Saturday, August 10, 2013

Prompt #158 – Forbidden Fruit

There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.
—Mark Twain

I'm not sure what it is about the forbidden that makes it so tempting, but I'll bet there are, or have been, enticements in all of our lives that we’ve wanted but can’t or shouldn’t have—definitely forbidden fruits.

Metaphorically (and idiomatically), “forbidden fruit” is something that we find attractive or desirable but aren’t allowed to have (often because having it is immoral or illegal). The phrase is derived from the Bible’s Genesis story of Adam and Eve and their partaking of the Tree of Knowledge fruit that was forbidden to them by God. The term “forbidden fruit” came into figurative use during the seventeenth century when, in 1663, James Heath used the phrase “The stealing and tasting of the forbidden fruit of Sovereignty” in Flagellum; or, the Life and Death … of Oliver Cromwell. In recent times the term has come to mean anything that is forbidden, prohibited, or off limits.

In prompt #105, we wrote about fabulous fruit; this week, your challenge is to write about a metaphorical “fruit” that is or has been forbidden to you. You might start by making a list of things that you want but can’t or shouldn’t have (currently or in the past). Look at your list and choose one “forbidden fruit” to write about. Whatever you choose (object, person, occupation, action, relationship, food), write into your poem exactly why the “fruit” is (or was) forbidden to you. Think about how giving in, or not giving in, to the “forbidden fruit” you’re writing about impacted your life. Why was your “forbidden fruit” bad for you? What made it seem so good? Don’t avoid a “forbidden fruit” experience that makes you uncomfortable. When it comes to “write or flight,” dig your heels in and write.

Some Possibilities to Consider:

1. Write a poem about something forbidden to you as an adult.
2. Write a poem about something forbidden to you when you were a child.
3. Is there a “forbidden passion fruit” in your story? Write a poem about a forbidden romance.
4. Write a poem based on the following quotation (or use the quote as an epigraph for your poem): “We always long for the forbidden things, and desire what is denied us.” (François Rabelais)



  1. Oh, the 'forbidden fruit' stories that some of us could tell!

    A VERY interesting prompt idea.

  2. Thought-proviking and great example poems.

  3. Great idea for a prompt! Thanks -- my students will love this one when the semester begins in September.

    A few related quotes:

    Forbid us something, and that thing we desire. (Geoffrey Chaucer)

    Forbidden things have a secret charm. (Publius Cornelius Tacitus)

    We are ever striving after what is forbidden, and coveting what is denied us. (Ovid)

    Each of us has to find out for himself what is permitted and what is forbidden—forbidden for him. (Hermann Hesse)

    Forbidden fruit always tastes the best. (Swedish proverb)

    Perhaps we go to the forbidden door or window willingly because we understand that a time comes when we must go whether we want to or not...and not just to look, but to be pushed through. (Stephen King)

    1. Thanks, Rich! Great to know that you plan to use this one with your students.

      Thanks so much for the quotes. I especially like the Chaucer. :-)

  4. When I was a child, the most appealing thing we were forbidden was to walk down to the river to play. Of course, that's where we went whenever we could manage it. I remember jumping from stone to stone and nearly falling in a number of times. I'd give anything to go back (and I'm working on the poem). Thanks for the inspiration, Adele.

    1. Gillian,

      I think most of us have memories of "forbiddens" like yours.

      Thanks for your comment. I'm so glad the prompt brought back happy memories and inspired a poem!

  5. no prohibitions
    sex, bacon, and rock 'n' roll
    frighteningly off

    1. Your style! Right to the point. (Makes me want a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich!)

      Thanks so much for sharing, Risa!

    2. Love it, Risa!