Paradise Lost: Book 7 in paintings and illustrations

John Martin (1789–1854), The Creation of Light (1824), engraving printed on paper, dimensions and location not known. Wikimedia Commons.

In the sixth book: God on the third day sends Messiah his Son, for whom he had reserved the glory of that victory: he, in the power of his Father, coming to the place, and causing all his legions to stand still on either side, with his chariot and thunder driving into the midst of his enemies, pursues them unable to resist toward the wall of Heaven; which opening, they leap down with horror and confusion into the place of punishment prepared for them in the Deep: Messiah returns with triumph to his Father.

William Blake (1757–1827), The Rout of the Rebel Angels (Thomas Set) (1807), paper, 25 x 21 cm, The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. Wikimedia Commons.
William Blake (1757–1827), The Rout of the Rebel Angels (Butts Set) (1808), paper, 50 x 39 cm, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA. Wikimedia Commons.

Raphael, at the request of Adam, relates how and wherefore this World was first created; that God, after the expelling of Satan and his Angels out of Heaven, declared his pleasure to create another world, and other creatures to dwell therein; sends his Son with glory, and attendance of Angels, to perform the work of Creation in six days: the Angels celebrate with hymns the performance thereof, and his reascention into Heaven.

Say, Goddess, what ensued when Raphaël,
The affable Archangel, had forewarned
Adam, by dire example, to beware
Apostasy, by what befell in Heaven
To those apostates; lest the like befall
In Paradise to Adam or his race,
Charged not to touch the interdicted tree,
If they transgress, and slight that sole command,
So easily obeyed, amid the choice
Of all tastes else to please their appetite,
Though wandering. He, with his consorted Eve,
The story heard attentive, and was filled
With admiration and deep muse, to hear
Of things so high and strange, things to their thought
So unimaginable as hate in Heaven,
And war so near the peace of God in bliss,
With such confusion; but the evil, soon
Driven back, redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung, impossible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repealed
The doubts that in his heart arose; and now
Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know
What nearer might concern him, how this World
Of heaven and earth conspicuous first began;
When, and whereof created; for what cause;

Artist not known, Illustration to Book 7 of ‘Paradise Lost, John Milton (1688), engraving by Michael Burghers, 1695 edition, dimensions not known, The British Library, London. Wikimedia Commons.

[God speaking to his Son]
But, lest his heart exalt him in the harm
Already done, to have dispeopled Heaven,
My damage fondly deemed, I can repair
That detriment, if such it be to lose
Self-lost, and in a moment will create
Another world, out of one man a race
Of men innumerable, there to dwell,
Not here; till, by degrees of merit raised,
They open to themselves at length the way
Up hither, under long obedience tried,
And Earth be changed to Heaven, and Heaven to Earth,
One kingdom, joy and union without end.

Then stayed the fervid wheels, and in his hand
He took the golden compasses, prepared
In God’s eternal store, to circumscribe
This Universe, and all created things.
One foot he centered, and the other turned
Round through the vast profundity obscure,
And said:— ‘Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds,
This be thy just circumference, O World!’
“Thus God the heaven created, thus the earth,
Matter unformed and void. Darkness profound
Covered the Abyss; but on the watery calm
His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread,
And vital virtue infused and vital warmth,
Throughout the fluid mass, but downward purged
The black, tartareous, cold, infernal, dregs
Adverse to life: then founded, then conglobed,
Like things to like, the rest to several place
Disparted, and between spun out the air,
And Earth, self-balanced, on her centre hung.
“‘Let there be light!’ said God, and forthwith light,
Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure,
Sprung from the Deep, and from her native east
To journey through the aery gloom began.

“Again, God said:— ‘Let there be firmament
Amid the waters, and let it divide
The waters from the waters!’ And God made
The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure,
Transparent, elemental air, diffused
In circuit to the uttermost convex
Of this great round; partition firm and sure,
The waters underneath from those above
Dividing — for as Earth, so he the World
Built on circumfluous waters calm, in wide
Crystalline ocean, and the loud misrule
Of Chaos far removed, lest fierce extremes
Contiguous might distemper the whole frame —
And Heaven be named the firmament:

when God said:
‘Be gathered now, ye waters, under heaven
Into one place, and yet dry land appear!’
Immediately the mountains huge appear,
Emergent, and their broad bare backs up-heave
Into the clouds; their tops ascend the sky.
So high as heaved the tumid hills, so low
Down sunk a hollow bottom, broad and deep,
Capacious bed of waters. Thither they
Hasted with glad precipitance, up-rolled,
As drops on dust conglobing, from the dry;
Part rise in crystal wall, or ridge direct,
For haste: such flight the great command impressed
On the swift floods. As armies at the call
Of trumpet — for of armies thou hast heard —
Troop to their standard, so the watery throng,
Wave rolling after wave, where way they found;
If steep, with torrent rapture, if through plain,
Soft-ebbing: nor withstood them rock or hill;

Gustave Doré (1832–1883), Wave Rolling After Wave, Where Way They Found; If Steep, with Torrent Rapture (Book 7, 298-299) (1866), engraving for ‘Paradise Lost’, John Milton, Cassell, Petter and Galpin, further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

And saw that it was good, and said:— ‘Let the earth
Put forth the verdant grass, herb yielding seed,
And fruit-tree yielding fruit after her kind,
Whose seed is in herself upon the earth.’

