Verso - Folio Fragments

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The Wanderings of Cain, Edited by N. Santilli

Folio Fragment (Verso)
[Manuscript. British Library. Egerton 2800, fol 1v]*

Midnight on the Euphrates. Cedars, palms, pines. Cain discovered sitting on the upper part of the ragged rock, where is cavern overlooking the Euphrates, the moon rising on the horizon. His soliloquy. The beasts are out on the ramp. He determines to rush out amongst them & oppose himself to be destroyed by him. A multitude of these beasts come [?] up to him. Walking among the beasts he hears the screams of a woman & children—surrounded by tigers. Cain makes a soliloquy debating whether he shall save the woman. Cain advances wishing death—& the tigers rush off. It proves to be Cain's wife with her two children determined to follow her husband. She prevails upon him at last to tell his story. Cain's wife tells him that her son Enoch was placed suddenly by her side.

Cain addresses all the elements to cease for a while to persecute him, while he tells his story. He begins with telling her that he had first after his leaving her found out a dwelling in the desart under a juniper tree &c, &c. how he meets in the desart a young man whom upon a nearer approach he perceives to be Abel. Cain was overwhelmed on whose countenance appear marks of the greatest misery. He [? tells][1] of another being who had power after this life, greater than Jehovah. He is going to offer sacrifices to this being & persuades Cain to follow him to come to an immense Gulph filled with water, whither they descend followed by alligators &c.[2] They go till they come to an immense meadow so surrounded as to be inaccessible, & from its depth so vast that you could not see it from above. Abel offers sacrifice from the blood of his arm. A gleam of light illumines the meadow & a being of terrible majesty appears. The countenance of Abel becomes more beautiful, & his arms glistering—he then persuades Cain to offer sacrifice, for himself & his son Enoch by cutting his child's arm & letting the blood fall from it. Cain is about to do it when Abel himself walks in his angelic appearance, attended by Michael, is seen in the heavens whence they sail slowly down. Abel addresses Cain with terror, warning him not to offer up his innocent child. The evil spirit throws off the countenance of Abel & assuming its own shape, flies off pursuing a flying battle with Michael. Abel carries off the Child.

Notes

[*] Single folio leaf (24.2. x 40 cm). A thin line is drawn across the page after "Enoch was placed suddenly by her side"—a sentence that may have been written after the line had been drawn. A short line and a cross inside a box indicate the end of the manuscript at the bottom of the page. However, as all critics have noted, the relationship between the separate sections on both sides of the folio and with regards the published texts remains unclear as Canto II and the Verses expand details selected from across the text.

[1] [? tells] variations:

E. H. Coleridge: [ellipsis, not deciphered] (Athenaeum, Poetical Works)
J. C. C. Mays: "the power"


[2] Contextual Note: From The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge II: 2257 [November 1804]

"Earthquake this autumn at Almeria, destroying all but the Church ded. to the Tributary Source with an unfathomable Gulph around it, full of alligators [sic.]"

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Published @ RC

May 2003

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