Paradise Lost

Book I

Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit

Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste

Brought death into the World, and all our woe,

With loss of Eden, till one greater Man

Restore us, and regain the blissful seat, [5]

Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top

Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire

That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed

In the beginning how the heavens and earth

Rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill [10]

Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed

Fast by the oracle of God, I thence

Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,

That with no middle flight intends to soar

Above th' Aonian mount, while it pursues [15]

Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.

And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer

Before all temples th' upright heart and pure,

Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from the first

Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread, [20]

Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast Abyss,

And mad'st it pregnant: what in me is dark

Illumine, what is low raise and support;

That, to the height of this great argument,

I may assert Eternal Providence, [25]

And justify the ways of God to men.

Say first--for Heaven hides nothing from thy view,

Nor the deep tract of Hell--say first what cause

Moved our grand parents, in that happy state,

Favoured of Heaven so highly, to fall off [30]

From their Creator, and transgress his will

For one restraint, lords of the World besides.

Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?

Th' infernal Serpent; he it was whose guile,

Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived [35]

The mother of mankind, what time his pride

Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host

Of rebel Angels, by whose aid, aspiring

To set himself in glory above his peers,

He trusted to have equalled the Most High, [40]

If he opposed, and with ambitious aim

Against the throne and monarchy of God,

Raised impious war in Heaven and battle proud,

With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power

Hurled headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky, [45]

With hideous ruin and combustion, down

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell

In adamantine chains and penal fire,

Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms.

Nine times the space that measures day and night [50]

To mortal men, he, with his horrid crew,

Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf,

Confounded, though immortal. But his doom

Reserved him to more wrath; for now the thought

Both of lost happiness and lasting pain [55]

Torments him: round he throws his baleful eyes,

That witnessed huge affliction and dismay,

Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate.

At once, as far as Angels ken, he views

The dismal situation waste and wild. [60]

A dungeon horrible, on all sides round,

As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames

No light; but rather darkness visible

Served only to discover sights of woe,

Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace [65]

And rest can never dwell, hope never comes

That comes to all, but torture without end

Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed

With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed.

Such place Eternal Justice has prepared [70]

For those rebellious; here their prison ordained

In utter darkness, and their portion set,

As far removed from God and light of Heaven

As from the centre thrice to th' utmost pole.

Oh how unlike the place from whence they fell! [75]

There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelmed

With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire,

He soon discerns; and, weltering by his side,

One next himself in power, and next in crime,

Long after known in Palestine, and named [80]

Beelzebub. To whom th' Arch-Enemy,

And thence in Heaven called Satan, with bold words

Breaking the horrid silence, thus began:--

"If thou beest he--but O how fallen! how changed

From him who, in the happy realms of light [85]

Clothed with transcendent brightness, didst outshine

Myriads, though bright!--if he whom mutual league,

United thoughts and counsels, equal hope

And hazard in the glorious enterprise

Joined with me once, now misery hath joined [90]

In equal ruin; into what pit thou seest

From what height fallen: so much the stronger proved

He with his thunder; and till then who knew

The force of those dire arms? Yet not for those,

Nor what the potent Victor in his rage [95]

Can else inflict, do I repent, or change,

Though changed in outward lustre, that fixed mind,

And high disdain from sense of injured merit,

That with the Mightiest raised me to contend,

And to the fierce contentions brought along [100]

Innumerable force of Spirits armed,

That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring,

His utmost power with adverse power opposed

In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven,

And shook his throne. What though the field be lost? [105]

All is not lost--the unconquerable will,

And study of revenge, immortal hate,

And courage never to submit or yield:

And what is else not to be overcome?

That glory never shall his wrath or might [110]

Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace

With suppliant knee, and deify his power

Who, from the terror of this arm, so late

Doubted his empire--that were low indeed;

That were an ignominy and shame beneath [115]

This downfall; since, by fate, the strength of Gods,

And this empyreal substance, cannot fail;

Since, through experience of this great event,

In arms not worse, in foresight much advanced,

We may with more successful hope resolve [120]

To wage by force or guile eternal war,

Irreconcilable to our grand Foe,

Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joy

Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heaven."

So spake th' apostate Angel, though in pain, [125]

Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair;

And him thus answered soon his bold compeer:--

"O Prince, O Chief of many throned Powers

That led th' embattled Seraphim to war

Under thy conduct, and, in dreadful deeds [130]

Fearless, endangered Heaven's perpetual King,

And put to proof his high supremacy,

Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate,

Too well I see and rue the dire event

That, with sad overthrow and foul defeat, [135]

Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty host

In horrible destruction laid thus low,

As far as Gods and heavenly Essences

Can perish: for the mind and spirit remains

Invincible, and vigour soon returns, [140]

Though all our glory extinct, and happy state

Here swallowed up in endless misery.

But what if he our Conqueror (whom I now

Of force believe almighty, since no less

Than such could have o'erpowered such force as ours) [145]

Have left us this our spirit and strength entire,

Strongly to suffer and support our pains,

That we may so suffice his vengeful ire,

Or do him mightier service as his thralls

By right of war, whate'er his business be, [150]

Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire,

Or do his errands in the gloomy Deep?

What can it the avail though yet we feel

Strength undiminished, or eternal being

To undergo eternal punishment?" [155]

Whereto with speedy words th' Arch-Fiend replied:--

"Fallen Cherub, to be weak is miserable,

Doing or suffering: but of this be sure--

To do aught good never will be our task,

But ever to do ill our sole delight, [160]

As being the contrary to his high will

Whom we resist. If then his providence

Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,

Our labour must be to pervert that end,

And out of good still to find means of evil; [165]

Which ofttimes may succeed so as perhaps

Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb

His inmost counsels from their destined aim.

But see! the angry Victor hath recalled

His ministers of vengeance and pursuit [170]

Back to the gates of Heaven: the sulphurous hail,

Shot after us in storm, o'erblown hath laid

The fiery surge that from the precipice

Of Heaven received us falling; and the thunder,

Winged with red lightning and impetuous rage, [175]

Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now

To bellow through the vast and boundless Deep.

Let us not slip th' occasion, whether scorn

Or satiate fury yield it from our Foe.

Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild, [180]

The seat of desolation, void of light,

Save what the glimmering of these livid flames

Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend

From off the tossing of these fiery waves;

There rest, if any rest can harbour there; [185]

And, re-assembling our afflicted powers,

Consult how we may henceforth most offend

Our enemy, our own loss how repair,

How overcome this dire calamity,

What reinforcement we may gain from hope, [190]

If not, what resolution from despair."

Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate,

With head uplift above the wave, and eyes

That sparkling blazed; his other parts besides

Prone on the flood, extended long and large, [195]

Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge

As whom the fables name of monstrous size,

Titanian or Earth-born, that warred on Jove,

Briareos or Typhon, whom the den

By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast [200]

Leviathan, which God of all his works

Created hugest that swim th' ocean-stream.

Him, haply slumbering on the Norway foam,

The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff,

Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell, [205]

With fixed anchor in his scaly rind,

Moors by his side under the lee, while night

Invests the sea, and wished morn delays.

So stretched out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay,

Chained on the burning lake; nor ever thence [210]

Had risen, or heaved his head, but that the will

And high permission of all-ruling Heaven

Left him at large to his own dark designs,

That with reiterated crimes he might

Heap on himself damnation, while he sought [215]

Evil to others, and enraged might see

How all his malice served but to bring forth

Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shewn

On Man by him seduced, but on himself

Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance poured. [220]

Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool

His mighty stature; on each hand the flames

Driven backward slope their pointing spires, and rolled

In billows, leave i' th' midst a horrid vale.

Then with expanded wings he steers his flight [225]

Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air,

That felt unusual weight; till on dry land

He lights--if it were land that ever burned

With solid, as the lake with liquid fire,

And such appeared in hue as when the force [230]

Of subterranean wind transports a hill

Torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side

Of thundering Etna, whose combustible

And fuelled entrails, thence conceiving fire,

Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds, [235]

And leave a singed bottom all involved

With stench and smoke. Such resting found the sole

Of unblest feet. Him followed his next mate;

Both glorying to have scaped the Stygian flood

As gods, and by their own recovered strength, [240]

Not by the sufferance of supernal Power.

"Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,"

Said then the lost Archangel, "this the seat

That we must change for Heaven?--this mournful gloom

For that celestial light? Be it so, since he [245]

Who now is sovereign can dispose and bid

What shall be right: farthest from him is best

Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme

Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields,

Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail, [250]

Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell,

Receive thy new possessor--one who brings

A mind not to be changed by place or time.

The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. [255]

What matter where, if I be still the same,

And what I should be, all but less than he

Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least

We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built

Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: [260]

Here we may reign secure; and, in my choice,

To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:

Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.

But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,

Th' associates and co-partners of our loss, [265]

Lie thus astonished on th' oblivious pool,

And call them not to share with us their part

In this unhappy mansion, or once more

With rallied arms to try what may be yet

Regained in Heaven, or what more lost in Hell?" [270]

So Satan spake; and him Beelzebub

Thus answered:--"Leader of those armies bright

Which, but th' Omnipotent, none could have foiled!

If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge

Of hope in fears and dangers--heard so oft [275]

In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge

Of battle, when it raged, in all assaults

Their surest signal--they will soon resume

New courage and revive, though now they lie

Grovelling and prostrate on yon lake of fire, [280]

As we erewhile, astounded and amazed;

No wonder, fallen such a pernicious height!"

He scarce had ceased when the superior Fiend

Was moving toward the shore; his ponderous shield,

Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round, [285]

Behind him cast. The broad circumference

Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb

Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views

At evening, from the top of Fesole,

Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands, [290]

Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.

His spear--to equal which the tallest pine

Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast

Of some great ammiral, were but a wand--

He walked with, to support uneasy steps [295]

Over the burning marl, not like those steps

On Heaven's azure; and the torrid clime

Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire.

Nathless he so endured, till on the beach

Of that inflamed sea he stood, and called [300]

His legions--Angel Forms, who lay entranced

Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks

In Vallombrosa, where th' Etrurian shades

High over-arched embower; or scattered sedge

Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion armed [305]

Hath vexed the Red-Sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew

Busiris and his Memphian chivalry,

While with perfidious hatred they pursued

The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld

From the safe shore their floating carcases [310]

And broken chariot-wheels. So thick bestrown,

Abject and lost, lay these, covering the flood,

Under amazement of their hideous change.

He called so loud that all the hollow deep

Of Hell resounded:--"Princes, Potentates, [315]

Warriors, the Flower of Heaven--once yours; now lost,

If such astonishment as this can seize

Eternal Spirits! Or have ye chosen this place

After the toil of battle to repose

Your wearied virtue, for the ease you find [320]

To slumber here, as in the vales of Heaven?

Or in this abject posture have ye sworn

To adore the Conqueror, who now beholds

Cherub and Seraph rolling in the flood

With scattered arms and ensigns, till anon [325]

His swift pursuers from Heaven-gates discern

Th' advantage, and, descending, tread us down

Thus drooping, or with linked thunderbolts

Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf?

Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen!" [330]

They heard, and were abashed, and up they sprung

Upon the wing, as when men wont to watch

On duty, sleeping found by whom they dread,

Rouse and bestir themselves ere well awake.

Nor did they not perceive the evil plight [335]

In which they were, or the fierce pains not feel;

Yet to their General's voice they soon obeyed

Innumerable. As when the potent rod

Of Amram's son, in Egypt's evil day,

Waved round the coast, up-called a pitchy cloud [340]

Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind,

That o'er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung

Like Night, and darkened all the land of Nile;

So numberless were those bad Angels seen

Hovering on wing under the cope of Hell, [345]

'Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires;

Till, as a signal given, th' uplifted spear

Of their great Sultan waving to direct

Their course, in even balance down they light

On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain: [350]

A multitude like which the populous North

Poured never from her frozen loins to pass

Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons

Came like a deluge on the South, and spread

Beneath Gibraltar to the Libyan sands. [355]

Forthwith, form every squadron and each band,

The heads and leaders thither haste where stood

Their great Commander--godlike Shapes, and Forms

Excelling human; princely Dignities;

And Powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones, [360]

Though on their names in Heavenly records now

Be no memorial, blotted out and rased

By their rebellion from the Books of Life.

Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve

Got them new names, till, wandering o'er the earth, [365]

Through God's high sufferance for the trial of man,

By falsities and lies the greatest part

Of mankind they corrupted to forsake

God their Creator, and th' invisible

Glory of him that made them to transform [370]

Oft to the image of a brute, adorned

With gay religions full of pomp and gold,

And devils to adore for deities:

Then were they known to men by various names,

And various idols through the heathen world. [375]

Say, Muse, their names then known, who first, who last,

Roused from the slumber on that fiery couch,

At their great Emperor's call, as next in worth

Came singly where he stood on the bare strand,

While the promiscuous crowd stood yet aloof? [380]

The chief were those who, from the pit of Hell

Roaming to seek their prey on Earth, durst fix

Their seats, long after, next the seat of God,

Their altars by his altar, gods adored

Among the nations round, and durst abide [385]

Jehovah thundering out of Sion, throned

Between the Cherubim; yea, often placed

Within his sanctuary itself their shrines,

Abominations; and with cursed things

His holy rites and solemn feasts profaned, [390]

And with their darkness durst affront his light.

First, Moloch, horrid king, besmeared with blood

Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears;

Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,

Their children's cries unheard that passed through fire [395]

To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite

Worshiped in Rabba and her watery plain,

In Argob and in Basan, to the stream

Of utmost Arnon. Nor content with such

Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart [400]

Of Solomon he led by fraud to build

His temple right against the temple of God

On that opprobrious hill, and made his grove

The pleasant valley of Hinnom, Tophet thence

And black Gehenna called, the type of Hell. [405]

Next Chemos, th' obscene dread of Moab's sons,

From Aroar to Nebo and the wild

Of southmost Abarim; in Hesebon

And Horonaim, Seon's real, beyond

The flowery dale of Sibma clad with vines, [410]

And Eleale to th' Asphaltic Pool:

Peor his other name, when he enticed

Israel in Sittim, on their march from Nile,

To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe.

Yet thence his lustful orgies he enlarged [415]

Even to that hill of scandal, by the grove

Of Moloch homicide, lust hard by hate,

Till good Josiah drove them thence to Hell.

With these came they who, from the bordering flood

Of old Euphrates to the brook that parts [420]

Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names

Of Baalim and Ashtaroth--those male,

These feminine. For Spirits, when they please,

Can either sex assume, or both; so soft

And uncompounded is their essence pure, [425]

Not tried or manacled with joint or limb,

Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones,

Like cumbrous flesh; but, in what shape they choose,

Dilated or condensed, bright or obscure,

Can execute their airy purposes, [430]

And works of love or enmity fulfil.

For those the race of Israel oft forsook

Their Living Strength, and unfrequented left

His righteous altar, bowing lowly down

To bestial gods; for which their heads as low [435]

Bowed down in battle, sunk before the spear

Of despicable foes. With these in troop

Came Astoreth, whom the Phoenicians called

Astarte, queen of heaven, with crescent horns;

To whose bright image nightly by the moon [440]

Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs;

In Sion also not unsung, where stood

Her temple on th' offensive mountain, built

By that uxorious king whose heart, though large,

Beguiled by fair idolatresses, fell [445]

To idols foul. Thammuz came next behind,

Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured

The Syrian damsels to lament his fate

In amorous ditties all a summer's day,

While smooth Adonis from his native rock [450]

Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood

Of Thammuz yearly wounded: the love-tale

Infected Sion's daughters with like heat,

Whose wanton passions in the sacred porch

Ezekiel saw, when, by the vision led, [455]

His eye surveyed the dark idolatries

Of alienated Judah. Next came one

Who mourned in earnest, when the captive ark

Maimed his brute image, head and hands lopt off,

In his own temple, on the grunsel-edge, [460]

Where he fell flat and shamed his worshippers:

Dagon his name, sea-monster, upward man

And downward fish; yet had his temple high

Reared in Azotus, dreaded through the coast

Of Palestine, in Gath and Ascalon, [465]

And Accaron and Gaza's frontier bounds.

Him followed Rimmon, whose delightful seat

Was fair Damascus, on the fertile banks

Of Abbana and Pharphar, lucid streams.

He also against the house of God was bold: [470]

A leper once he lost, and gained a king--

Ahaz, his sottish conqueror, whom he drew

God's altar to disparage and displace

For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn

His odious offerings, and adore the gods [475]

Whom he had vanquished. After these appeared

A crew who, under names of old renown--

Osiris, Isis, Orus, and their train--

With monstrous shapes and sorceries abused

Fanatic Egypt and her priests to seek [480]

Their wandering gods disguised in brutish forms

Rather than human. Nor did Israel scape

Th' infection, when their borrowed gold composed

The calf in Oreb; and the rebel king

Doubled that sin in Bethel and in Dan, [485]

Likening his Maker to the grazed ox--

Jehovah, who, in one night, when he passed

From Egypt marching, equalled with one stroke

Both her first-born and all her bleating gods.

Belial came last; than whom a Spirit more lewd [490]

Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love

Vice for itself. To him no temple stood

Or altar smoked; yet who more oft than he

In temples and at altars, when the priest

Turns atheist, as did Eli's sons, who filled [495]

With lust and violence the house of God?

In courts and palaces he also reigns,

And in luxurious cities, where the noise

Of riot ascends above their loftiest towers,

And injury and outrage; and, when night [500]

Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons

Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine.

Witness the streets of Sodom, and that night

In Gibeah, when the hospitable door

Exposed a matron, to avoid worse rape. [505]

These were the prime in order and in might:

The rest were long to tell; though far renowned

Th' Ionian gods--of Javan's issue held

Gods, yet confessed later than Heaven and Earth,

Their boasted parents;--Titan, Heaven's first-born, [510]

With his enormous brood, and birthright seized

By younger Saturn: he from mightier Jove,

His own and Rhea's son, like measure found;

So Jove usurping reigned. These, first in Crete

And Ida known, thence on the snowy top [515]

Of cold Olympus ruled the middle air,

Their highest heaven; or on the Delphian cliff,

Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds

Of Doric land; or who with Saturn old

Fled over Adria to th' Hesperian fields, [520]

And o'er the Celtic roamed the utmost Isles.

All these and more came flocking; but with looks

Downcast and damp; yet such wherein appeared

Obscure some glimpse of joy to have found their Chief

Not in despair, to have found themselves not lost [525]

In loss itself; which on his countenance cast

Like doubtful hue. But he, his wonted pride

Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore

Semblance of worth, not substance, gently raised

Their fainting courage, and dispelled their fears. [530]

Then straight commands that, at the warlike sound

Of trumpets loud and clarions, be upreared

His mighty standard. That proud honour claimed

Azazel as his right, a Cherub tall:

Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurled [535]

Th' imperial ensign; which, full high advanced,

Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind,

With gems and golden lustre rich emblazed,

Seraphic arms and trophies; all the while

Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds: [540]

At which the universal host up-sent

A shout that tore Hell's concave, and beyond

Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.

