Saturday, April 09, 2005

Axl Rose, John Milton and Paradise Lust

That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th' Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
Paradise Lost, Book 1:14-16


Inspired by his readings of Milton's Paradise Lost, a young Axl Rose took his pen to turn Milton's epic tale into a popular rock tune. Rose believed that if he could combine the story of Paradise Lost and mingle it with blaring guitar riffs and a melodic high-pitched singing voice, he might be the one to help return his nineteen-eighties audience to the writings of John Milton.

In 1984, Rose began writing "Paradise City," the first epic masterpiece prior to "November Rain" which can be found on the "Use Your Illusion" album set. Originally titled Paradise Lust, the Geffen record label was forced to change the name to due to copyright violations.

After spending literally hundreds of hours working along side the literary departments at Oxford, Princeton, Harvard and Cambridge, Axl Rose met up with Slash, one of the fellows at King College in Cambridge, and the two of them began writing an epic recreation of Paradise Lost in musical form. The two of them worked diligently night and day in flights of passion, letting the poetry flow through their body--much like the muses of heroin that already flowed in their veins.

And though Rose and Slash spent months refining the meter and wording of "Paradise City," the creativity started to slow down. Slash and Axl were infected with a small case of writers block from a whorish dose of marijuana they shared one drunken evening. It seemed like their creative energies had come to a stand still, and that's when they met Duff (one of Oxford's leading librarians). Duff offered his advice on how to work out a chorus in their poem that would implement the drama of Paradise Lost, book 6. Axl and Slash quickly recruited Duff to join their merry troupe and they called themselves Milton's Angels. They would later be known as Guns 'N' Roses due to pressures from their colleagues at Princeton.

In "Paradise City," Rose takes on the role of Satan (as a doomed cherub) that has just fallen from Heaven for leading an angelic rebellion. He playfully sings:

Just a' urchin livin' under the street
I'm a hard case that's tough to beat
I'm your charity case
So buy me somethin' to eat


The first quatrain doesn't hold to an identifiable English meter. Instead, as with strokes of genius, Axl rebels against classical meter just as Satan rebelled against Heaven. He playfully organizes his words like an opium-induced Coleridge, yet Rose's poetry remains much more witty due to his undying love of Captain Morgan rum and the writings of Charles Bukowski.

He begins the poem stressing the syllables in "urchin," metaphorically referring to Satan in his new life as a bottom-dweller. The Satan/Urchin metaphor stunned English departments around the world, causing jealous scholars to disregard Rose's work as blatant plagiarism. Nobody could imagine that such genius could be contained in a thin, long- haired man that drank malt liquor all day. One professor cited Rose's work as "the worst form of plagiarism since Cat Stevens stole 'Oh baby, it's a wild world' from Nietzche."

7 Comments:

Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

You definitely deserve an "A" for creative writing. You can't really call it a research paper since you credited so few referrences. Some small-minded profs would lower your grade for tiny errors like "marry" for "merry," but never mind them.

So, now that you are the Pope, get this paper published! You da man!

5/07/2005 9:10 PM  
Blogger Pope Benedict XVI said...

Tan,
Thanks for catching that spelling error. I just updated the blog. I can't be perfect all the time.

5/07/2005 9:38 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

"Axl rebels against classical meter just as Satan rebelled against Heaven."

Maybe Axl is synonymous with Satan to those professors you mentioned.

By the way, you are a brilliant writer. I'm so impressed I can hardly contain my burgeoning awe. I don't think most people really grasp your intelligence, but I do.

5/08/2005 8:51 AM  
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