'Paradise Lost: Book 12' by John Milton

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As one who in his journey bates at noon,Though bent on speed; so here the Arch-Angel pausedBetwixt the world destroyed and world restored,If Adam aught perhaps might interpose;Then, with transition sweet, new speech resumes.Thus thou hast seen one world begin, and end;And Man, as from a second stock, proceed.Much thou hast yet to see; but I perceiveThy mortal sight to fail; objects divineMust needs impair and weary human sense:Henceforth what is to come I will relate;Thou therefore give due audience, and attend.This second source of Men, while yet but few,And while the dread of judgement past remainsFresh in their minds, fearing the Deity,With some regard to what is just and rightShall lead their lives, and multiply apace;Labouring the soil, and reaping plenteous crop,Corn, wine, and oil; and, from the herd or flock,Oft sacrificing bullock, lamb, or kid,With large wine-offerings poured, and sacred feast,Shall spend their days in joy unblamed; and dwellLong time in peace, by families and tribes,Under paternal rule: till one shall riseOf proud ambitious heart; who, not contentWith fair equality, fraternal state,Will arrogate dominion undeservedOver his brethren, and quite dispossessConcord and law of nature from the earth;Hunting (and men not beasts shall be his game)With war, and hostile snare, such as refuseSubjection to his empire tyrannous:A mighty hunter thence he shall be styledBefore the Lord; as in despite of Heaven,Or from Heaven, claiming second sovranty;And from rebellion shall derive his name,Though of rebellion others he accuse.He with a crew, whom like ambition joinsWith him or under him to tyrannize,Marching from Eden towards the west, shall findThe plain, wherein a black bituminous gurgeBoils out from under ground, the mouth of Hell:Of brick, and of that stuff, they cast to buildA city and tower, whose top may reach to Heaven;And get themselves a name; lest, far dispersedIn foreign lands, their memory be lost;Regardless whether good or evil fame.But God, who oft descends to visit menUnseen, and through their habitations walksTo mark their doings, them beholding soon,Comes down to see their city, ere the towerObstruct Heaven-towers, and in derision setsUpon their tongues a various spirit, to raseQuite out their native language; and, instead,To sow a jangling noise of words unknown:Forthwith a hideous gabble rises loud,Among the builders; each to other callsNot understood; till hoarse, and all in rage,As mocked they storm: great laughter was in Heaven,And looking down, to see the hubbub strange,And hear the din:Thus was the building leftRidiculous, and the work Confusion named.Whereto thus Adam, fatherly displeased.O execrable son! so to aspireAbove his brethren; to himself assumingAuthority usurped, from God not given:He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl,Dominion absolute; that right we holdBy his donation; but man over menHe made not lord; such title to himselfReserving, human left from human free.But this usurper his encroachment proudStays not on Man; to God his tower intendsSiege and defiance:Wretched man!what foodWill he convey up thither, to sustainHimself and his rash army; where thin airAbove the clouds will pine his entrails gross,And famish him of breath, if not of bread?To whom thus Michael.Justly thou abhorrestThat son, who on the quiet state of menSuch trouble brought, affecting to subdueRational liberty; yet know withal,Since thy original lapse, true libertyIs lost, which always with right reason dwellsTwinned, and from her hath no dividual being:Reason in man obscured, or not obeyed,Immediately inordinate desires,And upstart passions, catch the governmentFrom reason; and to servitude reduceMan, till then free.Therefore, since he permitsWithin himself unworthy powers to reignOver free reason, God, in judgement just,Subjects him from without to violent lords;Who oft as undeservedly enthrallHis outward freedom:Tyranny must be;Though to the tyrant thereby no excuse.Yet sometimes nations will decline so lowFrom virtue, which is reason, that no wrong,But justice, and some fatal curse annexed,Deprives them of their outward liberty;Their inward lost:Witness the irreverent sonOf him who built the ark; who, for the shameDone to his father, heard this heavy curse,Servant of servants, on his vicious race.Thus will this latter, as the former world,Still tend from bad to worse; till God at last,Wearied with their iniquities, withdrawHis presence from among them, and avertHis holy eyes; resolving from thenceforthTo leave them to their own polluted ways;And one peculiar nation to selectFrom all the rest, of whom to be invoked,A nation from one faithful man to spring:Him on this side Euphrates yet residing,Bred up in idol-worship:O, that men(Canst thou believe?) should be so stupid grown,While yet the patriarch lived, who 'scaped the flood,As to forsake the living God, and fallTo worship their own work in wood and stoneFor Gods!Yet him God the Most High vouchsafesTo call by vision, from his father's house,His kindred, and false Gods, into a landWhich he will show him; and from him will raiseA mighty nation; and upon him showerHis benediction so, that in his seedAll nations shall be blest: he straight obeys;Not knowing to what land, yet firm believes:I see him, but thou canst not, with what faithHe leaves his Gods, his friends, and native soil,Ur of Chaldaea, passing now