Thursday, August 03, 2017


Wikipedia Commons
Illustrations to Milton's
Paradise Lost Illustration 8
The Creation of Eve
Genesis 2
[21] And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
[22] And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
[23] And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Genesis 3
[20] And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

In his epic Paradise Lost Milton embellished the few lines in Genesis concerning the creation of Adam and Eve. He explored the characteristics of our first parents and the relationship they shared in minute detail. Milton's Adam was privileged to communicate directly with the Almighty and make his desires known. He realized that he was uniquely embodying in a limited way the characteristics of God in whose image he was created. He knew that his understanding was greater than that of the beasts although far less than that of his maker. His request for a companion with whom be could share equally was answered by God removing a part of Adam himself to make for him a being like unto himself.

The companion whom God created pleased Adam because she was both like him and different from him. Milton followed conventional wisdom in describing woman as subservient to man. However each delighted in all that the other offered, and the bonds of love grew strong between them.

In Blake's eighth illustration to Milton's Paradise Lost, he pictured Christ as the agent who drew Eve from the body of Adam. Eve like Adam was more than a physical body; both were embodied spirits. Blake emphasized this by showing Adam lying on vegetation and Eve floating on air. This picture is, however, an image of separation: the feminine, represented by the new moon, became divided from the masculine whose light she was designed to reflect.  
Paradise Lost
John Milton

Beginning at line 445
 "not good for man to be alone;
Of sleep, which instantly fell on me, called
By Nature as in aid, and closed mine eyes.
Mine eyes he closed, but open left the cell
Of fancy, my internal sight; by which,
Abstract as in a trance, methought I saw,
Though sleeping, where I lay, and saw the shape
Still glorious before whom awake I stood:
Who stooping opened my left side, and took
From thence a rib, with cordial spirits warm,
And life-blood streaming fresh; wide was the wound,
But suddenly with flesh filled up and healed:
The rib he formed and fashioned with his hands;
Under his forming hands a creature grew,
Man-like, but different sex; so lovely fair,
That what seemed fair in all the world, seemed now
Mean, or in her summed up, in her contained
And in her looks; which from that time infused
Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before,
And into all things from her air inspired
The spirit of love and amorous delight.
Grace was in all her steps, Heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love.
I, overjoyed, could not forbear aloud.
This turn hath made amends; thou hast fulfilled
Thy words, Creator bounteous and benign,
Giver of all things fair. but fairest this
Of all thy gifts, nor enviest. I now see
Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, myself
Before me: Woman is her name; of man
Extracted: for this cause he shall forego
Father and mother, and to his wife adhere;
And they shall be one flesh, one heart, one soul."
Beginning at line 536
  "from my side subducting, took perhaps
More than enough; at least on her bestowed
Too much of ornament, in outward show
Elaborate, of inward less exact.
For well I understand in the prime end
Of Nature her the inferior, in the mind
And inward faculties, which most excel;
In outward also her resembling less
His image who made both, and less expressing
The character of that dominion given
O'er other creatures: Yet when I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say,
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best:
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded; Wisdom in discourse with her
Loses discountenanced,"

Beginning at line 589
"Love refines
The thoughts, and heart enlarges; hath his seat
In reason, and is judicious; is the scale
By which to heavenly love thou mayest ascend,
Not sunk in carnal pleasure; for which cause,
Among the beasts no mate for thee was found.
To whom thus, half abashed, Adam replied.
Neither her outside formed so fair, nor aught
In procreation common to all kinds,
(Though higher of the genial bed by far,
And with mysterious reverence I deem,)
So much delights me, as those graceful acts,
Those thousand decencies, that daily flow
From all her words and actions mixed with love
And sweet compliance, which declare unfeigned
Union of mind, or in us both one soul;"

Although Blake did not have a single way of describing the separation of the male and female, this passage is enlightening. Blake indicates that when the emanation is split from the unified man, a second division ensues. The depleted Spirit is left a Spectre, a pale image of his original substance. Blake's aim is always for everything 'To reunite in those mild fields of happy Eternity.'                                             

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 84, (E 359)
[Spectre of Urthona to Enitharmon)
"To reunite in those mild fields of happy Eternity
Where thou & I in undivided Essence walkd about   
Imbodied. thou my garden of delight & I the spirit in the garden
Mutual there we dwelt in one anothers joy revolving
Days of Eternity with Tharmas mild & Luvah sweet melodious
Upon our waters. This thou well rememberest listen I will tell
What thou forgettest. They in us & we in them alternate Livd 
Drinking the joys of Universal Manhood. One dread morn
Listen O vision of Delight One dread morn of goary blood
The manhood was divided for the gentle passions making way
Thro the infinite labyrinths of the heart & thro the nostrils issuing
In odorous stupefaction stood before the Eyes of Man   
A female bright. I stood beside my anvil dark a mass
Of iron glowd bright prepard for spades & plowshares. sudden down
I sunk with cries of blood issuing downward in the veins
Which now my rivers were become rolling in tubelike forms
Shut up within themselves descending down I sunk along, 
The goary tide even to the place of seed & there dividing

 I was divided in darkness & oblivion thou an infant woe
And I an infant terror in the womb of Enion
My masculine spirit scorning the frail body issud forth
From Enions brain In this deformed form leaving thee there 
Till times passd over thee but still my spirit returning hoverd
And formd a Male to be a counterpart to thee O Love
Darkend & Lost In due time issuing forth from Enions womb
Thou & that demon Los wert born Ah jealousy & woe       
Ah poor divided dark Urthona now a Spectre wandering  
The deeps of Los the Slave of that Creation I created
I labour night & day for Los but listen thou my vision
I view futurity in thee I will bring down soft Vala
To the embraces of this terror & I will destroy
That body I created then shall we unite again in bliss"

Jerusalem, Plate 92, (E 252)
"Los answerd swift as the shuttle of gold. Sexes must vanish & cease
To be, when Albion arises from his dread repose O lovely Enitharmon:
When all their Crimes, their Punishments their Accusations of Sin: 
All their Jealousies Revenges. Murders. hidings of Cruelty in Deceit
Appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary Space and Time.
In the shadows of Possibility by Mutual Forgiveness forevermore
And in the Vision & in the Prophecy, that we may Foresee & Avoid
The terrors of Creation & Redemption & Judgment." 

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