19 pages 38 minutes read

Derek Walcott

Adam's Song

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1985

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Symbols & Motifs

Multifaceted Eve

Eve’s role in “Adam’s Song” is multifaceted and difficult to pin down. She is introduced as the first “adulteress” (Line 1), who “horned God for the serpent” (Line 6). As the poem continues, however, she moves from being God’s and Adam’s love object to an agent of freewill whose defiance of God helps to redeem humanity (See: Poem Analysis).

The close connection between Walcott’s poem and the original Biblical narrative also means that Eve carries much of her traditional symbolic weight. In the original myth, Eve is created from Adam’s rib. This understanding of Eve as a part of Adam’s whole is also represented in Walcott’s poem through the pet name “Heart” (Line 22). Eve maintains her position as part of Adam but has become a much more essential part than a superfluous rib. Eve acts for “Adam’s sake” and values him above their god (Line 7).

Eve, despite her position as an adulterer, is also presented as a moral arbiter. Adam sings the song “against his own damnation” “to Eve” (Lines 13, 12), suggesting that she, not God, is the one ultimately in control of his fate. Eve’s dual moral nature is what the speaker communicates with the explanation that Eve’s intention to help Adam either “makes / everyone guilty or Eve innocent” (Lines 7-8).