etching by Hans Sebald Beham

(with acknowledgements to Auden)

artists know all about evil:
they see it whenever mind’s eye
meets an eye, whenever passes a piece of fruit
from hand to hand beneath forbidden foliage

artists see evil all about
see and sense it whenever eyes meet
swirls of color; whenever equivocal tones
vibrate ears; whenever images graven
in musical words, that surely cannot speak,
hold hostage the sense, yet truly sing

excepting, of course, the serpent
all animals turned leisurely away
when Eve offered the fruit of Godly Knowledge

oh, well, admit they did pose prettily
drawn naked at the beholding place of the skull
and serpent brazenly lifted up –
standing figures like Gods
or Sons and Mothers of God
lifelike, beneath the tree
Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, 1980

Hans Sebald Beham: Adam and Eve
Hans Sebald Beham: Adam and Eve