Thu
Feb 24 2011 11:19am

A World Sung Into Creation: The Magician’s Nephew

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. LewisAlthough the end of The Silver Chair had left the possibility of more adventures for Eustace and Jill in Narnia wide open, and The Horse and His Boy had suggested the possibilities of more stories set in the reigns of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, for the sixth Narnia book, Lewis abandoned both possibilities. Instead, he chose to tell the tale of the creation of Narnia, a story which, if more than occasionally inconsistent with earlier Narnia books, at least allowed him to reference beloved old childhood tales and play in the time of late Victorian London.

Like the first book of the series, The Magician’s Nephew is set in a very exact real world time and place—when Sherlock Holmes was in Baker Street, and the Bastables were exploring things. (If you are sadly unfamiliar with the Bastables, hang on; I hope to be able to discuss them in some upcoming posts.) Lewis treats this time with some nostalgia, lingering especially on the food—an ongoing minor theme in all of the Narnia books, incidentally, probably reflecting the rationing that lingered in England after the end of World War II.

Living in this London are Polly and Digory. Polly likes London; Digory does not, partly because he has been brought here since his father is in India and his mother is ill with one of those convenient literary illnesses that are never quite explained, and mostly because he is convinced that the uncle he is now living with is insane. As it turns out, this is not quite right. Uncle Andrew is not exactly insane, but he is a walking advertisement for hubris.

Uncle Andrew is an interesting villain, utterly convinced that he is in the right, not for any moral reasons—indeed, he is convinced that morality is beneath him—but because he is superior to his fellow humans, both in intelligence and to an extent, breeding. He believes he is the last, or among the last, people in England to have had a fairy godmother. (Personally, in rereading the book, I rather feel that the godmother or Uncle Andrew was completely making the fairy part up; in any case, she would not have been the nicer sort of fairy.) And he just happens to have some dust gathered in Atlantis.

How exactly Atlantis popped in here is not quite clear, but I suppose that a series already muddled with Greek, Norse and Christian myth could stand a little touch of Atlantis. Anyway, the point is, the dust can be formed to make magic rings, which in turn can take their wearers...elsewhere. Uncle Andrew has been trying them on guinea pigs; through a rather nasty trick and giving Digory a guilt trip, he next tries them on Digory and Polly, sending them to the woods between the worlds, Charn, and Narnia, with a few stops in London in between.

The result is a book that feels less like a Narnia book than any of the others, perhaps because it takes too much time explaining Narnia’s more magical elements (the wardrobe, the lamppost), perhaps because it spends less time in the Narnian world than the other books. Admittedly, after Prince Caspian, none of the books spent much time in the actual country of Narnia—perhaps Lewis recognized that he’d made his imaginary country entirely too small—but at least they traveled in nearby lands. In The Magician’s Nephew, most of the action takes place in the wood between the worlds, or Charn, or even the very unmagical London, and the visit to Narnia is entirely too short. It’s marvelous to see the beginning of Narnia, but not so marvelous that Digory and Polly get to spend such little time there (one night and two days). And perhaps, too, because more than any other book in the series, this is a book that borrows extremely liberally from other texts, including certain then-unpublished texts by C.S. Lewis’s great friend J.R.R. Tolkien, and, in the London scenes, the works of Edith Nesbit.

I read The Magician’s Nephew before the The Silmarillion was published, (which dates me, I know) and thought the concept of a divine figure literally singing a world to life was just lovely. When I read The Silmarillion, I assumed J.R.R. Tolkien had copied the concept, given the publication dates. Actually, it was quite the other way around, and I cannot imagine that Tolkien was pleased to see his elaborate myth of divine beings singing creation into existence turned into this. To be fair, Lewis only seems to have stolen the singing concept, and Tolkien’s elaborate myth of competing songs and themes and angels is quite lost. But if the scene is not quite up to Tolkien’s majestic prose, it is quite lovely in its way, and the antics of the villains during the creation scene are amusing, if mostly unbelievable. (I can believe that they would well want to get out of Narnia, but you would think they would find the sudden creation of trees and animals just a little more distracting than they do.)

The borrowings from Edith Nesbit are equally abundant, if not directly stealing from a friend, and provide much of the delightful humor of the book. The Magician’s Nephew does have other marvelous bits. The woods between the worlds, a rather heavy forest filled with quiet pools where the very alert can find new universes by jumping into ponds, is a delightful concept: I rather hope to get there some day. Lewis’s description of the dying city of Charn has a dull grandeur to it. And, of course, this book brings back the splendid witch Jadis, the sort of unthinking tyrant (and witch) who would rather kill all living people and creatures with a single word than to surrender for a single moment. (I mean, really. At least leave behind the chocolate makers. What good is destroying the world if you can’t have any chocolate to go with it?) And she’s also an elitist snob. (She believes firmly that only royalty can become Magicians.)

Lewis, however, here abandons some of the elitism from previous books: his three characters with supposedly fairy blood cross all classes (one is a duchess, one middle-class, and one a very lower class servant); he turns a cabdriver and his wife into a king and queen; and dooms Jadis, in the end, by that very elitism.

But the intersection of all of this with Narnia, and a creation story, and a little morality tale complete with, geesh, a tempting apple right at the beginning of creation (I could feel the anvils falling) ends up feeling rather disjointed, even with the appearances of Jadis and Aslan. It does not help that, despite a few of Digory’s more questionable actions (most notoriously, freeing an evil witch and bringing her to Narnia) he is neither as awful as Edmund and Eustace were on their first trips nor as heroic as Peter and Shasta. And although Polly is forthright, brave, and quite capable of sticking up for girls, she, too, is somehow more bland than Lewis’ other girl protagonists—particularly following the awesome Jill and the proud but brave Aravis.

Speaking of Polly: Polly never marries, although a long standing tradition in children’s literature would have had her marry Digory eventually, as Shasta and Aravis had in the previous book. But then that might have led to awkward questions about exactly where she was in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and why Digory as the professor had to hire any housekeeper at all.

And right there, perhaps, is the problem: in going back to telling the beginning of Narnia, Lewis felt the need to explain certain odd elements of Narnia: the lamppost, the wardrobe, the way some animals talk, while others do not. (I suspect, with the wardrobe, that he might have been tired of eager questions from children hoping to find magical wardrobes—I know I can’t have been the only child to tap hopefully on the back of a closet, just in case.)

But I’m not sure that certain things in Narnia needed to be explained. The lamppost in the middle of a forest behind the back of a wardrobe was marvelous simply because it didn’t make any sense whatsoever; it was, in its way, the essence of magic, and part of what made that scene so marvelous. (It doesn’t help that some of the information in this book directly contradicts statements made in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, one reason I do not recommend reading this series in chronological order.) Narnia is, after all, magic, and as any good magician will tell you (even in a book filled with evil magicians) explaining away the tricks is one of the best ways to destroy the illusion, and the magic.


Mari Ness regrets to report that her current closet is free of gateways to other universes, perhaps because it is made of drywall and concrete instead of quasi-Narnian wood. She lives in central Florida.

32 comments
Jim Burnell
1. JimBurnell
"...and as any good magician will tell you (even in a book filled with evil magicians) explaining away the tricks is one of the best ways to
destroy the illusion, and the magic." *cough*midichlorians*cough*

Great review, except that now I have to re-read LW&W and MN to figure out what got contradicted. :-|
CoriAnn
2. CoriAnn
I agree wholeheartedly with your argument for why it is a best not to read the books in chronological order. I remember when the LW&W movie came out, a new collection of the series was released in one book, printed in chronological rather than publication order. I was at a bookstore with a friend and picked up the very pretty edition, wondering aloud what order it was in. A passing employee heard and responded, "Oh, they're in the right order." I skeptically asked him what the "right" order was and he said that it was chronological, of course. I could only shake my head and politely disagree with him. His responding argument was that if you didn't read it in chronological order, you would have no idea why there was a lamppost in the woods in LW&W. I could only shake my head again that the kid didn't get it. In my opinion, if you know how the lamppost got there the first time you encounter it, then it has lost everything that made it so wondrous in the first place.

Far be it for me to disagree with an author about his own works, but I have to maintain that Lewis' belated insistence on putting the books in chronological order was just wrong. It takes much of the wonder and suspense out of the original stories.

Anyway, back to lurking. Thanks for these posts, I have really enjoyed them quite a lot!
Erick G
4. Erick G
I really enjoy your posts on the Narnia books. I read them when I was much younger, and to reread them and have a different point of view on the books makes it more entertaining. When I first read this series, I did it in what I thought was in order, with The Magician's Nephew first and so on, so I didn't know that the book had actually come later on. As for the influences Lewis had, I acn see where the taking of elements from collegues and remixing them a bit could work, especially if it is a new and amazing idea. I'm just guessing Lewis didn't know how big Tolkein would get and how it would be seen. Anyway, great post!
Pamela Adams
5. Pam Adams
and the Bastables were exploring things. (If you are sadly unfamiliar with the Bastables, hang on; I hope to be able to discuss them in some upcoming posts.)
Are these the children from the Psammead series?
CoriAnn
6. Lsana
Actually, none of the Earth kids who went to Narnia ever married in our world. It's more noticable with Diggory and Polly, since they reached old age, but Peter and his siblings certainly seemed to have reached the age where they ought to have been thinking about it. I had never thought about that point before.

@1,
I don't remember all of the contraditions, but certainly there was the fact LWW stated that there had never been any humans in Narnia prior to the four siblings.
CoriAnn
7. Eugene R.
While I appreciate discovering its origin, the lamppost in the forest is the image to which I always refer when defending the reading of the Narnia books in publication order. I wonder if there is a natural dichotomy of fantasy readers based on the placement of revelation within a narrative, the early-adopters versus the late-comers, perhaps. I tend to enjoy the sustainment of the suspense, being a late-comer. Perhaps it has to do with a Catholic upbringing and much delaying of gratification, in my case at least. And maybe with a smidgen of skepticism for explanations of how the world was created or how its magic works, as befits my present fallen-away nature.
CoriAnn
8. Farah Mendlesohn
I have just been to Rome for the first time, and when we walked up to St Peter's and I saw all those huge, imposing figures looking down on me, I'm afraid my very first thought was "Charn!"
CoriAnn
9. Allisondek
The essay
http://hope.edu/academic/english/schakel/narniaorder.html

may be of interest. The following paragraph makes a key point.

"In presenting Christian ideas, the Chronicles also develop a theme of the spiritual journey. It also depends for effect on reading the books in order of publication. Professor Doris Myers, in a fine essay on the Chronicles, argues that the seven books, taken in order of publication, describe the emotional climate of Christian commitment at various ages, from very young childhood to old age and death ("Growing in Grace: The Anglican Spiritual Style in the Chronicles of Narnia," in The Pilgrim's Guide, ed. David Mills, p. 185). The Chronicles present, in a form attractive to young and old alike, the whole scope of a Christian life according to the Anglican style of gradual growth rather than sudden conversion, of love of tradition, and of emphasis on codes of courtesy and ethical behavior (p. 202). "

Is this what Lewis intended? Perhaps not, but once books are out in the world they become what we read, not what the author wrote.....
CoriAnn
10. Cheryl Pangolin
I could never quite figure out what the relationship of Jadis was supposed to be to the White Witch. Were they supposed to be one and the same, in which case Narnia had known little besides her reighn of terror until Peter and company came along? A descendant?
CoriAnn
11. BMunro
Well, they probably were meant to be one and the same, but given her lack of magic (she'd have to learn Narnian magic, which could take a while) and the presence of a King and Queen, she almost certainly doesn't take control until much later - possibly after the king and queen's heirs all die out from inbreeding :)
Azara microphylla
12. Azara
#10
The White Witch is named as Jadis in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (in the Secret Police notice on Mr. Tumnus' house), so I can't see any room for doubt.

As for the chronological/publication order debate, I remember seeing somewhere that the only written record of Lewis' acceptance of the chronological order came in the context that a sick small boy wrote to him saying that he preferred the chronological order, and Lewis wrote back agreeing that it would work well. It struck me as more politeness to his reader than any real preferene on Lewis' part. It seems to have been Lewis' stepson Douglas Gresham's influence (not always helpful by any means) that got publishers using the chronological order.

Among the many inconsistencies, Digory is a boy when the Bastables are active, which means the early 1900s. He should be in his fifties in1940, not 'a very old man'. Likewise, for the famous apple tree to grow, flourish, fall down, be chopped up and made into a wardrobe all in less than 40 years is pushing it a bit.
CoriAnn
13. Stefan Jones
I read this 'un many years ago. I remember really liking the "secret origins" being revealed later rather than sooner.

Aslan singing the world into being, and the lightpost, were very neat. I also found the Wood Between the Worlds and Charn very evocative. I mined those for ideas when I started fooling around with RPGs.

