Genesis B is
an Old Saxon rendering of the Fall of Adam and Eve that was translated into
Anglo-Saxon and stuck into the middle of the much more mundane poem Genesis A. It is found, along with other Anglo-Saxon
poetic renderings of Biblical stories in what is called the Junius
Manuscript. The four poems in this
manuscript are among the best of the Anglo-Saxon corpus, and the manuscript is
called the Junius manuscript because it belonged to a 17th century
collector of manuscripts named Junius.
He, by the way, was a friend of
Genesis B puzzled scholars for years because its version of the Fall story is very different from any others. The serpent first approaches Adam and is rejected, because Adam doesn't trust him. Then the serpent goes and finds Eve. He argues that he is a messenger from God and God has changed his mind and now wants them to eat of the previously forbidden tree. Furthermore, he tells her that if Adam doesn't listen to him (Godes engle god--God's good angel/messenger), God will be mighty angry with Adam, and if Eve doesn't persuade Adam to eat the fruit, they and their children will be sorry forever. He promises Eve that her eyes will be opened in a new way, and when she finally takes the fruit, he gives her a vision of heaven.
The most puzzling thing, though, is that first, Satan appears to Adam in the shape of a serpent, and Adam tells him bluntly that "you are not like any of his angels that I saw before" (Þu gelic ne baest aenigum his engla þat ic aer geseah.). But later, Eve tells Adam that she can "see by his apparel that he is the envoy (engle) of our Master" (ll. 655-58). So is Satan in the shape of a serpent or an angel? The whole issue is complicated by the fact that the manuscript illustrations show Satan as a serpent when he is talking to Adam at first, but then as an angel when he is talking to Eve and Adam and Eve together.
This is the question that I tried to answer in an essay on this poem, published in Traditio in 1985. My thesis in that essay is that Satan remains in the form of a serpent throughout the story, and what is happening here is that Eve is so confused by the devil's rhetoric that she is convinced she is seeing an angel when she is really looking at a serpent. The manuscript is probably 300 years younger than the poem itself, so all I can say about those illustrations is that the illustrator was as confused and missed the poem's point just as modern scholars have done.
I base my reading on the biblical commentary or exegisis on Genesis from the early period of the church through the 14th century. The biblical commentary from Origen and Ambrose, through Augustine and Rhabanus Maurus and up through the 16th century consistently allegorizes the Bible in general and Genesis in particular. There are two major readings, and they can occur side by side in the same commentary.
The most popular is that Eve represents the senses, Adam represents the reason, and the serpent represents the suggestion of evil. In this reading, the Fall story is showing us how the suggestion of sin comes into our minds through our senses (sight, taste, and touch, especially). Reason is supposed to consider the report of the senses and refer the decision making to what it knows from and about God. It is up to the reason to control the senses and reject the suggestion of evil, but what usually happens in life is that we let our senses rule our reason and we fall. This treatment of the Fall story and the tension between the senses or passion and reason is probably the most prevalent theme to be found in Medieval literature. It crops up absolutely everywhere. Only Boethius' Wheel of Fortune is more popular.
If Eve is the senses, then, her insistence that the serpent's apparel (gearwon/clothing) proves that he is an angel just demonstrates how confused her eyesight and the senses can become. Adam should have known to trust his own "view" of the serpent and not to accept Eve's "false vision."
OK. Allegory #1 completed. But how is it that the senses can become so confused and actually think they are seeing something different from what is there? Language, of course. Language shapes reality and in particular our perception of reality.
But how does that function of language show up in the allegory of the Fall and of the poem? Well the second allegorical reading presented in the commentaries is that Satan represents heresy, and that the story of the Fall is about the human tendency to stray away from God and be misled by false doctrine. The early church spent a good deal of its time all the way up to the 14th century solidifying its doctrine and trying to stamp out heresies of various kinds. It seems as if Genesis B might be reflecting those concerns.
