19 pages 38 minutes read

Derek Walcott

Adam's Song

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1985

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Religious Context

One of the key distinctions between the Methodist view, which Walcott participates in, and the Catholic view that makes up the majority of the Caribbean population, is that Methodists, like most Protestant denominations, emphasize an interpretive relationship between the individual and the Bible. This means that, unlike Catholics who believe the church’s interpretation, Methodists are encouraged to trust their own reasoned understanding of the Bible. Walcott’s reinterpretation of Biblical narrative in “Adam’s Song” fits with the Protestant tradition of non-standardized Biblical interpretation. Methodist services also have a long history of congregational singing and understand song and art as an important element of religious worship. The religious importance of song is reflected in both the title of Walcott’s poem and the song that it references.

Beyond the centrality of personal engagement with Biblical texts, Methodists also differ from Catholics, and from many other protestant denominations, in their uncompromising belief in freewill. Opposed to theological determinism, or the belief that the world is predetermined or preordained by God, freewill is an essential part of the Methodist theology and understanding of salvation; salvation must be initiated through the individual’s own freewill. In this way, Eve’s decision to eat from the Tree of Knowledge is respun as a radical act of freewill that liberates humanity from the Garden of Eden and sets them on the path of salvation through Christ.