A must-see post for Narnia fans on Neil Gaiman's website:

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2011/02/once-youve-got-lamppost.html
Mari Ness
14. MariCats
@JimBurnell - Contradictions include but are not limited to: Jadis, the White Witch, is no longer descended from Lilith and some random giants, using the descent from Lilith as her tentative claim to humanity (a claim the beavers correctly dismiss); the lamppost is almost certainly in the wrong place unless the river really moved; Narnia was ruled by humans before the arrival of the Pevensie children; Digory would not have been a very old man in the 1940s (although I have fanwanked this with the thought that to a ten year old, a Digory in his 50s may have seemed very old) and a few others. Also the explanation for the wardrobe is...a bit weak.

Heh on the Star Wars bit. I never liked that explanation either.

@CoriAnn - Also, although from the comments this seems to have been just me, I was very sad to learn that the lamppost had grown from a bit of a lamppost from London. That was just not as cool as a magical lamppost that grew from nothing at all and just happened to have a faun by it.

@ErickG - Magician's Nephew was published the same year as Return of the King, although I'm not sure which came first -- after Tolkien had received favorable reviews for the first two books, but certainly, well before the Lord of the Rings gained its massive popularity. Lewis greatly admired The Lord of the Rings, reading it in manuscript and providing early, positive reviews, but I agree with you that he did not foresee its popularity. I see this as a kindly homage to the work of a friend, but that's easy for me to say: I didn't spend years trying to perfect The Simarillion, and I like Narnia, which Tolkien did not.

@Pam Adams - No, a different series, which is why I'm not sure I'll be blogging about them here - Tor has very kindly agreed to let me continue on to some of Edith Nesbit's books (the fantasy ones) and while there, I'm going to try to sneak in a Bastable post.

@Lsana - Even by The Last Battle, Jill and Eustace seem pretty young to be thinking of marriage, although they might be thinking of dating (hopefully not each other; I just cannot see those two together at all when not adventuring through Narnia. Just me?) There's a reference to them both being in school. Lucy is supposedly just a little older than Eustace, and Edmund a bit older than Lucy. I think the only one that would be ready to settle down - as opposed to just dating -- would be Peter. So I'm ok with none of them marrying outside of Narnia.

Polly and Digory are a bit more unusual, because these are two kids who do grow up to be adults - and outside of Little Women, the convention in long term series, where the protagonists reached adulthood, was for them to marry - possibly because so many people (ok, me) never got over Jo giving up Laurie for that boring professor.

I think breaking the convention works here - especially given that in the last post a couple of people objected to Shasta and Aravis marrying, and I'm ok with it, especially since Polly seems to have been the one girl visitor from our world who got to have a full life before dying without losing her entire family in a train accident.

@Eugene R - No, I like unfolding the layers as well. It makes the books work more for me.

@Farah - Heh. Well, I brought my imaginary horse friends through St. Peter's on my first (very young) trip -- it does seem to be the sort of place to evoke a majestic sort of fantasy, doesn't it? I admit I didn't think of Narnia, though, and that really isn't an Oz sort of place.

@Allisondek - I admit that I have never read the books in that way, but it does make sense, now that I think about it, and it certainly is yet another argument for reading the books in publication, not chronological order.

@Cheryl Pangolin - They are one and the same. The apple tree planted by Aslan keeps Jadis out of Narnia for years, until it falls down. I'm not sure how long apple trees live, especially in Narnia, but a few hundred years sounds about right. (If somebody knows more about apple cultivation, feel free to chime in. I just eat apples.) After that, she swept into Narnia, claimed to be human, or just human enough, and seized control of the country.

@Azara - And Azara starts to answer my apple question here! Thanks. So, at least 40 years, then?

@Stefan Jones - I have to admit I rather wish the Wood Between the Worlds was in the public domain - it's a lovely concept, and I'm sure it will get snatched up and put into several more books (those worried about copyright, that is) once it is in the public domain.
Claire de Trafford
15. ClairedeT
I personally liked the explanation of the lamp post in the wilderness being grown from a bar of a London one (although I have read that the lamp posts were based on ones in Malvern and they are certainly very pretty - we used to live near there). And it makes sense that there is something special about the wardrobe to create the link to Narnia in the first place.

When I got old enough to wonder about the inconsistency of the timings etc it did seem that there hadn't been enough time for Digory to get old, or make a wardrobe from the tree (and how much wood DOES an apple tree provide? They aren't the largest of trees). However it just has to fall under the 'yeah, whatever, go with the flow' rule of reading I'm afraid.

