O Adam! Formed of dust and breath divine, What many-hued inheritance is thine—
Thou godlike figure blackly robed in vice
With memory of verdant Paradise,
Traversing mottled Earth and sapphire Sea
And wondering at star and rock and tree—Thine is the gold that runs in mountain vein, Thine are the proud and reddened hands of Cain, Clutching rags of purple round thy limbs
And sounding in the dark for angel hymns.
O Adam! Tell me, what have been thy dreams Since fire barred thee from bright Heaven’s beams? Thou speak’st of gods, of monsters, and of things That dwell not in this world of slaving kings.
In hovel or in noble’s hall thy quest
To be thine own decree is but a jest—
For in thy tales thou seekest One to fill
The empty throne, the hero’s place, and still
In hours of darkness, waking in thy fear,
Thou call’st upon the Unknown God to hear.
O Adam! In the cruel toils of flight
Beneath the sun which burns upon thy night, Tormented by thine own unbending heart, Thy restless feet, the limits of thine art,
And by the lonely song which ever rings
An echo in thy soul of greater things,
Lift up thine head! Shake off the sweat of soil, The slings and darts, this weary mortal coil: The hour is come, and man no more may say That Eden’s lost and God has shut the way.
O Adam! All thy dreams have led to this;
Thy tales have not wholly groped amiss.
What flickered in thine unenlightened soul
Now blazes forth unshadowed, righteous, whole: The Son of God, the Son of Man, the Christ Anointed to redeem a world enticed
By siren’s song and serpent’s poisoned lie— O Adam, lift thy bloodied hands on high! Creation groans in fetters forged by thee; The Second Adam comes to set her free.
Come, Adam! Lift thine eyes and see the Ram That stopped the upraised arm of Abraham, The Promised Seed of weeping Eve’s travail, The Dying God of every ancient tale,
The Final Cause, the telos of the world, The Banner of Salvation now unfurled. Look upon his face, flint-hard and meek— Look upon it, Adam! Look and speak—
Is this not he in whom thy soul delights,
The source of all thy splintered shadow-lights?
O Adam, weep not at the wall in vain—
See the temple curtain torn in twain!
The Lamb once slain beneath the priestly knife Has slain thy sin and lives to give thee life! Leave Cain behind, heed not the cruel Fates; Come home to Eden, here in Zion’s gates; Bring all thy fears, thy bitter tears, thy shame And find them washed away in Jesus’ name; For, Adam, there is neither Jew nor Greek
But one Messiah here for all who seek.
Poem taken from the 2017 edition of Artos, the literary journal of Bethlehem College & Seminary students.