Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Paradise Lost: Reader's Digest Condensed Version

"...and Goats, they may conclude..." (PL 12.292)
One of Milton's Ruminants
(Image from Wikipedia)

One of my blog's regular commenters who goes by the title "Conservative in Virginia" (aka CIV) posted this query yesterday in an unsubtle attempt to do me in:

HJH, don't have a heart attack, but for those of us who may never make it through Paradise Lost, do you have a recommendation for a summary? Perhaps one that might even inspire further reading?

I borrowed a copy from the library last summer, but chickened out (or maybe was just too lazy) when I realized how difficult the reading would be. (I gave up partway through Faust, too, so maybe I'm not cut out for heavy reading, not to mention heavy metal artists.)

Fortunately, I have a very sound heart and am not yet dead. Not even Goethe's hard Faust struck me dead despite my having had to read it in deadly dull Deutsch. As for a summary of Paradise Lost, I suspect that the renowned essayist Strongbad might have some suggestions on what to read, so CIV might want to try contacting him for his expert advice.

Or if Strongbad has nothing pertinent to say on the issue, then perhaps this petty little poem will serve as a stopgap measure:

Book 1 Satan is from heaven cast,
Book 2 Plans from Hell his counter-blast,
Book 3 Seeks a human to entice
Book 4 Spots a pair in Paradise.
Book 5 Raphael, sent to blow the whistle,
Book 6 Paints in flashback the dismissal,
Book 7 Tells how God made Man and Matter.
Book 8 Adam and the angel chatter.
Book 9 Satan's apple conquers Eve.
Book 10 God invites the pair to leave.
Book 11 Angel Michael clears the garden,
Book 12 Gives a hint of long-term pardon.

For suggesting Noel Petty's poem, a big hat tip is directed to Jameela Lares, Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of English at the University of Southern Mississippi, who responded to a query that I posed for CIV on the Milton Listserve that I belong to.

CIV probably has enough to buccally egest on, but more strong-stomached folk devouring this blog might like to chew on an extra morsel or two, so if anyone finds some other useful digests for our ruminations, chuck them out this way.


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