John Milton – “Paradise Lost” Book 4 (ctd.)

Uriel returns to his post on the Sun and the night sets in. Adam says to Eve that it’s time to sleep after their long day of work, because while animals can gambol at ease, their work is the sign of the special dignity conferred on them by God. So they have to rise up before dawn to work again. (You call THAT Paradise?) Eve says that of course if Adam says it’s time to go to bed, then she will obey because his word is her law (barf), but with him life is so sweet she quite forgets whether it’s day or night. This obsequiousness of Eve starts to get on my nerves so much that I quite fail to appreciate the long lyrical passage the Helpful Footnote tells me to appreciate, in which Eve extols the sweetness of every time of day in Paradise, but only if Adam is with her. Eve asks then the dumb blonde question about why the celestial bodies shine if they are asleep. (Although, when I come to think of it,  it is a bit like the question Bishop Berkeley asked a few decades later – does the tree falling down in an empty forest make any sound?) Adam mansplains that they have to travel around the earth and distribute their light evenly, even though these lands are not populated yet. Besides, various angels keep watch at night and sing God’s praises, so, although he doesn’t spell that out, I presume they need some sort of illumination for that. I wonder why he doesn’t mention animals, though. Even back in the prelapsarian days, nocturnal animals were nocturnal, I suppose, even if only for the purpose of eating strictly vegetarian food, and even though they can see at night, they need at least some light for that.

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