review of

John Milton's

"Paradise Lost & Paradise Regained"


2209. "review of John Milton's "Paradise Lost & Paradise Regained""

- full review

- credited to: tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

- published on my "Critic" website January 17, 2024


review of

John Milton's "Paradise Lost & Paradise Regained"

by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 13-16, 2024


Of course, I've been reading mention of Milton's "Paradise Lost" for decades, it's such a famous poem & Milton's such a famous poet. I've had this copy of it shelved in my personal library for over 20 yrs. &, yet, I've never really had much interest in it. I finally decided to read it before leaving for a visit to Milton, Delaware, to meet w/ my friend Eddie Watkins & his family to make our 3rd movie together. This time I decided to make Milton the main character of the movie so I bought 3 'old man masks', 3 long white hair wigs & 3 respiratory masks of the type people have been wearing to hypothetically protect themselves against viruses - these latter w/ a famous picture of Milton's face printed on them. I decided that the best way for me to experience reading <u>Paradise Lost</u> was to read it out loud to myself, a process that I enjoyed b/c I found the poem to be so over-the-top that it was perfect for melocomedic excess. W/ this in mind, I had all 4 of the actors (myself included) in the resultant movie read from the bk to use as soundtrack material.


719. "Milton's Holiday in Quadruplicate"

- shot in Milton, DE on May 20-21 with tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE; Eddie Watkins; Sarah Squire; & Twyla Watkins

- shot in Breezewood, PA on May 21-22 with tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

- 1920 X 1440, 30fps, stereo

- 16:56

- on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here:

- on the Internet Archive here:


I love the movie so my enthusiasm for it trickled into enthusiasm for finishing reading this bk. Here it is, almost 10 mnths later, when I finally did so. It was a long, hard slog.

There's an introduction by Christopher Ricks:

"1. "Our concern is with the poem as a poem. Agreed-but the fact that a poem like Paradise Lost isn't only a moral debate doesn't mean that it isn't at all a moral debate. "Literature is not argument , whther moral or religious," we may say, sending such argument out of the room-nor is it history, biography, psychology, sociology. . . . But if each of these is sent out of the room, the "pure literature" which remains is a wispy ghostly thing. Literature is, among other things, the meeting of many human concerns, even though it shouldn't be identified with any of them." - p xii


That's interesting to me &, yes, somewhat central to my appreciation, or lack thereof, for the poem. Basically, "Paradise Lost", for me, is a sortof rewrite of the bible told as an adventure of conflict, a battle writ large to comic bk proportions, it's the writing that I sometimes found appealing, but the moral msg was too full of pus or hot air or something that cd've been drained to my satisfaction.


"That is why one can even condone Professor Jackson Cope, who has said of Adam and Eve: "Their sexuality is condoned in the bower scenes of Book IV." Condoned!


"These lull'd by Nightingales embracing slept,

And on their naked limbs the flow'ry roof

Show'r'd Roses, which the Morn repair'd . . .

(IV 771-3)


"Milton, without blustering or blinking, has given us some of the greatest and most mature erotic poetry in the language, and the Professor grudgingly accepts it with the word "condoned."" - p xvi


Sorry, I had to go jerk off after reading about the "Roses", that was just too damned hot. & these were the people sd to've parented the human race?!


"Likewise the devastating anti-heroics of Paradise Lost. A more telling exposé of the cruel falsities of a dictatorial heroism has never been written. As many critics have said, Satan's rally is a fascist rally.


"He through the armed Files

Darts his experienc't eye, and soon traverse

The whole Battalion views; their order due,

Their visages and stature as of Gods,

Their number last he sums. And now his heart

Distends with pride, and hard'ning in his strength

Glories: . . . (I 567-73)" - p xvii


I don't see it. 1st, I don't believe in God or the Devil, so let's get that out of the way - but in the way these characters are presented here it seems very clear to me that God is the utterly ruthless dictator, ready to harshly punish anyone who deviates from his iron-cald rules to any degree whatsover. The Devil, on the other hand, & his legions, all rebelled against this dictatorship. God stays in heaven, like most dictators, & sends his minions out to battle; contrarily, the Devil goes out & takes the risks himself. Over & over he shows concern for his fellow rebels. Since when does a dictator go out & take any risks?! The irony of it all is that they're all immortal, those fighting at God's command & those banished from heaven to hell. Hence, they can't die in battle. It's the humans who get to suffer & die.


"Surely, to adapt Mr. Frye's words, in reading Milton we feel very powerfully both "what amazing things the English language can do," and "what amazing things can be done with the English language." - p xviii


Writers often use words that ordinary speakers of the language wdn't use, Milton lays it on thick. He's like a Modernist poet in the sense that he's constantly referring to things that the reader wd have to be extremely erudite to follow. I love the writing for that at the same time that it seems like overkill. He jams multiple mythologies together & acts like it's all Christianity. It's such a confused hodge-podge that it's amazing Milton cd keep a straight face - but I reckon he did b/c there doesn't seem to be the slightest trace of a sense of humor.