Now, heresy is spread by speaking and preaching and writing, right? It is spread by the use of language and rhetoric, and it is through the use of language and rhetoric here that Satan persuades Eve to stray from God's will, thinking all the time that she is really fulfilling God's will. So Satan in Genesis B is analogous to a heretical preacher trying to mislead the flock of the Church. And Genesis B can be seen to be about the dangers of listening to heresy.
Anyway, that's one way to read the poem, but you can also read it as an interesting drama of comitatic loyalty and tension between a husband and a wife, as a study of women's roles in the period, or as an example of what happens when the comitatic thane is distanced physically from his hlaford and needs to rely on messengers for communication. Notice, for example, how Satan uses Adam's and Eve's comitatic loyalty to turn them AWAY from their Lord. Compare this treatment of loyalty to that in "The Battle of Maldon" and "The Dream of the Rood."
And notice that this wonderful poem is not just allegory, but a vivid and lifelike characterization of Satan, Adam, and Eve. The language is also beautiful and you should be able to find some excellent poetic and rhetorical techniques to appreciate. And pay attention to the instances when we hear the narrator's voice commenting on the action. What is his attitude towards the events of the poem? How does he judge Eve and Adam? Where does he place the blame for their fall?
There is so much to enjoy and think about in this poem that one reading really can’t do it justice. Hopefully you will go back and reread it several times as you are exploring the wonderful world of Anglo-Saxon poetry.
From The Junius Manuscript, Genesis, ll.235-85
". . .but make use, you two, of all those others; leave alone that one tree. 235
Guard, both of you, against that fruit. There will not be for you any lack of desired things."
They bowed their heads, then, to the Heaven-King,
eagerly together and said all thanks
for the knowledge and those laws. He allowed them to live in that land,
wafted himself, then, to heaven the Holy Lord, 240
strong-minded King. The work of his hands stood
together on the strand. They did not know anything of sorrow
to mourn about, only that they the will of God
should always obey. They were dear to God
as long as they were willing to hold to his holy word. 245
The All-wielder had of angel-kind
through handiwork, Holy Lord,
ten types trimmed; them he trusted well,
knew that they his rule were designed to follow,
to work his will, because he gave them wit 250
and with his hands shaped them, Holy Lord.
He had set them up so blessedly. One in particular had he created so shining
so mighty in his thinking; he let him wield so much power,
highest next to Him in Heaven-Kingdom. He had him so brightly created,
so winsome were his ways in heaven, that came to him from the Lord's company 255
that he was like the light of the stars. He should have loved the work of the Lord.
he should have held dear to himself his joys in heaven and should have thanked his Lord
for those delights that He shared with him in that light; then would He have permitted
him for a long time to wield power.
But he turned himself to a terrible thing; he began to heave up trouble against Him,
against that highest Heaven's Ruler, who sits on the saintly throne. 260
Dear was he to Our Lord; yet God might not be deluded
that his angel began to become over-spirited.
raised himself up against his
boast-words began. He did not wish to serve God;
he said that his body was light and shining, 265
bright-white and hue-luminous. Nor might he find in his mind
that he owed God the duty of an inferior,
to serve as a retainer. He thought to himself
that he had more strategy and strength
than the Holy God could have 270
in his followers. Dangerous words spoke
this angel in his adrenaline rush. He thought about how, through his own efforts,
he a strong-built throne could establish
higher in Heaven. He said that his mind spanned so far
that he, west and north, was beginning to work, 275
trimming timbers. He said that he thought it quite doubtful
that he would become the retainer of God.
"What, will I gain?" said he. "There is no need for me
to have a leader. I may with my own hands a multitude of
wonders work. I have great capacity 280
to adorn a God-like throne,
more impressive in Heaven. Why shall I follow in the wake of His protection?
shove at Him such subservience? I may be God as well as He.
Strong supporters stand beside me, who will not betray me in the strife,
hard-minded companions. They have crowned me as their superior, 285
the renowned ring-men; with such may one take counsel,
seize the prize with a standing army like this. They are my eager friends,
loyal to death in their forged intentions. I may become their high-king,
rule in this kingdom. I think it so right for me,
that I bother to flatter not a whit more 290
God for the sake of any good. Nor will I long be his retainer."