the fordTo Haran; after him a cumbrous trainOf herds and flocks, and numerous servitude;Not wandering poor, but trusting all his wealthWith God, who called him, in a land unknown.Canaan he now attains; I see his tentsPitched about Sechem, and the neighbouring plainOf Moreh; there by promise he receivesGift to his progeny of all that land,From Hameth northward to the Desart south;(Things by their names I call, though yet unnamed;)From Hermon east to the great western Sea;Mount Hermon, yonder sea; each place beholdIn prospect, as I point them; on the shoreMount Carmel; here, the double-founted stream,Jordan, true limit eastward; but his sonsShall dwell to Senir, that long ridge of hills.This ponder, that all nations of the earthShall in his seed be blessed:By that seedIs meant thy great Deliverer, who shall bruiseThe Serpent's head; whereof to thee anonPlainlier shall be revealed.This patriarch blest,Whom faithful Abraham due time shall call,A son, and of his son a grand-child, leaves;Like him in faith, in wisdom, and renown:The grandchild, with twelve sons increased, departsFrom Canaan to a land hereafter calledEgypt, divided by the river NileSee where it flows, disgorging at seven mouthsInto the sea. To sojourn in that landHe comes, invited by a younger sonIn time of dearth, a son whose worthy deedsRaise him to be the second in that realmOf Pharaoh. There he dies, and leaves his raceGrowing into a nation, and now grownSuspected to a sequent king, who seeksTo stop their overgrowth, as inmate guestsToo numerous; whence of guests he makes them slavesInhospitably, and kills their infant males:Till by two brethren (these two brethren callMoses and Aaron) sent from God to claimHis people from enthralment, they return,With glory and spoil, back to their promised land.But first, the lawless tyrant, who deniesTo know their God, or message to regard,Must be compelled by signs and judgements dire;To blood unshed the rivers must be turned;Frogs, lice, and flies, must all his palace fillWith loathed intrusion, and fill all the land;His cattle must of rot and murren die;Botches and blains must all his flesh emboss,And all his people; thunder mixed with hail,Hail mixed with fire, must rend the Egyptians sky,And wheel on the earth, devouring where it rolls;What it devours not, herb, or fruit, or grain,A darksome cloud of locusts swarming downMust eat, and on the ground leave nothing green;Darkness must overshadow all his bounds,Palpable darkness, and blot out three days;Last, with one midnight stroke, all the first-bornOf Egypt must lie dead.Thus with ten woundsThe river-dragon tamed at length submitsTo let his sojourners depart, and oftHumbles his stubborn heart; but still, as iceMore hardened after thaw; till, in his ragePursuing whom he late dismissed, the seaSwallows him with his host; but them lets pass,As on dry land, between two crystal walls;Awed by the rod of Moses so to standDivided, till his rescued gain their shore:Such wondrous power God to his saint will lend,Though present in his Angel; who shall goBefore them in a cloud, and pillar of fire;By day a cloud, by night a pillar of fire;To guide them in their journey, and removeBehind them, while the obdurate king pursues:All night he will pursue; but his approachDarkness defends between till morning watch;Then through the fiery pillar, and the cloud,God looking forth will trouble all his host,And craze their chariot-wheels: when by commandMoses once more his potent rod extendsOver the sea; the sea his rod obeys;On their embattled ranks the waves return,And overwhelm their war:The race electSafe toward Canaan from the shore advanceThrough the wild Desart, not the readiest way;Lest, entering on the Canaanite alarmed,War terrify them inexpert, and fearReturn them back to Egypt, choosing ratherInglorious life with servitude; for lifeTo noble and ignoble is more sweetUntrained in arms, where rashness leads not on.This also shall they gain by their delayIn the wide wilderness; there they shall foundTheir government, and their great senate chooseThrough the twelve tribes, to rule by laws ordained:God from the mount of Sinai, whose gray topShall tremble, he descending, will himselfIn thunder, lightning, and loud trumpets' sound,Ordain them laws; part, such as appertainTo civil justice; part, religious ritesOf sacrifice; informing them, by typesAnd shadows, of that destined Seed to bruiseThe Serpent, by what means he shall achieveMankind's deliverance.But the voice of GodTo mortal ear is dreadful:They beseechThat Moses might report to them his will,And terrour cease; he grants what they besought,Instructed that to God is no accessWithout Mediator, whose high office nowMoses in figure bears; to introduceOne greater, of whose day he shall foretel,And all the Prophets in their age the timesOf great Messiah shall sing.Thus, laws and ritesEstablished, such delight hath God in MenObedient to his will, that he vouchsafesAmong them to set up his tabernacle;The Holy One with mortal Men to dwell:By his prescript a sanctuary is framedOf cedar, overlaid with gold; thereinAn ark, and in the ark his testimony,The records of his covenant; over theseA mercy-seat of gold, between the wingsOf two bright Cherubim; before him burnSeven lamps as in a zodiack representingThe heavenly fires; over the tent a cloudShall rest by day, a fiery gleam by night;Save when they journey, and at length they come,Conducted by his Angel, to the landPromised to Abraham and his seed:--The