[Essay] Paradise lost/nor think,though men were none

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sherishine

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Paradise Lost

IV

My Author and Disposer, what thou bidst
Unargued I obey: So God ordains;
God is thy law, thou mine: To know no more
Is woman’s happiest knowledge, and her praise.
With thee conversing I forget all time;
......


Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow
On earth, made hereby apter to receive
Perfection from the sun’s more potent ray.
These then, though unbeheld in deep of night,
Shine not in vain; nor think, though men were none,
That Heaven would want spectators, God want praise
:
Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep:
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold
Both day and night: How often from the steep
Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard
Celestial voices to the midnight air,
Sole, or responsive each to others note,
Singing their great Creator? oft in bands


Question:
Does the blue words mean that, "although there were no people here, but don't think that heaven would want spectators,God want praise"?
 

Raymott

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Question:
Does the blue words mean that, "although there were no people here, but don't think that heaven would want spectators,God want praise"?
nor think, though men were none,
That Heaven would want spectators, God want praise
:

'Want' means 'lack' here, as in "The garden wants water - The garden lacks water".

It means:
Don't think that, even though there are no people here, heaven lacks spectators or God lacks praise.

"Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth ...
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold
Both day and night"

Heaven and God don't lack praise because millions of creatures, even if not people, are ceaselessly praising God's works.
 

BobK

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Paradise Lost

IV

My Author and Disposer, what thou bidst
Unargued I obey: So God ordains;
God is thy law, thou mine: To know no more
Is woman’s happiest knowledge, and her praise.
With thee conversing I forget all time;
......


Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow
On earth, made hereby apter to receive
Perfection from the sun’s more potent ray.
These then, though unbeheld in deep of night,
Shine not in vain; nor think, though men were none,
That Heaven would want spectators, God want praise
:
Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep:
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold
Both day and night: How often from the steep
Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard
Celestial voices to the midnight air,
Sole, or responsive each to others note,
Singing their great Creator? oft in bands


Question:
Does the blue words mean that, "although there were no people here, but don't think that heaven would want spectators,God want praise"?

:up: I can't tell, as Milton's grammar is so complex, who does the thinking, but the contents of the thought are as you suppose. (The meaning of 'want' is 'lack', and the word 'spectators' has its literal meaning of 'people/things watching'.)

The subject of the verb 'think' may be hidden in the elided bit, but 'their stellar virtues' may be a clue. 'Stellar' probably doesn't have the general sense it has now - 'very good'. It, like 'spectators', probably, has its literal meaning - 'of the stars' ( 'which though unbeheld in deep of night/ Shine not in vain') . Milton may have personified them. And perhaps they're the ones doing the thinking. But I think it would be unlike Milton to address the reader directly (with the imperative 'think').*

This is a very taxing piece to read, especially without a Westerner's grasp of the background. The first words of Book 1 are 'Of man's first disobedience and the fruit/Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste/Brought death into the world...' He doesn't bring the tree into it until Book 4, and he doesn't cover the 'disobedience' until Book 9, so the whole work is hard to understand without Milton's Christian background; it's about the Adam and Eve story (although the other ten books make little mention of humanity). Adam, in the story, was the first man - hence 'though men were none'

It's also helpful to have a Classical background to understand some of the less modern meanings: for example '...mortal taste brought death into the world' depends on a very literal interpretation of 'mortal'.

It's great stuff, but I wouldn't think any less of you if you gave up! ;-)

b

PS *I see now, as this was a long post, that I disagree here with Raymott! - whose post nipped in before I hit the Submit button!
 
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Raymott

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But I think it would be unlike Milton to address the reader directly (with the imperative 'think').*"
We're not necessarily disagreeing, Bob. I don't presume to know who Milton was addressing. It might not be readers, but it's someone.
Surely, it's the same person or people that Milton alludes to with:
How often from the steep
Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard
...?

In any case, I've changed my mind about: even though there are no people here.
I should have written: even if there were no people here.
That is, "I tell you, [even] if these [people] become silent, the stones will cry out!" Luke 19:37-40, or:
“If every tongue was still, the noise would still continue, the rocks and stones themselves will start to sing ...
 

sherishine

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Thank you for everyone's reply O(∩_∩)O~ The discussion was really interesting!
 
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