All in a moment through the gloom were seen

Ten thousand banners rise into the air, [545]

With orient colours waving: with them rose

A forest huge of spears; and thronging helms

Appeared, and serried shields in thick array

Of depth immeasurable. Anon they move

In perfect phalanx to the Dorian mood [550]

Of flutes and soft recorders--such as raised

To height of noblest temper heroes old

Arming to battle, and instead of rage

Deliberate valour breathed, firm, and unmoved

With dread of death to flight or foul retreat; [555]

Nor wanting power to mitigate and swage

With solemn touches troubled thoughts, and chase

Anguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and pain

From mortal or immortal minds. Thus they,

Breathing united force with fixed thought, [560]

Moved on in silence to soft pipes that charmed

Their painful steps o'er the burnt soil. And now

Advanced in view they stand--a horrid front

Of dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guise

Of warriors old, with ordered spear and shield, [565]

Awaiting what command their mighty Chief

Had to impose. He through the armed files

Darts his experienced eye, and soon traverse

The whole battalion views--their order due,

Their visages and stature as of gods; [570]

Their number last he sums. And now his heart

Distends with pride, and, hardening in his strength,

Glories: for never, since created Man,

Met such embodied force as, named with these,

Could merit more than that small infantry [575]

Warred on by cranes--though all the giant brood

Of Phlegra with th' heroic race were joined

That fought at Thebes and Ilium, on each side

Mixed with auxiliar gods; and what resounds

In fable or romance of Uther's son, [580]

Begirt with British and Armoric knights;

And all who since, baptized or infidel,

Jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban,

Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond,

Or whom Biserta sent from Afric shore [585]

When Charlemain with all his peerage fell

By Fontarabbia. Thus far these beyond

Compare of mortal prowess, yet observed

Their dread Commander. He, above the rest

In shape and gesture proudly eminent, [590]

Stood like a tower. His form had yet not lost

All her original brightness, nor appeared

Less than Archangel ruined, and th' excess

Of glory obscured: as when the sun new-risen

Looks through the horizontal misty air [595]

Shorn of his beams, or, from behind the moon,

In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds

On half the nations, and with fear of change

Perplexes monarchs. Darkened so, yet shone

Above them all th' Archangel: but his face [600]

Deep scars of thunder had intrenched, and care

Sat on his faded cheek, but under brows

Of dauntless courage, and considerate pride

Waiting revenge. Cruel his eye, but cast

Signs of remorse and passion, to behold [605]

The fellows of his crime, the followers rather

(Far other once beheld in bliss), condemned

For ever now to have their lot in pain--

Millions of Spirits for his fault amerced

Of Heaven, and from eternal splendours flung [610]

For his revolt--yet faithful how they stood,

Their glory withered; as, when heaven's fire

Hath scathed the forest oaks or mountain pines,

With singed top their stately growth, though bare,

Stands on the blasted heath. He now prepared [615]

To speak; whereat their doubled ranks they bend

From wing to wing, and half enclose him round

With all his peers: attention held them mute.

Thrice he assayed, and thrice, in spite of scorn,

Tears, such as Angels weep, burst forth: at last [620]

Words interwove with sighs found out their way:--

"O myriads of immortal Spirits! O Powers

Matchless, but with th' Almighty!--and that strife

Was not inglorious, though th' event was dire,

As this place testifies, and this dire change, [625]

Hateful to utter. But what power of mind,

Forseeing or presaging, from the depth

Of knowledge past or present, could have feared

How such united force of gods, how such

As stood like these, could ever know repulse? [630]

For who can yet believe, though after loss,

That all these puissant legions, whose exile

Hath emptied Heaven, shall fail to re-ascend,

Self-raised, and repossess their native seat?

For me, be witness all the host of Heaven, [635]

If counsels different, or danger shunned

By me, have lost our hopes. But he who reigns

Monarch in Heaven till then as one secure

Sat on his throne, upheld by old repute,

Consent or custom, and his regal state [640]

Put forth at full, but still his strength concealed--

Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall.

Henceforth his might we know, and know our own,

So as not either to provoke, or dread

New war provoked: our better part remains [645]

To work in close design, by fraud or guile,

What force effected not; that he no less

At length from us may find, who overcomes

By force hath overcome but half his foe.

Space may produce new Worlds; whereof so rife [650]

There went a fame in Heaven that he ere long

Intended to create, and therein plant

A generation whom his choice regard

Should favour equal to the Sons of Heaven.

Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps [655]

Our first eruption--thither, or elsewhere;

For this infernal pit shall never hold

Celestial Spirits in bondage, nor th' Abyss

Long under darkness cover. But these thoughts

Full counsel must mature. Peace is despaired; [660]

For who can think submission? War, then, war

Open or understood, must be resolved."

He spake; and, to confirm his words, outflew

Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs

Of mighty Cherubim; the sudden blaze [665]

Far round illumined Hell. Highly they raged

Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms

Clashed on their sounding shields the din of war,

Hurling defiance toward the vault of Heaven.

There stood a hill not far, whose grisly top [670]

Belched fire and rolling smoke; the rest entire

Shone with a glossy scurf--undoubted sign

That in his womb was hid metallic ore,

The work of sulphur. Thither, winged with speed,

A numerous brigade hastened: as when bands [675]

Of pioneers, with spade and pickaxe armed,

Forerun the royal camp, to trench a field,

Or cast a rampart. Mammon led them on--

Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell

From Heaven; for even in Heaven his looks and thoughts [680]

Were always downward bent, admiring more

The riches of heaven's pavement, trodden gold,

Than aught divine or holy else enjoyed

In vision beatific. By him first

Men also, and by his suggestion taught, [685]

Ransacked the centre, and with impious hands

Rifled the bowels of their mother Earth

For treasures better hid. Soon had his crew

Opened into the hill a spacious wound,

And digged out ribs of gold. Let none admire [690]

That riches grow in Hell; that soil may best

Deserve the precious bane. And here let those

Who boast in mortal things, and wondering tell

Of Babel, and the works of Memphian kings,

Learn how their greatest monuments of fame [695]

And strength, and art, are easily outdone

By Spirits reprobate, and in an hour

What in an age they, with incessant toil

And hands innumerable, scarce perform.

Nigh on the plain, in many cells prepared, [700]

That underneath had veins of liquid fire

Sluiced from the lake, a second multitude

With wondrous art founded the massy ore,

Severing each kind, and scummed the bullion-dross.

A third as soon had formed within the ground [705]

A various mould, and from the boiling cells

By strange conveyance filled each hollow nook;

As in an organ, from one blast of wind,

To many a row of pipes the sound-board breathes.

Anon out of the earth a fabric huge [710]

Rose like an exhalation, with the sound

Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet--

Built like a temple, where pilasters round

Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid

With golden architrave; nor did there want [715]

Cornice or frieze, with bossy sculptures graven;

The roof was fretted gold. Not Babylon

Nor great Alcairo such magnificence

Equalled in all their glories, to enshrine

Belus or Serapis their gods, or seat [720]

Their kings, when Egypt with Assyria strove

In wealth and luxury. Th' ascending pile

Stood fixed her stately height, and straight the doors,

Opening their brazen folds, discover, wide

Within, her ample spaces o'er the smooth [725]

And level pavement: from the arched roof,

Pendent by subtle magic, many a row

Of starry lamps and blazing cressets, fed

With naptha and asphaltus, yielded light

As from a sky. The hasty multitude [730]

Admiring entered; and the work some praise,

And some the architect. His hand was known

In Heaven by many a towered structure high,

Where sceptred Angels held their residence,

And sat as Princes, whom the supreme King [735]

Exalted to such power, and gave to rule,

Each in his Hierarchy, the Orders bright.

Nor was his name unheard or unadored

In ancient Greece; and in Ausonian land

Men called him Mulciber; and how he fell [740]

From Heaven they fabled, thrown by angry Jove

Sheer o'er the crystal battlements: from morn

To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,

A summer's day, and with the setting sun

Dropt from the zenith, like a falling star, [745]

On Lemnos, th' Aegaean isle. Thus they relate,

Erring; for he with this rebellious rout

Fell long before; nor aught availed him now

To have built in Heaven high towers; nor did he scape

By all his engines, but was headlong sent, [750]

With his industrious crew, to build in Hell.

Meanwhile the winged Heralds, by command

Of sovereign power, with awful ceremony

And trumpet's sound, throughout the host proclaim

A solemn council forthwith to be held [755]

At Pandemonium, the high capital

Of Satan and his peers. Their summons called

From every band and squared regiment

By place or choice the worthiest: they anon

With hundreds and with thousands trooping came [760]

Attended. All access was thronged; the gates

And porches wide, but chief the spacious hall

(Though like a covered field, where champions bold

Wont ride in armed, and at the Soldan's chair

Defied the best of Paynim chivalry [765]

To mortal combat, or career with lance),

Thick swarmed, both on the ground and in the air,

Brushed with the hiss of rustling wings. As bees

In spring-time, when the Sun with Taurus rides.

Pour forth their populous youth about the hive [770]

In clusters; they among fresh dews and flowers

Fly to and fro, or on the smoothed plank,

The suburb of their straw-built citadel,

New rubbed with balm, expatiate, and confer

Their state-affairs: so thick the airy crowd [775]

Swarmed and were straitened; till, the signal given,

Behold a wonder! They but now who seemed

In bigness to surpass Earth's giant sons,

Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room

Throng numberless--like that pygmean race [780]

Beyond the Indian mount; or faery elves,

Whose midnight revels, by a forest-side

Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,

Or dreams he sees, while overhead the Moon

Sits arbitress, and nearer to the Earth [785]

Wheels her pale course: they, on their mirth and dance

Intent, with jocund music charm his ear;

At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds.

Thus incorporeal Spirits to smallest forms

Reduced their shapes immense, and were at large, [790]

Though without number still, amidst the hall

Of that infernal court. But far within,

And in their own dimensions like themselves,

The great Seraphic Lords and Cherubim

In close recess and secret conclave sat, [795]

A thousand demi-gods on golden seats,

Frequent and full. After short silence then,

And summons read, the great consult began.

Book II

High on a throne of royal state, which far

Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,

Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand

Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,

Satan exalted sat, by merit raised [5]

To that bad eminence; and, from despair

Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires

Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue

Vain war with Heaven; and, by success untaught,

His proud imaginations thus displayed:-- [10]

"Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heaven!--

For, since no deep within her gulf can hold

Immortal vigour, though oppressed and fallen,

I give not Heaven for lost: from this descent

Celestial Virtues rising will appear [15]

More glorious and more dread than from no fall,

And trust themselves to fear no second fate!--

Me though just right, and the fixed laws of Heaven,

Did first create your leader--next, free choice

With what besides in council or in fight [20]

Hath been achieved of merit--yet this loss,

Thus far at least recovered, hath much more

Established in a safe, unenvied throne,

Yielded with full consent. The happier state

In Heaven, which follows dignity, might draw [25]

Envy from each inferior; but who here

Will envy whom the highest place exposes

Foremost to stand against the Thunderer's aim

Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share

Of endless pain? Where there is, then, no good [30]

For which to strive, no strife can grow up there

From faction: for none sure will claim in Hell

Precedence; none whose portion is so small

Of present pain that with ambitious mind

Will covet more! With this advantage, then, [35]

To union, and firm faith, and firm accord,

More than can be in Heaven, we now return

To claim our just inheritance of old,

Surer to prosper than prosperity

Could have assured us; and by what best way, [40]

Whether of open war or covert guile,

We now debate. Who can advise may speak."

He ceased; and next him Moloch, sceptred king,

Stood up--the strongest and the fiercest Spirit

That fought in Heaven, now fiercer by despair. [45]

His trust was with th' Eternal to be deemed

Equal in strength, and rather than be less

Cared not to be at all; with that care lost

Went all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse,

He recked not, and these words thereafter spake:-- [50]

"My sentence is for open war. Of wiles,

More unexpert, I boast not: them let those

Contrive who need, or when they need; not now.

For, while they sit contriving, shall the rest--

Millions that stand in arms, and longing wait [55]

The signal to ascend--sit lingering here,

Heaven's fugitives, and for their dwelling-place

Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame,

The prison of his tyranny who reigns

By our delay? No! let us rather choose, [60]

Armed with Hell-flames and fury, all at once

O'er Heaven's high towers to force resistless way,

Turning our tortures into horrid arms

Against the Torturer; when, to meet the noise

Of his almighty engine, he shall hear [65]

Infernal thunder, and, for lightning, see

Black fire and horror shot with equal rage

Among his Angels, and his throne itself

Mixed with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire,

His own invented torments. But perhaps [70]

The way seems difficult, and steep to scale

With upright wing against a higher foe!

Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench

Of that forgetful lake benumb not still,

That in our proper motion we ascend [75]

Up to our native seat; descent and fall

To us is adverse. Who but felt of late,

When the fierce foe hung on our broken rear

Insulting, and pursued us through the Deep,

With what compulsion and laborious flight [80]

We sunk thus low? Th' ascent is easy, then;

Th' event is feared! Should we again provoke

Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find

To our destruction, if there be in Hell

Fear to be worse destroyed! What can be worse [85]

Than to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemned

In this abhorred deep to utter woe!

Where pain of unextinguishable fire

Must exercise us without hope of end

The vassals of his anger, when the scourge [90]

Inexorably, and the torturing hour,

Calls us to penance? More destroyed than thus,

We should be quite abolished, and expire.

What fear we then? what doubt we to incense

His utmost ire? which, to the height enraged, [95]

Will either quite consume us, and reduce

To nothing this essential--happier far

Than miserable to have eternal being!--

Or, if our substance be indeed divine,

And cannot cease to be, we are at worst [100]

On this side nothing; and by proof we feel

Our power sufficient to disturb his Heaven,

And with perpetual inroads to alarm,

Though inaccessible, his fatal throne:

Which, if not victory, is yet revenge." [105]

He ended frowning, and his look denounced

Desperate revenge, and battle dangerous

To less than gods. On th' other side up rose

Belial, in act more graceful and humane.

A fairer person lost not Heaven; he seemed [110]

For dignity composed, and high exploit.

But all was false and hollow; though his tongue

Dropped manna, and could make the worse appear

The better reason, to perplex and dash

Maturest counsels: for his thoughts were low-- [115]

To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds

Timorous and slothful. Yet he pleased the ear,

And with persuasive accent thus began:--

"I should be much for open war, O Peers,

As not behind in hate, if what was urged [120]

Main reason to persuade immediate war

Did not dissuade me most, and seem to cast

Ominous conjecture on the whole success;

When he who most excels in fact of arms,

In what he counsels and in what excels [125]

Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair

And utter dissolution, as the scope

Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.

First, what revenge? The towers of Heaven are filled

With armed watch, that render all access [130]

Impregnable: oft on the bordering Deep

Encamp their legions, or with obscure wing

Scout far and wide into the realm of Night,

Scorning surprise. Or, could we break our way

By force, and at our heels all Hell should rise [135]

With blackest insurrection to confound

Heaven's purest light, yet our great Enemy,

All incorruptible, would on his throne

Sit unpolluted, and th' ethereal mould,

Incapable of stain, would soon expel [140]

Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire,

Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hope

Is flat despair: we must exasperate

Th' Almighty Victor to spend all his rage;

And that must end us; that must be our cure-- [145]

To be no more. Sad cure! for who would lose,

Though full of pain, this intellectual being,

Those thoughts that wander through eternity,

To perish rather, swallowed up and lost

In the wide womb of uncreated Night, [150]

Devoid of sense and motion? And who knows,

Let this be good, whether our angry Foe

Can give it, or will ever? How he can

Is doubtful; that he never will is sure.

Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire, [155]

Belike through impotence or unaware,

To give his enemies their wish, and end

Them in his anger whom his anger saves

To punish endless? "Wherefore cease we, then?"

Say they who counsel war; "we are decreed, [160]

Reserved, and destined to eternal woe;

Whatever doing, what can we suffer more,

What can we suffer worse?" Is this, then, worst--

Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms?

What when we fled amain, pursued and struck [165]

With Heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought

The Deep to shelter us? This Hell then seemed

A refuge from those wounds. Or when we lay

Chained on the burning lake? That sure was worse.

What if the breath that kindled those grim fires, [170]

Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold rage,

And plunge us in the flames; or from above

Should intermitted vengeance arm again

His red right hand to plague us? What if all

Her stores were opened, and this firmament [175]

Of Hell should spout her cataracts of fire,

Impendent horrors, threatening hideous fall

One day upon our heads; while we perhaps,

Designing or exhorting glorious war,

Caught in a fiery tempest, shall be hurled, [180]

Each on his rock transfixed, the sport and prey

Or racking whirlwinds, or for ever sunk

Under yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains,

There to converse with everlasting groans,

Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved, [185]

Ages of hopeless end? This would be worse.

War, therefore, open or concealed, alike

My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile

With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye

Views all things at one view? He from Heaven's height [190]

All these our motions vain sees and derides,

Not more almighty to resist our might

Than wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.

Shall we, then, live thus vile--the race of Heaven

Thus trampled, thus expelled, to suffer here [195]

Chains and these torments? Better these than worse,

By my advice; since fate inevitable

Subdues us, and omnipotent decree,

The Victor's will. To suffer, as to do,

Our strength is equal; nor the law unjust [200]

That so ordains. This was at first resolved,

If we were wise, against so great a foe

Contending, and so doubtful what might fall.

I laugh when those who at the spear are bold

And venturous, if that fail them, shrink, and fear [205]

What yet they know must follow--to endure

Exile, or ignominy, or bonds, or pain,

The sentence of their Conqueror. This is now

Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear,

Our Supreme Foe in time may much remit [210]

His anger, and perhaps, thus far removed,

Not mind us not offending, satisfied

With what is punished; whence these raging fires

Will slacken, if his breath stir not their flames.

Our purer essence then will overcome [215]

Their noxious vapour; or, inured, not feel;

Or, changed at length, and to the place conformed

In temper and in nature, will receive

Familiar the fierce heat; and, void of pain,

This horror will grow mild, this darkness light; [220]

Besides what hope the never-ending flight

Of future days may bring, what chance, what change

Worth waiting--since our present lot appears

For happy though but ill, for ill not worst,

If we procure not to ourselves more woe." [225]

Thus Belial, with words clothed in reason's garb,

Counselled ignoble ease and peaceful sloth,

Not peace; and after him thus Mammon spake:--

"Either to disenthrone the King of Heaven

We war, if war be best, or to regain [230]

Our own right lost. Him to unthrone we then

May hope, when everlasting Fate shall yield

To fickle Chance, and Chaos judge the strife.

