Poem 165 – Force hath made Him

Be it so,
Since he who is now sovereign can dispose and bid
What shall be right; furthest from him is best
Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme
Above his equals…

Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I, 245-249

Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven

Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I, 263

What claim has he to call himself God,
The one, only, and supreme,
When he is merely a tyrant lord;
A king who, since his mace strikes the hardest,
And scatters the most otherwise sacrosanct blood,
Declares himself fit to reign,
When only fit to rule, and rule by fear,
Not by more favourable love.
A conqueror who rejects objection,
And declares obstinately
That force hath made him supreme
Above his equals. No God is this,
No divinity just, no Lord of all creation.
So I say this, that rather than to bow
To such a violent fiend, I would rather stand here doomed –
Better to reign in hell than serve in a tyrant heaven.


Dear readers,

And so it begins. Having been cast down to hell following an unsuccessful rebellion against God, Satan and his fellow angels (or demons, as they are to become) discuss their future. Should they submit to God and hope to be forgiven, or resume their war against heaven? Satan persuasively argues that God will remain God, if only due to his supreme force, and it is better to rule far from God than to return to a life constantly subservient to his will. It is this sentiment that I have tried to invoke in this passage, and I hope that I succeed.

Kind regards,

The Hapless Neo-Romantic


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