Guest poem sent in by Matt Chanoff
(Poem #1213) Paradise Lost (excerpt)
Who first seduced them to that foul revolt? Th' infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived The mother of mankind, what time his pride Had cast him out from heav'n, with all his host Of rebel angels, by whose aid aspiring To set himself in glory above his peers, He trusted to have equaled the Most High, If he opposed; and with ambitious aim Against the throne and monarchy of God Raised impious war in heav'n and battle proud With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power Hurled headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky With hideous ruin and combustion down To bottomless perdition, there to dwell In adamantine chains and penal fire, Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms. Nine times the space that measures day and night To mortal men, he with his horrid crew Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf Confounded though immortal: but his doom Reserved him to more wrath; for now the thought Both of lost happiness and lasting pain Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes That witnessed huge affliction and dismay Mixed with obdúrate pride and steadfast hate: At once as far as angels ken he views The dismal situation waste and wild, A dungeon horrible, on all sides round As one great furnace flamed, yet from those flames No light, but rather darkness visible Served 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 Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed: Such place Eternal Justice had prepared For those rebellious, here their prison ordained In utter darkness, and their portion set As far removed from God and light of heav'n As from the center thrice to th' utmost pole.
No Milton has been posted here since 1999. Here's something I've appreciated during these apocalyptic times. It's from Paradise Lost, right near the beginning. The lines "Hurled headlong flaming from th'ethereal sky/ With hideous ruin and combustion down" are, and I think, belong, in the pantheon of immortal poetry. I'm no Christian, but the embers of that combustion seem all around us recently. There's a lot more about Milton than I know described and linked to Poem #106, Poem #127, Poem #279 and Poem #281. Matt