Literary OTGD #04: O Adam

William Wines PhelpsWhen we talk about the Fall and its roll in the plan of salvation, as Old Testament Gospel Doctrine lesson #4 does, the focus naturally (and properly) is on the effects of the Fall and its relationship with the atonement. But the Fall is also the story of a relationship between Adam, Eve and God. his makes it easier to put ourselves in the place of Adam and Eve, and in the process learn, in a very palpable way, the consequences of a separation from God and the need for a way to return to Him. In that sense, the following poem, a kind of dramatization of the events, might help.

This  poem is another in the oerve of the prolific William W. Phelps. Unlike his contemporaries Parley P. Pratt, Eliza R. Snow and John Lyon, Phelps never published a volume of his own poetry. He is also unique because he is likely the author of the only poem, outside of scripture, attributed to Joseph Smith (The Vision, a paraphrase of D&C 76). If I recall correctly, he is still the Mormon author with the most hymns in the current hymnal.


O Adam

by William W. Phelps

O, Adam, will you come with me?
For God has said that we are free
To all of Eden’s joys and powers,
To pluck and eat her fruits and flowers,
So we may cull the garden through
For flowers for me, and fruit for you.
All, save the tree of knowledge there,
You may, my fairest of the fair.
O, Adam, now ’tis you and I,
For Satan said we should not die;
God never made a woman mute,
And I have eat forbidden fruit—
So now come eat with Eve your bride,
And feast your passions and your pride.
Yes, on the tree of knowledge there,
I will, my fairest of the fair.
O, Adam, Adam,—where art thou?
For paradise is blooming now;
Through endless realms the angels fly,
To bring forth joys for you and I:
O, have you hid yourself from me,
For tasting that forbidden tree.
O, yes, the tree of knowledge there,
And oh! my fairest of the fair.
O, Adam, Adam,—must we go
Where “thorns and thistles” ever grow—
Where joys celestial never come,
Where sorrow will despoil our home—
Or can we live and be forgiven,
And gain our place once more in heaven?
Yes, for the tree of life is there,
So come, my fairest of the fair.
And multiply with joy and mirth,
And beautify our mother earth.

Times and Seasons, 15 April 1845


I like this poem as an introduction to the Fall. It covers the story well, and gives a nice interplay among the characters. And it even, towards the end, gives a nod to forgiveness (and by implication, the atonement).

Of course, the poem shows the attitudes of the age in which it was written (who would dare write “God never made a woman mute” today?), but it also includes some insightful lines, such as the suggestion that the fallen state means you “feast your passions and your pride.”

And, I like to think of this life in terms of “can we live and be forgiven, / And gain our place once more in heaven?”

1 comment for “Literary OTGD #04: O Adam

  1. January 19, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Great stuff!

    That Adam and Eve desired ‘more’…to know more and be like God, was the essence of the ‘1st sin’…and “The Fall”. It is actually more of a ‘rising’ than a ‘fall’. Attempting to be more like God and therefore tossing out their role as creatures of God.

    But, as He still does, God finds them. Makes a sacrifice for them (sheds blood – kills animals to clothe them)…so the gospel is there, right from the start.

    My 2 cents. Thank you.

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