Saturday, April 29, 2006

And the Winner of the Mystery Poetical Line is (the Envelope, Please!)

I thought you’d find it fun and you did. The poem whose first stanza was given in this Blog yesterday is Frederich March who is a brilliant contributor here, with Bob in P. F. whose candor I love and his ability to put into memorable words where he agrees and disagrees, second. The author is John Milton [1608-74] and the poem is “On His Blindness.” In some ways I think Milton is more profound than Shakespeare. At any rate, he lived longer and may well have had more experience with women. His first wife was seventeen who became bored with him and skipped town. She returned and they had three daughters; she died in childbirth while delivering a fourth. He got a job translating Latin for a commission on foreign affairs but the work so severely strained his eyes that he lost his sight.

That didn’t stop him from marrying again, a young woman he never saw, who like her predecessor died in childbirth. A third wife aged 24 took over whom he also never saw. The poem “On His Blindness” was written when he was 43 which alludes to his line “Ere half my days in this dark world and wide.” The concluding line in this poem which has endured throughout English literature is:

They also serve who only stand and wait.

My all-time favorite of course (as an English major who graduated 56 years ago) is Milton’s epic Paradise Lost. It is a work of art who wrote with a purpose and knowledge of a generation of literature behind him. His objective: to “justify the ways of God to men.” Showing that evil in the world came not from a Deity who is all-loving for from a spirit who is the essence of evil. Paradoxically, in writing about Satan, Milton made him so colorful that he lives far more vividly in memory than any other character in the epic. Get these lines showing Satan’s fall from grace:

Him the Almighty Power

Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal


With hideous ruin and combustion, down

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell

In adamantine chains and penal fire,

Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms

Nine times the space that measures day and


To mortal men, he, with his horrid crew

Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf,

Confounded, though immortal.

Satan views his Hell in Milton’s description:

…round he throws his baleful eyes

That witnessed huge affliction and dismay,

Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate

At once, as far as Angel’s ken, he views

The dismal situation wste and wild

A dungeon horrible, on all sides round,

As one great furnace flamed; yet from those


No light; but rather darkness visible

Now for another if you care to play. What man wrote these immortal lines for essays that have become immortal in English literature?

“What is truth?” said jesting Pilate and would not stay for an answer.

Wives are young men’s mistresses; companions for middle age and old men’s nurses.


  1. Once again, had to look it up.

  2. Hell is so more vivid than Heaven both in Paradise Lost and Dante's Divine Comedy because it's so much easier for us to imagine. Ours is a nasty and brutish world in many ways and so based upon our experience it's easier to imagine it only more so and you wind up with Hell.

  3. High Real Estate Taxes in Illinois.

    High business fees in Illinois.

    Illinois new Estate Tax.

    Illinois Corruption tied to Illegal Immigration-bribes for CDLs for Illegals.

    The Illinois Catholic Church's support of Illegal Immigration.

    The COST of Illegal Immigration to Illinois vs the benefit OR is cheap labor really "cheap"?

    Demographic Shift in Suburban Counties as laid out in David Schipper's book SELLOUT.

    State and Local tax givaways in the form of TIFs, Real Estate Tax Rebates, and Sales Tax Rebates to the BIG BOYS like Walmart, Home Depot while giving NONE to small business!

    The big stick of Illinois USE TAX.

    Forcing diversity training on Illinois Lawyers and Real Estate Brokers in contunuing education classes.

    Globalism and its effect on Illinois: The decline of the good paying manufacturing job an its effect on the state.

    The decline of Chicago as a Convention destination.

    The overuse of retention ponds in Illinois and its effect on West Nile Virus or the potential of Bird Flu

    But then it is probably best to recite poetry and ignore the major issues...after all you would not want to upset the "guests" on Political Shootout or should we say Political Garden Party.