"[(]Ever since Milton retold the story of the Fall, that story has gradually become less and less essential to the Christian faith. And ever since Milton wrote of the eternal punishments of Hell, that doctrine has become less essential to the Christian faith.)" - p xxii


That's interesting, maybe it's accurate - if so, what's an/the explanation? Has hellfire & brimstone lost its story-telling impact? I'd say NO, judging by the sheer quantity of Catholic horror movies there are that keep being released. Then again, maybe more subtle means of bullying the flocks of SHEEPLE into submission have been developed. People might not believe they're going to hell anymore but they can see that life on Earth will be made hell for them if they dare to be HERETICS.


"An inferior kind, a lesser kind than Paradise Lost, because Paradise Regained is didactic. Most acutely, Coleridge points out that the real limitation of the didactic is that it is less (not more) morally effective and vivid, precisely because its moral purpose is too direct." - pp xxviii - xxix

Uhuh. Poisoning a rat is more likely to kill it than trapping it in a corner where it might fight back.

From "A Note on This Edition":

"The texts are partially modernized. That of Paradise Lost is based on the first edition, 1667; most of the changes in wording made in 1674 are incorporated, and the rest are recorded in the footnotes. The text of Paradise Regained is based on the first edition, 1671. The capitalization and punctuation-with a very few exceptions-have been preserved. Milton's capitalization is not likely to impede a modern reader, and it serves as a reminder that it is a seventeenth-century poem. His punctuation is a trickier matter, but the impulse to tidy it up has been resisted."


"Milton's spelling has been partially modernized. The gain in convenience of reading far outweighs any loss. But the more important of Milton's spellings (Ammiral, sovran, etc.) have been retained, together with his emphatic forms mee, hee, shee, and his various forms for the past participle (such as abasht, seduc'd). An editor is bound to have twinges of regret about any such changes, especially as Milton's spelling may sometimes indicate his pronunciation; but his use of language does already present problems to a modern reader, and the awkwardly unfamiliar spelling must on occasion have proved to be the last straw." - p xxxiii


This is an interesting dilemma to me. As someone whose writing often encounters 'corrections' from ignorant editors who've deluded themselves into thinking that they have the 'right' to 'improve' on my writing, I'm generally against this form of pompous person - just as I might choose to not stand under a shitting elephant's asshole (no offense to elephant intelligence intended). Still, that's not really the case here, the person or persons editing this bk aren't ignorant, they're trying to insure a broad readership for a poem written in a version of English old enuf to approach reading like a different language, one mostly unknown to the reader. I respect that. Still, I'd rather just read the poems in their original language - partially just b/c I'm interested in how English has changed over more than 300 yrs. My modest proposal is that an edition be published w/ the original English on the left & a contemporary rendering on the right. That wd be a challenge, perhaps it wd have to be written by a true believer Christian poet if there are any worth their salt alive today.

There's a "Chronology" of Milton that I found interesting.


"1608 9 December, Milton's birth, in London." - p xxxv


He died on November 8, 1674. He only made it to 65. It looks like I'll have to add him to my "Live Fast, Die Old" website on wch I list famous (& a few not-so-famous) people that I've lived longer than. I'm 70, so I've got Milton beat. I'm going to have to make it to 123 to outdo the longest-living person I know of (a French woman) & I don't anticipate getting anywhere even close to that. Really, if I can make it thru this yr I'll be surprised. Still, 70's not so bad.


"1652 February or March. Milton became totally blind.

May. Death of Mary Powell Milton.

1654 May. Defensio Secunda.

1655 August Pro Se Defensio.

1656 November. Married Katherine Woodcock.

1658 February. Death of second wife.

September 3. Death of Oliver Cromwell.

1659 Pamphlets defending religious freedom:

February. A Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes.

August. Likeliest Means to Remove Hirelings out of the Church.

1660 February. The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth.

May. Restoration of Charles II.

Milton arrested, then released.

1663 February. Married Elizabeth Minshull.

1665 Living in country at Chalfond St. Giles during the plague." - pp xxxvi-xxxvii


Totally blind by age 43. Wife dies same yr. Bummer. Gets remarried TWICE after that. Arrested age 51, but released. Lives during the plague. Milton must've had some balls.. or money.. or both.

There's a paragraph on "THE VERSE" before the poem itself begins. I quote its beginning:


"The Measure is English Heroic Verse with Rhyme, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; Rhyme being no necessary Adjunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verse, in longer Works especially, but the Invention of a barbarous Age" - p 45


It's interesting that the pagination goes directly from Roman numerals to the Hindu-Arabic numbering instead of starting over again at 1 as is usually the custom in my experience. Each "Book", large section, of "Paradise Lost" begins w/ "THE ARGUMENT", a plot synopsis of what's to follow.


