"Hail Holy Light"

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 148

Context: Milton, having shown in Books I and II the state of the rebel angels in Hell, interrupts the progress of his narrative of Satan's search for the newly created universe. The purpose of the interruption is to make a second invocation to the Holy Spirit for help in telling of supernatural places and events, for in the epic tradition the poet makes such formal requests. The reason for the request at this point in the poem is that Milton is going to write now of God and Heaven, whereas before his attention has been on Satan and Hell. Fully within Christian tradition, Milton addresses the Holy Spirit as light:

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Hail holy light, offspring of heaven first-born
Or of the eternal coeternal beam
May I express thee unblamed? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.

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