Paradise Lost: 350th Anniversary

This year is the 350th anniversary of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. It’s one of those great works I’ve always wanted to read; now I’ve obtained a copy, I’m somewhat daunted by its length, and have resorted to dipping in and out as time permits. It’s essentially an epic poem about the Fall of Adam & Eve and their expulsion from Eden. 

In the final Scene, the archangel Michael shows Adam the future, including a vision of the coming Messiah, who would undo his destructive legacy:

Which hee, who comes thy Saviour, shall recure,

Not by destroying Satan, but his works

In thee and in thy Seed: nor can this be, 

But by fulfilling that which thou didst want,

Obedience to the Law of God, impos'd

On penaltie of death, and suffering death,

The penaltie to thy transgression due,

And due to theirs which out of thine will grow: 

So onely can high Justice rest appaid.

The Law of God exact he shall fulfill

Both by obedience and by love, though love

Alone fulfill the Law; thy punishment

He shall endure by coming in the Flesh 

To a reproachful life and cursed death,

Proclaiming Life to all who shall believe

In his redemption, and that his obedience

Imputed becomes theirs by Faith, his merits

To save them, not thir own, though legal works. 

For this he shall live hated, be blasphem'd,

Seis'd on by force, judg'd, and to death condemnd

A shameful and accurst, naild to the Cross

By his own Nation, slaine for bringing Life;

But to the Cross he nailes thy Enemies, 

The Law that is against thee, and the sins

Of all mankinde, with him there crucifi'd,

Never to hurt them more who rightly trust

In this his satisfaction; so he dies,

But soon revives, Death over him no power 

Shall long usurp; ere the third dawning light


“They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld

Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,

Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate

With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms:

Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;

The world was all before them, where to choose

Their place of rest, and Providence their guide;

They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,

Through Eden took their solitary way.”

Returne, the Starres of Morn shall see him rise

Out of his grave, fresh as the dawning light,

Thy ransom paid, which Man from death redeems,

His death for Man, as many as offerd Life.


Michael then leads the pair away from paradise, and its life-giving tree:


In either hand the hastning Angel caught

Our lingring Parents, and to th' Eastern Gate

Led them direct, and down the Cliff as fast

To the subjected Plaine; then disappeer'd.

They looking back, all th' Eastern side beheld

Of Paradise, so late thir happie seat,

Wav'd over by that flaming Brand, the Gate

With dreadful Faces throng'd and fierie Armes:

Som natural tears they drop'd, but wip'd them soon; 

The World was all before them, where to choose

Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:

They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,

Through Eden took thir solitarie way.


Although Milton suffered from a slightly muddled understanding of the trinity, his epic is well worth the read.