ON READING PARADISE LOST
Yes, I have read the whole of Paradise
Lost—yes, I did, and it has changed my brain.
True, it was tedious at times, a strain
To stay awake, but most times, though, concise
And action packed and never imprecise,
As when depicting the infernal pain
Of Lucifer on Hell’s dark lake and plain
First comprehending his dread sacrifice.
It changed my brain, however, stretching it
To accommodate a syntax flowing on
Like Indus, Nile, Yaloo, or Amazon,
Growing to be among the few and fit,
Enchanted by his grand iambic beat,
Who apprehend the genius of his feat.
Whatever inspiration is, it came
To him quite often while he slept
And sang into his inner ear the same
Grand strains that made old bards adept:
Blind Homer and sage Virgil, Dante’s guide,
But further back, the prophets of the Torah;
Yet sang as well to those less deified,
More secular, like Petrarch to his Laura.
What they all shared was the sonority
Of verse, of different kinds, but all designed
To urge their syllables along more free
To find where they’re unconsciously inclined.
This is the mystery of consciousness,
Since how we know at all, we can but guess.