The Birth of Jealousy
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
With brooding mien and sultry eyes,
Outside the gates of Paradise
Eve sat, and fed the faggot flame
That lit the path whence Adam came.
(Strange are the workings of a woman’s mind.)
His giant shade preceded him,
Along the pathway green, and dim;
She heard his swift approaching tread,
But still she sat with drooping head.
(Dark are the jungles of unhappy thought.)
He kissed her mouth, and gazed within
Her troubled eyes; for since their sin,
His love had grown a thousand fold.
But Eve drew back; her face was cold.
(Oh, who can read the cipher of a soul.)
‘Now art thou mourning still, sweet wife?’
Spake Adam tenderly, ‘the life
Of our lost Eden? Why, in thee
All Paradise remains for me.’
(Deep, deep the currents in a strong man’s heart.)
Thus Eve: ‘Nay, not lost Eden’s bliss
I mourn; for heavier woe than this
Wears on me with one thought accursed.
In Adam’s life I am not first.
(O woman’s mind! what hells are fashioned there.)
‘The serpent whispered Lilith’s name:
(’Twas thus he drove me to my shame)
Pluck yonder fruit, he said, and know,
How Adam loved her, long ago.
(Fools, fools, who wander searching after pain.)
‘I ate; and like an ancient scroll,
I saw that other life unroll;
I saw thee, Adam, far from here
With Lilith on a wondrous sphere.
(Bold, bold, the daring of a jealous heart.)
‘Nay, tell me not I dreamed it all;
Last night in sleep thou didst let fall
Her name in tenderness; I bowed
My stricken head and cried aloud.
(Vast, vast the torment of a self-made woe.)
‘And it was then, and not before,
That Eden shut and barred its door.
Alone in God’s great world I seemed,
Whilst thou of thy lost Lilith dreamed.
(Oh, who can measure such wide loneliness.)
‘Now every little breeze that sings,
Sighs Lilith, like thy whisperings.
Oh, where can sorrow hide its face,
When Lilith, Lilith, fills all space?’
(And Adam in the darkness spake no word.