So Eden was deserted, and at eve Into the quiet place God came to grieve. His face was sad, His hands hung slackly down Along his robe; too sorrowful to frown He paced along the grassy paths and through The silent trees, and where the flowers grew Tended by Adam. All the birds had gone Out to the world, and singing was not one To cheer the lonely God out of His grief -- The silence broken only when a leaf Tapt lightly on a leaf, or when the wind, Slow-handed, swayed the bushes to its mind. And so along the base of a round hill, Rolling in fern, He bent His way until He neared the little hut which Adam made, And saw its dusky rooftree overlaid With greenest leaves. Here Adam and his spouse Were wont to nestle in their little house Snug at the dew-time: here He, standing sad, Sighed with the wind, nor any pleasure had In heavenly knowledge, for His darlings twain Had gone from Him to learn the feel of pain, And what was meant by sorrow and despair, -- Drear knowledge for a Father to prepare. There he looked sadly on the little place; A beehive round it was, without a trace Of occupant or owner; standing dim Among the gloomy trees it seemed to Him A final desolation, the last word Wherewith the lips of silence had been stirred. Chaste and remote, so tiny and so shy, So new withal, so lost to any eye, So pac't of memories all innocent Of days and nights that in it had been spent In blithe communion, Adam, Eve, and He, Afar from Heaven and its gaudery; And now no more! He still must be the God But not the friend; a Father with a rod Whose voice was fear, whose countenance a threat, Whose coming terror, and whose going wet With penitential tears; not evermore Would they run forth to meet Him as before With careless laughter, striving each to be First to His hand and dancing in their glee To see Him coming -- they would hide instead At His approach, or stand and hang the head, Speaking in whispers, and would learn to pray Instead of asking, 'Father, if we may.' Never again to Eden would He haste At cool of evening, when the sun had paced Back from the tree-tops, slanting from the rim Of a low cloud, what time the twilight dim Knit tree to tree in shadow, gathering slow Till all had met and vanished in the flow Of dusky silence, and a brooding star Stared at the growing darkness from afar, While haply now and then some nested bird Would lift upon the air a sleepy word Most musical, or swing its airy bed To the high moon that drifted overhead. 'Twas good to quit at evening His great throne, To lay His crown aside, and all alone Down through the quiet air to stoop and glide Unkenned by angels: silently to hide In the green fields, by dappled shades, where brooks Through leafy solitudes and quiet nooks Flowed far from heavenly majesty and pride, From light astounding and the wheeling tide Of roaring stars. Thus does it ever seem Good to the best to stay aside and dream In narrow places, where the hand can feel Something beside, and know that it is real. His angels! silly creatures who could sing And sing again, and delicately fling The smoky censer, bow and stand aside All mute in adoration: thronging wide, Till nowhere could He look but soon He saw An angel bending humbly to the law Mechanic; knowing nothing more of pain, Than when they were forbid to sing again, Or swing anew the censer, or bow down In humble adoration of His frown. This was the thought in Eden as He trod -- . . . It is a lonely thing to be a God. So long! afar through Time He bent His mind, For the beginning, which He could not find, Through endless centuries and backwards still Endless forever, till His 'stonied will Halted in circles, dizzied in the swing Of mazy nothingness. -- His mind could bring Not to subjection, grip or hold the theme Whose wide horizon melted like a dream To thinnest edges. Infinite behind The piling centuries were trodden blind In gulfs chaotic -- so He could not see When He was not who always had To Be. Not even godly fortitude can stare Into Eternity, nor easy bear The insolent vacuity of Time: It is too much, the mind can never climb Up to its meaning, for, without an end, Without beginning, plan, or scope, or trend To point a path, there nothing is to hold And steady surmise: so the mind is rolled And swayed and drowned in dull Immensity. Eternity outfaces even Me With its indifference, and the fruitless year Would swing as fruitless were I never there. And so for ever, day and night the same, Years flying swiftly nowhere, like a game Played random by a madman, without end Or any reasoned object but to spend What is unspendable -- Eternal Woe! O Weariness of Time that fast or slow Goes never further, never has in view An ending to the thing it seeks to do, And so does nothing: merely ebb and flow, From nowhere into nowhere, touching so The shores of many stars and passing on, Careless of what may come or what has gone. O solitude unspeakable! to be For ever with oneself! never see An equal face, or feel an equal hand, To sit in state and issue reprimand, Admonishment or glory, and to smile Disdaining what has happen├Ęd the while! O to be breast to breast against a foe! Against a friend! to strive and not to know The laboured outcome: love nor be aware How much the other loved, and greatly care With passion for that happy love or hate, Nor know what joy or dole was hid in fate. For I have ranged the spacy width and gone Swift north and south, striving to look upon An ending somewhere. Many days I sped Hard to the west, a thousand years I fled Eastwards in fury, but I could not find The fringes of the Infinite. Behind And yet behind, and ever at the end Came new beginnings, paths that did not wend To anywhere were there: and ever vast And vaster spaces opened -- till at last Dizzied with distance, thrilling to a pain Unnameable, I turned to Heaven again. And there My angels were prepared to fling The cloudy incense, there prepared to sing My praise and glory -- O, in fury I Then roared them senseless, then threw down the sky And stamped upon it, buffeted a star With my great fist, and flung the sun afar: Shouted My anger till the mighty sound Rung to the width, frighting the furthest bound And scope of hearing: tumult vaster still, Throning the echo, dinned My ears, until I fled in silence, seeking out a place To hide Me from the very thought of Space. And so, He thought, in Mine own Image I Have made a man, remote from Heaven high And all its humble angels: I have poured My essence in his nostrils: I have cored His heart with My own spirit; part of Me, His mind with laboured growth unceasingly Must strive to equal Mine; must ever grow By virtue of My essence till he know Both good and evil through the solemn test Of sin and retribution, till, with zest, He feels his godhead, soars to challenge Me In Mine own Heaven for supremacy. Through savage beasts and still more savage clay, Invincible, I bid him fight a way To greater battles, crawling through defeat Into defeat again: ordained to meet Disaster in disaster; prone to fall, I prick him with My memory to call Defiance at his victor and arise With anguished fury to his greater size Through tribulation, terror, and despair. Astounded, he must fight to higher air, Climb battle into battle till he be Confronted with a flaming sword and Me. So growing age by age to greater strength, To greater beauty, skill and deep intent: With wisdom wrung from pain, with energy Nourished in sin and sorrow, he will be Strong, pure and proud an enemy to meet, Tremendous on a battle-field, or sweet To walk by as friend with candid mind. --Dear enemy or friend so hard to find, I yet shall find you, yet shall put My breast In enmity or love against your breast: Shall smite or clasp with equal ecstasy The enemy or friend who grows to Me. The topmost blossom of his growing I Shall take unto Me, cherish and lift high Beside myself upon My holy throne: -- It is not good for God to be alone. The perfect woman of his perfect race Shall sit beside Me in the highest place And be my Goddess, Queen, Companion, Wife, The rounder of My majesty, the life Of My ambition. She will smile to see Me bending down to worship at her knee Who never bent before, and she will say, 'Dear God, who was it taught Thee how to pray?" And through eternity, adown the slope Of never-ending time, compact of hope, Of zest and young enjoyment, I and She Will walk together, sowing jollity Among the raving stars, and laughter through The vacancies of Heaven, till the blue Vast amplitudes of space lift up a song, The echo of our presence, rolled along And ever rolling where the planets sing The majesty and glory of the King. Then conquered, thou, Eternity, shalt lie Under My hand as little as a fly. I am the Master: I the mighty God And you My workshop. Your pavilions trod By Me and Mine shall never cease to be, For you are but the magnitude of Me, The width of My extension, the surround Of My dense splendour. Rolling, rolling round, To steeped infinity, and out beyond My own strong comprehension, you are bond And servile to My doings. Let you swing More wide and ever wide, you do but fling Around the instant Me, and measure still The breadth and proportion of My Will. Then stooping to the hut -- a beehive round -- God entered in and saw upon the ground The dusty garland, Adam, (learned to weave) Had loving placed upon the head of Eve Before the terror came, when joyous they Could look for God at closing of the day Profound and happy. So the Mighty Guest Rent, took, and placed the blossoms in His breast. 'This,' said He gently, 'I shall show My queen When she hath grown to Me in space serene, And say "'twas worn by Eve."' So, smiling fair, He spread abroad His wings upon the air.
James Stephens