Friday, July 21, 2017


Wikipedia Commons
Illustrations of Milton's Paradise Lost 
Illustration 4
Satan Watching the Caresses of Adam and Eve
In Blake's fourth illustration to Milton's Paradise Lost Blake shows a contrast between Satan entwined by the serpent, and Adam and Eve embracing each other. Most striking is that Satan and the serpent gaze into the other's eyes just as the human lovers do. Satan points to the head of Adam indicating his point of attack will be through Adam's brain (or perhaps through his unconscious.)

The first set of Illustrations of Paradise Lost which Blake painted for Rev. Joseph Thomas shows Satan with his upper body above Eve, facing toward Adam. In the second series Blake made the following year for Thomas Butts, he reverses the position of Satan. Also reversed are the positions of the sun and the moon. The sun which had been setting behind Eve is now rising behind Adam. This positions the sun in its rightful place with the male, and the moon with its reflected light behind the female. This positioning is more consistent with Milton's intent:

"For softness she and sweet attractive grace;
He for God only, she for God in him:" (line 296-7)    

In 2008 Anna Beer wrote a biography titled Milton: Poet, pamphleteer, and Patriot. She sees the mature Milton as having resolved many of his sexual issues and able to envision Eden from a healthy sexual perspective. She states: "Milton's Edenic vision of ideal heterosexual love, expressed both physically and emotionally, is an extraordinary development in his writing, indeed in his life." (Page 326) 

On Page 324, Beer makes this observation:

"Milton's vision of Eden is an erotic world of sensuous pleasures, where man and woman are fascinatingly different from each other. Adam and Eve walk through Eden hand in hand, those 'wanton ringlets' waving as she moves, every step a kind of foreplay.
The lovers 'enjoy their fill / Of bliss on bliss.'
Milton, unlike many of religious commentators, unlike his younger self, is quite comfortable with the idea that there was sex, and good sex, before the Fall. But it was sex with love rather than

in the bought smile
Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendeared,
Casual fruition... (IV:765-7)

No 'casual fruition', for Adam and Eve; instead 'mutual bliss,' a delightful sleep as rose-petals fall upon their naked bodies...This is what humanity had lost."

Paradise Lost 
John Milton 
Book 4
Line 289
"for in their looks divine
The image of their glorious Maker shone,
Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure,
(Severe, but in true filial freedom placed,)
Whence true authority in men; though both
Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed;
For contemplation he and velour formed;
For softness she and sweet attractive grace;
He for God only, she for God in him:
His fair large front and eye sublime declared
Absolute rule; and hyacinthine locks
Round from his parted forelock manly hung
Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad:
She, as a veil, down to the slender waist
Her unadorned golden tresses wore
Disheveled, but in wanton ringlets waved
As the vine curls her tendrils, which implied
Subjection, but required with gentle sway,
And by her yielded, by him best received,
Yielded with coy submission, modest pride,
And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.
Nor those mysterious parts were then concealed;
Then was not guilty shame, dishonest shame
Of nature's works, honor dishonorable,
Sin-bred, how have ye troubled all mankind
With shows instead, mere shows of seeming pure,
And banished from man's life his happiest life,
Simplicity and spotless innocence. 

Line 354
[Satan first observes Adam and Eve]
 When Satan still in gaze, as first he stood,
Scarce thus at length failed speech recovered sad.
Oh Hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold?
Into our room of bliss thus high advanced
Creatures of other mould, earth-born perhaps,
Not Spirits, yet to heavenly Spirits bright
Little inferior; whom my thoughts pursue
With wonder, and could love, so lively shines
In them divine resemblance, and such grace
The hand that formed them on their shape hath poured.
Ah, gentle pair, ye little think how nigh
Your change approaches, when all these delights
Will vanish, and deliver ye to woe;
More woe, the more your taste is now of joy;" 
The Bible had little to say about the relationship between Adam and Eve before the fall. Man was created first, and woman was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.

Genesis 1
[26] And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
[27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
[28] And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 2
[20]...but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
[21] And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
[22] And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
[23] And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
[24] Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

An account of Los and Enitharmon parallels facets of the creation of Adam and Eve. Enitharmon is a part of Los before she becomes a separate being outside of him. Like Milton's first couple they are fascinated by one another's beauty and differences. But their 'two wills', 'two intellects' will also turn their joy to woe as Milton predicts for his lovers.    

Jerusalem, Plate 86, (E 245)
"Nor can any consummate bliss without being Generated
On Earth...
So dread is Los's fury, that none dare him to approach
Without becoming his Children in the Furnaces of affliction

And Enitharmon like a faint rainbow waved before him         
Filling with Fibres from his loins which reddend with desire
Into a Globe of blood beneath his bosom trembling in darkness
Of Albions clouds. he fed it, with his tears & bitter groans 
Hiding his Spectre in invisibility from the timorous Shade
Till it became a separated cloud of beauty grace & love       
Among the darkness of his Furnaces dividing asunder till
She separated stood before him a lovely Female weeping
Even Enitharmon separated outside, & his Loins closed
And heal'd after the separation: his pains he soon forgot:
Lured by her beauty outside of himself in shadowy grief.      
Two Wills they had; Two Intellects: & not as in times of old.

Silent they wanderd hand in hand like two Infants wandring
From Enion in the desarts, terrified at each others beauty
Envying each other yet desiring, in all devouring Love,"

No comments: