"His Six Days' Work, A World"

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 350

Context: Raphael was sent down to earth by God to instruct Adam in his duty so that he cannot plead ignorance when he falls from grace, as God knows that he will fall. Adam asks how the world began; Raphael answers that he will instruct him in what he ought to know, but there are some things that the Omniscient keeps hidden. He begins his account by saying that after Lucifer, which was Satan's name while he was still an angel, and his rebel host of angels had been expelled from heaven, God decided to create a new world that would in time fill up the population of heaven that had been diminished by the expulsion of the rebels. It was Milton's belief that if man had not fallen, he would by degrees have ascended over the ages until he became a being like the angels: this idea is the reverse of the process by which the fallen angels regress from spiritual substance to an earthy consistency. Raphael then retells the story of creation as it is given in the first chapter of Genesis; Milton's account is, however, much fuller and more elaborate than the Biblical one. He finishes his account by telling Adam that he is to have dominion over all things; all things are for his use except the fruit of the one tree that he is warned not to taste. When God had inspected all His work and had found it good, He ascended to His abode in heaven:

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Up He rode
Followed with acclamation and the sound
Symphonious of ten thousand harps that tuned
Angelic harmonies: the earth, the air
Resounded, (thou remember'st, for thou heard'st)
The heavens and all the constellations rung,
The planets in their stations list'ning stood
While the bright pomp ascended jubilant.
Open, ye everlasting gates, they sung,
Open, ye heavens, your living doors; let in
The great Creator from his work returned
Magnificent, His six days' work, a world;
Open and henceforth oft; for God will deign
To visit oft the dwellings of just men
Delighted, and with frequent intercourse
Thither will send his wingéd messengers
On errands of supernal grace. . . .

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