I think that I love everything about this book. Uncle Andrew and the guinea pigs (who have a very happy existence in the wood based on the experience I have with guinea pigs) and the rings; the attics that you could walk through to another house, how wonderful!; the whole city of Charn, decay and fall theme - Digory and the bell despite Polly telling him not too; the toffee tree; Strawberry becoming not only a talking horse but a pegasus (doesn't he turn up in another book, possibly LB?); and the garden on top of the green hill which is possibly larger inside than it looks. But most of all I love the cover on my edition which is also Pauline Baynes but shows Polly and Digory on Strawberry flying over Narnia and is wonderful. I think possibly the Nesbitt vibe is another reason to love this - she is one of my favourites along with Joan Aiken.
Ian Gazzotti
16. Atrus
I will partially disagree and say that I've read the books in chronological order and it didn't spoil the magic for me. If anything, the fact that the lamppost wasn't just a weird ambience bit but was actually grown like a tree made it even better for me.

The only reason I would advise against that reading order is that this book is so different from the others that I spent the next two books wondering if they were really part of the same series.
CoriAnn
17. GuruJ
Another series that is perhaps not meant for reading by adult eyes.

I read the series in chronological order many times from around age 9 to age 15, and I never once spotted any inconsistencies in the books to spoil my enjoyment of them!

I didn't really care that most of MN was set in London either -- since I'm Australian, London might as well be a fantasy land to me too :)
CoriAnn
18. Angiportus
Read this at 12. Wondered, "here is a big, strong, formidable, seemingly unstoppable woman--now why is she the villain?"
Various details, e.g. that arch coming down just after they go under it, now that was scary; the beautiful pic of the waterfall somewhere in there; and so on. Having spent my adolescence trapped in a treeless waste, I didn't catch on to the inconsistency about the age and size of the apple tree, but maybe it was only used for ornamentation on a cabinet made of some other wood.
I recall a fanfic centered on that lamppost, which was sentient, wondered why it had been abandoned after the world ended, and was then rescued, but a bit earlier than that I was walking along a lonely stretch of road one aft, a new road lined with steel light poles but not yet built on. As I approached one of the poles, I could hear that it was constantly vibrating. Spooky. There was no traffic nearby, and I could only conclude that that particular part of the ground was resonating with distant traffic. But I couldn't help thinking, "Uh-oh, something's going on in Narnia..."
CoriAnn
19. Coalbiter
Apple trees may live for a hundred years, but something around forty to fifty is more likely. Besides, this one was growing in a London garden - not in those days renowned for the quality of their soil - when it blew down in a great storm. I really don't see anything very unlikely there...
And presumably Diggory found a master craftsman to make the wardrobe, who wasted not a morsel of the timber!
Pamela Adams
20. Pam Adams
14. MariCats ,

Which Nesbit books? It would be nice to get ahead on the reading. I've been about a week behind all through Narnia, what with having Patrick O'Brian to re-read for Jo's posts.

15. ClairedeT
I rather assume that the Wood Between the Worlds is now filled with guinea pigs. Perhaps Heinlein used the same breed in The Door into Summer? 'Now on sale- Time Travel Cavies (tm)! Purchased by mad scientists everywhere.'
Pamela Adams
21. Pam Adams
And perhaps, too, because more than any other book in the series, this is a book that borrows extremely liberally from other texts, including certain then-unpublished texts by C.S. Lewis’s great friend J.R.R. Tolkien, and, in the London scenes, the works of Edith Nesbit.
I would suggest that the 'walking behind the walls' through the houses comes from Kipling's* Stalky and Co. It's a good thing for Uncle Andrew that Digory and Polly had no dead cats at hand.

*Hey- how about Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies for a re-read? We could then move on to that SF novel about dirigibles.
CoriAnn
22. HelenS
Doesn't the singing into existence hark back to Finnish mythology?
Ursula L
23. Ursula
Among the many inconsistencies, Digory is a boy when the Bastables are active, which means the early 1900s. He should be in his fifties in1940, not 'a very old man'.

