And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
—A. E. Housman
When I am beaten down by work and love,
And others head for local dives to drink,
I clench my soul and strive to rise above,
For stimulating words to make me think.
O show me Milton’s paradisial route,
Far airier than the foamiest of stout.
Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit
Are all I need and all I care about.
A bottled brew’s sufficient for the poor
In spirits, not for spirituality.
How can a tankard filled with beer quench more
Than slaking drafts of a theodicy?
I’d bring it to the bar, but I get looks
When I enact the fall from all twelve books.
David Galef writes: “Justification is both an appreciation and dig at Milton, an attitude older than Samuel Johnson’s comment about Paradise Lost, ‘None ever wished it longer than it is.’ It came out in Light.”
David Galef has published over two hundred poems in magazines ranging from Light and Measure to The Yale Review. He’s also published two poetry volumes, Flaws and Kanji Poems, as well as two chapbooks, Lists and Apocalypses. In real life, he directs the creative writing program at Montclair State University.
“DORÉ, Gustave Illustration for John Milton’s Paradise Lost 1866” by carulmare is licensed under CC BY 2.0