"This first Book proposes first in brief the whole Subject, Man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise where he was plac't: Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the Serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many Legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of Heaven with all his Crew into the great Deep. Which action past over, the Poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into Hell, describ'd here, not in the Center (for Heaven and Earth may be suppos'd as yet not made, certainly not yet accurst) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest call'd Chaos" - p 46

One has to wonder what happened to "Turn the other cheek"? As the expression goes, 'I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the one I'm preaching to!' One thing that seemed apparent to me in these 2 poems of Milton's is that God is the KING. In other words, Royalty used religious myths to entrench an ideology in wch the KING is the earthly repersentative of God. No matter what the King does it's right & must be suffered b/c it is, after all, just God's Will incarnated on Earth. AND the power is hereditary, hence Jesus is 'God's Son". Anyone who disagrees w/ or digresses from this system-purported-to-be-infallible is 'in league w/ the Devil' & must be damned. Milton's poems present these articles-of-faith as immutable laws, as the only reality. It's horrifically oppressive.

The poem begins:


"Of Man's First disobedience, and the Fruit°

Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal° taste

Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,

With loss of Eden, til one greater Man

Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,

Sing Heav'nly Muse, that on the secret top

Of Horeb, or of Sinai, didst inspire

That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed,°

In the Beginning how the Heav'ns and Earth

Rose out of Chaos: Or if Sion Hill

Delight thee more, and Siloa's Brook that flow'd

Fast by the Oracle of God;° I thence

Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous Song,

That with no middle flight intends to soar

Above th'Aonian Mount,° while it pursues

Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhyme.

And chiefly Thou O Spirit, that dost prefer

Before all Temples th'upright heart and pure,

Instruct° me, for Thou know'st; Thou from the first

Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread

Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast Abyss

And mad'st it pregnant: What in me is dark

Illumine, what is low raise and support;

That to the height of this great Argument°

I may assert° Eternal Providence,

And justify° the ways of God to men.

Say first, for Heav'n hides nothing from thy


Nor the deep Tract of Hell, say first what cause

Mov'd our Grand° Parents in that happy State,

Favour'd of Heav'n so highly, to fall off


"1 Fruit including consequences, fruits. 2 mortal human and deadly. 7-8 Of . . . Seed Moses, who set down Genesis, was visited by God on Mount Horeb and Sinai. 11-12 Siloa's . . . God near the temple in Jerusalem; the brook is to parallel the one haunted by the classical Muses. 15 Mount Helicon, sacred to the Muses. 19 Instruc Latin instruere, to build, perfectly linking "Temples" and "heart." 24 Argument subject-matter and process of reasoning. 25 assert affirm. 26 justify bear witness to the justice of; both "justify to men" and "ways of God to men." 29 Grand original and pre-eminent." - p 47


I quote all of p 47 above, including the footnotes, in order to give the reader of this review an idea of what it's like. The only thing that's missing are the every-5-lines numbering to the right margin of the poem. The numbers in the footnotes refer to those. I generally appreciate footnotes as something that helps the reader get a more scholarly take on things. However, fortunately, the reader can choose to NOT read them - wch is mostly what I decided to do. Basically, it seemed important to me to have the poem flow w/o interruption. Furthermore, I found much of the explication unnecessary. Even in the cases where I didn't know what was being referred to I didn't necessarily find that I needed to. E.G.: "Siloa's . . . God near the temple in Jerusalem; the brook is to parallel the one haunted by the classical Muses." That wasn't something that I really felt like I needed to know the specifics of. It was obvious that "Siloa's Brook" was considered to be important & that was enuf. ANYWAY, from now on I'll leave out the "°"s.


"Who first seduc'd them to that foul revolt?

Th'infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile

Stirr'd up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv'd

The Mother of Mankind, what time his Pride" - p 48


My reviewer's note-to-self reads: "Do people really believe this shit?". Do people actually imagine naked Eve wandering round Paradise suddenly talking with a snake that's been possessed by the Devil who convinces her to eat from a tree that will give her knowledge & hence bring down the wrath of God?! No wonder they think a President is going to effect changes that're better for them! I mean, how gullible can you get?!


"A Dungeon horrible, on all sides round

As one great Furnace flam'd, yet from those flames

No light, but rather darkness visible

Serv'd only to discover sights of woe,

Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace

And rest can never dwell, hope never comes

That comes to all; but torture without end" - pp 48-49


Yep, that's what the merciful God will do to you if you step out of line so just imagine what the KING or the EMPEROR or the POPE are going to do to you here on Earth?! It ain't going to be pretty - so give us all yr money & keep yr trap SHUT, mere mortal.


"Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings

A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time.

The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n." - p 54


It seems to me that I remember reading about Charlie Manson saying something similar, claiming that in prison he cd use his mind to transcend the confinement.


"Of Baälim and Ashtaroth, those male,

These Feminine. For Spirit when they please

Can either Sex assume, or both; so soft

And uncompounded is their Essence pure,

Not ti'd or manacl'd with joint or limb,

Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones,

Like cumbrous flesh; but in what shape they choose

Dilated or condens't, bright or obscure,

Can execute their airy purposes,

And works of love or enmity fulfil." - p 59




It was by p 62's following passage that I realized that reading it aloud wd add greatly to the enjoyment:


"Not in despair, to have found themselves not lost

In loss itself; which on his count'nance cast

Like doubtful hue: but he his wonted pride

Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore

Semblance of worth, not substance, gently rais'd

Their fainting courage, and dispell'd their fears.

