Adonis’ poem “The New Noah” is a modern interpretation of the Flood narrative, through which the poet points a critical lens on the blind following of prophets. These prophets, in this case Noah, is paralleled to political and religious leaders who have led the masses into a complacent stupor, in which daily human struggles are accepted as life as it should be, instead of questioned and criticized. The poem was written in a post-colonial Syria that had been tattered by invasions, military coups, and war.

Through the use of the Flood narrative, Adonis poses a force to the posited powers that questions the political forces within the Arab World, and more specifically Syria.  The overtly political themes can be traced to the personal life of Adonis, as he was imprisoned and later became and exile because of his political views and his blatant criticism of Syrian political institutions. Adonis’ illustrative language that depicts the story of the Flood from the Quran sets the poem up to question that which has been widely accepted.  Adonis approaches the political and social structures in Syria by analogizing his present with the story of the Flood.  Apart from the political context of the poem, throughout “The New Noah”, there also exists a basic element of existential human awareness and skepticism that is present in the entirety of the poem.

            In Part II of the poem, the Quranic version of the Flood Story is clearly referenced,

“And the earth trembled and God was mad/And Noah asked me: ‘Save the living’/ I would not listen to God, /I would go about on my Ark”

Unlike the Genesis version of the Flood, Noah plays an active role in Quranic version of the story.  In the Quran, God is depicted as a more merciful God than in the Genesis interpretation of the Flood, where Noah is the Chosen One, and the rest of humankind is damned. In the telling of the Flood in the Quran, Noah is depicted as the messenger of God, and Noah attempts to save those who fear God.

[Noah] said, “O my people, there is not error in me, but I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds.”

I convey to you the messages of my Lord and advise you; and I know from Allah what you do not know. Then do you wonder that there has come to you a reminder from your Lord through a man from among you, that he may warn you and that you may fear Allah so you might receive mercy.” (Quran 7:61-63)

 This telling of the Flood is shown in Noah’s characterization in “The New Noah”, where he asks the narrator to “Save the living”, to which the narrator responds that they will not listen to God’s word, and instead, go about the Flood with bravery and not bending to the fear of God’s wrath.  Adonis does not accept this warning from Noah as a saving grace, but rather as a striking of fear into people, and a damning of humans. The narrator questions the hand of God in the creation of the earth, and humanity. This points to the existential questioning of the poem.  Adonis is questioning the Creator of this earth, in several points in the poem, the narrator questions God’s creation, in the second stanza, the question, “Lord why did you save us above all other/People and creatures?” is posed. As opposed to in the telling of the Flood in Genesis and the Quran, God does not have a voice in “The New Noah”, instead, the voices are reserved for Noah and the narrator of the poem.  This takes the power away from God, and places it predominantly in the hands of the narrator to tell the story of the Flood in a way that is significant to them.

            “The New Noah” places an importance on human experience within a modern-day context which reshapes Flood myth, and gives agency to the narrator that allows them to create a new Flood narrative that separate from God and His telling of the Flood through the Quran. This agency is seen actualized in the last two lines of the poem, “We carry on moving and never listen to that God,/We long for a new god.”

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