Paradise. Centre stage the Trees of Knowledge and Eternal Life. Enter ADAM and EVE, surrounded by various animals, tame and trusting. Through the open gates of Heaven shines the light of glory. Soft harmonies of the ANGELIC HOST are heard. Bright, blazing sunshine.

Ah Life, how sweet to be alive!

The lord and master of the world!

To feel that they are fending for us,
That all we need to do is show Him
How bounden we are to His favour.

To lean on others is your law, I see.
I’m thirsty, Eve. Just look how temptingly
That fruit leers down at us.

I’ll pluck it with my hand.

Beware! beware! The whole wide world is yours
But those two trees you must shun.
An alien spirit guards their tender fruit,
And those who taste it find their life undone.
Look there instead - wine ripening in clusters
And temperate shadows offering relief
From the high parching brilliance of noon.

A strange command. How stern it seems.

Why are those two trees more lovely?
Why are they the ones forbidden?

Why is sky blue or grass green?
That’s just their way. Let’s heed the voice.
Come along, Eve, follow me.
They settle in an arbour

Lay your head against my breast,
I’ll gently fan you while you rest.
A violent gust of wind. LUCIFER appears among the leaves

What’s that? I’ve heard nothing like it.
I feel as if some foreign force
Had broken bounds.

      I tremble, Adam.
And heaven too has fallen silent.

I hear it still within your breast.

When clouds obscure the eye of heaven
I see it still within your eyes,
And where else should I hope to find it,
Than in you whose deep desire
Begat my birth. You are the sun
Who at his peak pines all alone
And paints his image on the water
Flirting, flushed, with his companion
Who in his bounty fast forgets
That she is but the palest fire,
A mere reflection who must fade
To nought at night with his own shade.

Hush now, Eve, you will abash me.
What is a voice if no one hears it?
A beam without its bead of colour?
What would I be were you absent?
My life unfolds in you, a flower,
My voice resounds in you, an echo.
How learn to love myself without you?

Why should I listen to these soft endearments?
I’ll turn away in case I am dishonoured;
My cold and calculating intellect
Might fall to envying such childlike spirits.
A little bird begins to sing on a nearby branch

O Adam, can you understand
This little lover’s clownish lisping?

I’ve heard the twittering of waters.
Their song was similar to his.

What miracle, what harmony,
So many words with but one meaning!

Why delay? Now rouse yourself.
Ruin I vowed, they must be ruined.
And yet again I hesitate:
Will knowledge be the way to woo them
Or ambition to assault them,
These whom tender feelings tend
And harbour like a sacred shrine
To shield their hearts and raise their spirits
Each time they fall? But why be faint
When courage carries all before it!
Another gust of wind. LUCIFER appears before the terrified pair. The sky darkens. LUCIFER laughs
Why stare?
To EVE, who is about to flee
      Ah lovely lady, wait!
A moment I beg to marvel at you.
EVE stops and slowly plucks up courage
A pretty pattern of perfections.
Frightened, Adam?

Of you, low creature?

A father fit to sire proud men.
Greetings to you, brother spirit!

Who are you, tell me?
From worlds below ours or above?

Precisely as you please, to us
There is no difference in degree.

I did not know that other men could be.

But there is so much more you do not know
And never will. Do you suppose
The Ancient in simplicity
Created you from dust that you
Might share His world? You give Him praise:
He keeps you well supplied in turn.
He says to you, Take this, Leave that,
And tends and leads you like a sheep;
You have no need for wit at all.

For wit? Do I not have my wits?
Do I not feel the blessed daylight,
The sweet delight of being alive,
The endless goodness of my God
Who placed me here as the world’s prince?

The tiny maggot, who consumes
The fruit before you, thinks the same,
As does the eagle seizing on his prey.
What makes you nobler then than they?
One common spark burns in you all,
The stirring of one universal power;
Like individual ripples in a brook
You leap to light, then swiftly sink
Deep in your swart and common bed.
One thing only, the power of thought,
Which languishes in you, unwitting,
Might help you grow to proper manhood,
To trust in your own strength, to choose
Between the evil and the good,
To take charge of your destiny,
And free you from God’s charity.
You might prefer to go on breeding
Like any worm in a warm dungheap,
Lapped within your feeble limits,
And waste your life in ignorance.
A satisfying faith is nice and neat:
It’s nobler but harder to stand on your own feet.

How you speak! it makes my head spin.

These beautiful new things you say inspire me.

But knowledge alone is not enough;
For if it is to bear fruit in great deeds,
Eternal life is something else you need.
What can you do with this mere thimbleful?
These two trees here will make you lords of all,
The very two forbidden you
By God who first created you,
Taste this and you will equal God in wisdom,
Taste that, eternal youth and grace are yours.

How mean is our Master, after all!

But what if you deceive us?
The heavens grow a little brighter

      Alas, poor world,
The ancient spirit of denial tempts you.

Adam, take heed!

      What is that voice again?

Only the wind shaking the branches.
You elements,
Lend aid, arise -
Will be your prize.-
A blast of wind. It grows darker
These two trees are mine!

      But who, then, are you?
To all appearances you’re just like us.

See there, the eagle circling in the clouds;
And there the mole blindly turning the soil-
Each is bound by its own horizon.
The world of spirits lies beyond your sight,
And man appears to you the very peak
Of God’s creation. Dogs seem so to dogs,
They favour you with their companionship.
But just as you despise the dog
And, like a god, control his fate
With here a curse and there a word of praise,
So we, proud natives of the realm
Of pure spirit, look down on you.

And you are one of these pure spirits?

Indeed I am, the mightiest of the mighty,
Who stood beside the throne of God
And had a portion of his great effulgence.

Then why did you not stay in the bright heavens,
Why descend into this world of dust?

I grew tired of second place,
Of life’s unchanging ordered pace,
The piping choirs, their childish song
Of praise without a word of wrong.
I long for conflict and for strife
To bring new potent worlds to life
Where souls might grow in probity,
Where some brave souls might follow me.

But God said He would punish us
If we should stray from our appointed path.

Why should he punish us? If He has set
The path we are to follow, surely He
Will have arranged that we can choose no other.
Why leave us standing above the deep,
Dizzy and abandoned to our doom?
Or if sin too is part of His design
As storms are of hot days,
Why blame the roll of thunder more
Than heat which gives us life?

I see we have our first philosopher.
You are the first of many, my fair sister,
Who’ll argue the same point a million ways.
A few of them will end their days in bedlam.
Others stop short, but none will find a refuge.
Do put aside this futile speculation,
There are so many fine shades of opinion
On every issue that if you try them all
You end up knowing less than when you started
Without a hope of reaching a conclusion.
Contemplation means the death of action.

In that case I will pluck the fruit.

The Lord has put His curse on them.
LUCIFER laughs
      But pluck.
Whatever happens to us, let it happen.
Let us be wise, like God.
First EVE, then ADAM taste of the apple

      Above all
Eternally young.

This way, this way, quickly.
Here is the Tree of Eternal Life,
Now hurry!
He pulls them toward the other tree, but a CHERUB with a flaming sword bars their way

Back with you, transgressors, back!

Adam, Adam, you have abandoned me
So I abandon you. Go, try your strength.

We’re finished.

You are discouraged?

      Not at all.
That shudder was my first awakening.
We’re going, Eve. No matter where, Away!
This place already feels barren and strange.

Ah, weep for them, Angelic Host,
The lie prevails - the earth is lost.