Then straight commands that at the warlike sound

Of Trumpets loud and Clarions be uprear'd

His mighty Standard; that proud honour claim'd

Azaxel as his right, a Cherub tall:" - p 62


When I added my own melodramatic (or melocomedic) intonations to it it no longer mattered whether I found it ridiculous or not, it was FUN.


"Mammon led them on,

Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell

From heav'n, for even in heav'n his looks and thoughts

Were always downward bent, admiring more

The riches of Heav'n's pavement, trodd'n gold" - p 66


Yep, heaven's paved w/ gold - & that's NOT a fantasy aimed at the greedy?! Do phalluses ejaculate diamonds? Hell, on the other hand, is apparently a democracy:


"The consultation begun, Satan debates whether another Battle be to be hazarded for the recovery of Heaven: some advise it, others dissuade: A third proposal is preferr'd, mention'd before by Satan, to search the truth of that Prophecy or Tradition in Heaven concerning another world, and another kind of creature equal or not much inferior to themselves, about this time to be created: Their doubt who shall be sent on this difficult search: Satan their chief undertakes alone this voyage, is honour'd and applauded." - pp 69-70


Or is it a Meritocracy?


"Satan exalted sat, by merit rais'd

To that bad eminence; and from despair" - p 72


&, waddyaknow?! Satan has a daughter, not a Son, like God. That's a new one to me, I must not've read that part in the bible. There's no doubt that SHE was hot.


"T'whom thus the Portress of Hell Gate repli'd;

"Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem

Now in thine eye so foul, once deem'd so fair

In Heav'n, when at th'Assembly, and in sight

Of all the Serpahim with thee combin'd

In bold conspiracy against Heav'n's King,

All on a sudden miserable pain

Surpris'd thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzy swum

In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast

Threw forth, till on the left side op'ning wide,

Likest to thee in shape and count'nance bright,

Then shining heav'nly fair, a Goddess arm'd

Out of thy head I sprung: amazement seiz'd" - p 90


Uh, WHAT?! Remember, Satan & all his fellow travelers were once angels. God has a son but in order to make him physical he had to impregnate Mary. Then Satan, while still an angel in good-standing, has a daughter but she pops out of Satan's head?! Or am I misunderstanding here? Cdn't Jesus have just been born the same way?! Anyway, if Satan cd have a baby pop out of his head that means to me that angels can apparently reproduce but maybe it's all parthenogenesis. That wd take that nasty old sex out of the picture. Still, wdn't it be kindof weird to have babies popping out of their father's heads left & right in heaven? & what about female angels? Do babies pop out of their heads too? Or do they have vaginas? B/c, if there are no vaginas, there's no way in hell I want to be in heaven - of course, there may not be vaginas in hell either so who wants immortality?


"The secrets of the hoary deep, a dark

Illimitable Ocean without bound,

Without dimension, where length, breadth, and height,

And time and place are lost; where eldest Night

And Chaos, Ancestors of Nature, hold

Eternal Anarchy, amidst the noise" - p 94


"mid 16th century: via medieval Latin from Greek anarkhia, from anarkhos, from an- 'without' + arkhos 'chief, ruler'." - Oxford languages


There's that boogeyman again. (UN)Naturally, God, the KING provides Law & Order. Funny how being w/o a "chief" is so consistently represented as the ultimate horror, people are really expected to believe that w/o someone to control-freak their lives that their lives will completely fall apart. Well, there are examples of sorts in nature: there are Queen Bees & Ant Queens - but, really, that's just human language superimposed on insects, the Queens in insects are the egg-layers. Imagine the Queen of England laying eggs from wch hatch forth thousands of new-born Britons.

God has a little man-to-man w/ young'un Jesus, telling him the facts-of-life about Satan. What he leaves out is that if Satan can break out of his prison it's b/c God didn't make the prison infallible.


"Him God beholding from his prospect high,

Wherein past, present, future he beholds,

Thus to his only Son forseeing spake.

"Only-begotten Son, seest thou what rage

Transports our adversary, whom no bounds

Prescrib'd, no bars of Hell, nor all the chains

Heapt on him there, nor yet the main Abyss" - p 101


So, Jesus, y'know?, the ideological child?, makes an offer:


"["]Behold mee then, mee for him, life for life

I offer, on mee let thine anger fall;

Account mee man; I for his sake will leave

thy bosom, and this glory next to thee

Freely put off, and for him lastly die

Well pleas'd, on me let Death wreak all his rage;

Under his gloomy power I shall not long

Lie vanquisht; thou hast giv'n me to possess

Life in myself forever, by thee I live,

Though now to Death I yield, and am his due

All that of me can die, yet that debt paid,

Thou will not leave me in the loathsome grave"




"Then with the multitude of my redeem'd

Shall enter Heaven long absent, and return,

Father, to see thy face, wherein no cloud

Of anger shall remain, but peace assur'd,

And reconcilement; wrath shall be no more

Thenceforth, but in thy presence Joy entire."


