How Cruel is the Story of Eve

How cruel is the story of Eve
What responsibility
It has in history.
For cruelty.

Touch, where the feeling is most vulnerable
Unblameworthy - ah reckless - desiring children,
Touch there with a touch of pain?

Ah what cruelty,
In history.
What misery.

Put up to barter,
The tender feelings
Buy her a husband to rule her
Fool her to marry a master
She must or rue it
The Lord said it.

And man, poor man,
Is he fit to rule,
Pushed to it?
How can he carry it, the governance,
And not suffer for it
He must make woman lower then
So he can be higher then.

Oh what cruelty,
In history, what misery.

Soon woman grows cunning,
Masks her wisdom,
How otherwise will he
Brnig food and shelter, kill enemies?
If he did not feel superior
It would be the worse for her
And for the tender children
Worse for them.

Oh what cruelty,
In history what misery
Of falsity.

It is only a legend,
You say? But what
Is the meaning of the legend
If not
To give blame to women most
And most punishment?
This is the meaning of a legend that colours
All human thought; it is not found among animals.

How cruel is the story of Eve,
What responsibility it has
In history
For misery.

Yet there is this to be said still,
Life would be over long ago
If men and women had not loved each other
Naturally, naturally,
Forgetting their mythology,
They would have died of it else
Long ago, long ago,
And all would be emptiness now
And silence.

Oh dread Nature, for your purpose,
To have made them love so.


(from Poems, 1962, 1966)

back to Stevie Smith.

ã 1997 Artemis