When the Omnipotent heard all--
that his angel began in his great adrenaline rush
to rise up against his leader and to speak haughty words
dolt-like, feuding against his Lord, He ordered that deed atoned for, 295
the consequences of that striving to be dealt out, and that he have his punishment,
the most misery of all. So will befall each person
who against his or her ruler generates strife
with wickedness against that Sublime Lord. Then was the Mighty One moved to wrath.
The highest Heaven's Ruler traveled down from that high throne. 300
Hate he had won from his leader. Of God's loyalty he was bereft.
He had become an enemy to God in his mind. Therefore he should seek the pit
of hard hell-punishments because he strove against Heaven's Ruler.
God banished him then from His protection and warped him down to Hell,
into those deep dales where he morphed into a devil, 305
the fiend with all his companions. They fell, then, out of Heaven
for as long as three nights and days,
those angels, from Heaven into Hell, and them all the Lord
re-shaped into devils. Because they His deed and word
would not carry out, therefore he, the Almighty God 310
sent them into a worse life, under the earth, deep beneath,
triumph-less, into that dark and dreary Hell.
There they experience, in evenings immoderately long,
every one of the fiends, fire enough.
Then comes, in the dawn, an eastern wind, 315
frost fiercely cold. Feast-fire or spear-frost,
some hard hardship they must endure.
The One created it for their punishment (Their world was transformed)--
a horrid existence--- filled Hell
with those traitors. The angels held forthrightly 320
the heights of Heaven, that before were faithful in their allegiance to God.
The others, now fiends, lay in that fire, that before had so many
hot war-flames in the midst of Hell,
sword-fiery and hot-breathed flames, similarly also that bitter smoke, 325
choking and gloomy, because they the thegnship
of God had cut from their hearts. Them their folly betrayed,
the swelled heads of those angels; they did not wish their All-King's
word to honor. They had punishment enough,
were then thrown in fire to the bottom 330
of that hot Hell, through faithlessness
and through great excess sought another land,
that was light-less though full of flames,
a terrible fiery seeing. The fiends saw
that they had wrenched themselves into unnumbered punishments 335
through their haughtiness and through the might of God
and through recklessness, most of all.
Then spoke that berserker king, he who was before the most shining of angels,
brightest in Heaven and beloved of his Leader,
dear to the Lord, until he turned to folly 340
thinking because of his desires that he could become God Himself,
mightily depraved in mind. That evil transforms him within,
sends him down to that netherbed, and shapes for him afterwards a name.
The Highest ordered that he should be called
Satan afterwards. He ordered him to over-see 345
that dark Hell, nor ever to strive against God.
Satan mixed words, spoke desperately,
he that should hold Hell forthrightly,
the caretaker of that ground. He was, before, God's angel
radiant in Heaven, until he overextended his spirit 350
and through his recklessness most of all,
so that he refused to respect the duty of
God's people. It enraged him inside
his mind around his heart just as heat surrounded him outside,
wrathlike punishment. He then spoke words: 355
"Is this any angel's place, so excessively unlike
that other home that we before knew,
high in Heaven's-Land, that to me my leader gave,
though we might not claim it, because of that all-creator,
or possess our kingdom? He did not give us our rights 360
in having thrown us into the fire—pit,
titling hell to us, depriving us of heaven-land;
he has ruled that Heaven with humans
be settled. That to me is the greatest misery,
that Adam shall, he that was made from dirt, 365
hold my strong-bodied throne,
live in pleasures, and we suffer this punishment,
harm in this hell. Alas! Had I my hands' power
and might one time escape out,
be out for one winter-time, then I with this band. . . 370
But iron-bands lie around me.
Ropes of chain ride me. I am kingdom-less;
so hard have hell weeds me
fast enveloped. Here is much fire,
above and below. I have never seen 375
a more loathsome landscape. The Flames are never assuaged,
hot throughout Hell. Me have rings spanned;
savage cords restrict my movements.
