Okay, the Prince of Lies wings his way upward and on a cliff encounters a woman naked and beautiful from the genitals up, but horror-show-hideous below, where “[v]oluminous and vast,” a hydra-like reptilian whiplash “of scaly folds” slithers.
Satan can hear the muffled howling of dogs, the frenzied yelps coming from . . . from within her . . . “about her middle round.” These dogs “kennel” in her womb, exit and reenter periodically, and with “their wide Cerberian mouths full loud,” let out “a hideous peal.”
Next to her sits a blob-like creature not “distinguishable in member, joint, or limb.” On what might be considered his head, he wears a “kingly crown.”
[What the Hell?]
Well, boys and girls, sin is ugly. Check out Hieronymus Bosch or Breughel the Elder.
This unholy trinity described above consists of Satan, Sin, and Death. You see, one day when he was strolling the gold-paved streets of Heaven, Lucifer had this chick split open his head and emerge, Athena-like, fully armed. A rebellious thought had roiled his erstwhile Seraphic mind and presto Trouble!
So Beautiful was this feminine doppelganger of a daughter, he had sex with her, impregnated her, right up there in Heaven.
Her name is Sin.
After the war and the expulsion of the rebel angels and their general Satan, Sin gives birth to a blob-like boy who rips open her womb and transforms her limbs into snakes. This offspring, son of Satan, immediately rapes her and impregnates her with the above-mentioned hellhounds.
His name is Death.
Satan + Sin = Death.. . .
* * *
One cloudy day in the early 90’s, I receive an email from our new principal. He’d like to see me in his office, which, because of some construction, is a trailer. I don’t put this encounter off. I stroll over as soon as I can.
Once inside, I sit down on the proffered sofa.
“Well, Wesley. I’ve had a mother call and complain about one of your sophomore English classes.”
“Really? What’s the beef?”
“She says you’re teaching obscenity. By the way, what are you teaching?”
“’The justification of the ways of God to men.’”
He smiles, nods. “Okay, thanks. I’ll explain it to her”
* * *
Believe it or not, sophomores dig Paradise Lost if you set it up right and read a fluidly truncated version. You teach it like it’s sci-fi. After all, Hell in Paradise Lost is a far distant planet; Satan flies through outer space to find Earth.
You got monsters, battles, video-game like scenery.
Add to that full frontal nudity and the gorgeous music of the poetry.
Eve separate he spies,
Veiled in a Cloud of Fragrance, where she stood
Half spied, so thick the Roses bushing round
About her glowed, oft stooping to support
Each Flower of slender stalk, whose head though gay
Carnation, Purple, Azure, or specked with Gold,
Hung drooping unsustained, them she upstands
Gently with Myrtle band, mindless the while,
Her self, though fairest unsupported Flower,
From her best prop so far and storm so nigh.
[I’ve modernized the spelling].