“Again the Almighty spake:— ‘Let there be lights
High in the expanse of heaven, to divide
The day from night; and let them be for signs,
For seasons, and for days, and circling years;
And let them be for lights, as I ordain
Their office in the firmament of heaven,
To give light on the earth!’ and it was so.
And God made two great lights, great for their use
To Man, the greater to have rule by day,
The less by night, altern; and made the stars,
And set them in the firmament of heaven
To illuminate the earth, and rule the day
In their vicissitude, and rule the night,
And light from darkness to divide.

John Martin (1789–1854), The Creation of Light (1824), engraving printed on paper, dimensions and location not known. Wikimedia Commons.

“And God said:— ‘Let the waters generate
Reptile with spawn abundant, living soul;
And let fowl fly above the earth, with wings
Displayed on the open firmament of heaven.’
And God created the great whales, and each
Soul living, each that crept, which plenteously
The waters generated by their kinds,
And every bird of wing after his kind;

Gustave Doré (1832–1883), And God Said: Let the Waters Generate Reptile With Spawn Abundant, Living Soul; and Let Fowl Fly Above the Earth (Book 7, 387-389) (1866), engraving for ‘Paradise Lost’, John Milton, Cassell, Petter and Galpin, further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

There leviathan,
Hugest of living creatures, on the deep
Stretched like a promontory, sleeps or swims,
And seems a moving land, and at his gills
Draws in, and at his trunk spouts out a sea.

Gustave Doré (1832–1883), And Seems a Moving Land; And at his Gills Draws In, and at his Trunk Spouts Out, a Sea (Book 7, 415-416) (1866), engraving for ‘Paradise Lost’, John Milton, Cassell, Petter and Galpin, further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

Meanwhile the tepid caves, and fens, and shores,
Their brood as numerous hatch from the egg, that soon,
Bursting with kindly rupture, forth disclose
Their callow young; but feathered soon and fledge
They summed their pens, and, soaring the air sublime,
With clang despised the ground, under a cloud
In prospect.

Gustave Doré (1832–1883), Meanwhile the Tepid Caves, and Fens, and Shores, Their Brood as Numerous Hatch (Book 7, 417-418) (1866), engraving for ‘Paradise Lost’, John Milton, Cassell, Petter and Galpin, further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

when God said:
‘Let the earth bring forth soul living in her kind,
Cattle and creeping things, and beast of the earth,
Each in their kind.’ The earth obeyed, and straight,
Opening her fertile womb, teemed at a birth
Innumerous living creatures, perfect forms,
Limbed and full grown.

There wanted yet the master-work, the end
Of all yet done; a creature, who not prone
And brute as other creatures, but endued
With sanctity of reason might erect
His stature, and, upright with front serene,
Govern the rest, self-knowing, and from thence
Magnanimous to correspond with Heaven,
But grateful to acknowledge whence his good
Descends; thither with heart, and voice, and eyes
Directed in devotion, to adore
And worship God supreme, who made him chief
Of all his work: therefore the omnipotent
Eternal Father — for where is not he
Present? — thus to his Son audibly spake:
“‘Let us make now Man in our image, Man
In our similitude, and let them rule
Over the fish and fowl of sea and air,
Beast of the field, and over all the earth,
And every creeping thing that creeps the ground.’
This said, he formed thee, Adam, thee, O man,
Dust of the ground, and in thy nostrils breathed
The breath of life; in his own image he
Created thee, in the image of God
Express, and thou becamest a living soul.

Gustave Doré (1832–1883), And Now on Earth the Seventh Evening Arose in Eden (Book 7, 581-582) (1866), engraving for ‘Paradise Lost’, John Milton, Cassell, Petter and Galpin, further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

And now on Earth the seventh
Evening arose in Eden, for the sun
Was set, and twilight from the east came on,
Forerunning night; when at the holy mount
Of Heaven’s high-seated top, the imperial throne
Of Godhead, fixed for ever firm and sure,
The Filial Power arrived, and sat him down
With his great Father; for he also went
Invisible, yet stayed — such privilege
Hath Omnipresence — and the work ordained,
Author and end of all things, and, from work
Now resting, blessed and hallowed the seventh day,
As resting on that day from all his work;

Source of text: Wikisource.


Wikipedia on John Milton
Wikipedia on Paradise Lost
Wikimedia text of Paradise Lost

Dartmouth’s superb annotated version in its John Milton Reading Room.

Pablo Auladell (2017) Paradise Lost, by John Milton, a graphic novel, Pegasus Books. ISBN 978 1 68177 362 9.

John Leonard (ed) (2000) Paradise Lost, John Milton, Penguin Classics. ISBN 978 0 140 42439 3.
Gordon Teskey (ed) (2005) Paradise Lost, John Milton, Norton Critical Editions. ISBN 978 0 393 92428 2.
Louis Schwartz (ed) (2014) The Cambridge Companion to Paradise Lost, Cambridge UP. ISBN 978 1 107 02946 0.