My striding is emasculated; fettered are my feet,
my hands immobilized. These hell-doors are 380
made to stay shut, so that I may never go
from this bondage. Around me lie
hard irons beaten with heat,
great bars. With these God has me
imprisoned in this dwelling, so I know that he understands my mind; 385
and that he knows also, the Lord of all people,
that we should to Adam work evil
around that heaven-land, had I any power of my hands.
But now we suffer abuse in hell, (those are darkness and burning),
grim and groundless. God Himself has 390
swept us into these dark mists. Because he may not convict us of any crime,
prove that we against him in that land accomplished any injury, he has tonsured the light for us,
cast us down into the greatest of all punishments. Nor may we achieve revenge for this,
compensate him with any retaliation for tonsuring our light.
He has now marked out one middle-earth, where he has created humans 395
after his own likeness. With them, he will afterwards populate
the land of heaven with pure souls. We should avidly think upon this—
how we in Adam, if we ever may,
and in his some of his posterity, too, enclose terror,
deprive him there of those joys of theirs, if we might think of anything. 400
I desire no longer that light that he thinks him long to enjoy,
those joys, with his angel-knowledge. Nor may we overcome the fire,
or weaken the resolution of mighty God. Let us go wrench it away from the children of men,
that Heaven-land, now that we cannot have it-- make it so that they betray their duty,
that they undo what God with his word ordered. Then he will become wrathful in spirit, 405
exile them from his loyal band. Then shall they seek this Hell
and these grim grounds. Then will we have them as our servants
those progeny, suffering in this fast prison. Begin now to think about that campaign!
If I ever before gave any thegn
treasures, when we in that good kingdom 410
were blessedly seated and had autonomy in our assembly,
then he never at a better time might compensate me,
repay my gifts. If any one of my thegns
moreover, desires to give his consent,
he up from here might 415
come through these gates, and have craft within him
so that he with feather-limbs might fly,
wind through the firmament to where stand, created,
Adam and Eve in Earth-kingdom
bewound with joys, while we be warped hither 420
in this deep dale. Now they are to the Lord
worth much, and they might gain that inheritance
that we should have in Heaven-land,
our kingdom, by right. That bequest is granted
to human kind. That is in my mind so distressing, 425
harrowing to my spirit, that they heaven-kingdom
should gain as inheritance. If any of you might
achieve with cleverness that they the word of God's
law abandon, they will immediately become hateful to Him.
If they break his commandments, then He will become irritated with them. 430
Their joys afterwards will transform and turn into a spear-sharp punishment,
some hard harm's-shearing. Think of this, all of you,
how you might betray them! Afterwards, I might comfortably rest
in these chains, if he that kingdom loses.
He who makes that happen, to him will be rewards prepared 435
ever after, that we here in might,
in this fire, struggle to bring forth.
He will sit idle right by myself, whoever comes to say
into this hot Hell, that they have held contemptible
the words, deeds, and laws of the Heaven-King. 440
One began to prepare himself then for enmity to God,
eager in his disguise, (He had a deceitful mind),
he set helmet on head and then bound it full hard.
Spanned with buckles, he knew many speeches 445
of false words. He wound his way up from there,
turned himself out through the Hell-doors, (He was in a determined mood).
Light in air but with a loathly-turned mind,
he struck that fire in two, through the craft of the fiends.
He wished darkly the retainers of the Lord, 450
with crime-deeds, people, to undo,
mis-lead and mis-teach, so that they would become hateful to God.
He then fared forth through fiend's craft
until he Adam found, on Earth-land,
hand-shaped of God, prepared, 455
worked to be wise, and his wife with him,
the fairest of women, knowing full many
of God's bounties which to them as his followers
the Creator of humankind, had granted Himself.
And they between two trees stood 460
that were laden about with fruit,
Clothed with a crop, as them the good Ruler,
high Heaven-king, set with his hands
so that there the child of man must choose
between good and evil, each man, 465
between joy and woe. These fruits were not alike!
