in pastoral ministry both in the United States and in Europe. He is currently serving as the pastor of a small evangelical church in the city of Málaga on the southern coast of Spain, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Martin has enjoyed writing and reading poetry as a hobby since his early youth.


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18 Responses

  1. Leo Zoutewelle

    Hi Martin, though I’m not sure I would have chosen that subject for a poem, I’m full of admiration for the form you used. It made me think of one of my favorite poems, “The Cloud” by Shelley. Very well done, congratulations!
    All the best to you.
    Leo

    Reply
  2. Martin Rizley

    A reading of the unabridged poem can be found at the following link:

    Reply
  3. C.B. Anderson

    Martin, I much admire your persistence in keeping to what amounts to a rather demanding rhyme scheme (both end rhyme & internal rhyme. One niggling point, however, is that I think ( in stanza 5, line 1) you meant “sew” rather than “sow.” The Edenic theme throughout is a well-conceived conceit. Men of the cloth are well advised to express their theological and exegetical thoughts in verse. After all (or before all others) many of the esteemed metaphysical poets were ordained clerics, who may best be repaid through emulation.

    Reply
    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you, C.B., for your comments. Not all my poems are explicitly theological in theme– I like to write on a wide variety of subjects, in fact. But one thing I appreciate about this website is that, with its emphasis on classical forms and themes in poetry, religiously themed poetry is not automatically censored as “taboo,” as it would be on some websites. There is an understanding that if you cut out all poetry with spiritual or religious themes, you would have to expunge a lot from the corpus of Western literature, from Dante to Milton to Herbert and Donne. I would expect that from promoters of cultural Marxism, but I get the feeling that the editors of this website are far from being “friends” of Marxism!

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        Exactly so, Martin. I, too, have submitted poems here that are laden with Christian spiritual themes, and I will continue to do so without fear of automatic rejection. The Bible, if nothing else, is part of the canon of Western literature, no more dismissible than the Iliad.

    • Monty

      That was a very earthy, affectionate and poignant assertion you made about esteemed poets, CB: “. . they may best be repaid through emulation”.

      Reply
  4. David Watt

    Martin, congratulations for undertaking a complex poem, and for achieving an admirable result.

    Reply
  5. Monty

    After reading the first 4-5 stanzas, I was already thinking: “Why ‘abridged’? I wanna see it all”; and when I got to the end, I instantly found myself wondering how many more stanzas there might be; and from which parts of the abridged version they were extracted. Of course, only a few more moments passed before – while sifting through the comments – I came across the ‘real thing’.

    Phew! What a mammoth task you’ve completed, Martin. I don’t know nor care how long it took you to complete it (from the very start to the very finish); but I’m quite certain that it would’ve taken me a good few months to do so.

    It’d be easy to say that the poem contains a clever use of internal-rhyming; but that goes without saying. What impresses me much more than that . . is the fact that a/ None of the rhymes seem forced (e.g. not strictly the right word, but it rhymes.. so it’ll do).. b/ At no stage has the diction suffered (even slightly) in order to accommodate a rhyme. I dunno how many stanzas the complete version contained: I’ll say 24 off the top o’ me ‘ead.. with 8 internal rhymes in each stanza.. that makes 192 internal-rhymes.. 192! And not one of them forced. And not one of them inserted to the detriment of the diction. That alone is such a major accomplishment. And that’s only a CERTAIN ASPECT of the piece as a whole! As a whole, it’s . . well, need I go on?

    ‘Stunning’ is not a word I use often, Martin . . but I feel I can use it here.

    Reply
    • Martin Rizley

      Monty, thank you for your very kind and encouraging remarks about the poem. I enjoyed writing it, and I am glad you enjoyed reading it!

      Reply
      • Monty

        . . . and what’s more: to exemplify how well it stands as a poem in it’s own right . . I confess that I’ve got no interest in, or no knowledge of, the subject-matter. I read it purely as a fictional account . . as from a chapter of a novel, or a scene from a film. And yet . . .

  6. W. Israel Ebecud

    Mr. Rizley’s “The Last Evening in Eden” is a remarkable poem, most importantly because, I believe it is the finest work to take the cadences of Coleridge, some grace notes of Milton, set them in Genesis, and bring them all into the New Millennium. Surprisingly I am reminded of William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation”, not for content, diction or form, but for delivery and attitude. The simplicity and utility of his language are utterly breathtaking from the opening line…”A chilly breeze blew through the trees, which filtered beams of light” to the concluding line, “and where they gazed a red sword blazed so brightly in the dark”; and the flaws in Mr. Rizley’s poem are held masterfully at bay. I would definitely place “The Last Evening in Eden” in an anthology of New Millennial poetry in English.

    Reply
    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you so much for your feedback. I must admit I feel somewhat overwhelmed (and honored) by your accolades! All I know is that I enjoyed the challenge of writing it, and it gives me pleasure that others have enjoyed reading it.

      Reply

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