Milton's predominantly floral prelapsarian cosmos employs imagery relating flowers to character, place, and theme (especially Eve = Eden = flowers). The poem's action and poetry hinge on changes in the meaning of fruit (especially in Book IX); seed and the anticipation of harvest dominate the final books. The postlapsarian cosmos employs metaphor, offering time, history, and human transmutation and fallen potentiality as paradoxical fruit. Diabolical effects center on storms and insects, apparently malign processes by which flowers give way to fruit. Eve is deflowered (IX, 901) to become fruitful. The fall marks the initiation into paradox, metaphor, and potentiality. Prelapsarian praise shifts to postlapsarian prayer. Metaphor's imaginative leap linking apparently disparate realms of experience replaces imagery's wholeness and coherence. Edenic imagery is characteristically lovely, sensuous, physical; postlapsarian metaphor requires interpretation through faith and the reader's greater creative energy. Psychological Imagination corresponds to theological Grace; Christ is the agency of both, teaching Adam and us to read the language of mystery, paradox, and metaphor through faith. Milton's poetry like his fiction shifts from floral to fruitful, from paradise without to paradise within, from innocence to experience, from praise to prayer, from discursive to intuitive apprehension.

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