Paradise Regained "Deep Versed In Books And Shallow In Himself"
by John Milton

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"Deep Versed In Books And Shallow In Himself"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Among the temptations placed before Christ in the wilderness by Satan is that of a contemplative life, as opposed to the active life demanded of the Messiah by obedience to God. In rejecting the contemplative life, Christ puts divine knowledge above any other: ". . . he who receives/ Light from above, from the fountain of light,/ No other doctrine needs, though granted true;/ But these are false, or little else but dreams. . . ." In a long speech to Satan, Christ speaks upon reading, making an attack on fruitless studies carried on by men who have not the wisdom to choose carefully the matters which consume their time:

". . . However many books
Wise men have said are wearisome; who reads
Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
A spirit and judgment equal or superior,
(And what he brings, what needs he elsewhere seek)
Uncertain and unsettled still remains,
Deep versed in books and shallow in himself,
Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys,
And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge."