John Milton – “Paradise Lost” Book 8 (ctd.)

Raphael gets deeper into astronomy and if I ever expressed my doubts about Milton’s knowledge about it, I have to take them back because it seems Milton was deeply interested and quite knowledgeable about it, but also a bit scared. Raphael’s monologue goes like this: “What if your observations are all wrong because you are here on the earth and so it seems to you all the celestial bodies revolve around it? What if I tell you they in fact revolve around the sun? And what if the Earth shines upon the Moon just like the Moon shines upon the Earth?” (Milton can’t resist  calling two kinds of light, original and reflect, “masculine” and “feminine” respectively.) “And what if the spots you see on the Moon are in fact rain clouds which provide nourishment for soil just like here on earth? And is it really reasonable to think that this vast universe was just created for you two and your future descendants? Maybe there are other Suns and other Earths.” But then, unfortunately, he ends with the patronizing “heav’n is for thee to high”, meaning “don’t bother, your tiny head won’t ever comprehend it, stick to this earth.”


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