restWere long to tell; how many battles foughtHow many kings destroyed; and kingdoms won;Or how the sun shall in mid Heaven stand stillA day entire, and night's due course adjourn,Man's voice commanding, 'Sun, in Gibeon stand,'And thou moon in the vale of Aialon,'Till Israel overcome! so call the thirdFrom Abraham, son of Isaac; and from himHis whole descent, who thus shall Canaan win.Here Adam interposed.O sent from Heaven,Enlightener of my darkness, gracious thingsThou hast revealed; those chiefly, which concernJust Abraham and his seed: now first I findMine eyes true-opening, and my heart much eased;Erewhile perplexed with thoughts, what would becomeOf me and all mankind:But now I seeHis day, in whom all nations shall be blest;Favour unmerited by me, who soughtForbidden knowledge by forbidden means.This yet I apprehend not, why to thoseAmong whom God will deign to dwell on earthSo many and so various laws are given;So many laws argue so many sinsAmong them; how can God with such reside?To whom thus Michael.Doubt not but that sinWill reign among them, as of thee begot;And therefore was law given them, to evinceTheir natural pravity, by stirring upSin against law to fight: that when they seeLaw can discover sin, but not remove,Save by those shadowy expiations weak,The blood of bulls and goats, they may concludeSome blood more precious must be paid for Man;Just for unjust; that, in such righteousnessTo them by faith imputed, they may findJustification towards God, and peaceOf conscience; which the law by ceremoniesCannot appease; nor Man the mortal partPerform; and, not performing, cannot live.So law appears imperfect; and but givenWith purpose to resign them, in full time,Up to a better covenant; disciplinedFrom shadowy types to truth; from flesh to spirit;From imposition of strict laws to freeAcceptance of large grace; from servile fearTo filial; works of law to works of faith.And therefore shall not Moses, though of GodHighly beloved, being but the ministerOf law, his people into Canaan lead;But Joshua, whom the Gentiles Jesus call,His name and office bearing, who shall quellThe adversary-Serpent, and bring backThrough the world's wilderness long-wandered ManSafe to eternal Paradise of rest.Mean while they, in their earthly Canaan placed,Long time shall dwell and prosper, but when sinsNational interrupt their publick peace,Provoking God to raise them enemies;From whom as oft he saves them penitentBy Judges first, then under Kings; of whomThe second, both for piety renownedAnd puissant deeds, a promise shall receiveIrrevocable, that his regal throneFor ever shall endure; the like shall singAll Prophecy, that of the royal stockOf David (so I name this king) shall riseA Son, the Woman's seed to thee foretold,Foretold to Abraham, as in whom shall trustAll nations; and to kings foretold, of kingsThe last; for of his reign shall be no end.But first, a long succession must ensue;And his next son, for wealth and wisdom famed,The clouded ark of God, till then in tentsWandering, shall in a glorious temple enshrine.Such follow him, as shall be registeredPart good, part bad; of bad the longer scroll;Whose foul idolatries, and other faultsHeaped to the popular sum, will so incenseGod, as to leave them, and expose their land,Their city, his temple, and his holy ark,With all his sacred things, a scorn and preyTo that proud city, whose high walls thou sawestLeft in confusion; Babylon thence called.There in captivity he lets them dwellThe space of seventy years; then brings them back,Remembering mercy, and his covenant swornTo David, stablished as the days of Heaven.Returned from Babylon by leave of kingsTheir lords, whom God disposed, the house of GodThey first re-edify; and for a whileIn mean estate live moderate; till, grownIn wealth and multitude, factious they grow;But first among the priests dissention springs,Men who attend the altar, and should mostEndeavour peace: their strife pollution bringsUpon the temple itself: at last they seiseThe scepter, and regard not David's sons;Then lose it to a stranger, that the trueAnointed King Messiah might be bornBarred of his right; yet at his birth a star,Unseen before in Heaven, proclaims him come;And guides the eastern sages, who inquireHis place, to offer incense, myrrh, and gold:His place of birth a solemn Angel tellsTo simple shepherds, keeping watch by night;They gladly thither haste, and by a quireOf squadroned Angels hear his carol sung.A virgin is his mother, but his sireThe power of the Most High:He shall ascendThe throne hereditary, and bound his reignWith Earth's wide bounds, his glory with the Heavens.He ceased, discerning Adam with such joySurcharged, as had like grief been dewed in tears,Without the vent of words; which these he breathed.O prophet of glad tidings, finisherOf utmost hope! now clear I understandWhat oft my steadiest thoughts have searched in vain;Why our great Expectation should be calledThe seed of Woman:Virgin Mother, hail,High in the love of Heaven; yet from my loinsThou shalt proceed, and from thy womb the SonOf God Most High: so God with Man unites!Needs must the Serpent now his capital bruiseExpect with mortal pain:Say where and whenTheir fight, what stroke shall bruise the victor's heel.To whom thus Michael.Dream not of their fight,As of a duel, or the local woundsOf head or heel:Not therefore joins the SonManhood to Godhead, with more strength to foilThy enemy; nor so is overcomeSatan, whose fall from Heaven, a deadlier