UnPoetia:Paradise Abridged/Book VI

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The Argument


Raphael, still distracted by small talk, explains to Adam the events of the war in Heaven instigated by Satan.

The Verse

“As yet this world was not,” explain’d th’ angel [1]
Raphael, “th’ Almighty Lord of Heaven
Call’d forth His ten thousand thousand angels
And to them all decreed: ‘Hear all ye, ye
Thrones, Dominions, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers, [5]
Hear my decree, which unrevok’d shall stand:
This day I have begot whom I declare
My only Son, and on this holy hill
Him have anointed, whom ye now behold
At my right hand; your head I him appoint; [10]
And by myself have sworn to Him shall bow
All knees in Heav’n, and shall confess him Lord.’
So spake th’ Omnipotent, and with his words
All seem’d well pleas’d, all seem’d, but were not all.”
“Was the unpleased one the rebel angel?” [15]
Here interjected Adam rude. “Yes,” said
Raphael, “Now allow me to finish:
Yes, that rebel angel’s Satan, so call’d
Him now, his former name is heard no more
In Heav’n. He of the first, if not the first, [20]
Archangel, great in power and favor,
Yet fraught with envy against God’s Son;
He could not bear through pride that sight, and thought
Himself impair’d.” “What a bitch!” Adam then
Interjected. “A bitch indeed,” replied [25]
Raphael. “Deep malice thence conceiving,
And disdain, and to himself resolvèd
With all his legions to dislodge, and leave
Unworship’d, unobey’d the Throne supreme.
So that night to his next subordinate spake: [30]
‘Sleepst thou, companion dear, what sleep can close
Thy eyelids? And rememb’rest what decree
Of yesterday, so late hath past the lips
Of Heav’n’s Almighty. Thou to me thy thoughts—’”
“How do you know what he said?” ask’d Adam.[1] [35]
And Raphael for one whole moment sat
Confounded, and after a short lapse his
Speech resum’d: “So Satan, then, was piss’d, and
Called forth his legions, one third of Heaven,
To his own false assembly at the [40]
Palace of Great Lucifer, whereat he
Pretended all equality with God.
Spake he there and thus his own false decree:
‘Thrones, Dominions, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers,
If these magnific titles yet remain [45]
Not merely titular, since by decree
Another now hath to himself ingross’d
All Power, and us eclips’d under the name
Of King anointed, for whom—’” “How do you
Know if you weren’t there?” asked Adam once more. [50]
Silenced once again, Raphael resumed:
“And clouds began to darken all the hill,
And smoke began to roll in dusty wreathes,
And the Powers militant[2] began to
Move in cause of God and his Messiah [55]
Against the banded Powers of Satan,
Hasting on with furious expedition,
Whose aim it was to win the Mount of God
And on his Throne to set the Envier
Of his State, the proud aspir’ring Satan. [60]
The shout of battle then began, the sound
Of rushing mad angelic onset wild,
As Satan’s third of Heav’n fought Michael’s third,
That latter third in righteous cause of God;
The third third sat out, by th’ order of God.” [65]
“Wait, who did what?” ask’d here, confus’d, Adam.[3]
Th’ exasperated Raphael here sigh’d.
“Nevermind,” said he, and once more began:
“High in the midst exalted as a god
Th’ Apostate in his sun-bright chariot sat, [70]
Idol of Majesty Divine, enclos’d
With flaming Cherubim, and golden shields—
And this is Satan I’m talking about,
Adam, before you go asking me who—
And led on thus his armies in his name. [75]
The battle hung, till Satan, who that day
Prodigious power had shown, and met in arms
No equal, ranging through the dire attack
Of fighting Seraphim confus’d, at length
Saw where the Sword of Michael smote, and fell [80]
Upon him at once with all his malice.
In midst of battle the Archangels met,
And after some boastful parlay—which I,
Adam, was not there to witness, and can
Not to you relate—began with all their [85]
Strength and pow’r to fight. At first the odds seem’d
Equal, but the mighty sword of Michael
Was divinely temper’d such that it could
Cleave without stay th’ angelic substance of
Our being; did Michael this to Satan, and [90]
Thus back the Fiend recoil’d, his whole right half
Sep’rated from his left, his pride all gone.
So Satan and his angels felt then pain;
Physical from wounds, th’ other kind from sin;
And back to the spacious north retired [95]
For the night. On the second day Satan
And his host, to compensate, deploy’d in
Vast array and number cannonade, which
By the Fiend the night before invented;
The dev’lish engines put to disorder [100]
Michael and his host, but not for long, and
The second day a stalemate thus remain’d.
The third day came, and God Almighty to
His Messiah Son explain’d: ‘Two days pass’d
Since Michael and his Powers went forth to tame [105]
These disobedient; sore hath been their fight:
War wearied hath perform’d what war can do.
Two days are therefore past, the third is thine:
The glory may be thine of ending this
Great war, since none but Thou can end it, Son.’ [110]
Answer’d thus God the Father God the Son:
“Yo yo yo, Gawd Dawg G, my Nigga, Dad,
Satan and his crew is all mad whack, so
I gots to borrow your mad pimpin’ ride
So’s I can fuck them niggas up real good.’[4] [115]
Answer’d thus the Deity enraged: ‘Son!
What did I tell you about talking like
That? It’s inappropriate! Jesus Christ!
You can, however, borrow my ride, the
Chevrolet of Paternal Deity,[5] [120]
But listen, Son, so help Me fucking Me,
If there’s one scratch upon my Chevrolet,
You’ll have eternal Hell to pay. Go and
Bring forth all my war, my bow and thunder,
Pursue these sons of darkness, drive them out [125]
From all Heav’n’s bounds into the utter Deep,
But please, for the love of Me, be careful.’
Spake thus God, and handed his Son the Keys
To his mighty glorious Chevrolet,
Which then the Son did ride against Satan [130]
And all the Fiend’s host at once, unaided,
Alone, assaulting with great fury all
The forces of the Fiend, which were quite ’whelm’d,
And bore the brunt of the Son’s ten thousand
Thunders, and the honking of the horn, and [135]
The revving of the Chevy’s engine strong,
Which were at once all far too much to bear,
And out of Heav’n headlong themselves they threw
Into the wide and gaping mouth of Hell.”

Clicketh Here for Book VII

The Annotations

  1. Here, Adam draws attention to details that, realistically, Raphael would have no way of knowing. It is generally thought that this scene, as well as another instance of Adam asking a similar question at line 50, is an attempt of the author drawing attention to what basically amounts to something of a plot hole in the original poem—namely, how does Raphael know what Satan has said despite not being present for it? However, because this has all been meticulously explained in this very footnote, any potentially comedic value this might have had has now been totally ruined.
  2. On the subject of plot holes, many scholars are somewhat curious as to just why exactly there are weapons in Heaven.
  3. Indeed, this passage often proves confusing to the novice reader: the first third—Satan’s third—fights the second third—Michael’s third—while the third third, which isn’t associated with the first or second third, sits out on per God’s decree, and does so until Satan’s forces are finally defeated on the third day.
  4. This line, of course, provides the instance of the Son speaking in the manner of “the urban speak most foul,” which God the Father alludes to in line 43 of Book III.
  5. Here, God the Father expresses great concern over how his Son will handle His prized Chevrolet of Paternal Deity, in the process establishing an archetypical model of father-son relations.