"His words here ended, but his meek aspéct

Silent yet spake, and breath'd immortal love

To mortal men, above which only shone

Filial obedience: as a sacrifice" - p 106


'So God gave his only son..' You mean he cdn't make another one? Wuzzamatter? Was he impotent? Why is it that religious people never seem to care whether their mythologies make any sense?!


"A God, leap'd fondly, into Etna's flames,

Empedocles, and hee who to enjoy

Plato's Elysium, leap'd into the Sea,

Cleombrotus, and many more too long,

Embryos and Idiots, Eremites and Friars

White, Black and Grey, with all their trumpery.

Here pilgrims roam, that stray'd so far to seek

in Golgotha him dead, who lives in Heav'n;" - p 112


It seems to me that in his orgy of displaying learning Milton jams all times & mythologies into a sort of eternal present tense.


"A violent cross-wind from either Coast

Blows them transverse ten thousand Leagues awry

Into the devious Air; then might ye see

Cowls, Hoods and Habits with their wearers tost

And flutter'd into Rags, then Relics, Beads,

Indulgences, Dispenses, Pardons, Bulls,

The sport of Winds: all these upwhirl'd aloft

Fly o'er the backside of the World far off

into a Limbo large and broad, since call'd

The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown" - p 112


That's a pretty windy passage, eh?


"But first he casts to change his proper shape,

Which else might work him danger or delay:

And now a stripling Cherub he appears,

Not of the prime, yet such as in his face

Youth smil'd Celestial, and to every Limb

Suitable grace diffus'd, so well he feign'd;

Under a Coronet his flowing hair

In curls on either cheek play'd, wings he wore" - p 116


So Satan's a shape-shifter, therefore, I deduce that all angels, banished or no, must be shape-shifters. Am I wrong in thinking that shape-shifting is generally reacted to as if it's demonic? I reckon the excuse for that demonizing is that shape-shifters are better deceivers, better liars. Nonetheless, I think I, personally, cd have plenty of fun w/ shape-shifting in a way that wdn't be malicious, there's nothing instrinsically malevolent about shape-shifting, the creative potentials are infinite. As for Satan's imitation of a youth, a handsome lad w/ long hair? If he'd tried that in the neighborhood where I grew up people wd've thrown trash at him out of their passing car windows (like they did to me).


"So spake the false dissembler unperceiv'd;

For neither Man nor Angel can discern

Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks

Invisible, except to God alone," - pp 117-118


I fins that interesting. When I was a kid, raised a Christian by my Sunday School teacher mom, my sister a missionary, etc, hypocrisy was a major topic of friends of mine, it seemed like it was everywhere in the Christian world around us. Now I don't really hear about it anymore. I don't know whether it doesn't bother people anymore or whether it's just taken for granted or what. Hypocrisy was the perfect camouflage for the people in the area where I grew up: people cd claim to be Christians & still commit whatever crimes they wanted to.


"Beneath him with new wonder now he views

To all delight of human sense expos'd

In narrow room Nature's whole wealth, yea more,

A Heaven on Earth: for blissful Paradise

Of God the Garden was, by him in the East

of Eden planted; Eden stretch'd her Line

From Auran Eastward to the Royal Tow'rs

Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian Kings,

Or where the Sons of Eden long before

Dwelt in Telassar: in htis pleasant soil

His far more pleasant Garden God ordain'd;

Out of the fertile ground he caus'd to grow

All Trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;

And all amid them stood the Tree of Life,

High eminent, blooming Ambrosial Fruit

Of vegetable Gold; and next to Life

Our Death the Tree of Knowledge grew fast by,

Knowledge of Good bought dear by knowing ill." - p 126


I think I lost track of what's what, the where & when, by this point. Apparently, the "him" of the above is Satan, he's the one observing Eden perched high in the Tree of Life. When I was a kid, a Christian, before I became an atheist at age 15, I thought of the Garden of Eden as a place where humans were mythologized as starting, an oasis in the midst of a world w/o humans otherwise. I get the impression from reading the above & other passages that Eden was just a place in the midst of many places populated by humans - even though Adam & Eve are presented as the parents of humanity. That, in itself, is ridiculous from a logical POV but Christians presumably trying to escape 'original sin' seem to have no problem rejecting the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in favor of total gullibility & rejection of logic.

Now, later, Adam is being lectured by a prominent angel.


"["]Here or in Heav'nly Paradises dwell;

If ye be found obedient, and retain

Unalterably firm his love entire

Whose progeny you are. Meanwhile enjoy

Your fill what happiness this happy state

Can comprehend, incapable of more."" - p 163


Be ignorant & obey orders & that's the best you can do b/c you're incapable of more. That doesn't seem like a very nice thing at all. People who aren't ignorant are much less likely to follow orders b/c they're more likely to see how destructive the orders are. & maybe they'd be capable of more happiness if they didn't have the boot of the king constantly pressing down on them.

Then God comes along to make an announcement to the obedient angels:


"'Hear all ye Angels, Progeny of Light,

Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers,

Hear my Decree, which unrevok't shall stand.