bruise,Disabled, not to give thee thy death's wound:Which he, who comes thy Saviour, shall recure,Not by destroying Satan, but his worksIn thee, and in thy seed:Nor can this be,But by fulfilling that which thou didst want,Obedience to the law of God, imposedOn penalty of death, and suffering death;The penalty to thy transgression due,And due to theirs which out of thine will grow:So only can high Justice rest appaid.The law of God exact he shall fulfilBoth by obedience and by love, though loveAlone fulfil the law; thy punishmentHe shall endure, by coming in the fleshTo a reproachful life, and cursed death;Proclaiming life to all who shall believeIn his redemption; and that his obedience,Imputed, becomes theirs by faith; his meritsTo save them, not their own, though legal, works.For this he shall live hated, be blasphemed,Seised on by force, judged, and to death condemnedA shameful and accursed, nailed to the crossBy his own nation; slain for bringing life:But to the cross he nails thy enemies,The law that is against thee, and the sinsOf all mankind, with him there crucified,Never to hurt them more who rightly trustIn this his satisfaction; so he dies,But soon revives; Death over him no powerShall long usurp; ere the third dawning lightReturn, the stars of morn shall see him riseOut of his grave, fresh as the dawning light,Thy ransom paid, which Man from death redeems,His death for Man, as many as offered lifeNeglect not, and the benefit embraceBy faith not void of works:This God-like actAnnuls thy doom, the death thou shouldest have died,In sin for ever lost from life; this actShall bruise the head of Satan, crush his strength,Defeating Sin and Death, his two main arms;And fix far deeper in his head their stingsThan temporal death shall bruise the victor's heel,Or theirs whom he redeems; a death, like sleep,A gentle wafting to immortal life.Nor after resurrection shall he stayLonger on earth, than certain times to appearTo his disciples, men who in his lifeStill followed him; to them shall leave in chargeTo teach all nations what of him they learnedAnd his salvation; them who shall believeBaptizing in the profluent stream, the signOf washing them from guilt of sin to lifePure, and in mind prepared, if so befall,For death, like that which the Redeemer died.All nations they shall teach; for, from that day,Not only to the sons of Abraham's loinsSalvation shall be preached, but to the sonsOf Abraham's faith wherever through the world;So in his seed all nations shall be blest.Then to the Heaven of Heavens he shall ascendWith victory, triumphing through the airOver his foes and thine; there shall surpriseThe Serpent, prince of air, and drag in chainsThrough all his realm, and there confounded leave;Then enter into glory, and resumeHis seat at God's right hand, exalted highAbove all names in Heaven; and thence shall come,When this world's dissolution shall be ripe,With glory and power to judge both quick and dead;To judge the unfaithful dead, but to rewardHis faithful, and receive them into bliss,Whether in Heaven or Earth; for then the EarthShall all be Paradise, far happier placeThan this of Eden, and far happier days.So spake the Arch-Angel Michael; then paused,As at the world's great period; and our sire,Replete with joy and wonder, thus replied.O Goodness infinite, Goodness immense!That all this good of evil shall produce,And evil turn to good; more wonderfulThan that which by creation first brought forthLight out of darkness!Full of doubt I stand,Whether I should repent me now of sinBy me done, and occasioned; or rejoiceMuch more, that much more good thereof shall spring;To God more glory, more good-will to MenFrom God, and over wrath grace shall abound.But say, if our Deliverer up to HeavenMust re-ascend, what will betide the fewHis faithful, left among the unfaithful herd,The enemies of truth?Who then shall guideHis people, who defend?Will they not dealWorse with his followers than with him they dealt?Be sure they will, said the Angel; but from HeavenHe to his own a Comforter will send,The promise of the Father, who shall dwellHis Spirit within them; and the law of faith,Working through love, upon their hearts shall write,To guide them in all truth; and also armWith spiritual armour, able to resistSatan's assaults, and quench his fiery darts;What man can do against them, not afraid,Though to the death; against such crueltiesWith inward consolations recompensed,And oft supported so as shall amazeTheir proudest persecutors:For the Spirit,Poured first on his Apostles, whom he sendsTo evangelize the nations, then on allBaptized, shall them with wonderous gifts endueTo speak all tongues, and do all miracles,As did their Lord before them.Thus they winGreat numbers of each nation to receiveWith joy the tidings brought from Heaven:At lengthTheir ministry performed, and race well run,Their doctrine and their story written left,They die; but in their room, as they forewarn,Wolves shall succeed for teachers, grievous wolves,Who all the sacred mysteries of HeavenTo their own vile advantages shall turnOf lucre and ambition; and the truthWith superstitions and traditions taint,Left only in those written records pure,Though not but by the Spirit understood.Then shall they seek to avail themselves of names,Places, and titles, and with these to joinSecular power; though feigning still to actBy spiritual, to themselves appropriatingThe Spirit of God, promised alike and givenTo all believers; and, from that