Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Eden Lost

From the moment the apple's flesh touched the lips of Eve, the destiny of Man would never be the same again. Though her corrupter, the fallen angel Satan, suffered even now along his vile brethren in Hell, his evil deed was done. Hope, it seemed, was memory as lost as the Paradise in which it once dwelled...

Adam and Eve in agony
Fresco by Masaccio
As the rift between the Earth and Hell remained open, Sin and Death, the offspring of Satan, seized their chance. Soaring into the as yet still ethereal plains of Earth, Sin spread fear, doubt, envy, anger, sloth, hate, want, pride to ravage the World. Death brings down upon the land the scythe of time, undiscriminating, unbiased and even, bestowing his withering sentence upon all living things. Meanwhile, high above on the highest throne, the Almighty was made aware of this blasphemy. But it was the lot of man, his curse for his breaking the oath of God, to inhabit a lesser World now, until the day cometh when all will be purified. When that day arrives both Sin and Death will be hurled headlong to the dark pit from whence they came. "Then heav'n and earth renewed shall be made pure, to sanctity that shall receive no stain: till then the curse pronounced on both sides precedes". The host gathered sang in jubiliation, wonder at the ways of the Lord, and joyful at the promised time when the blight will be lifted and all will be free. At once the Creator set about making the new world. At his command, the blazing Sun moved, so that the Earth might feel heat and cold, from the south resplendent Summer, from the north Winter scarcely tolerable. To the Moon the Lord set in her place. To the winds he turned next, their way to blast the sea, the air and shore to the symphony of thunder.

Far below in Eden, the first man beheld the coming plight with despair. "O miserable of happy! Is this the end of this new glorious world, and me so late the glory of glory?" The curse of death weighed heavily upon his mind, as his thoughts turned to his descendants. "Who of all ages to succeed, but feeling the evil on him brought by me, will curse my head, I'll fare our ancestor impure, for this we may thank Adam". With anger he railed against the Almighty, anger at his fall for another's sin. Woe that he had been made at all, he declared:

                             " Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
                               To mould me man, did I solicit thee
                               From darkness to promote me, or here place
                               In this delicious Garden? "
                                    - ADAM BEWAILS HIS CREATION

Adam and Eve expelled from the Garden
Engraving by John Baptist Medina
The loss of Paradise was his sentence, but to this grave retribution the Most High added endless woes. Adam considered, wondering at the ways of God. It was then that Eve, matriarch of man and companion to Adam from whose rib she once sprung, came to him. "God made thee of choice his own, and of his own to serve him; thy reward was of his grace; thy punishment then justly is at his will", she spake.  Willingly to her fate does Eve submit, filled with guilt and devouring remorse is she. Both broken hearted and dejected, lament that it is better to end all and return to the Earth from whence they came, for what left now but a life a shade of before? But Eve held one last hope:

   " Yet one doubt pursues me still,
      lest all I cannot die,
      Les that pure breath of life, the spirit of man,
      Which God inspired, cannot together perish,
      With this corporeal clod... "
                                                                       - EVE'S HOPE

How can the Almighty sentence his creation to torment without end? Adam sank deeper still:

                              " Me now your curse! Ah, why should all mankind
                                For one man's fault thus guiltless be condemned,
                                If guiltless? But from me what can proceed,
                                But all corrupt, both mind and will depraved,
                                Not to do only but to will the same
                                With me? "
                                        - THE DESTINY OF MAN?

Both ponder as to why the scythe of Death has not already struck them, but Death comes not yet. Divine justice it was which slowed her pace, as today, ordered to pronounce her foul sentence without haste. To Adam's restless state Eve sent soothing words which calmed his soul. She remembered suddenly the curse of God. The Almighty spake of a time when the progeny of the first Man and Woman will exact justice upon the Serpent, and righteous retribution will be done by their own seed. Her lowly and newfound humble words touched the anger of Adam, and some small measure of peace returned to him, not known since Eden. No longer could he find it in his heart to look upon Eve with furious eyes. He had eaten of the accursed orb so as to remain with Eve. In this some hope remained. "Eve, thy contempt of life and pleasure seems to argue in thee something more sublime and excellent...". Firm in his resolve, his will restored, Adam declares it is their duty to rid the world of the corruption which their sin brought to the fore. Terrible may be the path along the road to redemption, and long may it be, but at the end of the road redemption remained still. Hope remained. Woman had been cursed to suffer terrible pain in childbirth, but is not such agony soon recompensed by the result? With sweat, toil and grit must man now earn his bread."What harm?", Adam thought, "idleness had been worse". With terrible remorse the first man and woman accepted their fate, hoping upon hope that one day, after their sufferings and prayers, the heart of the Almighty might be moved to pity, and Paradise regained.

The Messiah intercedes
Painting by William Blake
Their repentance, and prayers of humility winged their way to Heaven more swiftly than the loudest acclamation, dampened by no gale until the throne of the Almighty they reached. But it was not God himself who was moved so at hearing their pleas, but his Son the Messiah. Turning to the Father, he spoke with heartfelt words of the pity he felt for the first man and woman. So the intercession of the Messiah was begun, and the destiny of the World set in motion. Hearing the words of Adam and Eve, he spake them anew, and with enchanting charisma, and the will of the Lord began to move. Allow me to stand for him and interpret for him, the Son said. It was then that he made his startling revelation which turned many an angelic head in Heaven:

                    " All his works on me,
                      Good or not good ingraft; my merit those
                      Shall perfect, and for these my death shall pay.
                      Accept me, and in me from these receive
                      The smell of peace toward mankind, let him live
                      Before thee reconciled, at least his days
                      Numbered, though sad, till death, his doom
                      To better life shall yield him, where with me
                      All my redeemed may dwell in joy and bliss,
                      Made one with me as I with thee am one "
                               - THE MESSIAH INTERCEDES FOR MAN

Upon deaf ears the Great Redeemer's words fell not. With calm serenity the Father relented, "All thy request for man, accepted Son". However, no longer may man dwell in the place called Eden, a Garden too pure for man corrupted now with Satan's malevolent touch. Hope remains, in the words of the Lord:

                   " I at first with two fair gifts
                     Created him endowed, with happiness,
                     And immortality: that fondly lost,
                     This other served but to eternize woe;
                     Till I provided Death; so death becomes
                     His final remedy, and after life
                     Tried in sharp tribulation, and refined
                     By faith and faithful works, to second life,
                     Waked in the renovation of the just,
                     Resigns him up with heav'n and earth renewed... "
                              - WHY MEN DIE

But now came the time for man to enter his new abode, to leave his lost Paradise, but forever no more. With a deafening blast the heralds of Heaven rallied the angelic host to the throne of the Almighty, there to await the will of the Divine...

United Kingdom

Penguin Classics
Paradise Lost (Penguin Classics)
(The raw poem in original verse with the commentary at the back)

Oxford World's Classics
Paradise Lost (Oxford World's Classics)
(The raw poem with a commentary on the same page)

United States

Penguin Classics
(The raw poem in original verse with the commentary at the back)

Oxford World's Classics
Paradise Lost (Oxford World's Classics)
The raw poem with a commentary on the same page)

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