In the eleventh book: The Son of God presents to his Father the prayers of our first parents now repenting, and intercedes for them. God accepts them, but declares that they must no longer abide in Paradise: sends Michael with a band of Cherubim to dispossess them; but first to reveal to Adam future things: Michael’s coming down. Adam shews to Eve certain ominous signs; he discerns Michael’s approach; goes out to meet him; the Angel denounces their departure. Eve’s lamentation. Adam pleads, but submits: The Angel leads him up to a high hill; sets before him in vision what shall happen till the Flood.
The Angel Michael continues, from the Flood, to relate what shall succeed;
[Michael] “Thus thou hast seen one world begin and end;
And Man as from a second stock proceed.
Much thou hast yet to see, but I perceive
Thy mortal sight to fail; objects divine
Must needs impair and weary human sense.
Henceforth what is to come I will relate;
Thou therefore give due audience, and attend.
then, in the mention of Abraham, comes by decrees to explain who that Seed of the Woman shall be, which was promised Adam and Eve in the Fall;
[Michael] “God, from the Mount of Sinai, whose grey top
Shall tremble, he descending, will himself
In thunder, lightning, and loud trumpets sound,
Ordain them laws; part, such as appertain
To civil justice; part, religious rights
Of sacrifice, informing them, by types
And shadows, of that destined Seed to bruise
The Serpent, by what means he shall achieve
Mankind’s deliverance. But the voice of God
To mortal ear is dreadful: they beseech
That Moses might report to them his will,
And terror cease; he grants what they besought,
Instructed that to God is no access
Without Mediator, whose high office now
Moses in figure bears, to introduce
One greater, of whose day he shall foretell,
And all the Prophets, in their age, the times
Of great Messiah shall sing.
his incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension; the state of the Church till his second coming.
[Michael] “But first among the priests dissension springs,
Men who attend the altar, and should most
Endeavor peace! Their strife pollution brings
Upon the temple itself: at last they seize
The sceptre, and regard not David’s sons,
Then lose it to a stranger, that the true
Anointed King, Messiah, might be born
Barred of his right; yet at his birth a star,
Unseen before in heaven, proclaims him come,
And guides the eastern sages, who inquire
His place, to offer incense, myrrh, and gold.
His place of birth a solemn Angel tells
To simple shepherds, keeping watch by night;
They gladly thither haste, and, by a quire
Of squadroned Angels, hear his carol sung.
A Virgin is his mother, but his sire
The Power of the Most High. He shall ascend
The throne hereditary, and bound his reign
With earth’s wide bounds, his glory with the heavens.”
[Michael] “This having learned, thou hast attained the sum
Of wisdom; hope no higher, though all the stars
Thou knewest by name, and all the ethereal powers,
All secrets of the Deep, all Nature’s works.
Or works of God in heaven, air, earth, or sea.
And all the riches of this world enjoyedst,
And all the rule, one empire. Only add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable; add faith,
Add virtue, patience, temperance; add love,
By name to come called charity, the soul
Of all the rest; then wilt thou not be loth
To leave this Paradise, but shall possess
A Paradise within thee, happier far.”
Adam, greatly satisfied and recomforted by these relations and promises, descends the hill with Michael; wakens Eve, who all this while had slept, but with gentle dreams composed to quietness of mind and submission. Michael in either hand leads them out of Paradise, the fiery sword waving behind them, and the Cherubim taking their stations to guard the place.
So spake our mother Eve, and Adam heard
Well pleased, but answered not; for now too nigh
The Archangel stood, and from the other hill
To their fixed station, all in bright array,
The Cherubim descended; on the ground
Gliding meteorous, as evening mist,
Risen from a river, o’er the marish glides,
And gathers round fast at the laborer’s heel,
Homeward returning. High in front advanced,
The banished sword of God before them blazed,
Fierce as a comet, which with torrid heat,
And vapor as the Libyan air adust.
Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat
In either hand the hastening Angel caught
Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappeared.
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms.
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Province their guide.
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow.
Through Eden took their solitary way.
Source of text: Wikisource.
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.