Paradise Lost "The Paradise Of Fools"

John Milton

"The Paradise Of Fools"

Context: Satan lands upon the earth, bent on destroying by guile God's favorite creation, man. For a time he roams over vast fields of the external sphere of the cosmic system, as yet empty of all life, but later to be filled with the souls of people who on earth engaged in works of vanity. On the moon will be souls of people taken away from the earth without dying, like Enoch, and the mighty men born of the sons of God and the daughters of men (Genesis 5: 24) and the original giants (Genesis 6: 4). Men will be there like Empedocles, who jumped into the crater of Mt. Etna, on Sicily, so that people would think he had been bodily conveyed to heaven; and there also will be friars and pilgrims, and those who on their deathbeds put on friars' habits in the hope of being passed into heaven in disguise. Just when they will be about to enter heaven, a violent cross-wind will blow them ten thousand leagues away; but since they are fools, they will believe their destination to be Paradise.

. . . Then might ye see
Cowls, hoods, and habits with their wearers tossed
And fluttered into rags, then relics, beads,
Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,
The sport of winds: all these upwhirled aloft
Fly o'er the backside of the world far off
Into a limbo large and broad, since called
The paradise of fools, to few unknown.
Long after, now unpeopled, and untrod:
All this dark globe the fiend found as he passed,
And long he wandered, till at last a gleam
Of dawning light turned thitherward in haste
His traveled steps. . . .