By Cheryl Walker (auth.)
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Additional resources for God and Elizabeth Bishop: Meditations on Religion and Poetry
Whatever we think of the “sin” of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Milton is at his best in portraying the consequences of sin, which are (as they often are today) isolation, wrangling, feelings of hollowness, distortion of perspective, and selfloathing. In the aftermath of eating the apple, Adam and Eve become dissipated (literally “dis-unified”). Their frantic coupling demonstrates their realization of this. They begin to accuse one another, lose their grip on reality, and even consider suicide.
Her letters and journals are peppered with references to Job, Jonah, St. Sebastian, and other Biblical characters, and she actually did write a wonderful poem on the Prodigal Son. ” She 20 G od and Eliz abeth B ishop exulted, “I had my doubts [about ‘Concordance’ for the title] but yesterday morning, just as I was leaving the hotel in Halifax, I picked up the Gideon Bible and thought I’d make one of those test samplings, you know. My finger came right down on the concordance column, so I felt immensely pleased” (One Art, 223).
The feeling of self-distaste” (32) that overcomes her when she lies to Emma about her mother becomes generalized here into a broader sense of panic. Clearly, we are dealing with a person of acute, even neurotic, sensibilités. One explanation for allergic reactions is that they are triggered the first time by repressed feelings of hostility that generate guilt. According to this theory, the body is taking revenge upon itself. Furthermore, as we now know, stress robs the immune system of its ability to combat disease, so any severe psychological distress puts one in physical jeopardy.