In the first few lines of Paradise Lost, John Milton invokes the Muse, an homage to ancient epic poems. Paradise Lost contains the drama, the larger-than-life personalities of Greek or Norse sagas, but owes just as much to the England in which it was written as it does to ancient poetic traditions. Its language is English; its story is Biblical. Whispering Angels, plotting demons, deep romance, vast landscapes, and thrilling battles fill its lines. First published in 1671, it tells the well-known tale of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, imbuing it with grand power and sweeping imagery.
Milton was already blind when he began writing Paradise Lost, dictating it to his daughter. Listening to the audiobook version is like being transported back to his home, listening to him compose this epic poem, word by word, enraptured by his beautiful language.
Listen to the opening lines of Paradise Lost, as Milton invokes the Muse and sets the scene.
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