Paradise Lost: A Poem, in Twelve Books. The Author John Milton (Google eBook)

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J. and R. Tonson and S. Draper; and for S. Birt, C. Hitch, J. Hodges [and seven others in London], 1750
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Chronicles the rise and fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. Begins with the crowning of the Son of God, moves to Lucifer's rebellion and fall, the beginning of the Earth, the birth of Adam and Eve, and how they fell prey to Satan's fraud.
Written in 10 syllable per line prose, which must have been very difficult. Milton was blind, which makes the accomplishment even more amazing. Parts of the book were wonderfully written (the battles with Satan, Eden, the creation of the Earth, the coming events as Adam and Eve are escorted from Eden by Archangel Michael), but others are difficult with many references to Greek characters. I'm sure Milton was brilliant, but those parts don't add much for me and make it seem as though he's being pretentious. I also disliked the way all the characters addressed each other: "Lo, great angel from Heaven, graceful and true of spirit." The pictures of the story in the book, while they received vast praise in the preface, were forgettable.
Still, I can't get away from the amazing work that Milton put here. My only real compliant was the blatant sexism that Adam had for Eve, assuming she was always inferior to him. That is no longer the way of the world, and I doubt Adam would have treated Eve thusly. Sin, Death. Satan, Michael and Raphael were my favorite characters, all providing memorable lines.
 

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Page 26 - Here we may reign secure ; and, in my choice, To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell : Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.
Page 242 - O thou that, with surpassing glory crown'd, Look'st from thy sole dominion, like the god Of this new world, at whose sight all the stars Hide their diminish'd heads, to thee I call, But with no friendly voice, and add thy name, 0 sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams, That bring to my remembrance from what state 1 fell, how glorious once above thy sphere...
Page 3 - Sing, heavenly muse, that on the secret top Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed, In the beginning how the heavens 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 adventrous song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
Page 474 - And full of wrath bent on his enemies. At once the four spread out their starry wings, With dreadful shade contiguous, and the orbs Of his fierce chariot roll'd, as with the sound Of torrent floods, or of a numerous host. He on his impious foes right onward drove, Gloomy as night ; under his burning wheels The steadfast empyrean shook throughout, All but the throne itself of God.
Page 257 - Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon Pour'd forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain...
Page 176 - 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 The rising world of waters dark and deep, Won from the void and formless infinite.
Page 182 - And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out. 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.
Page 338 - Fairest of stars, last in the train of night, If better thou belong not to the dawn, Sure pledge of day, that crown'st the smiling morn With thy bright circlet, praise Him in thy sphere, While day arises, that sweet hour of prime.
Page 181 - Thus with the year Seasons return, but not to me returns Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn, Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose, Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine ; But cloud instead, and ever-during dark Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair Presented with a universal blank Of Nature's works to me expunged and rased, And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
Page 153 - Chaos umpire sits, And by decision more embroils the fray By which he reigns : next him, high arbiter, Chance governs all.

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