Living Texts: Interpreting Milton

By Kristin A. Pruitt; Charles W. Durham | Go to book overview

Afterthoughts on Adam's Story

J. MARTIN EVANS

At the risk of committing what Yvor Winters identified as “the fallacy of imitative form,”1 I would like to devote my afterthoughts on Adam's story to Adam's afterthoughts on the same subject. His description of Eve's creation and their consequent nuptial union appears at first to conclude at line 523 of book 8:

Thus I have told thee all my State, and brought
My story to the sum of earthly bliss
Which I enjoy.

(521–23)2

Although this may be the end of Adam's “relation” (247), it is not the end of his speech, not even the end of his sentence. For after only a comma, he launches into a prolonged exposition of the psychological and moral consequences of the events he has just described:

Which I enjoy, and must confess to find
In all things else delight indeed, but such
As us'd or not, works in the mind no change
Nor vehement desire …

. . . . . . . . .

… but here
Far otherwise, transported I behold,
Transported touch; here passion first I felt,
Commotion strange, in all enjoyments else
Superior and unmov'd, here only weak
Against the charm of Beauty's powerful glance.

(523–33)

As the verb “confess” warns us at the outset, there is something seriously wrong with Adam's reaction to his wife's physical attractions. Unlike the other pleasures that God has provided, he tells the archangel, Eve's beauty carries him away into a state of

-48-

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