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A vivid description of the Garden of Eden is given in the fourth book of Paradise Lost, one of the most celebrated epics of all times, written by John Milton and first published in the year 1667. The portrayal of Eden occupies more than a hundred lines of the poem starting from line 132. Milton has ascribed all the beauties of nature to the garden God had created for Adam and Eve to enjoy the bliss of paradise. The Garden was sprawling and stretched from the eastern part of present day Israel to the middle of Iraq.
Eden stretchd her Line From Auran Eastward to the Royal Towrs
Of Great Seleucia (PL, Book 4, 210-12) The garden is said to have all kinds of trees like pine, cedar, fir and palm (139) creating a luxuriant verdure that was pristine and dense. The trees are laden with “golden” ripe fruits which shone in the light of the sun’s rays. The trees are covered with blossoms that fill the air with their perfume making the whole atmosphere pure and delightful.
These lofty trees form a natural boundary for the Garden of Eden which is not really planned and landscaped, which sometimes can seem artificial, but is rambling and wild in a most enchanting manner.
It is spread over hills, valleys and plains and has caverns and shaded nooks with sparkling streams that cascade down creating a most romantic and enthralling panorama. The pastures are lush and green with cattle grazing in peace and freedom. There are multitudes of flowers and different varieties of roses and jasmines all spreading their fragrance making Eden a magical land of goodness and serenity.
There are wild animals and birds that play with each other and there is no fear or inhibition.
Amid this idyllic scene stands the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge on which Satan chooses to perch himself in the shape of a snake. Adam and Eve have a blissful time and enjoy all the sights and sounds of this beautiful paradise quite oblivious of the scheme Satan has in mind for bringing about their downfall. It is ironic that it is in this beautiful place that the original sin of mankind was committed. Satan who knew that he had no place in this paradise tricked Eve into disobeying God’s commandment and as a result both Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden.
God in all his bounty had created this land of charm and magic for Adam and Eve, but it was their folly to have believed Satan, who promised that they would become like God if they knew the difference between good and evil. However, the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge brought about their downfall rather than make them equal to God. Milton has used the imagery of beauty akin to purity and that of sin in the shape of a slimy “cormorant”. Some of Milton’s imagery was later reflected in William Blake’s poems Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.
From the lines mentioned in the poem we understand that Satan in his jealous endeavor made sure that if he were denied access to the lovely garden he would not allow anybody else to enjoy the fruits of this paradise. Adam and Eve, for whom God had created this fantastic place found it more difficult to follow the path of simplicity and virtue that God had shown them and foolishly fell prey to Satan’s demoniacal plan. It emphasizes the human flaw of taking the easier path and not caring for long term consequences in preference to taking the path of righteousness.
God had planned the Garden of Eden to be shared by all of his creatures to complete a picture of perfection but did not guard it strongly enough and secure it from a slinking serpent who entered his garden slyly and introduced sin into it. It remains one of the greatest ironies of humanity that our burden of original sin was born amidst such pristine beauty. Work Cited Milton, John. ‘Background Information to Milton and Paradise Lost’ in Neoclassical Literature (English) (Norton-Volume C): 2996-3013.
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