My New Granddaughter, Glorious Eden

Roelandt Jacobsz Savery, "The Garden of Eden"

Roelandt Jacobsz Savery, “The Garden of Eden”


I am a grandfather again! First I had Alban with Darien and Betsy and now I have my third granddaughter with Toby and Candice. First there was Esmé, then there was Etta, and now there is Eden, born yesterday.

Of course I had to check out Milton’s description of Eden. Here’s our first glimpse of the garden, which captures all the glory and the dream of God’s new creation. Pan dances with the Graces (Brightness, Joyfulness and Bloom) and the Horae ( Good Order, Justice and Peace) in the “Eternal Spring”:

Thus was this place,
A happy rural seat of various view;
Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm,
Others whose fruit burnished with golden rind
Hung amiable, Hesperian fables true, 
If true, here only, and of delicious taste:
Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks
Grazing the tender herb, were interposed,
Or palmy hillock, or the flowery lap
Of some irriguous valley spread her store, 
Flowers of all hue, and without thorn the rose:
Another side, umbrageous grots and caves
Of cool recess, o’er which the mantling vine
Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps
Luxuriant; meanwhile murmuring waters fall 
Down the slope hills, dispersed, or in a lake,
That to the fringed bank with myrtle crowned,
Her crystal mirror holds, unite their streams.
The birds their choir apply; airs, vernal airs,
Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune 
The trembling leaves, while universal Pan
Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance
Led on th’ Eternal Spring. 

As beautiful as Milton’s description is, however, the passage that first leapt to mind when I heard my granddaughter’s name was a passage from one of Lucille Clifton’s Garden of Eden poems (“the story thus far”). In this instance, Eve discovers Eden as she leaves Eden:

as she walked past
the cherubim
turning their fiery swords
past the winged gate

into the unborn world
chaos fell away
before her like a cloud
and everywhere seemed light

seemed glorious
seemed very eden

Yes, the world is all before little Eden, to borrow from Milton’s final lines. May providence guide her.


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