One was so joy-like, brilliant and shining,
grace-filled and lithesome-- that was the tree of life.
He must in eternity after live,
prospering in the world, who tasted of that fruit. 470
Because of that fruit, age after that would never harm him,
nor heavy disease, but he must continually be
long in pleasure and possess his life
in fealty to heaven's king here in the world,
to have to him, as a covenant, honor decreed 475
in that high heaven, when he went from here.
Then was the other entirely dark,
dim and smoky. That was the tree of death.
It bears many bitter things. One should recognize them both,
each person, of evil and good 480
woven together in this world. He will in his heart ever
with sweat and with sorrow afterwards live
who tasted the fruit of that tree.
Age would bereave him of strength and valiant deeds,
of joys and of lordship, and Death is allotted him. 485
For a short while only he enjoys his life,
then seeks that land darkest in fire,
to serve the fiends there where there is the greatest vileness
for people for much longer time. All that he knew, the hated one,
dark messenger of the devil who strove against the Lord. 490
He cast himself into a worm's body and wound himself around
that death-tree, through demon's craft.
He took there its fruit and made his way afterwards
there where he knew to be the handiwork of Heaven's King.
He began then the questioning with his opening words, 495
the hateful one, with lying: "Long you for anything,
Adam, from God? I am on his errand hither
traveled from far. Nor was it long ago
that I sat by God Himself. Then he ordered me to go on this journey
to bid you to eat this fruit. He said that your ability and wisdom 500
and security of mind would increase
and your body-house greatly lighten,
your shape become more shining. He said that for you no need of treasure
would there be in the world. Now you have joys
earned by your loyalty, given from Heaven's King. 505
You have served your superior with thanks.
You have deeds that are secretly known by the Lord. I heard him your works and word
praise in His glory and speak about your life.
With your wonted devotion I know you will carry out the orders that, into this land, hither,
his messenger brings. In the world are broad, 510
green gardens and God sits
the all-wielder, above. He did not want the difficulty
of going on this journey Himself,
the Lord of men, but he sent his subordinate 515
to speak to you. Now he orders you with declarations
to be crafty. Eagerly carry out
his desire. Take you this fruit in hand.
Bite it and taste. Then your mind will widen,
your form be augmented. The good ruler sends to you, 520
your superior, this help from heaven's kingdom."
Adam spoke where he stood on the earth,
self-fated of men: "When I the Victory-Lord,
Mighty God, heard speak,
in a stronger voice, He ordered me standing here 525
to hold to His decree and granted me this newly-born
white-shining wife and ordered me to be wary
that I not be deluded, concerning this death's tree,
betrayed too greatly. He said that that dark Hell
should hold one who by his heart anything 530
of hate would perform. I know not whether you with lying come
with a hidden agenda or whether you are the Lord's
messenger from heaven. Listen! I know nothing about your business
nor your words or knowledge desire to understand more,
nor of your supposed journey. I know what He Himself bid, 535
our Protector, when I saw Him nearest to me:
he ordered me to revere his word and hold to His will,
to listen to his law. You are not like
any of his angels that I ever saw,
nor do you show me any token 540
that He sends to me as troth,
my Leader in loyalty. Therefore I cannot hear you,
but you must fare forth. I hold myself fast in faith
up to that almighty God that me with his arms wrought,
here with his hands. He may grant to me from his high kingdom 545
gifts with all good things without sending a subordinate."
He slunk away then, wrathful, where he saw that woman,
Eve, standing on the earth-land,
shaped shiningly. He said that the greatest injuries
on all her offspring ever afterwards 550
would devolve in the world: "I know that at you the good Ruler
will grow angry when I this message to him
myself relate, that when I from my journey came,
over a long way, yet I accomplished not well
that errand that he hither from the east 555
on this journey sent. Now shall He himself come
in answer to you. His errand
could not be carried by his messenger. Because of that I know that he will be irritated with you,
mighty in mood. If you, however, wish,
willing wife, to obey my words, 560
you might then his good counsel, his advice consider.
Ponder in your breast that you might from both you two
ward off punishment, as I you instruct.
