Terrance Lindall: Milton's Satan 'inspiring' the Serpent . . .
The surrealist artist Terrance Lindall has sent me a couple more images of artworks -- along with commentary, also posted below -- from his 1979 series on Paradise Lost, these two depicting upon the moment in which Satan takes possession of the serpent (PL 9.179-191):
In all of the illustrators of Paradise Lost I never saw [even] one illustration where the devil is actually entering the serpent. They show Satan staring at the Serpent. So my idea was to show Satan actually entering the serpent as a black mist. Here are two versions. The drawing [above] is like a man opening the mouth of a crocodile and sticking his head in. The painting below that is in the collection of Denise Tuite ( I sold her PL works early in the 1980s -- the ones I did not intend to publish). I may actually redo this one for the YN Collection [i.e., the Yuko Nii Collection], maybe the others too. Another project before I die. [The Milton expert] Prof. John Geraghty owns the complete slide set of my original paintings for PL that he acquired at auction recently. T[errance].
The difference between the two images is intriguing, the drawing of the serpent appearing more dragon-like and also awake, as if already 'nocent' and remade in Satan's image despite Milton's description. In the painting, however, Lindall has kept somewhat more closely to the wording of Paradise Lost, for though the serpent is stretched out at length rather than "self-rowld," it is not yet awakened to sin, but sleepeth. In case anyone is curious, here is the passage in Milton's epic poem, PL 9.179-191, in which Satan determines upon entering the serpent, after first having lamented the necessity of lowering himself:
So saying, through each Thicket Danck or Drie,My blog is privileged to have this apparently unique rendering of an illustration showing Satan in the act of possessing the serpent, a depiction -- in Lindall's experience as illustrator and Milton expert -- never before rendered by previous illustrators of Paradise Lost.
Like a black mist low creeping, he held on [ 180 ]
His midnight search, where soonest he might finde
The Serpent: him fast sleeping soon he found
In Labyrinth of many a round self-rowld,
His head the midst, well stor'd with suttle wiles:
Not yet in horrid Shade or dismal Den, [ 185 ]
Nor nocent yet, but on the grassie Herbe
Fearless unfeard he slept: in at his Mouth
The Devil enterd, and his brutal sense,
In heart or head, possessing soon inspir'd
With act intelligential; but his sleep [ 190 ]
Disturbd not, waiting close th' approach of Morn.
[Thomas H. Luxon, ed. The Milton Reading Room, January 2012.]
But if any reader knows of other such images, please let us know.