The former, vain to hope, argues as vain

The latter; for what place can be for us [235]

Within Heaven's bound, unless Heaven's Lord supreme

We overpower? Suppose he should relent

And publish grace to all, on promise made

Of new subjection; with what eyes could we

Stand in his presence humble, and receive [240]

Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne

With warbled hymns, and to his Godhead sing

Forced hallelujahs, while he lordly sits

Our envied sovereign, and his altar breathes

Ambrosial odours and ambrosial flowers, [245]

Our servile offerings? This must be our task

In Heaven, this our delight. How wearisome

Eternity so spent in worship paid

To whom we hate! Let us not then pursue,

By force impossible, by leave obtained [250]

Unacceptable, though in Heaven, our state

Of splendid vassalage; but rather seek

Our own good from ourselves, and from our own

Live to ourselves, though in this vast recess,

Free and to none accountable, preferring [255]

Hard liberty before the easy yoke

Of servile pomp. Our greatness will appear

Then most conspicuous when great things of small,

Useful of hurtful, prosperous of adverse,

We can create, and in what place soe'er [260]

Thrive under evil, and work ease out of pain

Through labour and endurance. This deep world

Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst

Thick clouds and dark doth Heaven's all-ruling Sire

Choose to reside, his glory unobscured, [265]

And with the majesty of darkness round

Covers his throne, from whence deep thunders roar.

Mustering their rage, and Heaven resembles Hell!

As he our darkness, cannot we his light

Imitate when we please? This desert soil [270]

Wants not her hidden lustre, gems and gold;

Nor want we skill or art from whence to raise

Magnificence; and what can Heaven show more?

Our torments also may, in length of time,

Become our elements, these piercing fires [275]

As soft as now severe, our temper changed

Into their temper; which must needs remove

The sensible of pain. All things invite

To peaceful counsels, and the settled state

Of order, how in safety best we may [280]

Compose our present evils, with regard

Of what we are and where, dismissing quite

All thoughts of war. Ye have what I advise."

He scarce had finished, when such murmur filled

Th' assembly as when hollow rocks retain [285]

The sound of blustering winds, which all night long

Had roused the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull

Seafaring men o'erwatched, whose bark by chance

Or pinnace, anchors in a craggy bay

After the tempest. Such applause was heard [290]

As Mammon ended, and his sentence pleased,

Advising peace: for such another field

They dreaded worse than Hell; so much the fear

Of thunder and the sword of Michael

Wrought still within them; and no less desire [295]

To found this nether empire, which might rise,

By policy and long process of time,

In emulation opposite to Heaven.

Which when Beelzebub perceived--than whom,

Satan except, none higher sat--with grave [300]

Aspect he rose, and in his rising seemed

A pillar of state. Deep on his front engraven

Deliberation sat, and public care;

And princely counsel in his face yet shone,

Majestic, though in ruin. Sage he stood [305]

With Atlantean shoulders, fit to bear

The weight of mightiest monarchies; his look

Drew audience and attention still as night

Or summer's noontide air, while thus he spake:--

"Thrones and Imperial Powers, Offspring of Heaven, [310]

Ethereal Virtues! or these titles now

Must we renounce, and, changing style, be called

Princes of Hell? for so the popular vote

Inclines--here to continue, and build up here

A growing empire; doubtless! while we dream, [315]

And know not that the King of Heaven hath doomed

This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat

Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt

From Heaven's high jurisdiction, in new league

Banded against his throne, but to remain [320]

In strictest bondage, though thus far removed,

Under th' inevitable curb, reserved

His captive multitude. For he, to be sure,

In height or depth, still first and last will reign

Sole king, and of his kingdom lose no part [325]

By our revolt, but over Hell extend

His empire, and with iron sceptre rule

Us here, as with his golden those in Heaven.

What sit we then projecting peace and war?

War hath determined us and foiled with loss [330]

Irreparable; terms of peace yet none

Vouchsafed or sought; for what peace will be given

To us enslaved, but custody severe,

And stripes and arbitrary punishment

Inflicted? and what peace can we return, [335]

But, to our power, hostility and hate,

Untamed reluctance, and revenge, though slow,

Yet ever plotting how the Conqueror least

May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice

In doing what we most in suffering feel? [340]

Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need

With dangerous expedition to invade

Heaven, whose high walls fear no assault or siege,

Or ambush from the Deep. What if we find

Some easier enterprise? There is a place [345]

(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heaven

Err not)--another World, the happy seat

Of some new race, called Man, about this time

To be created like to us, though less

In power and excellence, but favoured more [350]

Of him who rules above; so was his will

Pronounced among the Gods, and by an oath

That shook Heaven's whole circumference confirmed.

Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn

What creatures there inhabit, of what mould [355]

Or substance, how endued, and what their power

And where their weakness: how attempted best,

By force of subtlety. Though Heaven be shut,

And Heaven's high Arbitrator sit secure

In his own strength, this place may lie exposed, [360]

The utmost border of his kingdom, left

To their defence who hold it: here, perhaps,

Some advantageous act may be achieved

By sudden onset--either with Hell-fire

To waste his whole creation, or possess [365]

All as our own, and drive, as we were driven,

The puny habitants; or, if not drive,

Seduce them to our party, that their God

May prove their foe, and with repenting hand

Abolish his own works. This would surpass [370]

Common revenge, and interrupt his joy

In our confusion, and our joy upraise

In his disturbance; when his darling sons,

Hurled headlong to partake with us, shall curse

Their frail original, and faded bliss-- [375]

Faded so soon! Advise if this be worth

Attempting, or to sit in darkness here

Hatching vain empires." Thus Beelzebub

Pleaded his devilish counsel--first devised

By Satan, and in part proposed: for whence, [380]

But from the author of all ill, could spring

So deep a malice, to confound the race

Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell

To mingle and involve, done all to spite

The great Creator? But their spite still serves [385]

His glory to augment. The bold design

Pleased highly those infernal States, and joy

Sparkled in all their eyes: with full assent

They vote: whereat his speech he thus renews:--

"Well have ye judged, well ended long debate, [390]

Synod of Gods, and, like to what ye are,

Great things resolved, which from the lowest deep

Will once more lift us up, in spite of fate,

Nearer our ancient seat--perhaps in view

Of those bright confines, whence, with neighbouring arms, [395]

And opportune excursion, we may chance

Re-enter Heaven; or else in some mild zone

Dwell, not unvisited of Heaven's fair light,

Secure, and at the brightening orient beam

Purge off this gloom: the soft delicious air, [400]

To heal the scar of these corrosive fires,

Shall breathe her balm. But, first, whom shall we send

In search of this new World? whom shall we find

Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandering feet

The dark, unbottomed, infinite Abyss, [405]

And through the palpable obscure find out

His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight,

Upborne with indefatigable wings

Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive

The happy Isle? What strength, what art, can then [410]

Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe,

Through the strict senteries and stations thick

Of Angels watching round? Here he had need

All circumspection: and we now no less

Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send [415]

The weight of all, and our last hope, relies."

This said, he sat; and expectation held

His look suspense, awaiting who appeared

To second, or oppose, or undertake

The perilous attempt. But all sat mute, [420]

Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each

In other's countenance read his own dismay,

Astonished. None among the choice and prime

Of those Heaven-warring champions could be found

So hardy as to proffer or accept, [425]

Alone, the dreadful voyage; till, at last,

Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised

Above his fellows, with monarchal pride

Conscious of highest worth, unmoved thus spake:--

"O Progeny of Heaven! Empyreal Thrones! [430]

With reason hath deep silence and demur

Seized us, though undismayed. Long is the way

And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.

Our prison strong, this huge convex of fire,

Outrageous to devour, immures us round [435]

Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant,

Barred over us, prohibit all egress.

These passed, if any pass, the void profound

Of unessential Night receives him next,

Wide-gaping, and with utter loss of being [440]

Threatens him, plunged in that abortive gulf.

If thence he scape, into whatever world,

Or unknown region, what remains him less

Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape?

But I should ill become this throne, O Peers, [445]

And this imperial sovereignty, adorned

With splendour, armed with power, if aught proposed

And judged of public moment in the shape

Of difficulty or danger, could deter

Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume [450]

These royalties, and not refuse to reign,

Refusing to accept as great a share

Of hazard as of honour, due alike

To him who reigns, and so much to him due

Of hazard more as he above the rest [455]

High honoured sits? Go, therefore, mighty Powers,

Terror of Heaven, though fallen; intend at home,

While here shall be our home, what best may ease

The present misery, and render Hell

More tolerable; if there be cure or charm [460]

To respite, or deceive, or slack the pain

Of this ill mansion: intermit no watch

Against a wakeful foe, while I abroad

Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek

Deliverance for us all. This enterprise [465]

None shall partake with me." Thus saying, rose

The Monarch, and prevented all reply;

Prudent lest, from his resolution raised,

Others among the chief might offer now,

Certain to be refused, what erst they feared, [470]

And, so refused, might in opinion stand

His rivals, winning cheap the high repute

Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they

Dreaded not more th' adventure than his voice

Forbidding; and at once with him they rose. [475]

Their rising all at once was as the sound

Of thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend

With awful reverence prone, and as a God

Extol him equal to the Highest in Heaven.

Nor failed they to express how much they praised [480]

That for the general safety he despised

His own: for neither do the Spirits damned

Lose all their virtue; lest bad men should boast

Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,

Or close ambition varnished o'er with zeal. [485]

Thus they their doubtful consultations dark

Ended, rejoicing in their matchless Chief:

As, when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds

Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread

Heaven's cheerful face, the louring element [490]

Scowls o'er the darkened landscape snow or shower,

If chance the radiant sun, with farewell sweet,

Extend his evening beam, the fields revive,

The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds

Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings. [495]

O shame to men! Devil with devil damned

Firm concord holds; men only disagree

Of creatures rational, though under hope

Of heavenly grace, and, God proclaiming peace,

Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife [500]

Among themselves, and levy cruel wars

Wasting the earth, each other to destroy:

As if (which might induce us to accord)

Man had not hellish foes enow besides,

That day and night for his destruction wait! [505]

The Stygian council thus dissolved; and forth

In order came the grand infernal Peers:

Midst came their mighty Paramount, and seemed

Alone th' antagonist of Heaven, nor less

Than Hell's dread Emperor, with pomp supreme, [510]

And god-like imitated state: him round

A globe of fiery Seraphim enclosed

With bright emblazonry, and horrent arms.

Then of their session ended they bid cry

With trumpet's regal sound the great result: [515]

Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim

Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,

By herald's voice explained; the hollow Abyss

Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell

With deafening shout returned them loud acclaim. [520]

Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised

By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Powers

Disband; and, wandering, each his several way

Pursues, as inclination or sad choice

Leads him perplexed, where he may likeliest find [525]

Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain

The irksome hours, till his great Chief return.

Part on the plain, or in the air sublime,

Upon the wing or in swift race contend,

As at th' Olympian games or Pythian fields; [530]

Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal

With rapid wheels, or fronted brigades form:

As when, to warn proud cities, war appears

Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush

To battle in the clouds; before each van [535]

Prick forth the airy knights, and couch their spears,

Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms

From either end of heaven the welkin burns.

Others, with vast Typhoean rage, more fell,

Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air [540]

In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar:--

As when Alcides, from Oechalia crowned

With conquest, felt th' envenomed robe, and tore

Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines,

And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw [545]

Into th' Euboic sea. Others, more mild,

Retreated in a silent valley, sing

With notes angelical to many a harp

Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall

By doom of battle, and complain that Fate [550]

Free Virtue should enthrall to Force or Chance.

Their song was partial; but the harmony

(What could it less when Spirits immortal sing?)

Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment

The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet [555]

(For Eloquence the Soul, Song charms the Sense)

Others apart sat on a hill retired,

In thoughts more elevate, and reasoned high

Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate--

Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute, [560]

And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.

Of good and evil much they argued then,

Of happiness and final misery,

Passion and apathy, and glory and shame:

Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy!-- [565]

Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm

Pain for a while or anguish, and excite

Fallacious hope, or arm th' obdured breast

With stubborn patience as with triple steel.

Another part, in squadrons and gross bands, [570]

On bold adventure to discover wide

That dismal world, if any clime perhaps

Might yield them easier habitation, bend

Four ways their flying march, along the banks

Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge [575]

Into the burning lake their baleful streams--

Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;

Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;

Cocytus, named of lamentation loud

Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegeton, [580]

Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.

Far off from these, a slow and silent stream,

Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls

Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks

Forthwith his former state and being forgets-- [585]

Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.

Beyond this flood a frozen continent

Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms

Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land

Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems [590]

Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice,

A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog

Betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old,

Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air

Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of fire. [595]

Thither, by harpy-footed Furies haled,

At certain revolutions all the damned

Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change

Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,

From beds of raging fire to starve in ice [600]

Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine

Immovable, infixed, and frozen round

Periods of time,--thence hurried back to fire.

They ferry over this Lethean sound

Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment, [605]

And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach

The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose

In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,

All in one moment, and so near the brink;

But Fate withstands, and, to oppose th' attempt, [610]

Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards

The ford, and of itself the water flies

All taste of living wight, as once it fled

The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on

In confused march forlorn, th' adventurous bands, [615]

With shuddering horror pale, and eyes aghast,

Viewed first their lamentable lot, and found

No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale

They passed, and many a region dolorous,

O'er many a frozen, many a fiery alp, [620]

Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death--

A universe of death, which God by curse

Created evil, for evil only good;

Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds,

Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things, [625]

Obominable, inutterable, and worse

Than fables yet have feigned or fear conceived,

Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.

Meanwhile the Adversary of God and Man,

Satan, with thoughts inflamed of highest design, [630]

Puts on swift wings, and toward the gates of Hell

Explores his solitary flight: sometimes

He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left;

Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars

Up to the fiery concave towering high. [635]

As when far off at sea a fleet descried

Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds

Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles

Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring

Their spicy drugs; they on the trading flood, [640]

Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape,

Ply stemming nightly toward the pole: so seemed

Far off the flying Fiend. At last appear

Hell-bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof,

And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass, [645]

Three iron, three of adamantine rock,

Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire,

Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat

On either side a formidable Shape.

The one seemed woman to the waist, and fair, [650]

But ended foul in many a scaly fold,

Voluminous and vast--a serpent armed

With mortal sting. About her middle round

A cry of Hell-hounds never-ceasing barked

With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung [655]

A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep,

If aught disturbed their noise, into her womb,

And kennel there; yet there still barked and howled

Within unseen. Far less abhorred than these

Vexed Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts [660]

Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore;

Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, called

In secret, riding through the air she comes,

Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance

With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon [665]

Eclipses at their charms. The other Shape--

If shape it might be called that shape had none

Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;

Or substance might be called that shadow seemed,

For each seemed either--black it stood as Night, [670]

Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,

And shook a dreadful dart: what seemed his head

The likeness of a kingly crown had on.

Satan was now at hand, and from his seat

The monster moving onward came as fast [675]

With horrid strides; Hell trembled as he strode.

Th' undaunted Fiend what this might be admired--

Admired, not feared (God and his Son except,

Created thing naught valued he nor shunned),

And with disdainful look thus first began:-- [680]

"Whence and what art thou, execrable Shape,

That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance

Thy miscreated front athwart my way

To yonder gates? Through them I mean to pass,

That be assured, without leave asked of thee. [685]

Retire; or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,

Hell-born, not to contend with Spirits of Heaven."

To whom the Goblin, full of wrath, replied:--

"Art thou that traitor Angel? art thou he,

Who first broke peace in Heaven and faith, till then [690]

Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms

Drew after him the third part of Heaven's sons,

Conjured against the Highest--for which both thou

And they, outcast from God, are here condemned

To waste eternal days in woe and pain? [695]

And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits of Heaven

Hell-doomed, and breath'st defiance here and scorn,

Where I reign king, and, to enrage thee more,

Thy king and lord? Back to thy punishment,

False fugitive; and to thy speed add wings, [700]

Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue

Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart

Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before."

So spake the grisly Terror, and in shape,

So speaking and so threatening, grew tenfold, [705]

More dreadful and deform. On th' other side,

Incensed with indignation, Satan stood

Unterrified, and like a comet burned,

That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge

In th' arctic sky, and from his horrid hair [710]

Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head

Levelled his deadly aim; their fatal hands

No second stroke intend; and such a frown

Each cast at th' other as when two black clouds,

With heaven's artillery fraught, came rattling on [715]

Over the Caspian,--then stand front to front

Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow

To join their dark encounter in mid-air.

So frowned the mighty combatants that Hell

Grew darker at their frown; so matched they stood; [720]

For never but once more was wither like

To meet so great a foe. And now great deeds

Had been achieved, whereof all Hell had rung,

Had not the snaky Sorceress, that sat

Fast by Hell-gate and kept the fatal key, [725]

Risen, and with hideous outcry rushed between.

"O father, what intends thy hand," she cried,

"Against thy only son? What fury, O son,

Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart

Against thy father's head? And know'st for whom? [730]

For him who sits above, and laughs the while

At thee, ordained his drudge to execute

Whate'er his wrath, which he calls justice, bids--

His wrath, which one day will destroy ye both!"

She spake, and at her words the hellish Pest [735]

Forbore: then these to her Satan returned:--

"So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strange

Thou interposest, that my sudden hand,

Prevented, spares to tell thee yet by deeds

What it intends, till first I know of thee [740]

What thing thou art, thus double-formed, and why,

In this infernal vale first met, thou call'st

Me father, and that phantasm call'st my son.

I know thee not, nor ever saw till now

Sight more detestable than him and thee." [745]

T' whom thus the Portress of Hell-gate replied:--

"Hast thou forgot me, then; and do I seem

Now in thine eye so foul?--once deemed so fair

In Heaven, when at th' assembly, and in sight

Of all the Seraphim with thee combined [750]

In bold conspiracy against Heaven's King,

All on a sudden miserable pain

Surprised thee, dim thine eyes and dizzy swum

In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast

Threw forth, till on the left side opening wide, [755]

Likest to thee in shape and countenance bright,

Then shining heavenly fair, a goddess armed,

Out of thy head I sprung. Amazement seized

All th' host of Heaven; back they recoiled afraid

At first, and called me Sin, and for a sign [760]

Portentous held me; but, familiar grown,

I pleased, and with attractive graces won

The most averse--thee chiefly, who, full oft

Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing,

Becam'st enamoured; and such joy thou took'st [765]

With me in secret that my womb conceived

A growing burden. Meanwhile war arose,

And fields were fought in Heaven: wherein remained

(For what could else?) to our Almighty Foe

Clear victory; to our part loss and rout [770]

Through all the Empyrean. Down they fell,

Driven headlong from the pitch of Heaven, down

Into this Deep; and in the general fall

I also: at which time this powerful key

Into my hands was given, with charge to keep [775]

These gates for ever shut, which none can pass

Without my opening. Pensive here I sat

Alone; but long I sat not, till my womb,

Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown,

Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes. [780]

At last this odious offspring whom thou seest,

Thine own begotten, breaking violent way,

Tore through my entrails, that, with fear and pain

Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew

Transformed: but he my inbred enemy [785]

Forth issued, brandishing his fatal dart,

Made to destroy. I fled, and cried out Death!

Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sighed

From all her caves, and back resounded Death!

I fled; but he pursued (though more, it seems, [790]

Inflamed with lust than rage), and, swifter far,

Me overtook, his mother, all dismayed,

And, in embraces forcible and foul

Engendering with me, of that rape begot

These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry [795]

Surround me, as thou saw'st--hourly conceived

And hourly born, with sorrow infinite

To me; for, when they list, into the womb

That bred them they return, and howl, and gnaw

My bowels, their repast; then, bursting forth [800]

Afresh, with conscious terrors vex me round,

That rest or intermission none I find.

Before mine eyes in opposition sits

Grim Death, my son and foe, who set them on,

And me, his parent, would full soon devour [805]

For want of other prey, but that he knows

His end with mine involved, and knows that I

Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane,

Whenever that shall be: so Fate pronounced.

But thou, O father, I forewarn thee, shun [810]

His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope

To be invulnerable in those bright arms,

Through tempered heavenly; for that mortal dint,

Save he who reigns above, none can resist."

She finished; and the subtle Fiend his lore [815]

Soon learned, now milder, and thus answered smooth:--

"Dear daughter--since thou claim'st me for thy sire,

And my fair son here show'st me, the dear pledge

Of dalliance had with thee in Heaven, and joys

Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change [820]

Befallen us unforeseen, unthought-of--know,

I come no enemy, but to set free

From out this dark and dismal house of pain

Both him and thee, and all the heavenly host

Of Spirits that, in our just pretences armed, [825]

Fell with us from on high. From them I go

This uncouth errand sole, and one for all

Myself expose, with lonely steps to tread

Th' unfounded Deep, and through the void immense

To search, with wandering quest, a place foretold [830]

Should be--and, by concurring signs, ere now

Created vast and round--a place of bliss

In the purlieus of Heaven; and therein placed

A race of upstart creatures, to supply

Perhaps our vacant room, though more removed, [835]

Lest Heaven, surcharged with potent multitude,

Might hap to move new broils. Be this, or aught

Than this more secret, now designed, I haste

To know; and, this once known, shall soon return,

And bring ye to the place where thou and Death [840]

Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen

Wing silently the buxom air, embalmed

With odours. There ye shall be fed and filled

Immeasurably; all things shall be your prey."

He ceased; for both seemed highly pleased, and Death [845]

Grinned horrible a ghastly smile, to hear

His famine should be filled, and blessed his maw

Destined to that good hour. No less rejoiced

His mother bad, and thus bespake her sire:--

"The key of this infernal Pit, by due [850]

And by command of Heaven's all-powerful King,

I keep, by him forbidden to unlock

These adamantine gates; against all force

Death ready stands to interpose his dart,

Fearless to be o'ermatched by living might. [855]

But what owe I to his commands above,

Who hates me, and hath hither thrust me down

Into this gloom of Tartarus profound,

To sit in hateful office here confined,

Inhabitant of Heaven and heavenly born-- [860]

Here in perpetual agony and pain,

With terrors and with clamours compassed round

Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed?

Thou art my father, thou my author, thou

My being gav'st me; whom should I obey [865]

But thee? whom follow? Thou wilt bring me soon

To that new world of light and bliss, among

The gods who live at ease, where I shall reign

At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems

Thy daughter and thy darling, without end." [870]

Thus saying, from her side the fatal key,

Sad instrument of all our woe, she took;

And, towards the gate rolling her bestial train,

Forthwith the huge portcullis high up-drew,

Which, but herself, not all the Stygian Powers [875]

Could once have moved; then in the key-hole turns

Th' intricate wards, and every bolt and bar

Of massy iron or solid rock with ease

Unfastens. On a sudden open fly,

With impetuous recoil and jarring sound, [880]

Th' infernal doors, and on their hinges grate

Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook

Of Erebus. She opened; but to shut

Excelled her power: the gates wide open stood,

That with extended wings a bannered host, [885]

Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through

With horse and chariots ranked in loose array;

So wide they stood, and like a furnace-mouth

Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.

Before their eyes in sudden view appear [890]

The secrets of the hoary Deep--a dark

Illimitable ocean, without bound,

Without dimension; where length, breadth, and height,

And time, and place, are lost; where eldest Night

And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold [895]

Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise

Of endless wars, and by confusion stand.

For Hot, Cold, Moist, and Dry, four champions fierce,

Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring

Their embryon atoms: they around the flag [900]

Of each his faction, in their several clans,

Light-armed or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow,

Swarm populous, unnumbered as the sands

Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil,

Levied to side with warring winds, and poise [905]

Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere

He rules a moment: Chaos umpire sits,

And by decision more embroils the fray

By which he reigns: next him, high arbiter,

Chance governs all. Into this wild Abyss, [910]

The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave,

Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,

But all these in their pregnant causes mixed

Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,

Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain [915]

His dark materials to create more worlds--

Into this wild Abyss the wary Fiend

Stood on the brink of Hell and looked a while,

Pondering his voyage; for no narrow frith

He had to cross. Nor was his ear less pealed [920]

With noises loud and ruinous (to compare

Great things with small) than when Bellona storms

With all her battering engines, bent to rase

Some capital city; or less than if this frame

Of Heaven were falling, and these elements [925]

In mutiny had from her axle torn

The steadfast Earth. At last his sail-broad vans

He spread for flight, and, in the surging smoke

Uplifted, spurns the ground; thence many a league,

As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides [930]

Audacious; but, that seat soon failing, meets

A vast vacuity. All unawares,

Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb-down he drops

Ten thousand fathom deep, and to this hour

Down had been falling, had not, by ill chance, [935]

The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud,

Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him

As many miles aloft. That fury stayed--

Quenched in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea,

Nor good dry land--nigh foundered, on he fares, [940]

Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,

Half flying; behoves him now both oar and sail.

As when a gryphon through the wilderness

With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale,

Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth [945]

Had from his wakeful custody purloined

The guarded gold; so eagerly the Fiend

O'er bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,

With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way,

And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies. [950]

At length a universal hubbub wild

Of stunning sounds, and voices all confused,

Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear

With loudest vehemence. Thither he plies

Undaunted, to meet there whatever Power [955]

Or Spirit of the nethermost Abyss

Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask

Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies

Bordering on light; when straight behold the throne

Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread [960]

Wide on the wasteful Deep! With him enthroned

Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,

The consort of his reign; and by them stood

Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name

Of Demogorgon; Rumour next, and Chance, [965]

And Tumult, and Confusion, all embroiled,

And Discord with a thousand various mouths.

T' whom Satan, turning boldly, thus:--"Ye Powers

And Spirits of this nethermost Abyss,

Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy [970]

With purpose to explore or to disturb

The secrets of your realm; but, by constraint

Wandering this darksome desert, as my way

Lies through your spacious empire up to light,

Alone and without guide, half lost, I seek, [975]

What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds

Confine with Heaven; or, if some other place,

From your dominion won, th' Ethereal King

Possesses lately, thither to arrive

I travel this profound. Direct my course: [980]

Directed, no mean recompense it brings

To your behoof, if I that region lost,

All usurpation thence expelled, reduce

To her original darkness and your sway

(Which is my present journey), and once more [985]

Erect the standard there of ancient Night.

Yours be th' advantage all, mine the revenge!"

Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old,

With faltering speech and visage incomposed,

Answered: "I know thee, stranger, who thou art-- [990]

That mighty leading Angel, who of late

Made head against Heaven's King, though overthrown.

I saw and heard; for such a numerous host

Fled not in silence through the frighted Deep,

With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout, [995]

Confusion worse confounded; and Heaven-gates

Poured out by millions her victorious bands,

Pursuing. I upon my frontiers here

Keep residence; if all I can will serve

That little which is left so to defend, [1000]

Encroached on still through our intestine broils

Weakening the sceptre of old Night: first, Hell,

Your dungeon, stretching far and wide beneath;

Now lately Heaven and Earth, another world

Hung o'er my realm, linked in a golden chain [1005]

To that side Heaven from whence your legions fell!

If that way be your walk, you have not far;

So much the nearer danger. Go, and speed;

Havoc, and spoil, and ruin, are my gain."

He ceased; and Satan stayed not to reply, [1010]

But, glad that now his sea should find a shore,

With fresh alacrity and force renewed

Springs upward, like a pyramid of fire,

Into the wild expanse, and through the shock

Of fighting elements, on all sides round [1015]

Environed, wins his way; harder beset

And more endangered than when Argo passed

Through Bosporus betwixt the justling rocks,

Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunned

Charybdis, and by th' other whirlpool steered. [1020]

So he with difficulty and labour hard

Moved on, with difficulty and labour he;

But, he once passed, soon after, when Man fell,

Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain,

Following his track (such was the will of Heaven) [1025]

Paved after him a broad and beaten way

Over the dark Abyss, whose boiling gulf

Tamely endured a bridge of wondrous length,

From Hell continued, reaching th' utmost orb

Of this frail World; by which the Spirits perverse [1030]

With easy intercourse pass to and fro

To tempt or punish mortals, except whom

God and good Angels guard by special grace.

But now at last the sacred influence

Of light appears, and from the walls of Heaven [1035]

Shoots far into the bosom of dim Night

A glimmering dawn. Here Nature first begins

Her farthest verge, and Chaos to retire,

As from her outmost works, a broken foe,

With tumult less and with less hostile din; [1040]

That Satan with less toil, and now with ease,

Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light,

And, like a weather-beaten vessel, holds

Gladly the port, though shrouds and tackle torn;

Or in the emptier waste, resembling air, [1045]

Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold

Far off th' empyreal Heaven, extended wide

In circuit, undetermined square or round,

With opal towers and battlements adorned

Of living sapphire, once his native seat; [1050]

And, fast by, hanging in a golden chain,

This pendent World, in bigness as a star

Of smallest magnitude close by the moon.

Thither, full fraught with mischievous revenge,

Accursed, and in a cursed hour, he hies. [1055]

Book III

Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heaven firstborn,

Or of the Eternal coeternal beam

May I express thee unblam'd? since God is light,

And never but in unapproached light

Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee [5]

Bright effluence of bright essence increate.

Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream,

Whose fountain who shall tell? before the sun,

Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice

Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest [10]

The rising world of waters dark and deep,

Won from the void and formless infinite.

Thee I re-visit now with bolder wing,

Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd

In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight [15]

Through utter and through middle darkness borne,

With other notes than to the Orphean lyre

I sung of Chaos and eternal Night;

Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down

The dark descent, and up to re-ascend, [20]

Though hard and rare: Thee I revisit safe,

And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou

Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain

To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;

So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs, [25]

Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more

Cease I to wander, where the Muses haunt,

Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,

Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief

Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath, [30]

That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,

Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget

So were I equall'd with them in renown,

Thy sovran command, that Man should find grace;

Blind Thamyris, and blind Maeonides, [35]

And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old:

Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move

Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird

Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid

Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year [40]

Seasons return; but not to me returns

Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,

Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,

Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;

But cloud instead, and ever-during dark [45]

Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men

Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair

Presented with a universal blank

Of nature's works to me expung'd and ras'd,

And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out. [50]

So much the rather thou, celestial Light,

Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers

Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence

Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell

Of things invisible to mortal sight. [55]

Now had the Almighty Father from above,

From the pure empyrean where he sits

High thron'd above all highth, bent down his eye

His own works and their works at once to view:

About him all the Sanctities of Heaven [60]

Stood thick as stars, and from his sight receiv'd

Beatitude past utterance; on his right

The radiant image of his glory sat,

His only son; on earth he first beheld

Our two first parents, yet the only two [65]

Of mankind in the happy garden plac'd

Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love,

Uninterrupted joy, unrivall'd love,

In blissful solitude; he then survey'd

Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there [70]

Coasting the wall of Heaven on this side Night

In the dun air sublime, and ready now

To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet,

On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd

Firm land imbosom'd, without firmament, [75]

Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.

Him God beholding from his prospect high,

Wherein past, present, future, he beholds,

Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake.

Only begotten Son, seest thou what rage [80]

Transports our Adversary? whom no bounds

Prescrib'd no bars of Hell, nor all the chains

Heap'd on him there, nor yet the main abyss

Wide interrupt, can hold; so bent he seems

On desperate revenge, that shall redound [85]

Upon his own rebellious head. And now,

Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way

Not far off Heaven, in the precincts of light,

Directly towards the new created world,

And man there plac'd, with purpose to assay [90]

If him by force he can destroy, or, worse,

By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert;

For man will hearken to his glozing lies,

And easily transgress the sole command,

Sole pledge of his obedience: So will fall [95]

He and his faithless progeny: Whose fault?

Whose but his own? ingrate, he had of me

All he could have; I made him just and right,

Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.

Such I created all the ethereal Powers [100]

And Spirits, both them who stood, and them who fail'd;

Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.

Not free, what proof could they have given sincere

Of true allegiance, constant faith or love,

Where only what they needs must do appear'd, [105]

Not what they would? what praise could they receive?

What pleasure I from such obedience paid,

When will and reason (reason also is choice)

Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd,

Made passive both, had serv'd necessity, [110]

Not me. They therefore, as to right belong'd,

So were created, nor can justly accuse

Their Maker, or their making, or their fate,

As if predestination over-rul'd

Their will dispos'd by absolute decree [115]

Or high foreknowledge they themselves decreed

Their own revolt, not I; if I foreknew,

Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,

Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.

So without least impulse or shadow of fate, [120]

Or aught by me immutably foreseen,

They trespass, authors to themselves in all

Both what they judge, and what they choose; for so

I form'd them free: and free they must remain,

Till they enthrall themselves; I else must change [125]

Their nature, and revoke the high decree

Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd

Their freedom: they themselves ordain'd their fall.

The first sort by their own suggestion fell,

Self-tempted, self-deprav'd: Man falls, deceiv'd [130]

By the other first: Man therefore shall find grace,

The other none: In mercy and justice both,

Through Heaven and Earth, so shall my glory excel;

But Mercy, first and last, shall brightest shine.

Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fill'd [135]

All Heaven, and in the blessed Spirits elect

Sense of new joy ineffable diffus'd.

Beyond compare the Son of God was seen

Most glorious; in him all his Father shone

Substantially express'd; and in his face [140]

Divine compassion visibly appear'd,

Love without end, and without measure grace,

Which uttering, thus he to his Father spake.

O Father, gracious was that word which clos'd

Thy sovran command, that Man should find grace; [145]

For which both Heaven and earth shall high extol

Thy praises, with the innumerable sound

Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne

Encompass'd shall resound thee ever blest.

For should Man finally be lost, should Man, [150]

Thy creature late so lov'd, thy youngest son,

Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though join'd

With his own folly? that be from thee far,

That far be from thee, Father, who art judge

Of all things made, and judgest only right. [155]

Or shall the Adversary thus obtain

His end, and frustrate thine? shall he fulfill

His malice, and thy goodness bring to nought,

Or proud return, though to his heavier doom,

Yet with revenge accomplish'd, and to Hell [160]

Draw after him the whole race of mankind,

By him corrupted? or wilt thou thyself

Abolish thy creation, and unmake

For him, what for thy glory thou hast made?

So should thy goodness and thy greatness both [165]

Be question'd and blasphem'd without defence.

To whom the great Creator thus replied.

O son, in whom my soul hath chief delight,

Son of my bosom, Son who art alone.

My word, my wisdom, and effectual might, [170]

All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all

As my eternal purpose hath decreed;

Man shall not quite be lost, but sav'd who will;

Yet not of will in him, but grace in me

Freely vouchsaf'd; once more I will renew [175]

His lapsed powers, though forfeit; and enthrall'd

By sin to foul exorbitant desires;

Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand

On even ground against his mortal foe;

By me upheld, that he may know how frail [180]

His fallen condition is, and to me owe

All his deliverance, and to none but me.

Some I have chosen of peculiar grace,

Elect above the rest; so is my will:

The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warn'd [185]

Their sinful state, and to appease betimes

The incensed Deity, while offer'd grace

Invites; for I will clear their senses dark,

What may suffice, and soften stony hearts

To pray, repent, and bring obedience due. [190]

To prayer, repentance, and obedience due,

Though but endeavour'd with sincere intent,

Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.

And I will place within them as a guide,

My umpire Conscience; whom if they will hear, [195]

Light after light, well us'd, they shall attain,

And to the end, persisting, safe arrive.

This my long sufferance, and my day of grace,

They who neglect and scorn, shall never taste;

But hard be harden'd, blind be blinded more, [200]

That they may stumble on, and deeper fall;

And none but such from mercy I exclude.

But yet all is not done; Man disobeying,

Disloyal, breaks his fealty, and sins

Against the high supremacy of Heaven, [205]

Affecting God-head, and, so losing all,

To expiate his treason hath nought left,

But to destruction sacred and devote,

He, with his whole posterity, must die,

Die he or justice must; unless for him [210]

Some other able, and as willing, pay

The rigid satisfaction, death for death.

Say, heavenly Powers, where shall we find such love?

Which of you will be mortal, to redeem

Man's mortal crime, and just the unjust to save? [215]

Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?

He ask'd, but all the heavenly quire stood mute,

And silence was in Heaven: on Man's behalf

Patron or intercessour none appear'd,

Much less that durst upon his own head draw [220]

The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.

And now without redemption all mankind

Must have been lost, adjudg'd to Death and Hell

By doom severe, had not the Son of God,

In whom the fulness dwells of love divine, [225]

His dearest mediation thus renew'd.

Father, thy word is past, Man shall find grace;

And shall grace not find means, that finds her way,

The speediest of thy winged messengers,

To visit all thy creatures, and to all [230]

Comes unprevented, unimplor'd, unsought?

Happy for Man, so coming; he her aid

Can never seek, once dead in sins, and lost;

Atonement for himself, or offering meet,

Indebted and undone, hath none to bring; [235]

Behold me then: me for him, life for life

I offer: on me let thine anger fall;

Account me Man; I for his sake will leave

Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee

Freely put off, and for him lastly die [240]

Well pleased; on me let Death wreak all his rage.

Under his gloomy power I shall not long

Lie vanquished. Thou hast given me to possess

Life in myself for ever; by thee I live;

Though now to Death I yield, and am his due, [245]

All that of me can die, yet, that debt paid,

Thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave

His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul

For ever with corruption there to dwell;

But I shall rise victorious, and subdue [250]

My vanquisher, spoiled of his vaunted spoil.