This day I have begot whom I declare

My only Son, and on this holy Hill

Him have anointed, whom ye now behold

At my right hand; your Head I him appoint;" - p 165-166


O-KAY. He just begat Jesus THAT DAY, that means that Jesus is less than one day old. Acccording to the bible he grew up in a somewhat ordinary fashion - but, presumably simultaneously in heaven, he's fully formed enuf to be God's right-hand man ready to be the head of the angels. Ok, I know, it's Christianity, it doesn't have to make any sense - but is it really devilish to notice these, uh, continuity glitches?! & what are "Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms" doing in there?! & then there's the battle: what kind of battle is fought between immortals w/ the benvolent angels on one side & the malevolent ones on the other side?! Shdn't the benevolent angels be turning the other cheek the whole time?


"Of Battle: whereat Michaël bid sound

Th'Arch-angel trumpet; through the vast of Heav'n

It sounded, and the faithful Armies rung

Hosanna to the Highest: nor stood at gaze

The adverse Legions, nor less hideous join'd

The horrid shock: now storming fury rose,

And clamor such as heard in Heav'n till now

Was never, Arms on Armor clashing bray'd

Horrible discord, and the madding Wheels

Of brazen Chariots rag'd; dire was the noise

Of conflict; overhead the dismal hiss

Of fiery Darts in flaming volleys flew,

And flying vaulted either Host with fire.

So under fiery Cope together rush'd

Both Battles main, with ruinous assault

An inextinguishable rage;" - p 180


How can there be a "ruinous assault" on immortal creatures?! What's the famous quote from Shakespeare's "Macbeth"? "[Life] is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."? That sure does seem to be the case here! The problem is that I get the impression that Milton thought he was signifying big-time. Then Satan gets wounded - so, big deal, he can't be killed, maybe he just has to take a little rest. God, however, never gets wounded.


"the sword

Of Michael from the Armoury of God

Was giv'n him temp'red so, that neither keen

Nor solid might resist that edge: it met

The sword of Satan with steep force to smite

Descending, and in half cut sheer, nor stay'd,

But with swift wheel reverse, deep ent'ring shar'd

All his right side; then Satan first knew pain,"




"Yet soon he heal'd; for Spirits that live throughout

Vital in every part, not as frail man

In Entrails, Heart or Head, Liver or Reins,

Cannot but by annihilating die;" - p 183


So what's the point? If God wants Satan defeated why not simply annihilate him & be done w/ it? Otherwise, it just goes on & on w/ nothing really accomplished. & then there are atheists?! That doesn't make any sense, as usual, their whole purpose is to fight God so how can they not believe in him/it/whatever?


"The Atheist crew, but with redoubl'd blow

Ariel and Arioc, and the violence

Of Ramiel scorcht and blasted overthrew." - p 184


It gets interesting when mountains become used as weapons.


"They pluck'd the seated Hills with all their load,

Rocks, Waters, Woods, and by the shaggy tops

Uplifting bore them in their hands: Amaze,

Be sure, and terror seiz'd the rebel Host,

When coming toward them so dread they saw

The bottom of the Mountains upward turn'd;

Till on those cursed Engines triple-row

They saw them whelm'd, and all their confidence

Under the weight of Mountains buried deep,

Themselves invaded next, and on their heads

Main Promontories flung, which in the Air

Came shadowing, and opprest whole Legions arm'd,

Their armor help'd their harm, crush't in and bruis'd

Into their substance pent, which wrought them pain

Implacable, and many a dolorous groan," - pp 191-192


In Milton's jumble sale of mythologies the Greek Gods get thrown in fairly often:


"Descend from Heav'n Urania, by that name

If rightly thou art call'd, whose Voice divine

Following, above th'Olympian Hill I soar,

Above the flight of Pegasean wing.

The meaning, not the Name I call: for thou

Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top

Of old Olympus dwell'st, but Heav'nly born,

Before the Hills appear'd, or Fountain flow'd," - p 199


Knowledge bad:

"In Paradise to Adam or his Race,

Charg'd not to touch the interdicted Tree,

If they transgress, and slight that sole command," - p 200


Knowledge good:

"Down from the Empyrean to forewarn

Us timely of what might else have been our loss,

Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach:

For which to the infinitely Good we owe

Immortal thanks, and his admonishment" - p 201


Knowledge w/in bounds controlled by God:

"Yet what thou canst attain, which best may serve

To glorify the Maker, and infer

Thee also happier, shall not be withheld

Thy hearing, such Commission from above

I have receiv'd, to answer thy desire

Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain

To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope

Things not reveal'd, which th'invisible King,

Only Omniscient, hath supprest in Night," - p 202


You see? It's like the internet - or, at least, the way people who fancy themselves Gods wd like to make it.

I was actually enthusiastic about <u>Paradise Lost</u>, mainly b/c of the language rather than b/c of the biblical message.


