Surprised by Delight
Divine Love & the Love of Man & Woman Surpass Mere Consent
by Anthony Esolen
When in Milton's Paradise Lost Adam beholds Eve for the first time—and "behold" is the correct word, since he is in the presence of a consummate work of divine art—he is already delighted even before he says a word. God had put his taste, intelligence, and boldness to a bit of a friendly test, asking Adam why the beasts were not sufficient company for him, or why solitariness was not a great blessing. When Adam held his ground, God cast a sleep over him, formed Eve from his rib, and brought her to him. The first Man, the man who is the root both of all human persons and of all males specifically, acknowledges that he is caught, that the beauty of the woman will make the man do what otherwise he would not do:
This turn hath made amends; thou hast fulfilled
Thy words, Creator bounteous and benign,
Giver of all things fair, but fairest this
Of all thy gifts, nor enviest. I now see
Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, myself
Before me; woman is her name, of man
Extracted; for this cause he shall forgo
Father and mother, and to his wife adhere,
And they shall be one flesh, one heart, one soul.
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Anthony Esolen is a professor at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the author of many books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
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