Death his death's wound shall then receive, and stoop

Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarmed;

I through the ample air in triumph high

Shall lead Hell captive maugre Hell, and show [255]

The powers of darkness bound. Thou, at the sight

Pleased, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile,

While, by thee raised, I ruin all my foes;

Death last, and with his carcase glut the grave;

Then, with the multitude of my redeemed, [260]

Shall enter Heaven, long absent, and return,

Father, to see thy face, wherein no cloud

Of anger shall remain, but peace assured

And reconcilement: wrath shall be no more

Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire. [265]

His words here ended; but his meek aspect

Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love

To mortal men, above which only shone

Filial obedience: as a sacrifice

Glad to be offered, he attends the will [270]

Of his great Father. Admiration seized

All Heaven, what this might mean, and whither tend,

Wondering; but soon th' Almighty thus replied:

O thou in Heaven and Earth the only peace

Found out for mankind under wrath, O thou [275]

My sole complacence! Well thou know'st how dear

To me are all my works; nor Man the least,

Though last created, that for him I spare

Thee from my bosom and right hand, to save,

By losing thee a while, the whole race lost. [280]

Thou, therefore, whom thou only canst redeem,

Their nature also to thy nature join;

And be thyself Man among men on Earth,

Made flesh, when time shall be, of virgin seed,

By wondrous birth; be thou in Adam's room [285]

The head of all mankind, though Adam's son.

As in him perish all men, so in thee,

As from a second root, shall be restored

As many as are restored, without thee none.

His crime makes guilty all his sons; thy merit, [290]

Imputed, shall absolve them who renounce

Their own both righteous and unrighteous deeds,

And live in thee transplanted, and from thee

Receive new life. So Man, as is most just,

Shall satisfy for Man, be judged and die, [295]

And dying rise, and rising with him raise

His brethren, ransomed with his own dear life.

So heavenly love shall outdo hellish hate,

Giving to death, and dying to redeem,

So dearly to redeem what hellish hate [300]

So easily destroyed, and still destroys

In those who, when they may, accept not grace.

Nor shalt thou, by descending to assume

Man's nature, lessen or degrade thine own.

Because thou hast, though throned in highest bliss [305]

Equal to God, and equally enjoying

God-like fruition, quitted all, to save

A world from utter loss, and hast been found

By merit more than birthright Son of God,

Found worthiest to be so by being good, [310]

Far more than great or high; because in thee

Love hath abounded more than glory abounds;

Therefore thy humiliation shall exalt

With thee thy manhood also to this throne:

Here shalt thou sit incarnate, here shalt reign [315]

Both God and Man, Son both of God and Man,

Anointed universal King; all power

I give thee; reign for ever, and assume

Thy merits; under thee, as head supreme,

Thrones, Princedoms, Powers, Dominions, I reduce: [320]

All knees to thee shall bow, of them that bide

In Heaven, or Earth, or under Earth in Hell.

When thou, attended gloriously from Heaven,

Shalt in the sky appear, and from thee send

The summoning Arch-Angels to proclaim [325]

Thy dread tribunal; forthwith from all winds,

The living, and forthwith the cited dead

Of all past ages, to the general doom

Shall hasten; such a peal shall rouse their sleep.

Then, all thy saints assembled, thou shalt judge [330]

Bad Men and Angels; they, arraigned, shall sink

Beneath thy sentence; Hell, her numbers full,

Thenceforth shall be for ever shut. Mean while

The world shall burn, and from her ashes spring

New Heaven and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell, [335]

And, after all their tribulations long,

See golden days, fruitful of golden deeds,

With joy and peace triumphing, and fair truth.

Then thou thy regal scepter shalt lay by,

For regal scepter then no more shall need, [340]

God shall be all in all. But, all ye Gods,

Adore him, who to compass all this dies;

Adore the Son, and honour him as me.

No sooner had the Almighty ceased, but all

The multitude of Angels, with a shout [345]

Loud as from numbers without number, sweet

As from blest voices, uttering joy, Heaven rung

With jubilee, and loud Hosannas filled

The eternal regions: Lowly reverent

Towards either throne they bow, and to the ground [350]

With solemn adoration down they cast

Their crowns inwove with amarant and gold;

Immortal amarant, a flower which once

In Paradise, fast by the tree of life,

Began to bloom; but soon for man's offence [355]

To Heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows,

And flowers aloft shading the fount of life,

And where the river of bliss through midst of Heaven

Rolls o'er Elysian flowers her amber stream;

With these that never fade the Spirits elect [360]

Bind their resplendent locks inwreathed with beams;

Now in loose garlands thick thrown off, the bright

Pavement, that like a sea of jasper shone,

Impurpled with celestial roses smiled.

Then, crowned again, their golden harps they took, [365]

Harps ever tuned, that glittering by their side

Like quivers hung, and with preamble sweet

Of charming symphony they introduce

Their sacred song, and waken raptures high;

No voice exempt, no voice but well could join [370]

Melodious part, such concord is in Heaven.

Thee, Father, first they sung Omnipotent,

Immutable, Immortal, Infinite,

Eternal King; the Author of all being,

Fountain of light, thyself invisible [375]

Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sit'st

Throned inaccessible, but when thou shadest

The full blaze of thy beams, and, through a cloud

Drawn round about thee like a radiant shrine,

Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear, [380]

Yet dazzle Heaven, that brightest Seraphim

Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes.

Thee next they sang of all creation first,

Begotten Son, Divine Similitude,

In whose conspicuous countenance, without cloud [385]

Made visible, the Almighty Father shines,

Whom else no creature can behold; on thee

Impressed the effulgence of his glory abides,

Transfused on thee his ample Spirit rests.

He Heaven of Heavens and all the Powers therein [390]

By thee created; and by thee threw down

The aspiring Dominations: Thou that day

Thy Father's dreadful thunder didst not spare,

Nor stop thy flaming chariot-wheels, that shook

Heaven's everlasting frame, while o'er the necks [395]

Thou drovest of warring Angels disarrayed.

Back from pursuit thy Powers with loud acclaim

Thee only extolled, Son of thy Father's might,

To execute fierce vengeance on his foes,

Not so on Man: Him through their malice fallen, [400]

Father of mercy and grace, thou didst not doom

So strictly, but much more to pity incline:

No sooner did thy dear and only Son

Perceive thee purposed not to doom frail Man

So strictly, but much more to pity inclined, [405]

He to appease thy wrath, and end the strife

Of mercy and justice in thy face discerned,

Regardless of the bliss wherein he sat

Second to thee, offered himself to die

For Man's offence. O unexampled love, [410]

Love no where to be found less than Divine!

Hail, Son of God, Saviour of Men! Thy name

Shall be the copious matter of my song

Henceforth, and never shall my heart thy praise

Forget, nor from thy Father's praise disjoin. [415]

Thus they in Heaven, above the starry sphere,

Their happy hours in joy and hymning spent.

Mean while upon the firm opacous globe

Of this round world, whose first convex divides

The luminous inferiour orbs, enclosed [420]

From Chaos, and the inroad of Darkness old,

Satan alighted walks: A globe far off

It seemed, now seems a boundless continent

Dark, waste, and wild, under the frown of Night

Starless exposed, and ever-threatening storms [425]

Of Chaos blustering round, inclement sky;

Save on that side which from the wall of Heaven,

Though distant far, some small reflection gains

Of glimmering air less vexed with tempest loud:

Here walked the Fiend at large in spacious field. [430]

As when a vultur on Imaus bred,

Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,

Dislodging from a region scarce of prey

To gorge the flesh of lambs or yeanling kids,

On hills where flocks are fed, flies toward the springs [435]

Of Ganges or Hydaspes, Indian streams;

But in his way lights on the barren plains

Of Sericana, where Chineses drive

With sails and wind their cany waggons light:

So, on this windy sea of land, the Fiend [440]

Walked up and down alone, bent on his prey;

Alone, for other creature in this place,

Living or lifeless, to be found was none;

None yet, but store hereafter from the earth

Up hither like aereal vapours flew [445]

Of all things transitory and vain, when sin

With vanity had filled the works of men:

Both all things vain, and all who in vain things

Built their fond hopes of glory or lasting fame,

Or happiness in this or the other life; [450]

All who have their reward on earth, the fruits

Of painful superstition and blind zeal,

Nought seeking but the praise of men, here find

Fit retribution, empty as their deeds;

All the unaccomplished works of Nature's hand, [455]

Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mixed,

Dissolved on earth, fleet hither, and in vain,

Till final dissolution, wander here;

Not in the neighbouring moon as some have dreamed;

Those argent fields more likely habitants, [460]

Translated Saints, or middle Spirits hold

Betwixt the angelical and human kind.

Hither of ill-joined sons and daughters born

First from the ancient world those giants came

With many a vain exploit, though then renowned: [465]

The builders next of Babel on the plain

Of Sennaar, and still with vain design,

New Babels, had they wherewithal, would build:

Others came single; he, who, to be deemed

A God, leaped fondly into Aetna flames, [470]

Empedocles; and he, who, to enjoy

Plato's Elysium, leaped into the sea,

Cleombrotus; and many more too long,

Embryos, and idiots, eremites, and friars

White, black, and gray, with all their trumpery. [475]

Here pilgrims roam, that strayed so far to seek

In Golgotha him dead, who lives in Heaven;

And they, who to be sure of Paradise,

Dying, put on the weeds of Dominick,

Or in Franciscan think to pass disguised; [480]

They pass the planets seven, and pass the fixed,

And that crystalling sphere whose balance weighs

The trepidation talked, and that first moved;

And now Saint Peter at Heaven's wicket seems

To wait them with his keys, and now at foot [485]

Of Heaven's ascent they lift their feet, when lo

A violent cross wind from either coast

Blows them transverse, ten thousand leagues awry

Into the devious air: Then might ye see

Cowls, hoods, and habits, with their wearers, tost [490]

And fluttered into rags; then reliques, beads,

Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,

The sport of winds: All these, upwhirled aloft,

Fly o'er the backside of the world far off

Into a Limbo large and broad, since called [495]

The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown

Long after; now unpeopled, and untrod.

All this dark globe the Fiend found as he passed,

And long he wandered, till at last a gleam

Of dawning light turned thither-ward in haste [500]

His travelled steps: far distant he descries

Ascending by degrees magnificent

Up to the wall of Heaven a structure high;

At top whereof, but far more rich, appeared

The work as of a kingly palace-gate, [505]

With frontispiece of diamond and gold

Embellished; thick with sparkling orient gems

The portal shone, inimitable on earth

By model, or by shading pencil, drawn.

These stairs were such as whereon Jacob saw [510]

Angels ascending and descending, bands

Of guardians bright, when he from Esau fled

To Padan-Aram, in the field of Luz

Dreaming by night under the open sky

And waking cried, This is the gate of Heaven. [515]

Each stair mysteriously was meant, nor stood

There always, but drawn up to Heaven sometimes

Viewless; and underneath a bright sea flowed

Of jasper, or of liquid pearl, whereon

Who after came from earth, failing arrived [520]

Wafted by Angels, or flew o'er the lake

Rapt in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds.

The stairs were then let down, whether to dare

The Fiend by easy ascent, or aggravate

His sad exclusion from the doors of bliss: [525]

Direct against which opened from beneath,

Just o'er the blissful seat of Paradise,

A passage down to the Earth, a passage wide,

Wider by far than that of after-times

Over mount Sion, and, though that were large, [530]

Over the Promised Land to God so dear;

By which, to visit oft those happy tribes,

On high behests his angels to and fro

Passed frequent, and his eye with choice regard

From Paneas, the fount of Jordan's flood, [535]

To Beersaba, where the Holy Land

Borders on Egypt and the Arabian shore;

So wide the opening seemed, where bounds were set

To darkness, such as bound the ocean wave.

Satan from hence, now on the lower stair, [540]

That scaled by steps of gold to Heaven-gate,

Looks down with wonder at the sudden view

Of all this world at once. As when a scout,

Through dark and desert ways with peril gone

All night; at last by break of cheerful dawn [545]

Obtains the brow of some high-climbing hill,

Which to his eye discovers unaware

The goodly prospect of some foreign land

First seen, or some renowned metropolis

With glistering spires and pinnacles adorned, [550]

Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams:

Such wonder seised, though after Heaven seen,

The Spirit malign, but much more envy seised,

At sight of all this world beheld so fair.

Round he surveys (and well might, where he stood [555]

So high above the circling canopy

Of night's extended shade,) from eastern point

Of Libra to the fleecy star that bears

Andromeda far off Atlantick seas

Beyond the horizon; then from pole to pole [560]

He views in breadth, and without longer pause

Down right into the world's first region throws

His flight precipitant, and winds with ease

Through the pure marble air his oblique way

Amongst innumerable stars, that shone [565]

Stars distant, but nigh hand seemed other worlds;

Or other worlds they seemed, or happy isles,

Like those Hesperian gardens famed of old,

Fortunate fields, and groves, and flowery vales,

Thrice happy isles; but who dwelt happy there [570]

He staid not to inquire: Above them all

The golden sun, in splendour likest Heaven,

Allured his eye; thither his course he bends

Through the calm firmament, (but up or down,

By center, or eccentrick, hard to tell, [575]

Or longitude,) where the great luminary

Aloof the vulgar constellations thick,

That from his lordly eye keep distance due,

Dispenses light from far; they, as they move

Their starry dance in numbers that compute [580]

Days, months, and years, towards his all-cheering lamp

Turn swift their various motions, or are turned

By his magnetick beam, that gently warms

The universe, and to each inward part

With gentle penetration, though unseen, [585]

Shoots invisible virtue even to the deep;

So wonderously was set his station bright.

There lands the Fiend, a spot like which perhaps

Astronomer in the sun's lucent orb

Through his glazed optick tube yet never saw. [590]

The place he found beyond expression bright,

Compared with aught on earth, metal or stone;

Not all parts like, but all alike informed

With radiant light, as glowing iron with fire;

If metal, part seemed gold, part silver clear; [595]

If stone, carbuncle most or chrysolite,

Ruby or topaz, to the twelve that shone

In Aaron's breast-plate, and a stone besides

Imagined rather oft than elsewhere seen,

That stone, or like to that which here below [600]

Philosophers in vain so long have sought,

In vain, though by their powerful art they bind

Volatile Hermes, and call up unbound

In various shapes old Proteus from the sea,

Drained through a limbeck to his native form. [605]

What wonder then if fields and regions here

Breathe forth Elixir pure, and rivers run

Potable gold, when with one virtuous touch

The arch-chemick sun, so far from us remote,

Produces, with terrestrial humour mixed, [610]

Here in the dark so many precious things

Of colour glorious, and effect so rare?

Here matter new to gaze the Devil met

Undazzled; far and wide his eye commands;

For sight no obstacle found here, nor shade, [615]

But all sun-shine, as when his beams at noon

Culminate from the equator, as they now

Shot upward still direct, whence no way round

Shadow from body opaque can fall; and the air,

No where so clear, sharpened his visual ray [620]

To objects distant far, whereby he soon

Saw within ken a glorious Angel stand,

The same whom John saw also in the sun:

His back was turned, but not his brightness hid;

Of beaming sunny rays a golden tiar [625]

Circled his head, nor less his locks behind

Illustrious on his shoulders fledge with wings

Lay waving round; on some great charge employed

He seemed, or fixed in cogitation deep.

Glad was the Spirit impure, as now in hope [630]

To find who might direct his wandering flight

To Paradise, the happy seat of Man,

His journey's end and our beginning woe.

But first he casts to change his proper shape,

Which else might work him danger or delay: [635]

And now a stripling Cherub he appears,

Not of the prime, yet such as in his face

Youth smiled celestial, and to every limb

Suitable grace diffused, so well he feigned:

Under a coronet his flowing hair [640]

In curls on either cheek played; wings he wore

Of many a coloured plume, sprinkled with gold;

His habit fit for speed succinct, and held

Before his decent steps a silver wand.

He drew not nigh unheard; the Angel bright, [645]

Ere he drew nigh, his radiant visage turned,

Admonished by his ear, and straight was known

The Arch-Angel Uriel, one of the seven

Who in God's presence, nearest to his throne,

Stand ready at command, and are his eyes [650]

That run through all the Heavens, or down to the Earth

Bear his swift errands over moist and dry,

O'er sea and land: him Satan thus accosts.

Uriel, for thou of those seven Spirits that stand

In sight of God's high throne, gloriously bright, [655]

The first art wont his great authentick will

Interpreter through highest Heaven to bring,

Where all his sons thy embassy attend;

And here art likeliest by supreme decree

Like honour to obtain, and as his eye [660]

To visit oft this new creation round;

Unspeakable desire to see, and know

All these his wonderous works, but chiefly Man,

His chief delight and favour, him for whom

All these his works so wonderous he ordained, [665]

Hath brought me from the quires of Cherubim

Alone thus wandering. Brightest Seraph, tell

In which of all these shining orbs hath Man

His fixed seat, or fixed seat hath none,

But all these shining orbs his choice to dwell; [670]

That I may find him, and with secret gaze

Or open admiration him behold,

On whom the great Creator hath bestowed

Worlds, and on whom hath all these graces poured;

That both in him and all things, as is meet, [675]

The universal Maker we may praise;

Who justly hath driven out his rebel foes

To deepest Hell, and, to repair that loss,

Created this new happy race of Men

To serve him better: Wise are all his ways. [680]

So spake the false dissembler unperceived;

For neither Man nor Angel can discern

Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks

Invisible, except to God alone,

By his permissive will, through Heaven and Earth: [685]

And oft, though wisdom wake, suspicion sleeps

At wisdom's gate, and to simplicity

Resigns her charge, while goodness thinks no ill

Where no ill seems: Which now for once beguiled

Uriel, though regent of the sun, and held [690]

The sharpest-sighted Spirit of all in Heaven;

Who to the fraudulent impostor foul,

In his uprightness, answer thus returned.

Fair Angel, thy desire, which tends to know

The works of God, thereby to glorify [695]

The great Work-master, leads to no excess

That reaches blame, but rather merits praise

The more it seems excess, that led thee hither

From thy empyreal mansion thus alone,

To witness with thine eyes what some perhaps, [700]

Contented with report, hear only in Heaven:

For wonderful indeed are all his works,

Pleasant to know, and worthiest to be all

Had in remembrance always with delight;

But what created mind can comprehend [705]

Their number, or the wisdom infinite

That brought them forth, but hid their causes deep?

I saw when at his word the formless mass,

This world's material mould, came to a heap:

Confusion heard his voice, and wild uproar [710]

Stood ruled, stood vast infinitude confined;

Till at his second bidding Darkness fled,

Light shone, and order from disorder sprung:

Swift to their several quarters hasted then

The cumbrous elements, earth, flood, air, fire; [715]

And this ethereal quintessence of Heaven

Flew upward, spirited with various forms,

That rolled orbicular, and turned to stars

Numberless, as thou seest, and how they move;

Each had his place appointed, each his course; [720]

The rest in circuit walls this universe.

