Poem 214 – Tragic Notes

I now must change
Those notes to tragic…

Milton, Paradise Lost, Book IX, 6-7

The chord chimed dolorously
It resounded into the well
Where previously had echoed
The thrilling wedding bells.
Those selfsame bells, their cast-iron forms
Had marked the bridal day
But now dolorous chimes sink down to the water
That were her bridal grave.


Dear readers,

I have made a habit of not quoting Milton at too great a length, but the start of Book IX is chilling. It is here that there is a return to the action of the piece, as we prepare for the Fall of Man. Regardless of one’s beliefs, Milton opens the conclusion exceptionally well.

No more talk where God or angel guest
With man, as with his friend, familiar used
To sit indulgent, and with him partake
Rural repast, permitting him the while
Venial discourse unblamed: I must now change
These notes to tragic; foul distrust, and breach
Disloyal on the part of man, revolt,
And disobedience: on the part of heaven
Now alienated, distance and distaste,
Anger and just rebuke, and judgement given,
That brought into this world a world of woe,
Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery
Death’s harbinger…

And so the curtain starts to fall…

The Hapless Neo-Romantic


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