Eat this fruit! Then your eyes will become so light
that you might most widely over all the world 565
see afterwards, even the throne
of your Leader Himself, and have his devotion forthrightly.
You might, then, Adam direct afterwards,
if you have his affection and he your words trusts.
If you tell him truly what you yourself have 570
in your heart, that you the bidding of God,
the truth, carry out, he then the hate-strife
the only present evil, shall relinquish
from his breast-chest, as both we two to him
successfully speak. Envelope him eagerly 575
so that he carries out your law, lest the hatred to God
Ruler of you both, become a habit.
If you accomplish that enterprise, most shining of women,
I will hide from your Leader those many baleful words that
Adam to me spoke, slothful words. 580
He called me untrustworthy, said that I yearned to harm him,
a hostile messenger, was not God's angel.
But I know so well all the state of the angels,
the high vault of Heaven; it wasn't that long a while
that I eagerly served God 585
loyal spirit, my
the Lord Himself; nor am I like a devil."
So he led her with lying and enticed with deceit
the women into that un-right, until within her began
to well up the worm's thought, (God had to her the weaker spirit 590
the Creator, allotted), so that she began in her belief
to follow after that teaching; therefore she from that hated one took
against the word of the Lord, the death tree's
pain-working fruit. Never was a worse deed
laid out by humans! It is a great wonder 595
that the everlasting God ever would
suffer, the Lord, that a thane
should be misled by so much lying that came in the shape of teaching.
She then ate that produce, broke the all-wielder's
word and will. Then might she widely see, 600
through the gift of the enemy who betrayed her with lies,
cunningly deluded, that came to her criminally,
so that to her seemed brighter heaven and earth,
and all this world more brilliant, and God's work
great and mighty, though she saw it not 605
through human thought, but the thief eagerly
enveloped the soul, he who before gave that vision,
that she so widely might see
over Heaven-land. Then the ill-spoken one said,
through fiendship, (he taught nothing at all of any profit), 610
"You might now see for yourself, as I have no need to tell you,
Eve the good, that to you the world is not the same
in brightness and form, since you trusted my words,
listened to my lore. Now shines the light far.
Gladness begins that I brought from God, 615
brightness from Heaven. Now you might feel it.
Tell Adam what vision you have
through the craft of my cunning. If yet through pure conduct
he listens to my lore, then I will give him enough of that light
with which I have so adorned you with goodness. 620
Nor will I remember his hate-speeches, that his honor not be for him
too much lessened by those many hateful things he said to me.
Likewise shall his offspring live afterwards:
when they act out of loathing, they shall earn love,
Then went to Adam the most shining of women,
of wives most bright that ever entered the world,
because she was the handiwork of the Heaven-King,
although she then deceitfully was undone,
misled with lying, so that she confused 630
evil for good Through that wraith's thought,
through that devil's treachery let go of glory,
for a great while. There will be to that person great woe
that does not warn himself against evil when he has the chance! 635
Some she bore in her hands, some lay at her heart,
the apple unblessed, that before her forbid
the Lord of Lords, that produce of the death tree.
And that word the Elder of Wonders spoke
so that humankind would not need great death, 640
those thegns, suffer, but he to each servant
offered Heaven-land, the Holy Lord,
widespread joys, if they that one fruit
would forgo, which that evil tree
bore on its boughs, filled with bitterness. 645
That was death's tree that them the Lord forbid.