pretence,Spiritual laws by carnal power shall forceOn every conscience; laws which none shall findLeft them inrolled, or what the Spirit withinShall on the heart engrave.What will they thenBut force the Spirit of Grace itself, and bindHis consort Liberty? what, but unbuildHis living temples, built by faith to stand,Their own faith, not another's? for, on earth,Who against faith and conscience can be heardInfallible? yet many will presume:Whence heavy persecution shall ariseOn all, who in the worship persevereOf spirit and truth; the rest, far greater part,Will deem in outward rites and specious formsReligion satisfied; Truth shall retireBestuck with slanderous darts, and works of faithRarely be found:So shall the world go on,To good malignant, to bad men benign;Under her own weight groaning; till the dayAppear of respiration to the just,And vengeance to the wicked, at returnOf him so lately promised to thy aid,The Woman's Seed; obscurely then foretold,Now ampler known thy Saviour and thy Lord;Last, in the clouds, from Heaven to be revealedIn glory of the Father, to dissolveSatan with his perverted world; then raiseFrom the conflagrant mass, purged and refined,New Heavens, new Earth, ages of endless date,Founded in righteousness, and peace, and love;To bring forth fruits, joy and eternal bliss.He ended; and thus Adam last replied.How soon hath thy prediction, Seer blest,Measured this transient world, the race of time,Till time stand fixed!Beyond is all abyss,Eternity, whose end no eye can reach.Greatly-instructed I shall hence depart;Greatly in peace of thought; and have my fillOf knowledge, what this vessel can contain;Beyond which was my folly to aspire.Henceforth I learn, that to obey is best,And love with fear the only God; to walkAs in his presence; ever to observeHis providence; and on him sole depend,Merciful over all his works, with goodStill overcoming evil, and by smallAccomplishing great things, by things deemed weakSubverting worldly strong, and worldly wiseBy simply meek: that suffering for truth's sakeIs fortitude to highest victory,And, to the faithful, death the gate of life;Taught this by his example, whom I nowAcknowledge my Redeemer ever blest.To whom thus also the Angel last replied.This having learned, thou hast attained the sumOf wisdom; hope no higher, though all the starsThou knewest by name, and all the ethereal powers,All secrets of the deep, all Nature's works,Or works of God in Heaven, air, earth, or sea,And all the riches of this world enjoyedst,And all the rule, one empire; only addDeeds to thy knowledge answerable; add faith,Add virtue, patience, temperance; add love,By name to come called charity, the soulOf all the rest: then wilt thou not be lothTo leave this Paradise, but shalt possessA Paradise within thee, happier far.--Let us descend now therefore from this topOf speculation; for the hour preciseExacts our parting hence; and see!the guards,By me encamped on yonder hill, expectTheir motion; at whose front a flaming sword,In signal of remove, waves fiercely round:We may no longer stay: go, waken Eve;Her also I with gentle dreams have calmedPortending good, and all her spirits composedTo meek submission: thou, at season fit,Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard;Chiefly what may concern her faith to know,The great deliverance by her seed to come(For by the Woman's seed) on all mankind:That ye may live, which will be many days,Both in one faith unanimous, though sad,With cause, for evils past; yet much more cheeredWith meditation on the happy end.He ended, and they both descend the hill;Descended, Adam to the bower, where EveLay sleeping, ran before; but found her waked;And thus with words not sad she him received.Whence thou returnest, and whither wentest, I know;For God is also in sleep; and dreams advise,Which he hath sent propitious, some great goodPresaging, since with sorrow and heart's distressWearied I fell asleep:But now lead on;In me is no delay; with thee to go,Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,Is to go hence unwilling; thou to meArt all things under $Heaven, all places thou,Who for my wilful crime art banished hence.This further consolation yet secureI carry hence; though all by me is lost,Such favour I unworthy am vouchsafed,By me the Promised Seed shall all restore.So spake our mother Eve; and Adam heardWell pleased, but answered not:For now, too nighThe Arch-Angel stood; and, from the other hillTo their fixed station, all in bright arrayThe Cherubim descended; on the groundGliding meteorous, as evening-mistRisen from a river o'er the marish glides,And gathers ground fast at the labourer's heelHomeward returning.High in front advanced,The brandished sword of God before them blazed,Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat,And vapour as the Libyan air adust,Began to parch that temperate clime; whereatIn either hand the hastening Angel caughtOur lingering parents, and to the eastern gateLed them direct, and down the cliff as fastTo the subjected plain; then disappeared.They, looking back, all the eastern side beheldOf Paradise, so late their happy seat,Waved over by that flaming brand; the gateWith dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms:Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon;The world was all before them, where to chooseTheir place of rest, and Providence their guide:They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,Through Eden took their solitary way.THE END

