In the chiasm outline, this stanza’s idea is: “In every human heart is sorrow.”
In partnership (or chiastic parallel) with the “indehiscence” of the “Clingstone” stanza which talked about the need to change the heart of stone to flesh, “Drupelet” talks about how every heart bears sorrow – and that we do this in aggregate. We cluster, congregate, commune – we share the human condition.
In botany, a drupe (or stone fruit) is an indehiscent fruit in which an outer fleshy part … surrounds a single shell (the pit, stone … ) … with a seed (kernel) inside…. The definitive characteristic of a drupe is … the hard, “lignified” stone (or pit)… [I]n an aggregate fruit composed of small, individual drupes (such as a raspberry), each individual is termed a drupelet and may together form a botanic berry.
I thought of Charles Dickens’ wonderful writing about this in A Tale of Two Cities – there was a quote from that powerful book that I jotted into my notebook about this (interspersed with – and then followed by – thoughts about figs and a little about drupes and drupelets from my other reading in preparing for writing).
This Dickens quote talks about how we cluster together, with our enclosed secrets, against the darkness. I thought of berries, composed of drupelets, each with their own heavy hearts, grown in clusters – and I wrote “Drupelet.”
If I were to reword this stanza simply, it would be this: Adam and Eve, our first parents, woke to mortality and its blood and pain, and even though they tried to get it right, found suffering from the beginning (including the loss of a son to fratricide). Eve, in her wisdom, knew that this was the human condition, and that though they would know suffering, they would also know joy. These two things – sorrow and hope – come together in this life, and are universal. It is a world of opposites, and consequences, and the power to choose (2 Nephi 2:15-16)
15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.
16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
Additional Latter-day Saint scripture includes this wonderful verse, spoken by Eve, in Moses 5:11:
11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
The universal condition of sorrow attending hope, “weight[s] and tether[s], light as fetter, every human heart.”
We are individually clingstones/drupes – but we cluster together as drupelets against the darkness as we each experience the human condition.
Some terms and their use/meaning in the stanza:
“The soil man” – Christian, Islamic, and Jewish scripture speak of Adam being created of the dust of the earth, the soil.
From the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 2:7):
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
From the Quran 3:59:
Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, “Be,” and he was.
I recently learned of one Bible translation (Transparent English Bible) directly calling Adam “soil-man,” which I thought was wonderful. That iteration is used here in this stanza.
(In the next stanza, Ficus Carica, this is directly alluded to, strongly referencing the Islamic tradition with this line: “Breath of life and desert sand mixed to paste, as clay to mould…” – this will be discussed further when that stanza is reviewed.)
“Corresponding piece” – Another translation of the Bible (Young’s Literal Translation) refers to Eve as “counterpart.” Another refers to Eve as “authority corresponding to him” (International Standard Version). I learned of these connections through Lynn Wilson’s insightful book Christ’s Emancipation of Women in the New Testament. Here, Dr. Wilson provides the Transparent English Bible translation of Genesis 2:18-20:
“And YHVH ELOHIM said, ‘Not good – the soil-man being by himself, I will make for him a help, as his one before.’ And YHVH ELOHIM shaped from the soil every living thing of the field, and every flyer of the skies, and he made come toward the soil-man to see what he would call to it; and whatever the soil-man would call to it — each living life-breather–that was its name. And the soil-man called names to every animal, and to the flyer of the skies, and to every living thing of the field; and to Soil-Man he did not find a help, as his one before.”
Dr. Wilson notes in a footnote on page 125: “The translation note for ‘his one before,’ reads, ‘one facing him, before or opposite him, as his corresponding counterpart.'”
From “counterpart” and “authority corresponding” and “one before” and “corresponding counterpart,” I described Eve here in this stanza as Adam’s “Corresponding piece.” They are – in every sense of the phrase – equal partners, fully correspondent to one another. (“Neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord” – 1 Corinthians 11:11)
They are, together, drupelets.
Adam, in his despair, turns to his wife for comfort, and in her wisdom, she helps him see. She consoles him and together they face the human condition, and await the deliverance of all. They were, in fact, (and important to a poem about remembering deliverance) commanded to enact their own memorial of the atonement of Christ (Moses 5:5-8):
5 And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedientunto the commandments of the Lord.
6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
“Every breast has secret parts” – This references the Charles Dickens quote from A Tale of Two Cities already noted – “every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it” – and also references or echoes Isaiah 3:17 with its “secret parts.”
“not one house without one dead” – this again recalls Israelite deliverance via the Passover (Exodus 12:30) and referencing Egypt: “there was not a house where there was not one dead.” Adam and Eve, the soil-man and counterpart, knew about every house having dead intimately, as they had experienced the loss of a son through manslaughter (Genesis 4). Further, they were acutely aware of mortality, having witnessed it enter the world. I think of them mourning together over their lost son, and resolutely facing forward, a comfort to each other, in a world in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalms 23).
VI. Ficus Carica
Jump to any part of the annotation here (including directly to the stanza by stanza descriptions):
- The conceptual outline of the poem, generally
- The basic layout, in reference to the concept of the jubilee.
- The use of the word “selah”
- The sets of sevens
- A stanza by stanza review of some of what it all means
Links to the stanzas for their individual “behind the scenes”: