Heinrich Heine’s poems “Adam The First” and “Miserere” (excerpts) together with the painting “Adam & Eve” by Lucas Cranach

Lucas Cranach, "Adam & Eve" (1472-1553)

 ADAM THE FIRST
by Heinrich Heine

You sent me, with flaming sword,
your guard from the heavenly city,
and chased me out of Paradise
neither with right nor pity.

I’ll take my wife and we’ll move on,
to other lands be ranging;
but that I ate from the wisdom tree
is now beyond your changing.

You cannot change my knowing of
your pettiness and blunders,
no matter how you try to bluff
us men by death and thunders.

O God! How pitiful is this
decision of ejection!
How worthy of heaven’s governor!
How brilliant his perfection!

Your Garden of Eden, your Paradise,
I’ll never miss a minute;
that was no real paradise,
with a tree forbidden in it.

I ask full freedom as my right,
for freedom’s banner has risen!
The slightest limitation would turn
your Eden to hell and to prison.

* * * * *

MISERERE

Oh, forget those holy fables,
sanctimonious allegories –
try to answer those damned questions
without telling silly stories.

Why must just men bear the crosses,
stumbling wretchedly and bleeding,
while the bad man, high on horseback,
is victoriously succeeding?

Why so? Could the reason be that
God Almighty has restrictions?
Or that He Himself does mischief?
Ah, what sordid contradictions!

These are our eternal questions
till they stuff, when we lie pallid,
earth clods down our mouths by handfuls –
do you think such answer valid?

* * * * *

I am not lured by Eden’s fields,
the promised land in Paradise.
No fairer women there than those
on whom on earth I laid my eyes.

No angel with the finest wings
could substitute there for my wife.
Sitting on clouds and singing psalms
is not my dream of afterlife…”

HEINEHEINRICH HEINE
(13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856)

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John Steinbeck’s East of Eden

steinbeck_eastofeden

“Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a great stretching yawn; it flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then — the glory — so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished.” – JOHN STEINBECK’s East Of Eden, chapter 13.

* Buy Steinbeck’s East of Eden at Amazon