He deceived her then with lying, he who was hateful to God,
abhorrent to the Heaven-King, both Eve's spirit and
the woman's weak thought, so that she began to trust his words,
listen to his lore, and took on faith 650
that he that business from God had brought
that he to her so warily had said with words,
showed her a token and promised truth,
his honest intent. Then she to her leader spoke:
"Adam, my dear, this crop is so sweet, 655
blithe in my breast, and this shining messenger,
God's good angel, I can see by his apparel
that he is the errand-man of our Leader,
Heaven-King's man. His loyalty is better for us
to earn than his enmity. 660
If you him today anything of insult spoke,
he forgives it you, if you him subservience
will offer. What? Shall you so hatefully strive
against your Leader's herald? We two need his support;
he may intercede for us to the All-Ruler, 665
to Heaven-King. I may see from here
where he Himself sits (that is south and east),
bewound with joys, He Who the world created;
I see his angels swirling around him
with feather-bodies, greatest of all folk, 670
a prosperous company. How might to me such perception be given
if it immediately God did not send,
Heaven's Ruler? I can hear hymns
and see so widely over all the world
over this broad creation. I may sweet songs 675
Hear in heaven. Light transforms my spirit,
without and within, since I ate that produce.
Now have I it here in my hands, God's very own;
I give it to you avidly. I believe that it comes from God,
brought by his bidding, that to me the herald conveyed 680
with concerned words. It is like nothing
else on earth, except as this messenger says,
that it came immediately from God."
She spoke thickly to him and imprisoned him all day
in that dark deed so that they their Lord's 685
will broke. The enemy messenger stood near,
led them on with lust and pressured them with wiles,
pursued them to danger; the fiend was full near
that on that dangerous mission had come
over a long way. He was determined the people 690
into that great death, humans to plunge,
mis-taught and misled, so that they God's joys,
the Almighty's gift, once relinquish,
the ownership of Heaven-land. What! That hell-thief
new well that they God's ire 695
should have, and hell-torment.
That nasty strife, of necessity they took
as soon as God's bidding they had disobeyed.
She misled him with lying words
into that bad decision, the shining woman, 700
the brightest of wives, so that she spoke his desires,
was a help to him, God's handiwork,
She spoke then to Adam, the most shining of women,
full thickly, until that thegn began 705
to warp his spirit, so that he that promise trusted
that to him that woman said with words.
She did it, though, out of loyal intention, did not know that there harms so many,
doom-fires, would pursue
human kind, because she absorbed in her soul 710
what she from that horrid herald heard as lessons
But through that she her duty to Heaven-King
worked with those words. That woman that man such
tokens showed and troths promised,
until Adam in his breast 715
warped his spirit and his heart began
to wend to her will. He from that wife took
Hell and death-journey, though it was not bidden him to do so,
but it the name of "fruit" should possess.
It was however a death's dream and devil's spew, 720
Hell and death-journey and loss of companions,
death of humankind, that they took as nourishment,
a pestilent produce. So it came into him,
touched at his heart. Laughed then and pranced
that despicable, bitter messenger, said thanks to both their 725
Leader: "Now have I your loyalty
made certain and fulfilled your pleasure
for full many a day. Men are misled,
Adam and Eve. To them is sure rejection
by Creation's Ruler now they his commandment, 730
his teaching, unlearn. Therefore they must not hold
Heaven-land for long, but they to Hell shall go,
on that dim journey. So you no longer envy of him need
bear in your breast, where you lie bound,
mourning in mind because here humans inhabit 735
that high heaven, while we, now, injuries,
punishment-work, endure, and a smoky land.
And through your great spirit, many are undone,
cast out from the high-built Heaven-land,
from the godlike gardens. God grew angry at us 740
because we would not to him in Heaven's-land
bow our heads to the Holy Lord
in subservience. But it was not appealing to us
that we to him, in thegnship, would act as his servants.
