What are your favorit lines or images from Paradise Lost?
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Author:  Saffron [ Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:33 am ]
Post subject:  What are your favorit lines or images from Paradise Lost?

I am using a library copy (one that is falling apart no less) of PL and a recorded version, so I can't mark in the text, but these are the three I can readily pull into mind --

Bk I

Nathless he so endur'd, till on the Beach
Of that inflamed Sea, he stood and call'd [ 300 ]
His Legions, Angel Forms, who lay intrans't
Thick as Autumnal Leaves that strow the Brooks

I love the intensity and energy of this speech from Bk 1

He call'd so loud, that all the hollow Deep
Of Hell resounded. Princes, Potentates, [ 315 ]
Warriers, the Flowr of Heav'n, once yours, now lost,
If such astonishment as this can sieze
Eternal spirits; or have ye chos'n this place
After the toyl of Battel to repose
Your wearied vertue, for the ease you find [ 320 ]
To slumber here, as in the Vales of Heav'n?
Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
To adore the Conquerour? who now beholds
Cherube and Seraph rowling in the Flood
With scatter'd Arms and Ensigns, till anon [ 325 ]
His swift pursuers from Heav'n Gates discern
Th' advantage, and descending tread us down
Thus drooping, or with linked Thunderbolts
Transfix us to the bottom of this Gulfe.
Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n. [ 330 ]

And from bk III

So spake the false dissembler unperceivd;
For neither Man nor Angel can discern
Hypocrisie, the onely evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone,
By his permissive will, through Heav'n and Earth: [ 685 ]
And oft though wisdom wake, suspicion sleeps
At wisdoms Gate, and to simplicitie

From here on I'm going to put post-its to mark the lines of interest.

Author:  DWill [ Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:32 am ]
Post subject: 

Good idea for a thread. I care less about the poem's ideas than about the poetry, I have to admit, though sometimes ideas and poetry march together, as here in Book III:

Ail holy light, ofspring of Heav'n first-born,
Or of th' Eternal Coeternal beam
May I express thee unblam'd? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from Eternitie, dwelt then in thee, [ 5 ]
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear'st thou rather pure Ethereal stream,
Whose Fountain who shall tell? before the Sun,
Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a Mantle didst invest [ 10 ]
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I re-visit now with bolder wing,
Escap't the Stygian Pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight [ 15 ]
Through utter and through middle darkness borne
With other notes then to th' Orphean Lyre
I sung of Chaos and Eternal Night,
Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to reascend, [ 20 ]
Though hard and rare: thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovran vital Lamp;

Directly after this passage, Milton talks about his blindeness, making the whole passage a stretch of great lines:

but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that rowle in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quencht thir Orbs, [ 25 ]
Or dim suffusion veild. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
Cleer Spring, or shadie Grove, or Sunnie Hill,
Smit with the love of sacred Song; but chief
Thee Sion and the flowrie Brooks beneath [ 30 ]
That wash thy hallowd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor somtimes forget
Those other two equal'd with me in Fate,
So were I equal'd with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris and blind Maeonides, [ 35 ]
And Tiresias and Phineus Prophets old.
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntarie move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful Bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest Covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal Note. Thus with the Year [ 40 ]
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of Ev'n or Morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or Summers Rose,
Or flocks, or heards, or human face divine;
But cloud in stead, and ever-during dark [ 45 ]
Surrounds me, from the chearful wayes of men
Cut off, and for the Book of knowledg fair
Presented with a Universal blanc
Of Nature's works to mee expung'd and ras'd,
And wisdome at one entrance quite shut out. [ 50 ]
So much the rather thou Celestial light
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight. [ 55 ]

Author:  Grim [ Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:37 pm ]
Post subject: 

A palm-treed island with coconuts, fresh water springs and sandy beaches slipping away to the flat blue of the ocean. I think of this every time I read the words Paradise Lost, no joke.


Author:  seespotrun2008 [ Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:13 am ]
Post subject: 

I like this phrase from Book I verse 255:

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.

I think that this is so true about the human mind.

Author:  MaryLupin [ Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:16 am ]
Post subject:  Satan's humanity

My favourite bits in Paradise Lost are the ones that most clearly present Satan's deep humanity. For me, one of the 2 best passages that set up this idea is the last stanza from book 2, here copied.

It is such a well wrought passage. Here he is, having come from the darkest of human desires and fears, he must (because of his nature-He is the Pyramid of fire) seek that which is its antithesis. To get to earth he has to go the way many heros have gone. He has to face his own Scylla and Charybdis. By forcing Satan through such a difficult passage he at once links Satan with the greatest of our mythological heroes thereby making Satan human, and links our greatest personal aspirations (our hero addiction) to the evil that is represented by Satan. Such a brilliant move.

