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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Paradise Lost

(Satan Views Eden by Gustave Doré, 1832-1883,
French artist, engraver, and sculptor)

We end the month of August celebrating summer with a few lines by one of the greatest English poets.

John Milton’s
Paradise Lost was published in 1667. This is the epic story, told in blank verse, of the rebellion against God launched by the archangel Lucifer and his cohort. Their defeat was total. Lucifer was banished to the depths of Hell where, as Satan, he plotted his revenge. Satan eventually entangled Man in his evil plans.

In the verse below, Adam and the angel Raphael are having a thoughtful discussion about the pursuit of knowledge. Eve is still enjoying the perpetual summer of the Garden of Eden. She has yet to fall for Satan’s temptation (which he would utter while in the form of a serpent) that would end in Adam and Eve’s permanent exile and loss of Paradise.

The drama is virtually cinematic in scope. Find a copy with Gustave Doré’s engraved illustrations and read the poem out loud.


So spake our sire [Adam], and by his countenance seemed
Entering on studious thoughts abstruse; which Eve
Perceiving, where she sat retired in sight,
With lowliness majestic from her seat,
And grace that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prospered, bud and bloom,
Her nursery; they at her coming sprung,
And, touched by her fair tendance, gladlier grew.

~ John Milton (1608-1674), English writer, defender of civil and religious rights, and poet

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