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  • Ana Savković

John Milton: The Architect of Time

Image: Unsplash, downloaded ( 11.9.2021.

On Time

Fly envious Time, till thou run out thy race,

Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,

Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace;

And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,

Which is no more then what is false and vain,

And merely mortal dross;

So little is our loss,

So little is thy gain.

For when as each thing bad thou hast entombed,

And last of all, thy greedy self consumed,

Then long eternity shall greet our bliss

With an individual kiss;

And joy shall overtake us as a flood,

When every thing that is sincerely good

And perfectly divine,

With truth, and peace, and love shall ever shine

About the supreme throne

Of him, t'whose happy-making sight alone,

When once our heavenly-guided soul shall climb,

Then all this earthy grossness quit,

Attired with stars, we shall for ever sit,

Triumphing over death, and chance, and thee O Time.

The Architect of Pandemonium

The hasty multitude

Admiring entered, and the work some praise

And some the architect; his hand was known

In Heaven by many a towered structure high,

Where sceptred angels held their residence,

And sat as princes, whom the supreme king

Exalted to such power, and gave to rule,

Each in his hierarchy, the orders bright.

Nor was his name unheard or unadored

In ancient Greece; and in Ausonian land

Men called him Mulciber; and how he fell

From Heaven, they fabled, thrown by angry Jove

Sheer o'er the crystal battlements: from morn

To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,

A summer's day, and with the setting sun

Dropt from the zenith, like a falling star,

On Lemnos th' Aegean isle: thus they relate,

Erring; for he with this rebellious rout

Fell long before; nor aught availed him now

To have built in Heaven high towers; nor did he scape

By all his engines, but was headlong sent

With his industrious crew to build in Hell.

(Lines 730-751)

The Departure from Eden

He ended, and they both descend the hill;

Descended, Adam to the bower where Eve

Lay sleeping ran before, but found her waked;

And thus with words not sad she him received.

Whence thou returnst, and whither wentst, I know

For God is also in sleep, and dreams advise,

Which he hath sent propitious, some great good

Presaging, since with sorrow and heart's distress

Wearied I fell asleep: but now lead on.

In me is no delay; with thee to go,

Is to stay here; without thee here to stay

Is to go hence unwilling; thou to me

Art all things under Heaven, all places thou,

Who for my wilful crime art banisht hence.

This further consolation yet secure

I carry hence; though all by me is lost,

Such favour I unworthy am vouchsafed,

By me the promised seed shall all restore.

So spake our mother Eve, and Adam heard

Well pleased, but answered not; for now too nigh

Th' 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 ground fast at the labourer's heel

Homeward returning. High in front advanced,

The brandished sword of God before them blazed

Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat,

And vapour as the Libyan air adust,

Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat

In either hand the hastening angel caught

Our lingering parents, and to th' Eastern gate

Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast

To the subjected plain; then disappeared.

They looking back, all th' 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 providence their guide:

They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow

Through Eden took their solitary way.

(Lines 606-649)

Source: Poems/Milton (Milton, J. (1985) Poems/Milton, London: Penguin Books)


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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