"Of Fish that with their Fins and shining Scales

Glide uner the green Wave, in Sculls that oft

Bank the mid Sea: part single or with mate

Graze the Sea-weed their pasture, and through Groves

Of Coral stray, or sporting with quick glance

Show to the Sun their wav'd coats dropt with Gold,

Or in their Pearly shells at ease, attend

Moist nutriment, or under Rocks their food

In jointed Armour watch: on smooth the Seal," - p 210


Book VIII's Argument:

"Adam inquires concerning celestial Motions, is doubtfully answer'd, and exhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledge: Adam assents, and still desirous to detain Raphael, relates to him what he remember'd since his own Creation, his placing in Paradise, his talk with God concerning solitude and fit society, his first meeting and Nuptials with Eve, his discourse with the Angel thereupon; who after admonitions repeated departs." - p 217


I find in the above "Adam inquires concerning celestial Motions, is doubtfully answer'd, and exhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledge" particularly interesting. Remember that this was written in 1667. Don't forget that the Inquisition started in the 12th century & didn't end until the 19th century. One of the '"heresies" persecuted was the idea that the Earth, & hence Man, was NOT the center of the universe. Hence "inquires concerning celestial Motions" wd've been likely to lead to such an opinion & from there to torture & death. SO, the angel tells the inquiring Adam that this pursuit of inquiry isn't "worthy of knowledge" - thusly Milton protects himself.


Adam is lonely & converses w/ God about this.


"[']Cannot be human consort; they rejoice

Each with their kind, Lion with Lioness;

So fitly them in pairs thou hast combin'd;

Much less can Bird with Beast, or Fish with Fowl

So well converse, nor with the Ox the Ape;

Worse then can Man with Beast, and least of all.'


"Whereto th'Almighty answer'd, not displeas'd.

'A nice and subtle happiness I see

Thou to thyself proposest, in the choice

Of thy Associates, Adam, and wilt taste

No pleasure, thou in pleasure, solitary.

What think'st thou then of mee, and this my State,

Seem I to thee sufficiently possest

Of happiness, or not? who am alone

From all Eternity, for none I know

Second to mee or like, equal much less,

How have I then with whom to hold converse

Save with the Creatures which I made, and those

To me inferior, infinite descents

Beneath what other Creatures are to thee?'" - p 228


Oh, come off it, God! Do you mean to tell us that you can't make a mate for yrself EQUAL to yrself? Not only that, but he can't keep Satan out of where he wants to go, posted cherubic guards or not.


"On the eighth return'd, and on the Coast averse

From entrance or Cherubic Watch, by stealth

Found unsuspected way. There was a place,

Now not, though Sin, not Time, first wrought the change

Where Tigris at the foot of Paradise

Into a Gulf shot under the ground, till part

Rose up a fountain by the Tree of Life;

In with the River sunk, and with it rose

Satan involv'd in rising Mist, then sought

Where to lie hid; Sea he had searcht and Land" - p 238


Exciting, isn't it? It's like Navy Seals hunting Osama bin Laden!


Well, we can already tell that something's not quite right w/ Eve in her head:


"["]Till dieted by thee I grow mature

In knowledge, as the Gods who all things know;["]" - p 257


Didja catch that?! She sd: "Gods", she's a PAGAN, she doesn't believe in just ONE BOSS - or, maybe, that's Milton's slip. Anyway, Eve gets corrupted by you-know-who & then she corrupts Adam. So what do they do next? SCREW!


"There they their fill of Love and Love's disport

Took largely, of their mutual guilt the Seal," - p 263


But then they're embarrassed & OMIGOD WE'RE NAKED! Well, obviously, some laws need to be laid down.


"["]She was indeed, and lovely to attract

Thy Love, not thy Subjection, and her Gifts

Were such as under Government well seem'd

Unseemly to bear rule, which was thy part

And person, hadst thou known thyself aright." - p 272


Yep, Adam if you'd been doing yr job, you'd've kept Eve in line, she was made to be submissive to you & there's constant maintenance to be done along those lines.


So just when I feel like I really can't take much more of this there's some language I like again:


"As when two Polar Winds blowing adverse

Upon the Cronian Sea, together drive

Mountains of Ice, that stop th'imagin'd way

Beyond Petsora Eastward, to the rich

Cathanian Coast. The aggregated Soil

Death with his Mace petrific, cold and dry,

As with a Trident smote, and fix't as firm

As Delos floating once; the rest his look

Bound with Gorgonian rigor not to move,

And with Asphaltic slime; broad as the Gate,

Deep to the Roots of Hell the gather'd beach

They fasten'd, and the Mole immense wrought on

Over the foaming deep high Archt, a Bridge

Of length prodigious joining to the Wall

Immovable of this now fenceless world" - p 276


Adam laments his lot:


"Why am I mockt with death, and length'n'd out

To deathless pain? how gladly would I meet

Mortality my sentence, and be Earth

Insensible, how glad would lay me down

As in my Mother's lap?" - p 288


Ok, let's face it, Milton didn't even bother to try to have anything make any sense. He has Adam talking about his "Mother's lap"! Remember? This is Adam we're talking about, he only had a father, God, he had no mother to lay on the lap of. Didn't Milton ever care about this sort of detail? If he worked for Continuity on a movie he'd be fired straightaway.