Look downward on that globe, whose hither side

With light from hence, though but reflected, shines;

That place is Earth, the seat of Man; that light

His day, which else, as the other hemisphere, [725]

Night would invade; but there the neighbouring moon

(So call that opposite fair star) her aid

Timely interposes, and her monthly round

Still ending, still renewing, through mid Heaven,

With borrowed light her countenance triform [730]

Hence fills and empties to enlighten the Earth,

And in her pale dominion checks the night.

That spot, to which I point, is Paradise,

Adam's abode; those lofty shades, his bower.

Thy way thou canst not miss, me mine requires. [735]

Thus said, he turned; and Satan, bowing low,

As to superiour Spirits is wont in Heaven,

Where honour due and reverence none neglects,

Took leave, and toward the coast of earth beneath,

Down from the ecliptick, sped with hoped success, [740]

Throws his steep flight in many an aery wheel;

Nor staid, till on Niphates' top he lights.

Book IV

O, for that warning voice, which he, who saw

The Apocalypse, heard cry in Heaven aloud,

Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,

Came furious down to be revenged on men,

Woe to the inhabitants on earth! that now, [5]

While time was, our first parents had been warned

The coming of their secret foe, and 'scaped,

Haply so 'scaped his mortal snare: For now

Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down,

The tempter ere the accuser of mankind, [10]

To wreak on innocent frail Man his loss

Of that first battle, and his flight to Hell:

Yet, not rejoicing in his speed, though bold

Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,

Begins his dire attempt; which nigh the birth [15]

Now rolling boils in his tumultuous breast,

And like a devilish engine back recoils

Upon himself; horrour and doubt distract

His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir

The Hell within him; for within him Hell [20]

He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell

One step, no more than from himself, can fly

By change of place: Now conscience wakes despair,

That slumbered; wakes the bitter memory

Of what he was, what is, and what must be [25]

Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue.

Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view

Lay pleasant, his grieved look he fixes sad;

Sometimes towards Heaven, and the full-blazing sun,

Which now sat high in his meridian tower: [30]

Then, much revolving, thus in sighs began.

O thou, that, with surpassing glory crowned,

Lookest from thy sole dominion like the God

Of this new world; at whose sight all the stars

Hide their diminished heads; to thee I call, [35]

But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,

Of Sun! to tell thee how I hate thy beams,

That bring to my remembrance from what state

I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere;

Till pride and worse ambition threw me down [40]

Warring in Heaven against Heaven's matchless King:

Ah, wherefore! he deserved no such return

From me, whom he created what I was

In that bright eminence, and with his good

Upbraided none; nor was his service hard. [45]

What could be less than to afford him praise,

The easiest recompence, and pay him thanks,

How due! yet all his good proved ill in me,

And wrought but malice; lifted up so high

I 'sdeined subjection, and thought one step higher [50]

Would set me highest, and in a moment quit

The debt immense of endless gratitude,

So burdensome still paying, still to owe,

Forgetful what from him I still received,

And understood not that a grateful mind [55]

By owing owes not, but still pays, at once

Indebted and discharged; what burden then

O, had his powerful destiny ordained

Me some inferiour Angel, I had stood

Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised [60]

Ambition! Yet why not some other Power

As great might have aspired, and me, though mean,

Drawn to his part; but other Powers as great

Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within

Or from without, to all temptations armed. [65]

Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?

Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse,

But Heaven's free love dealt equally to all?

Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,

To me alike, it deals eternal woe. [70]

Nay, cursed be thou; since against his thy will

Chose freely what it now so justly rues.

Me miserable! which way shall I fly

Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?

Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell; [75]

And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep

Still threatening to devour me opens wide,

To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.

O, then, at last relent: Is there no place

Left for repentance, none for pardon left? [80]

None left but by submission; and that word

Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame

Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduced

With other promises and other vaunts

Than to submit, boasting I could subdue [85]

The Omnipotent. Ay me! they little know

How dearly I abide that boast so vain,

Under what torments inwardly I groan,

While they adore me on the throne of Hell.

With diadem and scepter high advanced, [90]

The lower still I fall, only supreme

In misery: Such joy ambition finds.

But say I could repent, and could obtain,

By act of grace, my former state; how soon

Would highth recall high thoughts, how soon unsay [95]

What feigned submission swore? Ease would recant

Vows made in pain, as violent and void.

For never can true reconcilement grow,

Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep:

Which would but lead me to a worse relapse [100]

And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear

Short intermission bought with double smart.

This knows my Punisher; therefore as far

From granting he, as I from begging, peace;

All hope excluded thus, behold, instead [105]

Of us out-cast, exil'd, his new delight,

Mankind created, and for him this world.

So farewell, hope; and with hope farewell, fear;

Farewell, remorse! all good to me is lost;

Evil, be thou my good; by thee at least [110]

Divided empire with Heaven's King I hold,

By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;

As Man ere long, and this new world, shall know.

Thus while he spake, each passion dimmed his face

Thrice changed with pale, ire, envy, and despair; [115]

Which marred his borrowed visage, and betrayed

Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld.

For heavenly minds from such distempers foul

Are ever clear. Whereof he soon aware,

Each perturbation smoothed with outward calm, [120]

Artificer of fraud; and was the first

That practised falsehood under saintly show,

Deep malice to conceal, couched with revenge:

Yet not enough had practised to deceive

Uriel once warned; whose eye pursued him down [125]

The way he went, and on the Assyrian mount

Saw him disfigured, more than could befall

Spirit of happy sort; his gestures fierce

He marked and mad demeanour, then alone,

As he supposed, all unobserved, unseen. [130]

So on he fares, and to the border comes

Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,

Now nearer, crowns with her enclosure green,

As with a rural mound, the champaign head

Of a steep wilderness, whose hairy sides [135]

With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild,

Access denied; and overhead upgrew

Insuperable height of loftiest shade,

Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm,

A sylvan scene, and, as the ranks ascend, [140]

Shade above shade, a woody theatre

Of stateliest view. Yet higher than their tops

The verdurous wall of Paradise upsprung;

Which to our general sire gave prospect large

Into his nether empire neighbouring round. [145]

And higher than that wall a circling row

Of goodliest trees, loaden with fairest fruit,

Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue,

Appeared, with gay enamelled colours mixed:

On which the sun more glad impressed his beams [150]

Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,

When God hath showered the earth; so lovely seemed

That landskip: And of pure now purer air

Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires

Vernal delight and joy, able to drive [155]

All sadness but despair: Now gentle gales,

Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense

Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole

Those balmy spoils. As when to them who fail

Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past [160]

Mozambick, off at sea north-east winds blow

Sabean odours from the spicy shore

Of Araby the blest; with such delay

Well pleased they slack their course, and many a league

Cheered with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles: [165]

So entertained those odorous sweets the Fiend,

Who came their bane; though with them better pleased

Than Asmodeus with the fishy fume

That drove him, though enamoured, from the spouse

Of Tobit's son, and with a vengeance sent [170]

From Media post to Egypt, there fast bound.

Now to the ascent of that steep savage hill

Satan had journeyed on, pensive and slow;

But further way found none, so thick entwined,

As one continued brake, the undergrowth [175]

Of shrubs and tangling bushes had perplexed

All path of man or beast that passed that way.

One gate there only was, and that looked east

On the other side: which when the arch-felon saw,

Due entrance he disdained; and, in contempt, [180]

At one flight bound high over-leaped all bound

Of hill or highest wall, and sheer within

Lights on his feet. As when a prowling wolf,

Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,

Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve [185]

In hurdled cotes amid the field secure,

Leaps o'er the fence with ease into the fold:

Or as a thief, bent to unhoard the cash

Of some rich burgher, whose substantial doors,

Cross-barred and bolted fast, fear no assault, [190]

In at the window climbs, or o'er the tiles:

So clomb this first grand thief into God's fold;

So since into his church lewd hirelings climb.

Thence up he flew, and on the tree of life,

The middle tree and highest there that grew, [195]

Sat like a cormorant; yet not true life

Thereby regained, but sat devising death

To them who lived; nor on the virtue thought

Of that life-giving plant, but only used

For prospect, what well used had been the pledge [200]

Of immortality. So little knows

Any, but God alone, to value right

The good before him, but perverts best things

To worst abuse, or to their meanest use.

Beneath him with new wonder now he views, [205]

To all delight of human sense exposed,

In narrow room, Nature's whole wealth, yea more,

A Heaven on Earth: For blissful Paradise

Of God the garden was, by him in the east

Of Eden planted; Eden stretched her line [210]

From Auran eastward to the royal towers

Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,

Or where the sons of Eden long before

Dwelt in Telassar: In this pleasant soil

His far more pleasant garden God ordained; [215]

Out of the fertile ground he caused to grow

All trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;

And all amid them stood the tree of life,

High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit

Of vegetable gold; and next to life, [220]

Our death, the tree of knowledge, grew fast by,

Knowledge of good bought dear by knowing ill.

Southward through Eden went a river large,

Nor changed his course, but through the shaggy hill

Passed underneath ingulfed; for God had thrown [225]

That mountain as his garden-mould high raised

Upon the rapid current, which, through veins

Of porous earth with kindly thirst up-drawn,

Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill

Watered the garden; thence united fell [230]

Down the steep glade, and met the nether flood,

Which from his darksome passage now appears,

And now, divided into four main streams,

Runs diverse, wandering many a famous realm

And country, whereof here needs no account; [235]

But rather to tell how, if Art could tell,

How from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks,

Rolling on orient pearl and sands of gold,

With mazy errour under pendant shades

Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed [240]

Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art

In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon

Poured forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain,

Both where the morning sun first warmly smote

The open field, and where the unpierced shade [245]

Imbrowned the noontide bowers: Thus was this place

A happy rural seat of various view;

Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm,

Others whose fruit, burnished with golden rind,

Hung amiable, Hesperian fables true, [250]

If true, here only, and of delicious taste:

Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks

Grazing the tender herb, were interposed,

Or palmy hillock; or the flowery lap

Of some irriguous valley spread her store, [255]

Flowers of all hue, and without thorn the rose:

Another side, umbrageous grots and caves

Of cool recess, o'er which the mantling vine

Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps

Luxuriant; mean while murmuring waters fall [260]

Down the slope hills, dispersed, or in a lake,

That to the fringed bank with myrtle crowned

Her crystal mirrour holds, unite their streams.

The birds their quire apply; airs, vernal airs,

Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune [265]

The trembling leaves, while universal Pan,

Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance,

Led on the eternal Spring. Not that fair field

Of Enna, where Proserpine gathering flowers,

Herself a fairer flower by gloomy Dis [270]

Was gathered, which cost Ceres all that pain

To seek her through the world; nor that sweet grove

Of Daphne by Orontes, and the inspired

Castalian spring, might with this Paradise

Of Eden strive; nor that Nyseian isle [275]

Girt with the river Triton, where old Cham,

Whom Gentiles Ammon call and Libyan Jove,

Hid Amalthea, and her florid son

Young Bacchus, from his stepdame Rhea's eye;

Nor where Abassin kings their issue guard, [280]

Mount Amara, though this by some supposed

True Paradise under the Ethiop line

By Nilus' head, enclosed with shining rock,

A whole day's journey high, but wide remote

From this Assyrian garden, where the Fiend [285]

Saw, undelighted, all delight, all kind

Of living creatures, new to sight, and strange

Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall,

Godlike erect, with native honour clad

In naked majesty seemed lords of all: [290]

And worthy seemed; for in their looks divine

The image of their glorious Maker shone,

Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure,

(Severe, but in true filial freedom placed,)

Whence true authority in men; though both [295]

Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed;

For contemplation he and valour formed;

For softness she and sweet attractive grace;

He for God only, she for God in him:

His fair large front and eye sublime declared [300]

Absolute rule; and hyacinthine locks

Round from his parted forelock manly hung

Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad:

She, as a veil, down to the slender waist

Her unadorned golden tresses wore [305]

Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved

As the vine curls her tendrils, which implied

Subjection, but required with gentle sway,

And by her yielded, by him best received,

Yielded with coy submission, modest pride, [310]

And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.

Nor those mysterious parts were then concealed;

Then was not guilty shame, dishonest shame

Of nature's works, honour dishonourable,

Sin-bred, how have ye troubled all mankind [315]

With shows instead, mere shows of seeming pure,

And banished from man's life his happiest life,

Simplicity and spotless innocence!

So passed they naked on, nor shunned the sight

Of God or Angel; for they thought no ill: [320]

So hand in hand they passed, the loveliest pair,

That ever since in love's embraces met;

Adam the goodliest man of men since born

His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve.

Under a tuft of shade that on a green [325]

Stood whispering soft, by a fresh fountain side

They sat them down; and, after no more toil

Of their sweet gardening labour than sufficed

To recommend cool Zephyr, and made ease

More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite [330]

More grateful, to their supper-fruits they fell,

Nectarine fruits which the compliant boughs

Yielded them, side-long as they sat recline

On the soft downy bank damasked with flowers:

The savoury pulp they chew, and in the rind, [335]

Still as they thirsted, scoop the brimming stream;

Nor gentle purpose, nor endearing smiles

Wanted, nor youthful dalliance, as beseems

Fair couple, linked in happy nuptial league,

Alone as they. About them frisking played [340]

All beasts of the earth, since wild, and of all chase

In wood or wilderness, forest or den;

Sporting the lion ramped, and in his paw

Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,

Gambolled before them; the unwieldy elephant, [345]

To make them mirth, used all his might, and wreathed

His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly,

Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine

His braided train, and of his fatal guile

Gave proof unheeded; others on the grass [350]

Couched, and now filled with pasture gazing sat,

Or bedward ruminating; for the sun,

Declined, was hasting now with prone career

To the ocean isles, and in the ascending scale

Of Heaven the stars that usher evening rose: [355]

When Satan still in gaze, as first he stood,

Scarce thus at length failed speech recovered sad.

O Hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold!

Into our room of bliss thus high advanced

Creatures of other mould, earth-born perhaps, [360]

Not Spirits, yet to heavenly Spirits bright

Little inferiour; whom my thoughts pursue

With wonder, and could love, so lively shines

In them divine resemblance, and such grace

The hand that formed them on their shape hath poured. [365]

Ah! gentle pair, ye little think how nigh

Your change approaches, when all these delights

Will vanish, and deliver ye to woe;

More woe, the more your taste is now of joy;

Happy, but for so happy ill secured [370]

Long to continue, and this high seat your Heaven

Ill fenced for Heaven to keep out such a foe

As now is entered; yet no purposed foe

To you, whom I could pity thus forlorn,

Though I unpitied: League with you I seek, [375]

And mutual amity, so strait, so close,

That I with you must dwell, or you with me

Henceforth; my dwelling haply may not please,

Like this fair Paradise, your sense; yet such

Accept your Maker's work; he gave it me, [380]

Which I as freely give: Hell shall unfold,

To entertain you two, her widest gates,

And send forth all her kings; there will be room,

Not like these narrow limits, to receive

Your numerous offspring; if no better place, [385]

Thank him who puts me loth to this revenge

On you who wrong me not for him who wronged.

And should I at your harmless innocence

Melt, as I do, yet publick reason just,

Honour and empire with revenge enlarged, [390]

By conquering this new world, compels me now

To do what else, though damned, I should abhor.

So spake the Fiend, and with necessity,

The tyrant's plea, excused his devilish deeds.

Then from his lofty stand on that high tree [395]

Down he alights among the sportful herd

Of those four-footed kinds, himself now one,

Now other, as their shape served best his end

Nearer to view his prey, and, unespied,

To mark what of their state he more might learn, [400]

By word or action marked. About them round

A lion now he stalks with fiery glare;

Then as a tiger, who by chance hath spied

In some purlieu two gentle fawns at play,

Straight couches close, then, rising, changes oft [405]

His couchant watch, as one who chose his ground,

Whence rushing, he might surest seize them both,

Griped in each paw: when, Adam first of men

To first of women Eve thus moving speech,

Turned him, all ear to hear new utterance flow. [410]

Sole partner, and sole part, of all these joys,

Dearer thyself than all; needs must the Power

That made us, and for us this ample world,

Be infinitely good, and of his good

As liberal and free as infinite; [415]

That raised us from the dust, and placed us here

In all this happiness, who at his hand

Have nothing merited, nor can perform

Aught whereof he hath need; he who requires

From us no other service than to keep [420]

This one, this easy charge, of all the trees

In Paradise that bear delicious fruit

So various, not to taste that only tree

Of knowledge, planted by the tree of life;

So near grows death to life, whate'er death is, [425]

Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou knowest

God hath pronounced it death to taste that tree,

The only sign of our obedience left,

Among so many signs of power and rule

Conferred upon us, and dominion given [430]

Over all other creatures that possess

Earth, air, and sea. Then let us not think hard

One easy prohibition, who enjoy

Free leave so large to all things else, and choice

Unlimited of manifold delights: [435]

But let us ever praise him, and extol

His bounty, following our delightful task,

To prune these growing plants, and tend these flowers,

Which were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet.

To whom thus Eve replied. O thou for whom [440]

And from whom I was formed, flesh of thy flesh,

And without whom am to no end, my guide

And head! what thou hast said is just and right.

For we to him indeed all praises owe,

And daily thanks; I chiefly, who enjoy [445]

So far the happier lot, enjoying thee

Pre-eminent by so much odds, while thou

Like consort to thyself canst no where find.

That day I oft remember, when from sleep

I first awaked, and found myself reposed [450]

Under a shade on flowers, much wondering where

And what I was, whence thither brought, and how.

Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound

Of waters issued from a cave, and spread

Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved [455]

Pure as the expanse of Heaven; I thither went

With unexperienced thought, and laid me down

On the green bank, to look into the clear

Smooth lake, that to me seemed another sky.

As I bent down to look, just opposite [460]

A shape within the watery gleam appeared,

Bending to look on me: I started back,

It started back; but pleased I soon returned,

Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks

Of sympathy and love: There I had fixed [465]

Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,

Had not a voice thus warned me; "What thou seest,

What there thou seest, fair Creature, is thyself;

With thee it came and goes: but follow me,

And I will bring thee where no shadow stays [470]

Thy coming, and thy soft embraces, he

Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy

Inseparably thine, to him shalt bear

Multitudes like thyself, and thence be called

Mother of human race." What could I do, [475]

But follow straight, invisibly thus led?

