His Greatest Seal: Poems by the Rev. Francis Quintin-Arthur

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Pre- and Post-Lapsarian Eden

The Right Choice
Serpentine Ways
Transformation of the Mind
From Mansion to Cubicle
End Justifies Means?
Cause and Effect
Retreat to Fool’s Paradise
Mere Fruit?

The Right Choice

Blooming hibiscuses of Eden,
Atrium whose beauty can’t e’en be imagined,
Grown by superhuman hands,
What is it that has come to fruition
In the center of your garden,
And by flowers of the field surrounded?

Yonder fruit, how tantalizing!
Whence from, so polished?
So shiny I am blinking as I come to you.
But aren’t you to be ignored?
Yet you beckon me.
I pause in contemplation.
To look so delicious!
     so comestible!
O mastication! Where are you?
I question possible internal metamorphosis—
So chance! Do I dare?
Chance divine decree?
Nolite id tangere!
Eyes, do you still see?
Yes, for you are wide awake.
And, ears, are you all ears?
Listening for the Proprietor’s footsteps?
Watering mouth,
Instructing feet to motion toward quest
By aid of eyes,
     indeed, entire body—
     whom do we kid?
     the id-propelled body
     but nicely made
     in His own image?
Reluctant willing hands stretch
And I hold you, Fruit.
     Oh, ripe!
But I let you go now
Because Heaven bids me so!

Serpentine Ways

Targeting Adam and Eve
     modus operandi
The end to be omniscient, almighty

But it’s your subterfuge
Causing amnesia in Eve
Infectious your memory gap—
Oh, Adam!

Apple-biting contest
     Serpentine umpire
Eating an apple for the mere purpose of being perfect
To be God the end

So, ears leant to the double-tongued fanged fiend
     They trespass

Three immediate questions, snake:
     Presenting fruits again?
     Why not masticate fruit yourself?
     No serpentine teeth?
Fang it!
Since end so enticing
And you seek that potency
The cause of your plight
So you entice all to join
Companionship in misery
—Nsamanfo wope hon dodow

     *     *     *

You brought that unto self, serpent
For He who made you
Wished no less for you
Than the bliss you shared
But, no, your pride was in way
You would rise above
He Who raised you there
And in realizing what slipped your mind—
     That He knows all so well—
     Why not apologize?

So you turn your backsliding way
In sinuous coils
And bid me come?
No, “Avaunt!
Quit my sight!”
Two bites are more than enough!

Transformation of the Mind

Hissing serpent so sliding
Beneath the bushes of Eden,
How cunning and ambivalent your words!
Unlike the man born blind in the same good book
Your eyes can see from under the plants
Luscious apple dangling on a tree,
So, stealthily, you wriggle there.
You tempt Eve, gentle and unassuming,
With a fruit of dubious magical nature.
So described, this leading lady—
     leading lady, I said, not cheerleader—
     but she’s beautiful enough to be one—
Commences to develop a taste
Extending a hand
The fruit to grab
And finds apple lodged between teeth.

O Eve, what goes through your mind
As you taste the apple juice?

O Transformation!
This fruit juice
Seeping through the veins of man
To the cornea of the eyes
Opening them
To find four leaves for covers.

From Mansion to Cubicle

Coming down from the jewel-decked roads
Of the cherubim and the seraphim—
How exquisite those paths should be
On which walked our progenitors

But I guess that
As happens sometimes
That which most important is
Is least valued

So for a bite of a mere fruit
Which they needed not anyway—
They had already had their fill

They always had all
For he who has God never wants

But they were hoodwinked
And by the time they were done winking
They realized with their four naked eyes
That they were divested of their hoods
Then sent into exile
And there they felt the strength of the elements

That being bad for health—spiritually and physically
Came down Love from heaven
To clothe us all again
With the cloak of forgiveness
Reconciling us with God
Then sent us the Holy Spirit
With His divine wisdom
So to finally trade our earthly cloaks
For the white robes of resurrection
We’re bringing unstained
To wear as we walk
The jewelled halls of Heaven

End Justifies Means?

In ambivalence
The serpent conveyed to Adam and Eve
The attainment of the end—
By eating a fruit—
A goal so glorious, all are invited to seek it,
Indeed commanded.

For serpent, then,
This goal, no matter how accomplished,
The method inconsequential is,
So the destroying tool of lie he grabs
—God’s ordinance shattered!
After counseling them to betray obedience
In quest of being just like Him
Who in His wisdom made the rule


Apple seeps through blood
Zeroes in on eyes
Eyes mostly affected
With full vision to come down from on high
Seeking the earth below
For residence and toil
Beginning of pilgrimage
Welcomed by elements

Needed are coverings
For Adam and Eve
Gentleman and lady
     of course
Should be vested in
For apple eating

Cause and Effect

Nurturing in the horticulture of Eden
An ordinary-looking fruit-bearing tree
Yet for peace to be left untouched.
The Master not unaware
Of illusoriness to be produced by such fruit
Did caution Adam and Eve—
For how was mere man to differentiate
This juice from that of all the fruitful trees?
So potent in capability
That in the twinkling of an eye
As the eyes widely open
They behold the juice’s potion
Causing unbeknownst to them
Outright stark nakedness.
But in relevance to this
What has a fruit to do with nudity?
But then what has a word to do with creation?

Retreat to Fool’s Paradise

End cannot be thus achieved
When idleness does exist
Between the means and the end,
For lying between these two
Is the pilgrimage with the cross
     the servile work to be done
     the forgiveness from the heart.
For he who does not work
Must have nothing to eat—
To eat is the goal,
To work is the means,
As none is to be crowned
Who badly the fight has fought—
His head would be bare.
And Adam’s head is bare,
For he works not at all
But tries to get a crown
By eating without working.

Mere Fruit?

The fruit in Eden, what kind was it?
Why is it so difficult for us to believe
That what the serpent caused
Adam and Eve to eat
Was an ordinary juicy fruit—
Maybe that which taken once a day
Keeps the doctor away?

Many centuries have long gone
And still some think that your fruit
Was no fruit for mere child.

But, Lord, why is this? Where is it from?
Is life not worth more than a fruit?
Why can’t we try to comprehend
That your word is good enough?
Grant me your Holy Spirit
To realize that you give the Word to me
In its simplicity
Because of the limited mind I have.

And not only for me is your holy script meant,
But for people all over the earth.
You speak so all can hear your voice
Distinctly everywhere.
So, Lord, teach me to be wise to understand
Your Word, however simple I might think it is.
Help me to attain humility,
For then as a believing child of yours,
With such childlike faith in you,
I’ll hang on to every word you say.

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