Critical Commentry on The Invocation in Paradise Lost Book-I

It is the epic convention to begin the poem with an invocation to the divine spirit to aid the poet in his great motivation of writing Poetry.Read More Poetry Homer thus begins his Iliad:

          ‘Achilles wrath, to Greece the direful spring 

          Of Woes unnumbered, Heavenly Goddess sing!’

 In Odyssey the Muse is again addressed to depict or to sing the wandering of Odysseus. Virgil too begins his Aeneid with the words: “Arms and the man I sing….”. Such epical canon is also employed by Milton too in his Paradise Lost where the first 26 lines constitute the part of invocation in which a pious address is made to the Muse and states his theme of the Poem.

          Like Virgil Milton directly states the elevated theme of his, that is the ‘man’s first disobedience’. In a highly Latinized verse he alienates the subject from The Book of Genesis:
 "Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
          Of that forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste
          Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
          With the loss of Eden, till one greater Man
          Restore us, and regain the blissful seat."

Milton proposes to compose or sing of man’s first act of disobedience to God’s command in eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge which was forbidden by God and as a result of which death and all the miseries of mankind were brought into this world and the heavenly state of innocence and bliss which man enjoyed in Heaven was lost, until Jesus Christ, the Son of God should atone for our sins by his death and regain for us the lost happiness.

Read More Poetry Milton invokes his part to the Heavenly Muse and she is localized not upon Mount Olympus or Mount Helicon, but ‘on the secret top’ of Horeb or Sinai, sacred in Hebraic belief, associated here particularly with Moses:

          “Sing, heavenly muse, that on the secret top,
          Of Oreb or of Sinai didst inspire………..”

It is said that God’s message was first sent in Jerusalem to the Jews, the world of the ancient religion. Read More Poetry Moses and Jenova are its old divine characters. The Heavenly Muse and its structure and location were first revealed before the Jews. The poet is eager to know the reality how Heaven and earth came into existence out of chaos. People say that Muse lives in Sion Hill. Thus he prays to the goddess to inspire him from there to his articulation of epic poetry.

          Like a Renaissance man Milton also invokes Holy Spirit to his aid. As a true learned scholar he blends classical, Hebrew and Christian element together. Read More Poetry The prologues in Paradise Lost begin as classical invocations but with one exception, they rise to Christian prayers to the Holy Spirit.
          Milton also possesses high moral plane and seriousness in composing his poem. Alike the great classics his is the ambitions task with no ordinary theme. He seeks Devine inspiration for his adventurous song:
          “…….. I thence
          Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
          That with no middle flight intends to soar
           Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues
          Things unattempted yet in prose or shyme”.

Milton wants to rise very high in his creative urge in the reality of things and incidents. He wishes his poetry to be better than the literature composed on the Aonian Mount by the ancient authors. His is the subject not yet attempted by any author in prose or poetry. Milton seeks aid of the Holy Spirit for his lofty composition that has always been in existence and knows everything.

          Milton further expresses his humility with an earnest appeal for divine support to overcome his limitation:
          “What in me is dark
          Illumine, what is low raise and support”.
It is a poignant references to his terrible limitation as a Poet his blindness. Metaphorically, the darkness might the ignorance if the Poet has any. Epic is a poetic art of a high order and lowliness is also to be removed from him. Milton’s plan is to affirm that the Divine plan for the world is beneficent and that God’s dealings with men are always just.

          The invocation of Paradise Lost is of high merit. “The plaung of the pauses, the use and fall of emotion, the high emotional charge in which the poet’s sense of dedication and of communion with the great Biblical figures of the Old Testament is communicated, the supplicatory cadence of the appeal to have his darkness illumined and his mind elevated, and the final powerful simplicity of the concluding statement of his purpose – all this represents poetic art of a higher order” (David Daiches). Read More Poetry Here is indeed the loftiness of thought, splendid dignity of expression and rhythmic felicities.

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