Study Guide

Adam's Curse What's Up With the Title?

By William Butler Yeats

What's Up With the Title?

At first, the "curse" of Adam prepares us to read a horror poem, or maybe just a poem about magic spells. The title isn't one about that kind of curse, though. Adam, the first man in the Bible, was expelled from the Garden of Eden—the place of all things beautiful and lovely. Before he was expelled, he had it pretty good, according to Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. He and Eve got to enjoy living rent-free in a beautiful place, without disease, problems, or even clothes. So when they disobeyed God and got banished forever, things got rough for the first time. Yeats says that, since Adam's expulsion from the Garden of Eden, things that are beautiful and "fine" (like poetry) will now take a whole lot of work to produce before mankind can enjoy them. This is the "curse" of Adam promised in our title.

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