Paradise lost and found …

Day Sixteen: Third Time’s the Charm

Today’s Prompt: Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

For inspiration, ponder the phrase “lost and found.” What do you think about or visualize when you read this phrase? For an elementary schooler, it might be a box in their classroom, full of forgotten jackets and random toys. For a frequent traveler, it might be a facility in an airport, packed with lost phones, abandoned bags, and misplaced items.

On day four, you wrote about losing something. On day thirteen, you then wrote about finding something. So, today’s twist: If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of lost and found more generally in this post.

By the end of Writing 101, you’ll have multiple posts around a theme; material you could thread together in a longform piece.

Questions to think about as you write your post:

  • What have you learned about loss over the years?
  • What does it feel like to find an object that was once important to you?
  • When can reconnecting go horribly wrong?
  • When are things better left buried and forgotten?


Paradise Lost BOOK

1 John Milton (1667) THE ARGUMENT This first Book proposes, first in brief, the whole Subject, Mans disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was plac’t: Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the Serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many Legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of Heaven with all his Crew into the great Deep. Which action past over, the Poem hasts into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into Hell, describ’d here, not in the Center (for Heaven and Earth may be suppos’d as yet not made, certainly not yet accurst) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest call’d Chaos: Here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning Lake, thunder-struck and astonisht, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in Order and Dignity lay by him; they confer of thirmiserable fall. Satan awakens all his Legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded; They rise, thir Numbers, array of Battel, thir chief Leaders nam’d, according to the Idols known afterwards in Canaan and the Countries adjoyning. To these Satan directs his Speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining Heaven, but tells them lastly of a new World and new kind of Creature to be created, according to an ancient Prophesie or report in Heaven; for that Angels were long before this visible Creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of this Prophesie, and what to determin thereon he refers to a full Councel. What his Associates thence attempt. Pandemonium the Palace of Satan rises, suddenly built out of the Deep: The infernal Peers there sit in Councel.

Click to access ENGL402-Milton-Paradise-Lost-Book-1.pdf

Paradise Lost

In general terms, I’m not a believer of this type of hell and damnation sort of belief system.

Do I believe evil walks abroad? I guess so – yes. Do I believe in good and it’s opposition to evil? I guess so – yes.

Why the hesitations in answering my own questions? Because it is not so cut and dried.

Man’s disobedience? Now there a strange concept? For it basically put’s Homo sapiens as children, to be scolded. Who’s doing the scolding? Why other men/people who claim to be able to “speak for God”. Not exactly sure why or how? That’s not explained.

If God lives in our hearts? Then we are able to have our own conversation with the supreme being. Yet, the priests are fond of their status and income, to allow this to happen. So, they snort and deride and tell the people. Only we can interpret the will of God, etc.

Paradise was lost, once those people claimed divinity. We allowed it to happen and society’s leaders stood aside to allow it to happen. For they too saw the profit of controlling religious belief. Build a big house, for God to live in. Further divorce’s us from the responsibility of prayer and meditation. Keeps people busy tilling the fields. While their henchmen roam the land rooting out “witches”. To be put to death for the people’s entertainment. We can only suppose the demons saw that, as work well done?


The Poetry of John Milton:

Paradise Regained’s Stylistic Relationship to Paradise Lost Paradise Lost employs a magnificent, elegant, and artificial style which emphasizes cerebral wording, and which alters the normal way an English sentence flows, often adopting instead a polished style most associated with the best writers in the Latin language. Many scholars have commented upon the grandeur of the verse and some even hear within its wording the sonorous tones of background organ music. This grand style seems perfectly appropriate for the Epic genre, which in the Renaissance was generally considered the loftiest form of literature. It seems a bit surprising then, when a reader picks up the sequel, Paradise Regained, and finds the style remarkably different. Puritans tended toward things that were simple, direct, plain, and unvarnished as a means to avoid worldliness and to focus upon God and His Word. They didn’t like their church buildings towering and lofty, filled with Gothic arches, gilded altars, or rainbowhued stained glass windows. Instead, they preferred no-nonsense blank walls, a simple table instead of an altar, and perhaps a single cross on the wall behind the unornamented pulpit. They didn’t like their sermons filled with elaborate Sophistic rhetoric, glossing, tropes, or allegories. Instead, they preferred clear, direct, and logical Ramist rhetoric, a focus upon the meaning of scripture alone, with edifying application to their daily lives. Arguably, then, Paradise Regained can be seen stylistically as a Puritan Epic. It is clearly an Epic in genre, with its brief Invocation to the Muse, its statement of the Epic Theme, its Epic Council, etc., but it is an epic in a simpler style. Paradise Lost’s subject matter is above and beyond the experience of most readers; we do not usually overhear a dialogue between God the Father and God the Son, nor experience the War of Angels, nor view in detail the machinations of Satan, nor dine with a perfect and unfallen human couple. Such lofty material deserves a grand style. But Paradise Regained’s subject matter is more approachable to readers. The protagonist, Jesus, is someone the reader knows intimately from simply reading the Gospels, and the macrocosmic debate between Christ and Satan occurs to some degree microcosmically in the psyche of the reader every time he or she is tempted to have that second piece of cheesecake or to start smoking again. The simple truths of the Gospel seem to have required a simple style. Milton himself hints at this when he has Jesus denigrate the Greco-Roman intellectual style as “their swelling epithets thick laid / As varnish on a Harlot’s cheek” (Paradise Regained 4.343–44), but then he has Jesus extoll the biblical writers as writing “in thir majestic unaffected style . . . In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt” (Paradise Regained 4.359–361). Most critics judge Paradise Lost as superior to Paradise Regained, but Milton is not among them; he considered the sequel equal if not superior to the prequel. Perhaps Milton’s attraction to Puritan simplicity is part of the reason he favored Paradise Regained.

Paradise Regained

So Milton has us believe that Jesus of Nazareth, dying on the cross. Regained Paradise?

I certainly have no argument with those who wish to believe this. I would urge anyone who has not read the two poems? To do so. Powerful stuff. Still, a product of the late 17th C.

I am often intrigued by the period after the Nazarene’s death and when this death became sanctified by Constantine. Emperor of a Byzantine Rome in what is now Turkey. Just a few hundred miles from communities of Gnostic Christians living in caves. Hollowed out beneath the tufa of the region. For the Gnostic Christian, bears little resemblance to what became the sanctified versions of what we now know as Christianity.

We know more about Buddha who lived 2500 years earlier, than we know about Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, people parade up and down with the symbols of crosses and tears. Not joyousness of re-birth and suffering overcome.

People who claim to be Christian are busy bombing others around the world. Too busy to remember that this Nazarene said his father … i.e. God. Who now commanded the people to “love thy neighbour as thyself and do unto others as you would have done unto you”. Not sure how that fits in?

My Aunty Babs and Uncle Ted. May or may not? Have been too churchgoing. Yet, they did do so. From time to time.

They were good and generous people, who lived lives humbly and with a gusto. If that is Paradise regained? Then I’ll take it and try to pass on their examples.