Important lines from Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’

At a recent U3A meeting one member of our group mentioned that when she was taught she was told that the following lines from ‘Paradise Lost’ were the most important (Book 4 lines 634 to 658 ) … my comments in bracketed italics after each section of this text  –

With thee conversing I forget all time,
All seasons and thir change, all please alike.

(This is a statement made by Adam to Eve … a statement on the importance of the communion with Eve. Adam and Eve is arguably the greatest love story and here we see Adam completely focused on Eve and time stops – the equivalent to eternity taking place … and coupled with this all the seasons and the changes in the seasons are meaningless. So what can I say, he is completely ‘lost’ in paradise!)

Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest Birds; pleasant the Sun
When first on this delightful Land he spreads
His orient Beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flour,
Glistring with dew; fragrant the fertil earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful Eevning milde, then silent Night
With this her solemn Bird and this fair Moon,
And these the Gemms of Heav’n, her starrie train:

(Here we see a description of paradise in terms of environment … the beauty of the natural world and the start of the day defined by bird sound. Orient refers to the eastern part of the sky where the sun rises. Charm is a well-chosen word – the power to attract people – and people have a natural affinity to nature – well they are part of nature of course. Interesting  that the suggestion is that evening is grateful. Night is silent to birdlife – well not entirely. The stars the gems of heaven – the earth integrated with heaven)

But neither breath of Morn when she ascends
With charm of earliest Birds, nor rising Sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, floure,
Glistring with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful Eevning mild, nor silent Night
With this her solemn Bird, nor walk by Moon,
Or glittering Starr-light without thee is sweet.

(But this form of paradise is now negated but first a duplication of the opening description of paradise adding emphasis to the value of the natural world – the last four words give reason – ‘without thee is sweet’ – implying  without Eve paradise is a meaningless experience. We can of course extend this to life without communion with another – life has meaning only in terms of relationship and communion with your fellow man-woman.)

But wherfore all night long shine these, for whom
This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?

(At night we can’t see the sky and we are oblivious to nature – dead as it were … perhaps it is the same for Adam without Eve, metaphorically speaking)

Your word in my ear ...

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