Well, Lucy is the primary POV character. And she's a little girl. Being in his fifties, he might look "very old" to her - close in age to her grandparents.
CoriAnn
24. HelenS
The narrator calls him a *very* old man, though: "He himself was a very old man with shaggy white hair which grew over most of his face as well as on his head, and they liked him almost at once; but on the first evening when he came out to meet them at the front door he was so odd-looking that Lucy (who was the youngest) was a little afraid of him, and Edmund (who was the next youngest) wanted to laugh and had to keep on pretending he was blowing his nose to hide it."

Of course it's not impossible to have white hair in one's fifties (T.H. White was only 57 when he died, and had had white hair and beard for years), but still -- and Digory would have been only 49 or 50 at the outbreak of WWII if he was born in about 1890. Maybe there was some sort of other time-traveling incident in which he aged another twenty years or so while living in another world, and *didn't* go back to his previous age when he came back?
Pamela Adams
25. Pam Adams
The narrator calls him a *very* old man, though:

The narrator in Dawn Treader says 'it was many years later, after the war,' when Edmund and Lucy go to stay with their cousin, so I think that Lewis is trying to see through children's eyes, and we can take his *very* and *many* with a grain of salt.
CoriAnn
26. Angiportus
My mom has an apple tree which is probably a century old or more; it is propped up with boards but still makes nice apples (it took the last year off , as did some other trees I know). I don't know if, when it finally dies, the wood will be of quality to make anything other than apple-smoked food.
CoriAnn
27. HelenS
I really can't see even a child thinking fifty was "very old." To me as a child, the line between "grown-up person" and "old person" was nearly as sharp as that between "child" and "grown-up person." Isn't it far more likely that Lewis simply didn't think about the dates very clearly, or perhaps got his sums wrong?
CoriAnn
28. Gorbag
Maricats @14 - I think CS Lewis took the Wood between Worlds idea from William Morris' The Wood Beyond the World and The Well at the World's End:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Morris
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wood_Beyond_the_World
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Well_at_the_World%27s_End

At least, that is the impression I received from reading both books well after Narnia - that CS Lewis - who had mentioned William Morris as one of his influences, along with George MacDonald's Phantastes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_MacDonald
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantastes

Uncle Andrew's "fairy blood" is directly derived from Phantastes' Anodos' own fairy grandmother, though in Anodos' case, there is an actual family link, with all that that entails - including meeting up with the man married to the woman-who-had-been-a-cat who had been changed to human out of love ...
Jonathan Chen
29. jonc
The apple tree was infused with the creation magic of Narnia - I wouldn't have been surprised to learn that it grew fast (with a big sprouting after only a few days?); and a big tree in small backyard in London is a likely candidate for being blown over.

As for Digory being `old'. People at 50 during the 1930's definitely look a lot older than people at 50 in 2010. And from the perspective of young kids, anyone over thirty is OLD.
CoriAnn
30. HelenS
There's a very nice portrait of C.S. Lewis and his father from 1917, at which time Albert Lewis, born in 1863, was about 54. Albert has a touch of gray at the temples, no more, and a smooth, unwrinkled face.
http://cslewis.drzeus.net/multimedia/photos/friends-family/jack-father.jpg
CoriAnn
31. JReynolds
Two and a half years late to this party, but regarding the creation of animals rising up from the earth, Lewis lifted his imagery straight from Paradise Lost:
The Sixt, and of Creation last arose
With Eevning Harps and Mattin, when God said,
Let th' Earth bring forth Foul living in her kinde,
Cattel and Creeping things, and Beast of the Earth,
Each in their kinde. The Earth obey'd, and strait
Op'ning her fertile Woomb teem'd at a Birth
Innumerous living Creatures, perfet formes,
Limb'd and full grown: out of the ground up rose
As from his Laire the wilde Beast where he wonns
In Forrest wilde, in Thicket, Brake, or Den;
Among the Trees in Pairs they rose, they walk'd:
The Cattel in the Fields and Meddowes green:
Those rare and solitarie, these in flocks
Pasturing at once, and in broad Herds upsprung.
The grassie Clods now Calv'd, now half appeer'd
The Tawnie Lion, pawing to get free
His hinder parts, then springs as broke from Bonds,
And Rampant shakes his Brinded main; the Ounce,
The Libbard, and the Tyger, as the Moale
Rising, the crumbl'd Earth above them threw
In Hillocks; the swift Stag from under ground
Bore up his branching head...
--Paradise Lost, Book 7, lines 449-470

I first read PL in a freshman English class in university, and when I got to this scene I recognized it at once!
CoriAnn
32. Darryl Rose
Thanks For sharing!

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