Paradise Lost: Book 8 in paintings and illustrations

William Blake (1757–1827), The Creation of Eve (Linnell Set) (1822), pen and watercolour on wove paper, 51 x 38 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. Wikimedia Commons.

In the seventh book: 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.

Adam inquires concerning celestial motions, is doubtfully answered, and exhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledge

[Raphael to Adam]
To ask or search I blame thee not, for heaven
Is as the book of God before thee set,
Wherein to read his wondrous works, and learn
His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years —
This to attain, whether heaven move or earth,
Imports not, if thou reckon right — the rest
From Man or Angel the great Architect
Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge
His secrets, to be scanned by them who ought
Rather admire; or, if they list to try
Conjecture, he his fabric of the heavens
Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move
His laughter at their quaint opinions wide
Hereafter; when they come to model heaven
And calculate the stars, how they will wield
The mighty frame, how build, unbuild, contrive,
To save appearances, how gird the sphere
With centric and eccentric scribbled o’er,
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb.

Artist not known, Illustration to Book 8 of ‘Paradise Lost, John Milton (1688), engraving by Michael Burghers, 1695 edition, dimensions not known, The British Library, London. Wikimedia Commons.

Solicit not thy thoughts with matters hid;
Leave them to God above; him serve and fear
Of other creatures, as him pleases best,
Wherever placed, let him dispose; joy thou
In what he gives to thee, this Paradise
And thy fair Eve; heaven is for thee too high
To know what passes there. Be lowly wise;
Think only what concerns thee and thy being;
Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there
Live, in what state, condition, or degree,
Contented that thus far hath been revealed
Not of Earth only, but of highest Heaven.”

Adam assents, and still desirous to detain Raphael, relates to him what he remembered since his own creation, his placing in Paradise, his talk with God concerning solitude and fit society, his first meeting and nuptials with Eve, his discourse with the Angel thereupon;

[Adam to Raphael]
Tell, if ye saw, how I came thus, how here.
Not of myself; by some great Maker then,
In goodness and in power pre-eminent.
Tell me how may I know him, how adore,
From whom I have that thus I move and live,
And feel that I am happier than I know.

[God to Adam]
‘This Paradise I give thee, count it thine
To till and keep, and of the fruit to eat.
Of every tree that in the garden grows
Eat freely with glad heart; fear here no dearth.
But of the tree whose operation brings
Knowledge of good and ill, which I have set,
The pledge of thy obedience and thy faith,
Amid the garden by the Tree of Life —
Remember what I warn thee — shun to taste,
And shun the bitter consequence; for know,
The day thou eatest thereof, my sole command
Transgressed, inevitably thou shalt die,
From that day mortal, and this happy state
Shalt lose, expelled from hence into a world
Of woe and sorrow.’

[God makes Eve from Adam when he is asleep]
Who stooping opened my left side, and took
From thence a rib, with cordial spirits warm,
And life-blood streaming fresh; wide was the wound,
But suddenly with flesh filled up and healed.
The rib he formed and fashioned with his hands:
Under his forming hands a creature grew,
Manlike, but different sex, so lovely fair,
That what seemed fair in all the world seemed now
Mean, or in her summed up, in her contained,
And in her looks, which from that time infused
Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before,
And into all things from her air inspired
The spirit of love and amorous delight.
She disappeared, and left me dark; I waked
To find her, or forever to deplore
Her loss, and other pleasures all abjure:
When, out of hope, behold her not far off,
Such as I saw her in my dream, adorned
With what all Earth or Heaven could bestow,
To make her amiable. On she came,
Led by her heavenly Maker, though unseen
And guided by his voice; nor uninformed
Of nuptial sanctity and marriage rights.
Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love.

William Blake (1757–1827), The Creation of Eve (Thomas Set) (1807), paper, 25 x 21 cm, The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. Wikimedia Commons.
William Blake (1757–1827), The Creation of Eve (Butts Set) (1808), paper, 50 x 39 cm, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA. Wikimedia Commons.
William Blake (1757–1827), The Creation of Eve (Linnell Set) (1822), pen and watercolour on wove paper, 51 x 38 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. Wikimedia Commons.

[Raphael] who after admonitions repeated departs.

[Raphael to Adam]
“Be strong, live happy, and love! but first of all
Him whom to love is to obey, and keep
His great command; take heed lest passion sway
Thy judgment to do aught, which else free-will
Would not admit; thine, and of all thy sons
The weal or woe in thee is placed; beware!
I in thy persevering shall rejoice,
And all the Blest. Stand fast; to stand or fall
Free in thine own arbitrement it lies.
Perfect within, no outward aid require;
And all temptations to transgress repel.”

Gustave Doré (1832–1883), So Parted They: the Angel up to Heaven from the Thick Shade, and Adam to His Bower (Book 8, 652-653) (1866), engraving for ‘Paradise Lost’, John Milton, Cassell, Petter and Galpin, further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

So parted they, the Angel up to Heaven
From the thick shade, and Adam to his bower.

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.