SCENE 15

The scene changes back to that of Scene 3, a landscape with palm trees. ADAM is once again a young man. He emerges somewhat sleepily from his cabin, and looks about him with amazement. EVE is dozing inside. LUCIFER stands centre stage. Brilliant sunshine.

ADAM
Where have you gone, you dreadful images?
The world around me smiles and life goes on
As when I left it, but my heart is broken.

LUCIFER
Such dreadful vanity! Did you expect
The whole order of nature to collapse,
To find new comets blazing in the sky,
Or the earth to quake because one worm was lost?

ADAM
Did I dream it, or am I dreaming now,
And anyway, is life more than a dream
Which for a moment lights on inert matter,
Only to break up and perish with it?
Why grant us men an hour of consciousness
Only to show the horrors of unbeing? -

LUCIFER
Are you still grumbling? - It’s pure cowardice
To accept defeat without a show of force
While a man still has the power to avoid it.
A strong man watches unperturbed while fate
Dictates its terms, letter by letter. He makes
No fuss, he sees the sentence written out,
And he can bear its weight upon his shoulders.
This is the fate that waits on history,
You’re merely a tool: the process drives you onward.

ADAM
No, no - you’re lying. We possess free will,
And I have more than earned its exercise.
I sacrificed all paradise for it,
And profited from what my dream revealed.
Many things have failed in disillusion,
It’s up to me now to find better ways.

LUCIFER
Eternal hope, forgetfulness - if only
They were not in league with destiny,
So while the one is busy healing wounds
The other spreads a rug over the chasm
And exhorts you, saying - a hundred men have fallen,
But you, you’ll be the one who leaps right over.
But you, as a man of science, will have seen
A host of curious things - recall that worm
Which lives only inside a cat or kestrel,
But nonetheless must spend the earliest phase
Of its life-cycle inside a common mouse.
No particular mouse is singled out
To feel the cat’s claw, or the kestrel’s talon,
One that is careful could avoid them both
And die at home, at a venerable age.
But there’s an iron law which so requires,
That there be mice enough to go around
That even the defenceless worm survives
And prospers after many thousand years.
So individual men are not tied down,
But as a race they’re forced to go in chains;
Floods of enthusiasm sweep them on
From one ambition to the next where some
Are fuel to the fire and others mockers.
And whoever keeps a catalogue of these
Must surely admire the sheer consistency
Of fate, which fixes marriages and deaths,
Governs the incidence of vice and virtue,
Of faiths and madness and of suicides.

ADAM
Enough, no more! O what a thought has struck me -
I can still defy you, God, yes, even You.
Though fate may keep repeating: Live so long!
I could laugh it out of court if I were dead.
For am I not alone in all the world?
There stands the cliff before me, there the drop:
One final leap, the last act of the play…
Then I may say the comedy is ended…
ADAM moves towards the cliff EVE emerges from the hut

LUCIFER
The end, the end: what nonsense you do talk!
Each moment’s a beginning and an end.
Was it for this you journeyed down the years?

EVE
Why steal from me so stealthily,
So cold embraced, so frigidly,
I see you’re angry, deep distressed,
Oh Adam dear, you frighten me.

ADAM continuing on his way
Why follow me, why guard my steps
So jealously? The lord of earth
Wants more than coddling. Women never
Understand a man. They bind him.
softening
Why could you not have slept a little longer:
It will be so much harder to perform
The sacrifice that time requires of me.

EVE
If you hear me it might be less hard.
For all is known that was in doubt
Of days to come. The secret’s out.

ADAM
What is known, and how?

EVE
      I know
How happy you will be, so hear,
I’ll whisper low, oh come, come near -
I carry your baby, Adam dear.

ADAM falling to his knees
My lord, you’ve conquered. I grovel in the dust;
I can’t struggle without you or against you:
Raise me or strike me down. I bare my breast.

LUCIFER
You feeble worm! Have you forgot your greatness
For which you have me to thank?

ADAM
      Oh leave me!
The whole thing was a mirage: this is peace!

LUCIFER
And a-hat have you to boast of, stupid woman?
Your son was conceived in sin, albeit in Eden,
And he’ll bring sin and misery to the world.

EVE
It God so wills it, one will come
Conceived in misery and woe,
To wash the world and ring us round
With holy bonds of brotherhood.