Till I espied thee, fair indeed and tall,

Under a platane; yet methought less fair,

Less winning soft, less amiably mild,

Than that smooth watery image: Back I turned; [480]

Thou following cryedst aloud, "Return, fair Eve;

Whom flyest thou? whom thou flyest, of him thou art,

His flesh, his bone; to give thee being I lent

Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,

Substantial life, to have thee by my side [485]

Henceforth an individual solace dear;

Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim

My other half:" With that thy gentle hand

Seised mine: I yielded; and from that time see

How beauty is excelled by manly grace, [490]

And wisdom, which alone is truly fair.

So spake our general mother, and with eyes

Of conjugal attraction unreproved,

And meek surrender, half-embracing leaned

On our first father; half her swelling breast [495]

Naked met his, under the flowing gold

Of her loose tresses hid: he in delight

Both of her beauty, and submissive charms,

Smiled with superiour love, as Jupiter

On Juno smiles, when he impregns the clouds [500]

That shed Mayflowers; and pressed her matron lip

With kisses pure: Aside the Devil turned

For envy; yet with jealous leer malign

Eyed them askance, and to himself thus plained.

Sight hateful, sight tormenting! thus these two, [505]

Imparadised in one another's arms,

The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill

Of bliss on bliss; while I to Hell am thrust,

Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire,

Among our other torments not the least, [510]

Still unfulfilled with pain of longing pines.

Yet let me not forget what I have gained

From their own mouths: All is not theirs, it seems;

One fatal tree there stands, of knowledge called,

Forbidden them to taste: Knowledge forbidden [515]

Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord

Envy them that? Can it be sin to know?

Can it be death? And do they only stand

By ignorance? Is that their happy state,

The proof of their obedience and their faith? [520]

O fair foundation laid whereon to build

Their ruin! hence I will excite their minds

With more desire to know, and to reject

Envious commands, invented with design

To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt [525]

Equal with Gods: aspiring to be such,

They taste and die: What likelier can ensue

But first with narrow search I must walk round

This garden, and no corner leave unspied;

A chance but chance may lead where I may meet [530]

Some wandering Spirit of Heaven by fountain side,

Or in thick shade retired, from him to draw

What further would be learned. Live while ye may,

Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return,

Short pleasures, for long woes are to succeed! [535]

So saying, his proud step he scornful turned,

But with sly circumspection, and began

Through wood, through waste, o'er hill, o'er dale, his roam

Mean while in utmost longitude, where Heaven

With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun [540]

Slowly descended, and with right aspect

Against the eastern gate of Paradise

Levelled his evening rays: It was a rock

Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds,

Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent [545]

Accessible from earth, one entrance high;

The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung

Still as it rose, impossible to climb.

Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,

Chief of the angelick guards, awaiting night; [550]

About him exercised heroick games

The unarmed youth of Heaven, but nigh at hand

Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,

Hung high with diamond flaming, and with gold.

Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even [555]

On a sun-beam, swift as a shooting star

In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fired

Impress the air, and shows the mariner

From what point of his compass to beware

Impetuous winds: He thus began in haste. [560]

Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given

Charge and strict watch, that to this happy place

No evil thing approach or enter in.

This day at highth of noon came to my sphere

A Spirit, zealous, as he seemed, to know [565]

More of the Almighty's works, and chiefly Man,

God's latest image: I described his way

Bent all on speed, and marked his aery gait;

But in the mount that lies from Eden north,

Where he first lighted, soon discerned his looks [570]

Alien from Heaven, with passions foul obscured:

Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade

Lost sight of him: One of the banished crew,

I fear, hath ventured from the deep, to raise

New troubles; him thy care must be to find. [575]

To whom the winged warriour thus returned.

Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight,

Amid the sun's bright circle where thou sitst,

See far and wide: In at this gate none pass

The vigilance here placed, but such as come [580]

Well known from Heaven; and since meridian hour

No creature thence: If Spirit of other sort,

So minded, have o'er-leaped these earthly bounds

On purpose, hard thou knowest it to exclude

Spiritual substance with corporeal bar. [585]

But if within the circuit of these walks,

In whatsoever shape he lurk, of whom

Thou tellest, by morrow dawning I shall know.

So promised he; and Uriel to his charge

Returned on that bright beam, whose point now raised [590]

Bore him slope downward to the sun now fallen

Beneath the Azores; whether the prime orb,

Incredible how swift, had thither rolled

Diurnal, or this less volubil earth,

By shorter flight to the east, had left him there [595]

Arraying with reflected purple and gold

The clouds that on his western throne attend.

Now came still Evening on, and Twilight gray

Had in her sober livery all things clad;

Silence accompanied; for beast and bird, [600]

They to their grassy couch, these to their nests

Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale;

She all night long her amorous descant sung;

Silence was pleased: Now glowed the firmament

With living sapphires: Hesperus, that led [605]

The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon,

Rising in clouded majesty, at length

Apparent queen unveiled her peerless light,

And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.

When Adam thus to Eve. Fair Consort, the hour [610]

Of night, and all things now retired to rest,

Mind us of like repose; since God hath set

Labour and rest, as day and night, to men

Successive; and the timely dew of sleep,

Now falling with soft slumbrous weight, inclines [615]

Our eye-lids: Other creatures all day long

Rove idle, unemployed, and less need rest;

Man hath his daily work of body or mind

Appointed, which declares his dignity,

And the regard of Heaven on all his ways; [620]

While other animals unactive range,

And of their doings God takes no account.

To-morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east

With first approach of light, we must be risen,

And at our pleasant labour, to reform [625]

Yon flowery arbours, yonder alleys green,

Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown,

That mock our scant manuring, and require

More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth:

Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums, [630]

That lie bestrown, unsightly and unsmooth,

Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease;

Mean while, as Nature wills, night bids us rest.

To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorned

My Author and Disposer, what thou bidst [635]

Unargued I obey: So God ordains;

God is thy law, thou mine: To know no more

Is woman's happiest knowledge, and her praise.

With thee conversing I forget all time;

All seasons, and their change, all please alike. [640]

Sweet is the breath of Morn, her rising sweet,

With charm of earliest birds: pleasant the sun,

When first on this delightful land he spreads

His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,

Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertile earth [645]

After soft showers; and sweet the coming on

Of grateful Evening mild; then silent Night,

With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon,

And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train:

But neither breath of Morn, when she ascends [650]

With charm of earliest birds; nor rising sun

On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower,

Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after showers;

Nor grateful Evening mild; nor silent Night,

With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon, [655]

Or glittering star-light, without thee is sweet.

But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom

This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?

To whom our general ancestor replied.

Daughter of God and Man, accomplished Eve, [660]

These have their course to finish round the earth,

By morrow evening, and from land to land

In order, though to nations yet unborn,

Ministring light prepared, they set and rise;

Lest total Darkness should by night regain [665]

Her old possession, and extinguish life

In Nature and all things; which these soft fires

Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat

Of various influence foment and warm,

Temper or nourish, or in part shed down [670]

Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow

On earth, made hereby apter to receive

Perfection from the sun's more potent ray.

These then, though unbeheld in deep of night,

Shine not in vain; nor think, though men were none, [675]

That Heaven would want spectators, God want praise:

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth

Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep:

All these with ceaseless praise his works behold

Both day and night: How often from the steep [680]

Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard

Celestial voices to the midnight air,

Sole, or responsive each to others note,

Singing their great Creator? oft in bands

While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk, [685]

With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds

In full harmonick number joined, their songs

Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven.

Thus talking, hand in hand alone they passed

On to their blissful bower: it was a place [690]

Chosen by the sovran Planter, when he framed

All things to Man's delightful use; the roof

Of thickest covert was inwoven shade

Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew

Of firm and fragrant leaf; on either side [695]

Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub,

Fenced up the verdant wall; each beauteous flower,

Iris all hues, roses, and jessamin,

Reared high their flourished heads between, and wrought

Mosaick; underfoot the violet, [700]

Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay

Broidered the ground, more coloured than with stone

Of costliest emblem: Other creature here,

Bird, beast, insect, or worm, durst enter none,

Such was their awe of Man. In shadier bower [705]

More sacred and sequestered, though but feigned,

Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor Nymph

Nor Faunus haunted. Here, in close recess,

With flowers, garlands, and sweet-smelling herbs,

Espoused Eve decked first her nuptial bed; [710]

And heavenly quires the hymenaean sung,

What day the genial Angel to our sire

Brought her in naked beauty more adorned,

More lovely, than Pandora, whom the Gods

Endowed with all their gifts, and O! too like [715]

In sad event, when to the unwiser son

Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared

Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged

On him who had stole Jove's authentick fire.

Thus, at their shady lodge arrived, both stood, [720]

Both turned, and under open sky adored

The God that made both sky, air, earth, and heaven,

Which they beheld, the moon's resplendent globe,

And starry pole: Thou also madest the night,

Maker Omnipotent, and thou the day, [725]

Which we, in our appointed work employed,

Have finished, happy in our mutual help

And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss

Ordained by thee; and this delicious place

For us too large, where thy abundance wants [730]

Partakers, and uncropt falls to the ground.

But thou hast promised from us two a race

To fill the earth, who shall with us extol

Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake,

And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep. [735]

This said unanimous, and other rites

Observing none, but adoration pure

Which God likes best, into their inmost bower

Handed they went; and, eased the putting off

These troublesome disguises which we wear, [740]

Straight side by side were laid; nor turned, I ween,

Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites

Mysterious of connubial love refused:

Whatever hypocrites austerely talk

Of purity, and place, and innocence, [745]

Defaming as impure what God declares

Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.

Our Maker bids encrease; who bids abstain

But our Destroyer, foe to God and Man?

Hail, wedded Love, mysterious law, true source [750]

Of human offspring, sole propriety

In Paradise of all things common else!

By thee adulterous Lust was driven from men

Among the bestial herds to range; by thee

Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure, [755]

Relations dear, and all the charities

Of father, son, and brother, first were known.

Far be it, that I should write thee sin or blame,

Or think thee unbefitting holiest place,

Perpetual fountain of domestick sweets, [760]

Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced,

Present, or past, as saints and patriarchs used.

Here Love his golden shafts employs, here lights

His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings,

Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile [765]

Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendeared,

Casual fruition; nor in court-amours,

Mixed dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball,

Or serenate, which the starved lover sings

To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain. [770]

These, lulled by nightingales, embracing slept,

And on their naked limbs the flowery roof

Showered roses, which the morn repaired. Sleep on,

Blest pair; and O! yet happiest, if ye seek

No happier state, and know to know no more. [775]

Now had night measured with her shadowy cone

Half way up hill this vast sublunar vault,

And from their ivory port the Cherubim,

Forth issuing at the accustomed hour, stood armed

To their night watches in warlike parade; [780]

When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake.

Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south

With strictest watch; these other wheel the north;

Our circuit meets full west. As flame they part,

Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear. [785]

From these, two strong and subtle Spirits he called

That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge.

Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed

Search through this garden, leave unsearched no nook;

But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge, [790]

Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm.

This evening from the sun's decline arrived,

Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen

Hitherward bent (who could have thought?) escaped

The bars of Hell, on errand bad no doubt: [795]

Such, where ye find, seise fast, and hither bring.

So saying, on he led his radiant files,

Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct

In search of whom they sought: Him there they found

Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve, [800]

Assaying by his devilish art to reach

The organs of her fancy, and with them forge

Illusions, as he list, phantasms and dreams;

Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint

The animal spirits, that from pure blood arise [805]

Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise

At least distempered, discontented thoughts,

Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,

Blown up with high conceits ingendering pride.

Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear [810]

Touched lightly; for no falshood can endure

Touch of celestial temper, but returns

Of force to its own likeness: Up he starts

Discovered and surprised. As when a spark

Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid [815]

Fit for the tun some magazine to store

Against a rumoured war, the smutty grain,

With sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air;

So started up in his own shape the Fiend.

Back stept those two fair Angels, half amazed [820]

So sudden to behold the grisly king;

Yet thus, unmoved with fear, accost him soon.

Which of those rebel Spirits adjudged to Hell

Comest thou, escaped thy prison? and, transformed,

Why sat'st thou like an enemy in wait, [825]

Here watching at the head of these that sleep?

Know ye not then said Satan, filled with scorn,

Know ye not me? ye knew me once no mate

For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar:

Not to know me argues yourselves unknown, [830]

The lowest of your throng; or, if ye know,

Why ask ye, and superfluous begin

Your message, like to end as much in vain?

To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn.

Think not, revolted Spirit, thy shape the same, [835]

Or undiminished brightness to be known,

As when thou stoodest in Heaven upright and pure;

That glory then, when thou no more wast good,

Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now

Thy sin and place of doom obscure and foul. [840]

But come, for thou, be sure, shalt give account

To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep

This place inviolable, and these from harm.

So spake the Cherub; and his grave rebuke,

Severe in youthful beauty, added grace [845]

Invincible: Abashed the Devil stood,

And felt how awful goodness is, and saw

Virtue in her shape how lovely; saw, and pined

His loss; but chiefly to find here observed

His lustre visibly impaired; yet seemed [850]

Undaunted. If I must contend, said he,

Best with the best, the sender, not the sent,

Or all at once; more glory will be won,

Or less be lost. Thy fear, said Zephon bold,

Will save us trial what the least can do [855]

Single against thee wicked, and thence weak.

The Fiend replied not, overcome with rage;

But, like a proud steed reined, went haughty on,

Champing his iron curb: To strive or fly

He held it vain; awe from above had quelled [860]

His heart, not else dismayed. Now drew they nigh

The western point, where those half-rounding guards

Just met, and closing stood in squadron joined,

A waiting next command. To whom their Chief,

Gabriel, from the front thus called aloud. [865]

O friends! I hear the tread of nimble feet

Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern

Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade;

And with them comes a third of regal port,

But faded splendour wan; who by his gait [870]

And fierce demeanour seems the Prince of Hell,

Not likely to part hence without contest;

Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours.

He scarce had ended, when those two approached,

And brief related whom they brought, where found, [875]

How busied, in what form and posture couched.

To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake.

Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescribed

To thy transgressions, and disturbed the charge

Of others, who approve not to transgress [880]

By thy example, but have power and right

To question thy bold entrance on this place;

Employed, it seems, to violate sleep, and those

Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss!

To whom thus Satan with contemptuous brow. [885]

Gabriel? thou hadst in Heaven the esteem of wise,

And such I held thee; but this question asked

Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain!

Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,

Though thither doomed! Thou wouldst thyself, no doubt [890]

And boldly venture to whatever place

Farthest from pain, where thou mightst hope to change

Torment with ease, and soonest recompense

Dole with delight, which in this place I sought;

To thee no reason, who knowest only good, [895]

But evil hast not tried: and wilt object

His will who bounds us! Let him surer bar

His iron gates, if he intends our stay

In that dark durance: Thus much what was asked.

The rest is true, they found me where they say; [900]

But that implies not violence or harm.

Thus he in scorn. The warlike Angel moved,

Disdainfully half smiling, thus replied.

O loss of one in Heaven to judge of wise

Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew, [905]

And now returns him from his prison 'scaped,

Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise

Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither

Unlicensed from his bounds in Hell prescribed;

So wise he judges it to fly from pain [910]

However, and to 'scape his punishment!

So judge thou still, presumptuous! till the wrath,

Which thou incurrest by flying, meet thy flight

Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to Hell,

Which taught thee yet no better, that no pain [915]

Can equal anger infinite provoked.

But wherefore thou alone? wherefore with thee

Came not all hell broke loose? or thou than they

Less hardy to endure? Courageous Chief!

The first in flight from pain! hadst thou alleged [920]

To thy deserted host this cause of flight,

Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive.

To which the Fiend thus answered, frowning stern.

Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain,

Insulting Angel! well thou knowest I stood [925]

Thy fiercest, when in battle to thy aid

The blasting vollied thunder made all speed,

And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.

But still thy words at random, as before,

Argue thy inexperience what behoves [930]

From hard assays and ill successes past

A faithful leader, not to hazard all

Through ways of danger by himself untried:

I, therefore, I alone first undertook

To wing the desolate abyss, and spy [935]

This new created world, whereof in Hell

Fame is not silent, here in hope to find

Better abode, and my afflicted Powers

To settle here on earth, or in mid air;

Though for possession put to try once more [940]

What thou and thy gay legions dare against;

Whose easier business were to serve their Lord

High up in Heaven, with songs to hymn his throne,

And practised distances to cringe, not fight,

To whom the warriour Angel soon replied. [945]

To say and straight unsay, pretending first

Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy,

Argues no leader but a liar traced,

Satan, and couldst thou faithful add? O name,

O sacred name of faithfulness profaned! [950]

Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew?

Army of Fiends, fit body to fit head.

Was this your discipline and faith engaged,

Your military obedience, to dissolve

Allegiance to the acknowledged Power supreme? [955]

And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem

Patron of liberty, who more than thou

Once fawned, and cringed, and servilely adored

Heaven's awful Monarch? wherefore, but in hope

To dispossess him, and thyself to reign? [960]

But mark what I arreed thee now, Avant;

Fly neither whence thou fledst! If from this hour

Within these hallowed limits thou appear,

Back to the infernal pit I drag thee chained,

And seal thee so, as henceforth not to scorn [965]

The facile gates of Hell too slightly barred.

So threatened he; but Satan to no threats

Gave heed, but waxing more in rage replied.

Then when I am thy captive talk of chains,

Proud limitary Cherub! but ere then [970]

Far heavier load thyself expect to feel

From my prevailing arm, though Heaven's King

Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy compeers,

Us'd to the yoke, drawest his triumphant wheels

In progress through the road of Heaven star-paved. [975]

While thus he spake, the angelick squadron bright

Turned fiery red, sharpening in mooned horns

Their phalanx, and began to hem him round

With ported spears, as thick as when a field

Of Ceres ripe for harvest waving bends [980]

Her bearded grove of ears, which way the wind

Sways them; the careful plowman doubting stands,

Left on the threshing floor his hopeless sheaves

Prove chaff. On the other side, Satan, alarmed,

Collecting all his might, dilated stood, [985]

Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved:

His stature reached the sky, and on his crest

Sat Horrour plumed; nor wanted in his grasp

What seemed both spear and shield: Now dreadful deeds

Might have ensued, nor only Paradise [990]

In this commotion, but the starry cope

Of Heaven perhaps, or all the elements

At least had gone to wrack, disturbed and torn

With violence of this conflict, had not soon

The Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray, [995]

Hung forth in Heaven his golden scales, yet seen

Betwixt Astrea and the Scorpion sign,

Wherein all things created first he weighed,

The pendulous round earth with balanced air

In counterpoise, now ponders all events, [1000]

Battles and realms: In these he put two weights,

The sequel each of parting and of fight:

The latter quick up flew, and kicked the beam,

Which Gabriel spying, thus bespake the Fiend.

