Rose Guingrich, psychology
Written for COLL-C103: Original Sin
Instructor: Prof. Constance Furey
Salle pomme rouge sur la terre
Started from the very bottom
Falling into my desires
The light at the end is too far
It promises goodness, but I
Settle for my earthly shadows
Mere reflections in murky pools
Drowning crisp clear skies with rainbows
La pomme ne peut pas bouger
I have dug my forsaken grave
The way out, forgotten by choice
I could ask for aid, but not yet
Content where I am, but yet not
The word strikes mon coeur faible
Is this heart wrongly directed?
Passion’s aim must be corrected
Ses mains la lavent avec douceur
Helpless on my own, oui, j’étais
Flailing and failing in my strife
Mais Vous me unifie avec l’amour
And showed me the source of all reflections
Given the strength, I can drop my last pear
And I am pulled outside, to crisp, clear air
La lumière that I could never grasp
Maintenant, oui, elle vit dedans
Belle pomme rouge au rayon
Sprinkled with water at first breath
I woke up smelling wild lilacs
What’s desire when nothing’s lack
Pears, good to eat, are soft and sweet
My veins are vines of blood red grapes
Nature, pure, sons of Adam, grown
Connected by limb, root, and bone
Meurtrit dessous des nouvelles pommes
I plant but nothing seems to grow
Mocked by beauty, raked by the thorns
Grapes in the sun, eaten or dried
Is this natural, is this pure
What, this shadow to which I bow
From foot to neck the vines they crawl
Deadly serpent beckons, catcalls
La nature fait brune la pomme
The leaves have all turned brown and black
Sinking into earth, it’s just dirt
The cycle continues, forever as
I fall, what comes next but the grim darkness
Eternity in a decaying grave
Summer, spring, winter, fall, what is the point
Of it all? Progress, why, if all trees fall?
Elle est l’engrais pour ses enfants
The first poem (Salle pomme rouge sur la terre) is from the point of view of Augustine in Confessions, and the second (Belle pomme rouge au rayon) is from the perspective of a naturalist.
The poems have two languages, French and English, to represent that both narrators have two opposing wills. One will is as foreign to the other just as French is to English, even though both wills come from the same source, as both languages are romantic languages derived from Latin. As Augustine grows closer to God as the poem progresses, one language is used in unison more frequently with the other language which represents the two wills becoming more incorporated (Vous me unifie – you unify me). For the naturalist, the two wills are in the same sense being in conflict with one another, making the narrator feel discord with her view of human nature. She questions her own beliefs and asks “What’s the point of it all?” The first septet of both poems represents how the two begin. Augustine is born into sin and bound by his earthly lusts and desires, and he settles for loving partial things instead of what is truly good, meaning he loves what God has made and not the Creator himself (shadows, reflections). The naturalist believes she, like nature, is born pure, and that the entire world is made for her and she is completely connected to all aspects of the earth. The second septet represents a transition period, in which Augustine realizes how contradictory his actions are, how he’s essentially his own obstacle to happiness, and that his passions are not directed toward God. The naturalist realizes that people turn from nature and purity because what is unnatural (ex. glorified alterations such as makeup and surgery) is considered beautiful, and there is pain and death and love for material things (the vines), and damaging things like lust (the deadly serpent). The final septet that is broken up into a couplet and a quintet represents an irrevocable upset and realization of how wrong they are, and what that means for the rest of their life, respectively. For Augustine, he is given the answer to the riddle that is himself, freedom from the bonds of sin, and the promise of clarity as to what his purpose is. For the naturalist, she realizes that she means nothing to nature, that she is just a small part of this large, unforgiving cycle that promises nothing but death. Progress for humanity is one benefit if nature is all there is, but if progress requires industrialization, then what will be left but concrete and buildings created by the destruction of nature?
While the naturalist is going backwards, Augustine is moving forward. She starts from goodness and beauty and ends in pain and confusion. He goes from being troubled and imperfect to having peace and feeling loved. Mother Nature lets her decay and eventually die (la nature fait brune la pomme – nature turns the apple brown), but Father God promises eternal life (la lumiere within, not far away – the light representing life).
They have similar problems, which both have to do with not loving the source but being distracted by the things of the world, but the way to get to their solution different. Augustine’s problem is misdirected love and loving the creation and not the creator. The naturalist’s view of the problem is that people are passively drifting away from nature as they grow, letting material things (vines) and lust and greed (deadly serpent) become more important and get in the way, and they actively destroy nature for progress (industrialization).
The way they get to their solutions differs. Augustine can move forward to attain the solution (since he began from the bottom, the only way to go from there is up). The naturalist must move backwards to attain the solution (since she started as being natural, beautiful, and pure but turned into something sad, helpless, and decaying). But at the same time, reverting back to nature still doesn’t promise anything more than an eternal grave.
Her solution also requires change on a global scale, to revert back to nature. Things will grow new from the dirt, but everyone seems to stray further and further from nature as they grow older, and the world itself is growing further from nature, destroying it and replacing it with material constructs. As new things grow, instead of it growing from pure soil they are growing out of increasingly unnatural soil as the world distances itself from the purest form. This is why she has to go backwards in order to attain the solution. Yes, things will grow anew, but in order to get things to grow back in their purest form, the world has to go back in time and regenerate the soil and delete the unnatural components that have seeped in and contaminated it.
The great difference that affects how they view the quality of their life on earth is that he realizes there’s something beyond the pain in the end and all she has to look forward to is a grave full of the dirt she thinks is significant.