LUCIFER
So you rebel against me, you mere slave?
Rise from the dust, you animal.
He aims a kick at ADAM. The heavens open. The LORD appears on his throne, surrounded by ANGELS

THE LORD
      And you,
Spirit, down to the dust with you. There is
None great before me.

LUCIFER stopping
      Curse the lot of you!

THE LORD
Adam, arise, do not be so downcast,
For see, once more I take you to my bosom.

LUCIFER aside
A family reunion, I see.
All very nice for the emotions but
Unutterably boring for the mind.
I think I’ll-slink away
He makes to go

THE LORD
      Wait, Lucifer!
I have a word to say- to you as well.
And as for you, my son, tell me what ails you.

ADAM
My Lord, I have been racked by fearful visions,
And I cannot tell which of them is true.
Oh tell me truly, say a-hat fate awaits me:
This little narrow life is all I have;
Is my spirit to be squeezed as in a press
Between my struggles, only for the wine
To be poured away at last into, the soil.
Or have you other plans for this fine vintage?
Are we, our race, to steadily march onward,
Growing nobler as we approach Thy throne,
Or like oxen on a mill, exhaust ourselves,
Unable to break the leashes of our circuit?
Is there some recompense for noble spirits
Who shed their blood and face the ridicule
Of wretched crowds? O please, enlighten me,
And I will gladly carry any burden;
I cannot help but gain by knowledge since
Uncertainty is hell. -

THE LORD
      No, do not ask
To burrow deeper into the great secret
The hand of God, for the very best of motives,
Has hidden from your hungry eyes. For if
You knew the brevity of your existence
And were aware of heaven set beyond
Suffering could cease to be virtue.
If you could see the soil consume your spirit
What would spur you to shun the present good
For the sake of more inspiring ideals?
If now, with your future glimmering through the mist,
You bow beneath the weight of your ephemeral
Being, the sense of eternity will raise you.
And if the pride engendered by that snares you,
Your tiny span of life will set the bounds,
And safeguard virtue and nobility. -

LUCIFER cackling
Indeed, you have a fine career before you:
Nobility and virtue guide your steps.
Virtue, nobility - two words whose meaning
Is only realized when superstition,
Ignorance and prejudice provide
Their bodyguard. - Oh why did I embark
On mighty things with man who is mere mud
And sunlight rolled into a ball, dwarfish
In intellect, gigantic in his blindness. -

ADAM
O Lucifer, refrain from mockery:
I saw the products of your intellect
And they were far too chilling for my heart. -
But oh, My Lord, who will be my guardian
To keep me on the straight and narrow path?
You left me free to taste the Fruit of Knowledge
But took away your guiding hand from me.

THE LORD
Your arm is strong, your heart is elevated:
The field is vast and calls for endless labour,
And if you listen you will always hear
A voice to warn you or encourage you,
Pay heed only to that. And should it fade
Against the noise and bustle of your life,
This frailer woman’s purer constitution,
Less muddied than yours with worldly interest,
Will hear it still and, passing through her heart,
The filtered voice will turn to poetry
Or music. With these instruments she’ll stand
Beside you constantly, through fair or foul,
A smiling genius of consolation. -
And you too, Lucifer, you are a link
Within my universe - and so continue:
Your icy intellect and fond denial
Will be the leaven to foment rebellion
And to mislead - if momentarily -
The mind of man, which will return to me.
Your punishment though, which will be eternal,
Is ever to look on, and see your schemes
Of ruination turn into the seeds
Of all that is most beautiful and noble.

CHOIR OF ANGELS
To make free choice of vice or virtue,
A proud ideal for man to bear
And still to know that God above us
Extends his shield with tender care.
Take courage then, expect derision,
Ignore the masses’ howl of scorn,
’Tis not for their thanks that you labour,
When honour is of great deeds born,
All other action would be shameful;
It is the knowledge of his shame
That pins against the earth the wretched
But raises high the hero’s name.
However your road may lead upward,
Do not be dazzled by the thought
That God is honoured by your efforts,
His Glory with your prowess bought,
Or that in some way He depended
On you to carry through His scheme:
Think rather that He does you honour
Allowing you to act for Him. -

EVE
I understand their song, praise God!

ADAM
I guess its meaning and will act upon it.
But for the end! - If I could but forget it! -

THE LORD
Man, I have spoken: strive on, trust, have faith!


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