Eden

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:

EDEN

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.

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