It’s been a while. I have since read Paradise Lost in its entirety, fulfilling my quest of completing it once through before the end of the Pesach break.
I have to admit that Milton’s efforts are much appreciated. His epic is full of picturesque description just aching (in my opinion) to be translated into a graphic novel (i.e. comic book). William Blake, I’m sorry to say, doesn’t do it justice.
Note: Evoking my artistic side, I’ve scribbled a number of vignettes on the self-made cover of my book. (For the record, I ripped up my huge volume of “Milton’s Works” into a number of smaller, easily transported portions; to keep the pages from scattering, I bound it with bristol and white glue.) If I ever finish it, I will post photos.
Of course, Milton being Milton, he has succeeded in stretching out the story of the Original Sin — about 23 lines in Genesis — into 10, 557 lines. He has added in lots of good stuff and I quite love his descriptions of Paradise, which, as I said cry out for illustration.
However, I have some profound thoughts about the religious aspect of all this, but can’t seem to get them organized enough in my brain to put them into English. It involves the idea that the story of the original sin is MAN’S attempt to explain man’s inherent quest to know (I don’t believe that the Bible is a “true” story dictated by an All-Being God), and thus Man’s inherent evil and despicable nature (which it is, despite many ‘good’ people, Human’s overall tendency is to be vile, ambitious and greedy). The story of the “Original sin” is just that, a STORY. That is, it is an allegory to describe Man’s inherent nature. This nature came FIRST, before the idea of an “original sin.”
Somehow, in discussing Paradise Lost, the whole idea that Milton is simply a flesh-and-blood person aiming to retell a cool story gets lost and we seems to discuss him as if he is relating, with some God-given spirit, an event that really happened.
I know, I am not at all being clear. No matter. Maybe one day I will be able to sort out my thoughts more coherently.
In the meantime, because I “complained” elsewhere that Milton, being Milton, would probably say “please pass the butter” in 100 words or more, and since it’s time for more “Linda a la Milton” (or is this “Milton a la Linda”? I am confused), behold the following.
And in pentameter no less (pretty close to iambic, I think)… and free verse (i.e. no rhyme).
Please pass the butter a la Milton (i.e. in 100 words or more)
Now as I sit here and of pleasant bread
Do eat, but wish that lovely slice be now
slathered by some del’cate, tasty spread,
do thus entreat my lady fair at right,
to reach her lithesome arm to yonder place,
and pass that bowl. What talent, farmers bold,
to make so flavorsome this bovine stuff,
from udders full. From highland Ayrshires red,
or auburn Guernseys mottled bright, pi-ed
Holstein, or buff colored Jersey, that chews
her cud in placid stance in pasture yon.
Praise the dairyman: who take’th liquid white
and bland and churn’th well, and maketh thus
this creamy joy my naked bread adorn.