Editor 1 Interpretation

Paradise Lost: Book 12 - A Masterpiece of Epic Poetry

Have you ever read a book that left you spellbound, unable to move on from the world it created in your mind? A book that left you pondering over the meaning of life, death, and everything in between? For me, that book is Paradise Lost by John Milton, and its final book, Book 12, is a true masterpiece of epic poetry.

This book, which concludes the epic saga of Satan's rebellion and eventual fall from grace, is a poetic tour de force, showcasing Milton's mastery of language, imagery, and symbolism. From the opening lines to the final verse, the reader is transported to a world of divine beings, mythic battles, and cosmic themes, all rendered in exquisite detail and breathtaking beauty.

Structure and Themes

One of the most striking features of Book 12 is its structure. Unlike the previous books, which were divided into cantos and followed a strict narrative arc, Book 12 is composed of a series of elegies, or mournful poems, that reflect on the themes of the epic as a whole. These elegies are addressed to various characters, including Adam and Eve, Raphael, and even Milton himself, and they explore such themes as the nature of free will, the fallibility of humanity, and the possibility of redemption.

The first elegy, addressed to Adam and Eve, is perhaps the most striking. In this poem, Milton laments the loss of innocence and the fall from grace that has befallen humanity:

"O miserable of happy! is this the end Of this new glorious world, and me so late The glory of that glory, who now become Accursed of blessed, hide me from the face Of God, whom to behold was then my highth Of happiness! Yet well, if here would end The misery, I deserved it, and would bear My own deservings; but this will not serve."

