The Great Poem Series: Debora Greger’s “Eve in the Fall”

Though Debora Greger’s “Eve in the Fall” was originally published in “The New Criterion” during April of 2008, I stumbled across it in my 2009 edition of “Best American Poetry”. In the poem, Greger connects images of nature and the season of autumn together to convey the feeling of hopelessness and the act of losing someone or something extremely valuable to the readers.

It is unknown who it is directed at, but I get the feeling that it could be a past lover. The speaker is falling out of love with someone, and losing themselves in doing so. The entire poem itself is a metaphor — it uses fall, the season in which crops, trees, and other organisms in the environment die, to compare to the speaker’s emotional downfall. The speaker sees themselves in this person’s eyes, like “a fallen leaf starting to curl”. The message itself is quite interesting to think about. Greger does an amazing job at portraying sadness and grief throughout her writing. Like other poets, she does this by connecting sentiments to nature multiple times throughout the poem. This gives the readers an image and helps us get an even stronger sense of what the speaker is trying to say.

The message extends to the idea that what we feel does not matter, because time goes on and eventually, we will all be gone and forgotten. It shows us how insignificant we, as humans, are in the grand scheme of everything else. Greger uses the witty metaphor of how we are like “husbands yawning on the way to work” while they spill their “weak, human light”. This is a very interesting way to look at the human race. We are so caught up in ourselves, we believe that we are the most important species, and we often forget about absolutely everything else going on in the universe that does not involve society. This could also be why she is tying it together with nature, to show us that there is something bigger and more significant happening. While society is in their own little bubble, there are an infinite amount of things going on around us, and it seems as though not many people stop to think about that. The message behind it expands to a concept that is hard for most people to grasp, and this really stuck out to me.

 

The language used in the poem makes it more personable and authentic. The speaker narrates in first person. “I saw you beside me, the strangest of creatures, the one most like me”. The speaker states that they are strange, as is everyone.  This also says a lot about the speaker’s bond with this person. They are similar in the way that they both are unconventional, sort of like it’s them against the world. Everyone is weird. But because it is being stated so openly, it creates a sense of vulnerability, which we as humans can relate to. We all have someone or something that we have drifted away from, and that is why I think that this poem is so important. Because the recipient of this poem is anonymous and the content is so vague, it adds a mysterious element to it.

Even the title, “Eve in the Fall”, captured my attention. It alludes to the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible, and the fall of humanity — another comparison for the falling of the leaves, and the speaker’s emotions. Up until Adam and Eve “fall” down to Earth, everything was perfect for them. They got a harsh slap to the face, and I think that’s a large part of this poem — how the reality sets in to the speaker. Greger starts the poem on a more positive note but it slowly declines one she mentions waking up next to this person, just like they did “the first morning”, referring to when God created Adam and Eve, except this time they were “old”. They are now in the real world, already having aged. It is a sad epiphany Greger is alluding to, but she does so in such a clever way.

Overall, Greger’s poem achieves greatness by addressing a universal idea through the metaphor of Adam and Eve. It brings attention to how we, as humans, neglect to acknowledge our insignificance in comparison to other matters. By thinking we’re superior, we ignore our roots.

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