What historical truth lies behind the Garden of Eden myth? I’m sure it was reinforced by several experiences of fertile, pleasant places being ruined in the Middle East, sometimes very likely by over-farming soils of limited capacity or misuse of irrigation systems. But one idea I have is that it reflects the change from a hunter-gatherer life to farming, like this:
The fruit slipped ripe into the hand
The hunting hard, but always good,
The trees made shade to sleep within
That was the Eden we once knew
They say. Then a hard awkward seed, hard won
Out of a rasping husk whispered to Eve:
I am a million. You’ll be rich
Your children’s children will be many.
She took the seed and planted it.
The trees were felled, the game was killed
The seed told truth, but the new life
Was sweating hard, and then the rains
That always held back, always came
Did not come. Eden’s loss
Could not have been through a grass seed,
And so it was a snake instead.