I was posting questions about this in the "Question & Answer" forum, so I figured I might as well just post the prologue here for critique.
By John Milton
Adapted by Jeff Keele
We begin with a blind WIDOWER speaking to the darkness.
Methought I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me like Alcestis, from the grave,
Enter his deceased WIFE, opposite the widower, her face obscured with a white veil. As he speaks the following lines he slowly approaches her.
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine, as whom washed from spot of child-bed taint
Purification in the old Law did save,
And such, as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
Her face was veiled; yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
The Widower brushes her face.
But O, as to embrace me she inclined,
I waked; she fled;
And day brought back my night.
Sing, O heavenly Muse and justify the ways of God to men.
Enter a SPIRIT.
Of Man's first disobedience, I sing, and the fruit of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste brought death into the world.
And all our woe. O Spirit - Instruct me. Revive me. Illume in me what is dark. Raise and support what is low. For I know, above all temples, you prefer the pure and upright heart.
I tell of things invisible to mortal sight. I was present from the first.
Say first then – Say first, what cause moved our grand parents, favored of heaven so highly, to fall off from their Creator and transgress his will? To taste that fruit, expelling us all into a world of sorrow?
In the beginning, when the world was still unmade, the Infinite Father called before his throne his saints innumerable. All in assembly - ten thousand thousand standards blazed, recording holy acts of zeal and love -
No, Spirit. Heaven hides nothing from your view. Tell me of Hell.
Lights crash to black.
The Infernal Serpent. It was he who deceived the mother of mankind. Nine days he fell. For raising impious war against the throne of God was hurled headlong, flaming, from the ethereal sky. Now in bottomless perdition; where peace can never dwell, hope never comes. Round he throws his baleful eyes, views the dismal situation waste and wild. A horrible dungeon, as if a great furnace flamed on all sides round, yet from those flames; no light, but rather darkness visible. Rowling in the fiery gulf, he discerns one, weltering next to himself, and breaking the horrid silence, begins:
I have a lot more, but I figured I'd just post this for the time being. Quick question: I'm looking for some very brief physical business at the beginning to establish that the WIDOWER is blind. Can you think of anything?
Here's a youtube video of a reading of the prologue to Paradise Lost to give you an idea of what I'm attempting to render into a script.
Also, the bit that opens the script is not from Paradise Lost proper, but from another poem by Milton: Sonnet 23.
Some other questions:
Do you feel the transition flows fluidly from the widower's mourning to the conversation with the spirit?
Is the script moving too quickly between ideas?
Is the language hard to understand?
Is it strange that this Widower's bedroom seems to be an inter-dimensional truck-stop for wandering spirits?
Also, I'm aware that I'm changing the context, and thus the meaning of one the poems most famous lines: "justify the ways of God to Men".