Here, Milton captures the deep sense of regret and despair that accompanies the loss of paradise, and he does so with a language that is both powerful and poignant. The use of paradox ("miserable of happy") and antithesis ("accursed of blessed") creates a sense of tension and conflict that reflects the larger themes of the epic, while the metaphor of hiding from God's face suggests a deep-seated fear and shame that pervades the human psyche.

Imagery and Symbolism

But perhaps the greatest strength of Book 12 is Milton's use of imagery and symbolism. Throughout the poem, he employs a vast array of mythical and biblical references, drawing on a rich cultural heritage to create a complex and multifaceted portrait of the human condition.

Consider, for example, the following lines, which describe the aftermath of Satan's defeat:

"Thus they in mutual accusation spent The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning, And of their vain contest appeared no end."

Here, Milton uses the metaphor of a "fruitless" contest to suggest the futility of human conflict and the need for reconciliation and forgiveness. The image of Satan and his followers accusing each other also echoes the biblical story of Adam and Eve, who similarly accused one another after eating the forbidden fruit.

Similarly, later in the poem, Milton employs a series of striking images to describe the final judgment of humanity:

"So spake the Son, and into terror changed His countenance too severe to be beheld, And full of wrath bent on his enemies."

Here, the image of the Son's "countenance...too severe to be beheld" suggests the awesome power and majesty of God, while the use of the word "enemies" underscores the sense of division and conflict that pervades the human condition.


In conclusion, Paradise Lost: Book 12 is a true masterpiece of epic poetry. Its structure, themes, and imagery combine to create a work of unparalleled power and beauty, one that speaks to the deepest concerns of humanity and offers a vision of redemption and hope. Whether you are a lover of poetry or simply a curious reader, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a true gem of literature, one that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Paradise Lost: Book 12 - A Masterpiece of Epic Poetry

John Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost, is a literary masterpiece that has stood the test of time. The final book of the poem, Book 12, is a culmination of Milton's epic journey through the fall of man and the redemption of humanity. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, characters, and literary devices used in Book 12 of Paradise Lost.

The Theme of Redemption

The theme of redemption is central to Book 12 of Paradise Lost. The book begins with Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden, and it ends with the promise of redemption through the birth of Jesus Christ. Milton uses the character of Michael, the archangel, to explain the plan of redemption to Adam. Michael tells Adam that he will be redeemed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who will come to earth as a man and die for the sins of humanity.

The theme of redemption is also evident in the character of Satan. Throughout the poem, Satan is portrayed as the embodiment of evil, but in Book 12, he is given a moment of redemption. Satan realizes the error of his ways and repents for his sins. However, his repentance is not genuine, and he is ultimately cast into hell.

The Character of Adam

Adam is the central character of Book 12. He is portrayed as a tragic hero who has lost everything. He has lost his innocence, his home, and his relationship with God. However, Adam is also a character who is capable of redemption. He accepts his punishment and looks forward to the promise of redemption through Jesus Christ.

Adam's character is also used to explore the theme of free will. Throughout the poem, Adam and Eve are given the choice to obey or disobey God. They choose to disobey, and as a result, they are punished. However, Milton also shows that free will is a gift from God, and it is up to humanity to use it wisely.

The Literary Devices Used in Book 12

Milton uses a variety of literary devices in Book 12 to enhance the themes and characters of the poem. One of the most prominent devices is imagery. Milton uses vivid descriptions of the Garden of Eden, the fall of man, and the promise of redemption to create a vivid picture in the reader's mind.

Another literary device used in Book 12 is symbolism. Milton uses the characters of Adam and Eve to symbolize humanity's fall from grace. He also uses the character of Satan to symbolize the embodiment of evil.

Milton also uses allusions in Book 12. He alludes to biblical stories and characters, such as the story of Noah's Ark and the character of Moses. These allusions add depth and meaning to the poem, and they help to connect the themes of Paradise Lost to the broader biblical narrative.


In conclusion, Book 12 of Paradise Lost is a literary masterpiece that explores the themes of redemption, free will, and the fall of man. Milton uses vivid imagery, symbolism, and allusions to create a powerful and thought-provoking poem. The character of Adam is a tragic hero who represents humanity's struggle with sin and the promise of redemption through Jesus Christ. Paradise Lost is a timeless work of literature that continues to inspire and challenge readers today.

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