In The Invocation’ which constitutes the opening of Paradise Lost, Milton introduces the central purpose of the epic man’s first disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit and the resultant loss of Eden and creation of pain and death.
Paradise Lost, Milton’s principal work, is the most Hebraic of great English poems. It is the fruit of a puritan’s prolonged meditations on the Bible; it paints the vision the Bible has given him.
He let nothing intervene between the Bible and himself, he allowed himself complete liberty in interpreting it, but he gave it entire faith. He accepts the whole of biblical history as authentic and sacred.
But he rebels is as one who bears all the burden of contemporary knowledge, whose personality is intense and self-centered, and who has little dramatic sense.
He projects himself, his feelings, knowledge, and aspirations, into the characters of his epic, both the primitive human creatures and superhuman beings, whether celestial or infernal.
Critical Appreciation on Invocation
In these twenty-six lines or just two full sentences, which constitute the opening of Paradise Lost, Milton introduces the central purpose of the epic man’s first disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit and the result of loss of Eden and creation of suffering and death.
We notice that the first sentence ends with a rhyme in line 16 and the second with ‘men’ in line 25. The structure of the opening line is noteworthy. The most important word here is ‘disobedience’ a polysyllabic word while the others except fruit’ are monosyllabic.
Disobedience results in fruit and the run-on line suggest the ‘results’ and ‘fruit’ of that ‘forbidden tree’ both as the real fruit and in the sense of the effect. The end words of the first three lines whose sequence is ‘fruit taste -woe’ is the plot of the Fall.
The man was saved by Jesus Christ who sacrificed himself to deliver mankind. Milton appeals to the same Muse who inspired Mose on Mount Sinai. (It is evident that Moses led God’s chosen children of Israel). The Muse, whom he would later name Urania, is of most elevated vision and might alone inspire him to write an epic.
He prays that his work remains unparalleled after he receives instruction from the Muse. Milton wishes to compose in the manner of the divine impregnation of Mary by the descending dove of the Holy Spirit is a kind of holy alliance.
He wishes to be freed from flaws, enlightened so that he would become worthy of God’s grace and would justify the ways of God to men. His intentions in taking up this Herculean project of paradise Lost can be best explained in his own words from Tractate of Education.
” The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him. The epic begins with an invocation to the Muse in keeping with the classical tradition. Milton age took certain kinds of poetry very seriously.
Tragedy and the epic had a high moral function to perform. The doctrine of poetic inspiration was also a very powerful consideration. The poet was supposed to be merely a passive vehicle and the Muse who inspired the poet was ultimately responsible for the work, The Muse is taken şeriously and hence the Invocation’.
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