…never to destroy / The earth again by flood, nor let the sea /
Surpass his bounds…
—Paradise Lost, XI 892-894
Milton’s problem was puritanical
But in the best parts he overcame it,
Let it all work out according to itself.
None of it adds up to much anything,
Though it’s safe to say it’s bad for Evekind.
Stevens tried to solve it all with the sun,
But imagined his way out of the problem
Of intent, and besides hadn’t a fucking clue
What it would all come to but Hartford CT.
Milton built in intent, allowed himself
To consider the sort of vermin he must be
In order that he might be justly eradicated.
Adam liked this idea; it cheered him up
As long as there would be a survivor or two.
Adam liked the whole epic thing, the idea
That all this loss is somehow gain.
And that’s certainly not the intent either,
And even if one ignores Adam’s stupidity,
It gets one no further than Kafka again and vermin.
Donne must be worked in to line it all up right,
But Milton, god bless’m, terror though he be,
Milton’s done the work of it already.
Jeffrey Schultz’s artist statement:
Title of series: Fifteen Variations on Themes from Levis.
In a series of fifteen brief variations, Schultz will meditate on a number of themes–some of them poorly recalled from memory, some of them badly obscured or poorly understood–from Levis’s work.