Sunday, May 31, 2009

John Milton and the Salute to Israel Day Parade

Preparing for my Milton class tomorrow, I came across the story that today is the 'Salute to Israel Day Parade' in New York. Perhaps this made me focus on a passage in Milton's epic which I have often passed over.

As Milton's character Satan makes his way from the precincts of hell, he spies earth in the distance, and the opening of the 'Kingly Palace Gate' of heaven above:
Direct against which opn'd from beneath,
Just o're the blissful seat of Paradise,
A passage down to th' Earth, a passage wide,
Wider by farr then that of after-times
Over Mount Sion, and, though that were large,
Over the Promis'd Land to God so dear,
By which, to visit oft those happy Tribes,
On high behests his Angels to and fro
Pass'd frequent, and his eye with choice regard
From Paneas the fount of Jordans flood
To Beersaba, where the Holy Land
Borders on Ægypt and th' Arabian shoare;
So wide the op'ning seemd, where bounds were set
To darkness, such as bound the Ocean wave.

So Milton - three hundred years ago - provided his own salute to Israel. Though - to the best of my knowledge - he did not march today.

4 comments:

Havlei said...

He did not march today since his warped view "Promiscuous from all Nations, Jew, or Greek" heralding the messiah's second coming has been thwarted by a triumphal return of a Jewish presence on the Holy soil.

Annie said...

He did seem to be rather pro-Israel, so perhaps he would have been there in spirit, at least.

wdk said...

Havlei - now I'm really confused - you are citing Milton's Paradise Regained?!? And Satan's fallacious arguments about the divine desire for glory? The word 'promiscuous' - in context - is perversely attributed to G-d! Ventriloquizing Satan - again I'm surprised!

I always tell my students - google should be your favorite website. But use it wisely!

Extra credit for those who are interested: would Milton's conception of the trinity be a version of the kind of belief - 'partnership in divinity' or שותפות - which Rabbenu Tam finds to be permissible for non-Jews?

Submit your answers below!

Annie said...

Yes. To my mind, Milton considered the other 2 components of the Trinity to be subordinate to the One G-d and Lord of all creation. Milton's Christian Doctrine, for example, abounds with examples of such. According to Rabbenu Tan, Christians are not idolators because Christianity is monotheistic in character. So, Milton's conception of the Trinity would be a version of this kind of belief. Hope this qualifies me for a bonus.