Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Forbidden Fruit and Paradise

Two poems, again by Dickinson, which I think go well when read together:

Forbidden fruit a flavor has
That lawful orchards mocks;
How luscious lies the pea within
The pod that duty locks!

I love the lolling, alluring alliteration in these lines. The seductive sounds themselves become forbidden fruit. But I wonder how to interpret with the next poem (which also comes next in the volume of collected poems):

Heaven is what I cannot reach!
The apple on the tree,
Provided it do hopeless hang,
That "heaven" is, to me.

The color on the cruising cloud,
The interdicted ground
Behind the hill, the house behind,-
There paradise is found!

Reading this poem directly after the other, the forbidden fruit itself becomes the emblem of paradise rather than paradise lost. The apple is "heaven." But it remains just out of reach, as the first line announces, and hidden just out of sight--in the clouds, on interdicted ground, and doubly "behind."

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