Milton’s “Paradise Lost” begins the scene of the fall with an image of Satan standing at the sidelines and looking jealously at God’s new creations, Adam and Eve. Satan is incensed at the love that God shows these creatures, and moreso, the love they have for each other, as they are “emparadised in one another’s arms”.
Milton uses the word “emparadised” to imply that the embrace of the two lovers is paradise; the culmination of the creation story. Unfortunately, this wording plays into the romantic notion of human love being heavenly. Anyone who misinterprets Milton and the creation story to say that “Romantic love is next to Godliness”, is making a terrible mistake.
In fact, the fall was precipitated, in part, by Adam and Eve focusing too much on one another and not enough on God. It’s a telling slip that romantic people talk about “falling” in love. When we see nothing but romantic love, we are fallen indeed.
I don’t have proof, but I am convinced that Edgar Allen Poe was thinking of Milton, and our fallen tendency to glorify romantic love, when he penned "Annabel Lee’. Poe’s poem parallels Milton’s, with an angel becoming jealous of the humans’ love, and seeking to punish them. Instead of separating the lovers from God, however, Poe’s angel separates the lovers from one another by killing Annabel Lee. Defiantly, Poe’s narrator asserts a love that transcends the grave, and places himself directly in the grave with the dead Annabel:
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
Yes, they sure “fell” in love. They fell so deep, they are both in the grave. Poe’s poem is often cited as a glorification of the power of romantic love to reach beyond the grave, but it’s pretty obvious that it’s anything but. It is a stark picture of what happens when we go too far with the idea of “emparadised in one another’s arms”.