Parsing Paradise

Everyday epiphanies from Milton's Eden and beyond

Nature Gave a Second Groan

I find the concept of creation “groaning” interesting in Book IX after the fall:

In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan,

Skie lowr’d, and muttering Thunder, som sad drops

Wept at compleating of the mortal Sin (1001 – 1003)

Both Adam and Eve’s choice to “eat of death” obviously had serious spiritual ramifications but cannot be removed from the very physical action of consuming the fruit nor the consequence of physical death, which in return is not isolated to only them but all creation. This appears to be referring to Romans 8:19-23 where Paul writes,

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

The fall, in this context, is the point at which the earth becomes subject to decay. This simple personification of Paradise and the rest of the created realm groaning in physical pain because of original sin somehow amplifies the significance of what has just happened beyond the spiritual implications.

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3 Comments

  1. I’m just gonna be a “Mother!” fan club over here again, but this was so nice to read because that plays very heavily into how they told genesis in the movie!

  2. I especially think that this scene and reference to Paul’s language brings up once more Milton’s incredibly powerful connection to birth and the horror which he attached to childbirth which for him very concretely brought about simultaneous life and death as it does here in his poem.

  3. This is really fascinating! I hadn’t really considered this but I think you’re right! I think it is really fascinating how Original Sin seems to be the thing that motivates God to end creating humans Himself and instead forces Eve (and her daughters) to be the ones to carry on the human race in God’s stead. Previously, although Adam did, in a way, help create Eve with his rib, the majority of creating Eve relied on God’s power and action. It seems that now that Sin has invaded the world, Eve will now be punished to bear this pain. And Adam, who loves her dearly, will be forced to watch her be pained and helpless in this process. At least, that’s a potential take on it.

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