In: Criticism

Paradise Lost by John Milton

I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve bought John Milton’s Paradise Lost. It’s one of those works that I always seem to misplace, and this inevitably leads me to think, God must really hate me.

But the other night, while listening to Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral and rooting through a closet, I happened across a battered copy of Milton’s epic, one that, strangely enough, I didn’t remember owning. But it’s mine: all my favorite passages are highlighted, including, "Long is the way / And hard, that out of hell leads up to light," with a simple note in the margin: "Seven!," obviously referring to David Fincher’s gruesome serial killer movie Se7en. But I was puzzled to discover, upon further inspection, that my favorite passage, from Book I, wasn’t highlighted:

…Farewell, happy fields,
Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail,
Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell,
Receive thy new possessor! One who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.

I quickly rectified the situation, with an arrow and added marginalia: "To be recited at funeral."

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