Then there is the last bit of the stanza, where after all this (and God making the way between Earth and Hell a broad path, which bodes us no good at all), there is the beautiful earth suspended by its golden chain. The switch from the dark dialog of book 2, the dreadful path Satan forges and the delicate sapphire towers and golden chain act like cool water on a burning hand.

I imagine Satan's feelings upon seeing this place and I feel nothing but empathy. Can you imagine what a bitter exile feels upon seeing his relief suspended in beauty and knowing he can never go home? I mean he can walk to peaks of earth, sneak into Paradise, but he can never belong there. All he can do is try to ease his own pain.

To put it more bluntly, as God's first exile from Paradise, Satan is our brother.

He ceas'd; and Satan staid not to reply, [ 1010 ]
But glad that now his Sea should find a shore,
With fresh alacritie and force renew'd
Springs upward like a Pyramid of fire
Into the wilde expanse, and through the shock
Of fighting Elements, on all sides round [ 1015 ]
Environ'd wins his way; harder beset
And more endanger'd, then when Argo pass'd
Through Bosporus betwixt the justling Rocks:
Or when Ulysses on the Larbord shunnd
Charybdis, and by th' other whirlpool steard. [ 1020 ]
So he with difficulty and labour hard
Mov'd on, with difficulty and labour hee;
But hee once past, soon after when man fell,
Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain
Following his track, such was the will of Heav'n, [ 1025 ]
Pav'd after him a broad and beat'n way
Over the dark Abyss, whose boiling Gulf
Tamely endur'd a Bridge of wondrous length
From Hell continu'd reaching th' utmost Orbe
Of this frail World; by which the Spirits perverse [ 1030 ]
With easie intercourse pass to and fro
To tempt or punish mortals, except whom
God and good Angels guard by special grace.
But now at last the sacred influence
Of light appears, and from the walls of Heav'n [ 1035 ]
Shoots farr into the bosom of dim Night
A glimmering dawn; here Nature first begins
Her fardest verge, and Chaos to retire
As from her outmost works a brok'n foe
With tumult less and with less hostile din, [ 1040 ]
That Satan with less toil, and now with ease
Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light
And like a weather-beaten Vessel holds
Gladly the Port, though Shrouds and Tackle torn;
Or in the emptier waste, resembling Air, [ 1045 ]
Weighs his spread wings, at leasure to behold
Farr off th' Empyreal Heav'n, extended wide
In circuit, undetermind square or round,
With Opal Towrs and Battlements adorn'd
Of living Saphire, once his native Seat; [ 1050 ]
And fast by hanging in a golden Chain
This pendant world, in bigness as a Starr
Of smallest Magnitude close by the Moon.
Thither full fraught with mischievous revenge,
Accurst, and in a cursed hour he hies. [ 1055 ]

Author:  seespotrun2008 [ Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:49 pm ]
Post subject: 

Wow, Mary. What an eloquent way of interpreting this passage! :D

Author:  MaryLupin [ Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:56 pm ]
Post subject: 

Why thank you Seespotrun.

Author:  DWill [ Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:52 pm ]
Post subject: 

seespotrun2008 wrote:
I like this phrase from Book I verse 255:

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.

I think that this is so true about the human mind.

In my old textbook, I've written "a heresy." There is a note that explains that the heresy is similar to that for which Amaury de Bene was burned at the stake. Apparently, it was forbidden to say that Hell could exist only in the individual's heart. What Milton probably intended as an example of Satan's twisted thinking, we find much truth in.

Author:  Saffron [ Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:31 am ]
Post subject: 

Now that I am finished reading PL, the book I enjoyed the most and feel is the strongest is Bk II. I like the oration and can easily see it in my minds eye performed on stage -- very intense and dramatic.

Author:  Saffron [ Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:51 am ]
Post subject: 

Here's a passage that I marked off on my first reading and keeps coming back to me. It is from Bk III, beginning at line 685:

By his permissive will, through Heav'n and earth:
And oft though wisdom wake, suspicion sleeps
At wisdom's gate, and to simplicity
Resigns her charge, while goodness thinks no ill
Where no ill seems: which now for once beguiled
Uriel, though regent of the sun, and held
The sharpest sighted Spirit of all in Heav'n;
Who to the fraudulent impostor foul
In his uprightness answer thus returned.

The sounds of the language themselves, aside from their meanings, are pleasing to me.

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