Therefore to us the Ruler turned wrathful in mood, 745
hard of heart, and drove us into Hell,
into that most fire-filled land
and with his hands afterwards in Heaven-kingdom
our right, the heaven's-stool, and that land gave out
to human kind. May your mood brighten, 750
blithe in breast, because here are both two of them undone,
for the child of men shall from Heaven-land,
a people misled, and into that flame, to you
come into the heat. And your injury is made good,
sorrow etched into their minds. So whatever we here suffer in misery, 755
it is now to Adam all repayed
hate of his
humans overwhelmed by death. Therefore is my mind healed,
my spirit roomy around my heart. All injuries to us are completely avenged,
the horrors that we long have suffered. Now will I afterwards approach that flame, 760
Satan I will seek there; he is in that dismal hell
held, spanned with rings." He wove himself then down below,
the most bitter envoy. He should those broad flames
seek, go laughing into Hell. They sorrowed, both the two,
Adam and Eve, and between them often 765
Groan-words went. They dreaded God's,
Their Leader's, hate, the enmity of Heaven-king
Greatly oppressed them; they had disinherited themselves,
His word perverted. That wife groaned,
held her rueful head, (She had the protection of God's 770
teaching let go). when she that light saw
departing elsewhere that to her through un-truth
as token was shown, she who counseled him to that wrong
so that they enmity in Hell should have
with uncounted shames. For that to him spirit-sorrow 775
Burned in breast. For a while they fell to prayer
Sin-hued together, and the Victory Lord
Greeted as good and named God,
Heaven's Ruler, and asked Him
that they his harm-shearing might have, 780
eagerly repay what they had of God's
bidding broken. Bare they saw
their corpses; they had not yet in that land
set dwellings, nor did they know anything
of the sorrow of work, but they well might 785
live on that land if they would God's teaching
fulfill forthwith. Then they spoke many
sorrow-words together, sin-hued, the two of them.
Adam mixed words and to Eve spoke:
"What! You, Eve, have accomplished with evil 790
both of our exiles. See you now that smoky Hell,
greedy and hungry? Now you might the raging ones
hear from here. Not like Heaven-land
is that fire. But this is the best land
that we two through favor of our Father might have had 795
if you had not listened to that one who counseled this harm to us,
so that we two the Ruler's word abandoned,
Heaven-king's command. Now we two must, weeping,
Sorrow for this exile. Therefore he us both warned Himself
that we two our punishment should beware, 800
greatest of harms. Now hunger and thirst cut me,
bitter in my breast, from which both of us before
were protected for all time.
How shall we two now live if we must be in this land
when here wind comes, west or east, 805
south or north? Mist rolls up,
comes the hail shower pelting down from heaven.
Frost arrives with it; it is fiercely cold.
Sometimes from heaven heat shines,
The blinking-bright sun, and we two stand here naked, 810
Unprotected by cloth. There is nothing before us
as a shower-shade, nor any mortgage-payment
to secure meat, but towards us is mighty God,
The Ruler, wrath-minded. To whom shall we two turn now?
Now I may rue me that I begged Heaven's God, 815
the good Ruler, that he you here shape for me
from my limbs, now that you have me mis-taught
into my Leader's hate. So now I will rue
ever after that I with my eyes ever saw you."
Then spoke Eve afterwards, the most shining of women, 820
brightest of wives. She was God's creation,
though she then in devil's craft had been enveloped.
"You may reproach me for it, my friend Adam,
with your words. Nevertheless, it cannot hurt worse
in your mind, the sorrowing, than it does me in my heart." 825
Her then Adam answered,
"If I the Ruler's will knew,
what I for his harm's-shearing would have,
Never would you see one quicker, although Heaven's God ordered me
to walk on the sea, immediately hence 830
to fare on the flood. Never would be the torment so deep,
the swamp-stream so great that his courage doubted mine,
but I would go to ground, if I God's will
might accomplish. There is no pleasure for me in the world,
in any thegnship, now that I my High-king's allegiance 835
have destroyed so that I might not have it.
But us two thus naked must not, both together contend with madness. Let us go out of this grove
into the shelter of the forest." They turned themselves then, both the two,
restraining their groaning in that green grove. 840
They sat apart from each other, awaited the ruling against themselves
of Heaven's-king that they then might not have
what before he bestowed on them, Almighty God.
Then they their corpses bedecked with leaves,
covered themselves by means of that grove; they had no cloth. 845
But they fell to prayer, both two together,
every morning begged the Almighty
that he would not forget them, God Almighty,
and would guide them to him, to that good Ruler,
teaching how they in that understanding might live. 850
 Susan Burchmore, "Traditional Exegesis and the Question of Guilt in the Old English Genesis B." Traditio XLI (1985): 117-124.