Descriptions of Sin from Book II of Paradise Lost:
The one seem’d Woman to the waste, and fair,
But ended foul in many a scaly fould
Voluminous and vast, a Serpent arm’d
With mortal sting: about her middle round
A cry of Hell Hounds never ceasing bark’d
With wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous Peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturb’d thir noyse, into her woomb,
And kennel there, yet there still bark’d and howl’d
Alone, but long I sat not, till my womb
Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown
Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes.
At last this odious offspring whom thou seest
Thine own begotten, breaking violent way
Tore through my entrails, that with fear and pain
Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew
Transform’d: but he my inbred enemie
Forth issu’d, brandishing his fatal Dart
Made to destroy: I fled, and cry’d out Death;
Hell trembl’d at the hideous Name, and sigh’d
From all her Caves, and back resounded Death.
I fled, but he pursu’d (though more, it seems,
Inflam’d with lust then rage) and swifter far,
Mee overtook his mother all dismaid,
And in embraces forcible and foule
Ingendring with me, of that rape begot
These yelling Monsters that with ceasless cry
Surround me, as thou sawst, hourly conceiv’d
And hourly born, with sorrow infinite
To me, for when they list into the womb
That bred them they return, and howle and gnaw
My Bowels, thir repast; then bursting forth
A fresh with conscious terrours vex me round,
That rest or intermission none I find.
(l. 778 -802)
Just viscerally awful in every possible way.
Rob is reading Paradise Lost this month and posting about it both on his blog and here. I’m kind of sort of reading along (but not making any promises about getting all the way there).
This is very difficult stuff not to read aloud very loudly, I must say.
Here’s my favorite bit today — Lucifer being all haughty with Death:
Whence and what art thou, execrable shape,
That dar’st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated Front athwart my way
To yonder Gates? through them I mean to pass,
That be assured, without leave askt of thee
Can’t get away from comparing Milton’s Lucifer to Byron’s in Cain. It’s been more than a couple of decades since I read the latter, but I seem to recall Byron’s Lucifer as more complex (both emotionally and intellectually) and therefore more attractive. Which I suppose is what you might expect, given the 150-odd years between them. Here’s a Lucifer speech from Cain, for example.