"The Son of God presents to his Father the Prayers of our first Parents now repenting, and intercedes for them: God accepts them, but declares that they must no longer abide in Paradise; sends Michael with a Band of Cherubim to dispossess them;" - p 298


So Adam & Eve get evicted. Little did they know what a sweet deal they had.

Milton keeps his apparently unself-conscious myth-mixing going strong:


"He ceas'd; and th'Archangelic Power prepar'd

For swift descent, with him the Cohort bright

Of watchful Cherubim; four faces each

Had, like a double Janus, all their shape

Spangl'd with eyes more numerous than those

Or Argus, and more wakeful than to drowze,

Charm'd with Arcadian Pipe, the Pastoral Reed

Of Hermes, or his opiate Rod. Meanwhile

To resalute the World with sacred Light

Leucothea wak'd, and with fresh dews imbalm'd" - p 302


There seems to be a fair amt of time travel going on, enabled by not only Satan but at least one Angel + Milton's whim.


"Whereon for different cause the Tempter set

Our second Adam in the Wilderness,

To show him all Earth's Kingdoms and their Glory.

His eye might there command wherever stood

City of old or modern Fame, the Seat

Of mightiest Empire, from the destin'd Walls

Of Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Khan

And Samarkand by Oxus, Temir's Throne,

To Paquin of Sinaean Kings, and thence

To Agra and Labor of great Mogúl

Down to the golden Chersonese, or where

The Persian in Ecbatan sat, or since

In Hispahan, or where the Russian Czar

In Moscow, or the Sultan in Bizance,

Turkéstan-born" - p 308


Whole lotta conflatin' goin' on!

Adam reviews what he has learned from an angel who permits him to see the future:


"Greatly instructed I shall hence depart,

Greatly in peace of thought, and have my fill

Of knowledge, what this vessel can contain;

Beyond which was my folly to aspire.

Henceforth I learn, that to obey is best,

And love with fear the only God, to walk

As in his presence, ever to observe" - p 336


Milton clearly preaches total fear & submission but he was still arrested.


& then I finally reached "Paradise Regained".


"I who erewhile the happy Garden sung,

By one man's disobedience lost, now sing

Recover'd Paradise to all mankind,

By one man's firm obedience fully tri'd"




"And unrecorded left through many an Age,

Worthy t'have not remained so long unsung." - p 343


Yep, paradise is regained by being totally obedient again. Funny, how that's not my idea of paradise. Then there's Satan:


"For long indulgence to their fears or grief:

Unanimous they all commit the care

And management of this main enterprise

To him their great Dictator, whose attempt

At first against mankind so well had thriv'd

In Adam's overthrow, and led their march

From Hell's deep-vaulted Den to dwell in light" - p 346


It's funny how Satan is called a "Dictator" but then his followers seem to appreciate him & respect his efforts on their behalf. God rules by terror, Satan rules by helping his followers. So Satan decides to give it his all to seduce Jesus in the desert:


"By fallacy surpris'd. But first I mean

To exercise him in the Wilderness," - p 347


"To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke" - p 348


Many of us think of Israel as having been founded post-WWII. However, as the above allusion hints:

"Israel had clearly emerged in the first half of the 9th century BCE, this is attested when the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III names "Ahab the Israelite" among his enemies at the battle of Qarqar (853 BCE)." -,of%20Qarqar%20(853%20BCE).

The devil strikes out w/ tempting Jesus, the guy's such a loser, you'd think he'd give up.


"["]Moses was forty days, nor ate nor drank,

And forty days Elijah without food

Wand'red this barren waste, the same I now:

Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust,

Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art?"


"Whom thus answer'd th'arch Fiend now undisguis'd.

" 'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate,

Who leagu'd with millions more in rash revolt

Kept not my happy Station, but was driv'n

With them from bliss to the bottomless deep," - p 352


If Heaven was such a great place why did millions rebel?!


"A manger his, yet soon enforc't to fly

Thence into Egypt, till the Murd'rous King

Were dead, who sought his life, and missing fill'd

With infant blood the streets of Bethelem;" - p 358


Bummer, right? Christianity begins w/ all the babies in one area being killed b/c the king has heard that one of the babies is going to supplant him & become THE KING & the king doesn't even get the right baby. & then there's "anarchy" again - you know, the ones who don't kill al the babies or much of any other age range but who're still the bad guys?


"To him who wears the Regal Diadem,

When on his shoulders each man's burden lies;

For therein stands the office of a King,

His Honor, Virtue, Merit and chief Praise,

That for the Public all this weight he bears.

Yet he who reigns within himself, and rules

Passions, Desires, and Fears, is more a King;

Which every wise and virtuous man attains:

And who attains not, ill aspires to rule

Cities of men, or headstrong Multitudes,

Subject himself to Anarchy within," - p 368


Well, I read the whole thing, cover-to-cover. I don't think I deserve a medal or anything but maybe I shd find a club of other people who've done the same, kindof like a club of people who all have herpes. At the end there's a "SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY". Here's a sample title: "Animadversions upon the Remonstrant's Defense against Smectymnus, 161 Prose Tract" - p 397

Interesting title.. but I don't think I'll read it.




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