Satan, I know thy strength, and thou knowest mine; [1005]

Neither our own, but given: What folly then

To boast what arms can do? since thine no more

Than Heaven permits, nor mine, though doubled now

To trample thee as mire: For proof look up,

And read thy lot in yon celestial sign; [1010]

Where thou art weighed, and shown how light, how weak,

If thou resist. The Fiend looked up, and knew

His mounted scale aloft: Nor more; but fled

Murmuring, and with him fled the shades of night.

Book V

Now Morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime

Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl,

When Adam waked, so customed; for his sleep

Was aery-light, from pure digestion bred,

And temperate vapours bland, which the only sound [5]

Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan,

Lightly dispersed, and the shrill matin song

Of birds on every bough; so much the more

His wonder was to find unwakened Eve

With tresses discomposed, and glowing cheek, [10]

As through unquiet rest: He, on his side

Leaning half raised, with looks of cordial love

Hung over her enamoured, and beheld

Beauty, which, whether waking or asleep,

Shot forth peculiar graces; then with voice [15]

Mild, as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes,

Her hand soft touching, whispered thus. Awake,

My fairest, my espoused, my latest found,

Heaven's last best gift, my ever new delight!

Awake: The morning shines, and the fresh field [20]

Calls us; we lose the prime, to mark how spring

Our tender plants, how blows the citron grove,

What drops the myrrh, and what the balmy reed,

How nature paints her colours, how the bee

Sits on the bloom extracting liquid sweet. [25]

Such whispering waked her, but with startled eye

On Adam, whom embracing, thus she spake.

O sole in whom my thoughts find all repose,

My glory, my perfection! glad I see

Thy face, and morn returned; for I this night [30]

(Such night till this I never passed) have dreamed,

If dreamed, not, as I oft am wont, of thee,

Works of day past, or morrow's next design,

But of offence and trouble, which my mind

Knew never till this irksome night: Methought, [35]

Close at mine ear one called me forth to walk

With gentle voice; I thought it thine: It said,

"Why sleepest thou, Eve? now is the pleasant time,

The cool, the silent, save where silence yields

To the night-warbling bird, that now awake [40]

Tunes sweetest his love-laboured song; now reigns

Full-orbed the moon, and with more pleasing light

Shadowy sets off the face of things; in vain,

If none regard; Heaven wakes with all his eyes,

Whom to behold but thee, Nature's desire? [45]

In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment

Attracted by thy beauty still to gaze."

I rose as at thy call, but found thee not;

To find thee I directed then my walk;

And on, methought, alone I passed through ways [50]

That brought me on a sudden to the tree

Of interdicted knowledge: fair it seemed,

Much fairer to my fancy than by day:

And, as I wondering looked, beside it stood

One shaped and winged like one of those from Heaven [55]

By us oft seen; his dewy locks distilled

Ambrosia; on that tree he also gazed;

And "O fair plant," said he, "with fruit surcharged,

Deigns none to ease thy load, and taste thy sweet,

Nor God, nor Man? Is knowledge so despised? [60]

Or envy, or what reserve forbids to taste?

Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold

Longer thy offered good; why else set here?"

This said, he paused not, but with venturous arm

He plucked, he tasted; me damp horrour chilled [65]

At such bold words vouched with a deed so bold:

But he thus, overjoyed; "O fruit divine,

Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet thus cropt,

Forbidden here, it seems, as only fit

For Gods, yet able to make Gods of Men: [70]

And why not Gods of Men; since good, the more

Communicated, more abundant grows,

The author not impaired, but honoured more?

Here, happy creature, fair angelick Eve!

Partake thou also; happy though thou art, [75]

Happier thou mayest be, worthier canst not be:

Taste this, and be henceforth among the Gods

Thyself a Goddess, not to earth confined,

But sometimes in the air, as we, sometimes

Ascend to Heaven, by merit thine, and see [80]

What life the Gods live there, and such live thou!"

So saying, he drew nigh, and to me held,

Even to my mouth of that same fruit held part

Which he had plucked; the pleasant savoury smell

So quickened appetite, that I, methought, [85]

Could not but taste. Forthwith up to the clouds

With him I flew, and underneath beheld

The earth outstretched immense, a prospect wide

And various: Wondering at my flight and change

To this high exaltation; suddenly [90]

My guide was gone, and I, methought, sunk down,

And fell asleep; but O, how glad I waked

To find this but a dream! Thus Eve her night

Related, and thus Adam answered sad.

Best image of myself, and dearer half, [95]

The trouble of thy thoughts this night in sleep

Affects me equally; nor can I like

This uncouth dream, of evil sprung, I fear;

Yet evil whence? in thee can harbour none,

Created pure. But know that in the soul [100]

Are many lesser faculties, that serve

Reason as chief; among these Fancy next

Her office holds; of all external things

Which the five watchful senses represent,

She forms imaginations, aery shapes, [105]

Which Reason, joining or disjoining, frames

All what we affirm or what deny, and call

Our knowledge or opinion; then retires

Into her private cell, when nature rests.

Oft in her absence mimick Fancy wakes [110]

To imitate her; but, misjoining shapes,

Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams;

Ill matching words and deeds long past or late.

Some such resemblances, methinks, I find

Of our last evening's talk, in this thy dream, [115]

But with addition strange; yet be not sad.

Evil into the mind of God or Man

May come and go, so unreproved, and leave

No spot or blame behind: Which gives me hope

That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream, [120]

Waking thou never will consent to do.

Be not disheartened then, nor cloud those looks,

That wont to be more cheerful and serene,

Than when fair morning first smiles on the world;

And let us to our fresh employments rise [125]

Among the groves, the fountains, and the flowers

That open now their choisest bosomed smells,

Reserved from night, and kept for thee in store.

So cheered he his fair spouse, and she was cheered;

But silently a gentle tear let fall [130]

From either eye, and wiped them with her hair;

Two other precious drops that ready stood,

Each in their crystal sluice, he ere they fell

Kissed, as the gracious signs of sweet remorse

And pious awe, that feared to have offended. [135]

So all was cleared, and to the field they haste.

But first, from under shady arborous roof

Soon as they forth were come to open sight

Of day-spring, and the sun, who, scarce up-risen,

With wheels yet hovering o'er the ocean-brim, [140]

Shot parallel to the earth his dewy ray,

Discovering in wide landskip all the east

Of Paradise and Eden's happy plains,

Lowly they bowed adoring, and began

Their orisons, each morning duly paid [145]

In various style; for neither various style

Nor holy rapture wanted they to praise

Their Maker, in fit strains pronounced, or sung

Unmeditated; such prompt eloquence

Flowed from their lips, in prose or numerous verse, [150]

More tuneable than needed lute or harp

To add more sweetness; and they thus began.

These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,

Almighty! Thine this universal frame,

Thus wonderous fair; Thyself how wonderous then! [155]

Unspeakable, who sitst above these heavens

To us invisible, or dimly seen

In these thy lowest works; yet these declare

Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.

Speak, ye who best can tell, ye sons of light, [160]

Angels; for ye behold him, and with songs

And choral symphonies, day without night,

Circle his throne rejoicing; ye in Heaven

On Earth join all ye Creatures to extol

Him first, him last, him midst, and without end. [165]

Fairest of stars, last in the train of night,

If better thou belong not to the dawn,

Sure pledge of day, that crownest the smiling morn

With thy bright circlet, praise him in thy sphere,

While day arises, that sweet hour of prime. [170]

Thou Sun, of this great world both eye and soul,

Acknowledge him thy greater; sound his praise

In thy eternal course, both when thou climbest,

And when high noon hast gained, and when thou fallest.

Moon, that now meetest the orient sun, now flyest, [175]

With the fixed Stars, fixed in their orb that flies;

And ye five other wandering Fires, that move

In mystick dance not without song, resound

His praise, who out of darkness called up light.

Air, and ye Elements, the eldest birth [180]

Of Nature's womb, that in quaternion run

Perpetual circle, multiform; and mix

And nourish all things; let your ceaseless change

Vary to our great Maker still new praise.

Ye Mists and Exhalations, that now rise [185]

From hill or steaming lake, dusky or gray,

Till the sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold,

In honour to the world's great Author rise;

Whether to deck with clouds the uncoloured sky,

Or wet the thirsty earth with falling showers, [190]

Rising or falling still advance his praise.

His praise, ye Winds, that from four quarters blow,

Breathe soft or loud; and, wave your tops, ye Pines,

With every plant, in sign of worship wave.

Fountains, and ye that warble, as ye flow, [195]

Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise.

Join voices, all ye living Souls: Ye Birds,

That singing up to Heaven-gate ascend,

Bear on your wings and in your notes his praise.

Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk [200]

The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep;

Witness if I be silent, morn or even,

To hill, or valley, fountain, or fresh shade,

Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise.

Hail, universal Lord, be bounteous still [205]

To give us only good; and if the night

Have gathered aught of evil, or concealed,

Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark!

So prayed they innocent, and to their thoughts

Firm peace recovered soon, and wonted calm. [210]

On to their morning's rural work they haste,

Among sweet dews and flowers; where any row

Of fruit-trees over-woody reached too far

Their pampered boughs, and needed hands to check

Fruitless embraces: or they led the vine [215]

To wed her elm; she, spoused, about him twines

Her marriageable arms, and with him brings

Her dower, the adopted clusters, to adorn

His barren leaves. Them thus employed beheld

With pity Heaven's high King, and to him called [220]

Raphael, the sociable Spirit, that deigned

To travel with Tobias, and secured

His marriage with the seventimes-wedded maid.

Raphael, said he, thou hearest what stir on Earth

Satan, from Hell 'scaped through the darksome gulf, [225]

Hath raised in Paradise; and how disturbed

This night the human pair; how he designs

In them at once to ruin all mankind.

Go therefore, half this day as friend with friend

Converse with Adam, in what bower or shade [230]

Thou findest him from the heat of noon retired,

To respite his day-labour with repast,

Or with repose; and such discourse bring on,

As may advise him of his happy state,

Happiness in his power left free to will, [235]

Left to his own free will, his will though free,

Yet mutable; whence warn him to beware

He swerve not, too secure: Tell him withal

His danger, and from whom; what enemy,

Late fallen himself from Heaven, is plotting now [240]

The fall of others from like state of bliss;

By violence? no, for that shall be withstood;

But by deceit and lies: This let him know,

Lest, wilfully transgressing, he pretend

Surprisal, unadmonished, unforewarned. [245]

So spake the Eternal Father, and fulfilled

All justice: Nor delayed the winged Saint

After his charge received; but from among

Thousand celestial Ardours, where he stood

Veiled with his gorgeous wings, up springing light, [250]

Flew through the midst of Heaven; the angelick quires,

On each hand parting, to his speed gave way

Through all the empyreal road; till, at the gate

Of Heaven arrived, the gate self-opened wide

On golden hinges turning, as by work [255]

Divine the sovran Architect had framed.

From hence no cloud, or, to obstruct his sight,

Star interposed, however small he sees,

Not unconformed to other shining globes,

Earth, and the garden of God, with cedars crowned [260]

Above all hills. As when by night the glass

Of Galileo, less assured, observes

Imagined lands and regions in the moon:

Or pilot, from amidst the Cyclades

Delos or Samos first appearing, kens [265]

A cloudy spot. Down thither prone in flight

He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky

Sails between worlds and worlds, with steady wing

Now on the polar winds, then with quick fan

Winnows the buxom air; till, within soar [270]

Of towering eagles, to all the fowls he seems

A phoenix, gazed by all as that sole bird,

When, to enshrine his reliques in the Sun's

Bright temple, to Egyptian Thebes he flies.

At once on the eastern cliff of Paradise [275]

He lights, and to his proper shape returns

A Seraph winged: Six wings he wore, to shade

His lineaments divine; the pair that clad

Each shoulder broad, came mantling o'er his breast

With regal ornament; the middle pair [280]

Girt like a starry zone his waist, and round

Skirted his loins and thighs with downy gold

And colours dipt in Heaven; the third his feet

Shadowed from either heel with feathered mail,

Sky-tinctured grain. Like Maia's son he stood, [285]

And shook his plumes, that heavenly fragrance filled

The circuit wide. Straight knew him all the bands

Of Angels under watch; and to his state,

And to his message high, in honour rise;

For on some message high they guessed him bound. [290]

Their glittering tents he passed, and now is come

Into the blissful field, through groves of myrrh,

And flowering odours, cassia, nard, and balm;

A wilderness of sweets; for Nature here

Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will [295]

Her virgin fancies pouring forth more sweet,

Wild above rule or art, enormous bliss.

Him through the spicy forest onward come

Adam discerned, as in the door he sat

Of his cool bower, while now the mounted sun [300]

Shot down direct his fervid rays to warm

Earth's inmost womb, more warmth than Adam needs:

And Eve within, due at her hour prepared

For dinner savoury fruits, of taste to please

True appetite, and not disrelish thirst [305]

Of nectarous draughts between, from milky stream,

Berry or grape: To whom thus Adam called.

Haste hither, Eve, and worth thy sight behold

Eastward among those trees, what glorious shape

Comes this way moving; seems another morn [310]

Risen on mid-noon; some great behest from Heaven

To us perhaps he brings, and will vouchsafe

This day to be our guest. But go with speed,

And, what thy stores contain, bring forth, and pour

Abundance, fit to honour and receive [315]

Our heavenly stranger: Well we may afford

Our givers their own gifts, and large bestow

From large bestowed, where Nature multiplies

Her fertile growth, and by disburthening grows

More fruitful, which instructs us not to spare. [320]

To whom thus Eve. Adam, earth's hallowed mould,

Of God inspired! small store will serve, where store,

All seasons, ripe for use hangs on the stalk;

Save what by frugal storing firmness gains

To nourish, and superfluous moist consumes: [325]

But I will haste, and from each bough and brake,

Each plant and juciest gourd, will pluck such choice

To entertain our Angel-guest, as he

Beholding shall confess, that here on Earth

God hath dispensed his bounties as in Heaven. [330]

So saying, with dispatchful looks in haste

She turns, on hospitable thoughts intent

What choice to choose for delicacy best,

What order, so contrived as not to mix

Tastes, not well joined, inelegant, but bring [335]

Taste after taste upheld with kindliest change;

Bestirs her then, and from each tender stalk

Whatever Earth, all-bearing mother, yields

In India East or West, or middle shore

In Pontus or the Punick coast, or where [340]

Alcinous reigned, fruit of all kinds, in coat

Rough, or smooth rind, or bearded husk, or shell,

She gathers, tribute large, and on the board

Heaps with unsparing hand; for drink the grape

She crushes, inoffensive must, and meaths [345]

From many a berry, and from sweet kernels pressed

She tempers dulcet creams; nor these to hold

Wants her fit vessels pure; then strows the ground

With rose and odours from the shrub unfumed.

Mean while our primitive great sire, to meet [350]

His God-like guest, walks forth, without more train

Accompanied than with his own complete

Perfections; in himself was all his state,

More solemn than the tedious pomp that waits

On princes, when their rich retinue long [355]

Of horses led, and grooms besmeared with gold,

Dazzles the croud, and sets them all agape.

Nearer his presence Adam, though not awed,

Yet with submiss approach and reverence meek,

As to a superiour nature bowing low, [360]

Thus said. Native of Heaven, for other place

None can than Heaven such glorious shape contain;

Since, by descending from the thrones above,

Those happy places thou hast deigned a while

To want, and honour these, vouchsafe with us [365]

Two only, who yet by sovran gift possess

This spacious ground, in yonder shady bower

To rest; and what the garden choicest bears

To sit and taste, till this meridian heat

Be over, and the sun more cool decline. [370]

Whom thus the angelick Virtue answered mild.

Adam, I therefore came; nor art thou such

Created, or such place hast here to dwell,

As may not oft invite, though Spirits of Heaven,

To visit thee; lead on then where thy bower [375]

O'ershades; for these mid-hours, till evening rise,

I have at will. So to the sylvan lodge

They came, that like Pomona's arbour smiled,

With flowerets decked, and fragrant smells; but Eve,

Undecked save with herself, more lovely fair [380]

Than Wood-Nymph, or the fairest Goddess feigned

Of three that in mount Ida naked strove,

Stood to entertain her guest from Heaven; no veil

She needed, virtue-proof; no thought infirm

Altered her cheek. On whom the Angel Hail [385]

Bestowed, the holy salutation used

Long after to blest Mary, second Eve.

Hail, Mother of Mankind, whose fruitful womb

Shall fill the world more numerous with thy sons,

Than with these various fruits the trees of God [390]

Have heaped this table!--Raised of grassy turf

Their table was, and mossy seats had round,

And on her ample square from side to side

All autumn piled, though spring and autumn here

Danced hand in hand. A while discourse they hold; [395]

No fear lest dinner cool; when thus began

Our author. Heavenly stranger, please to taste

These bounties, which our Nourisher, from whom

All perfect good, unmeasured out, descends,

To us for food and for delight hath caused [400]

The earth to yield; unsavoury food perhaps

To spiritual natures; only this I know,

That one celestial Father gives to all.

To whom the Angel. Therefore what he gives

(Whose praise be ever sung) to Man in part [405]

Spiritual, may of purest Spirits be found

No ingrateful food: And food alike those pure

Intelligential substances require,

As doth your rational; and both contain

Within them every lower faculty [410]

Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste,

Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,

And corporeal to incorporeal turn.

For know, whatever was created, needs

To be sustained and fed: Of elements [415]

The grosser feeds the purer, earth the sea,

Earth and the sea feed air, the air those fires

Ethereal, and as lowest first the moon;

Whence in her visage round those spots, unpurged

Vapours not yet into her substance turned. [420]

Nor doth the moon no nourishment exhale

From her moist continent to higher orbs.

The sun that light imparts to all, receives

From all his alimental recompence

In humid exhalations, and at even [425]

Sups with the ocean. Though in Heaven the trees

Of life ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines

Yield nectar; though from off the boughs each morn

We brush mellifluous dews, and find the ground

Covered with pearly grain: Yet God hath here [430]

Varied his bounty so with new delights,

As may compare with Heaven; and to taste

Think not I shall be nice. So down they sat,

And to their viands fell; nor seemingly

The Angel, nor in mist, the common gloss [435]

Of Theologians; but with keen dispatch

Of real hunger, and concoctive heat

To transubstantiate: What redounds, transpires

Through Spirits with ease; nor wonder; if by fire

Of sooty coal the empirick alchemist [440]

Can turn, or holds it possible to turn,

Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold,

As from the mine. Mean while at table Eve

Ministered naked, and their flowing cups

With pleasant liquours crowned: O innocence [445]

Deserving Paradise! if ever, then,

Then had the sons of God excuse to have been

Enamoured at that sight; but in those hearts

Love unlibidinous reigned, nor jealousy

Was understood, the injured lover's hell. [450]

Thus when with meats and drinks they had sufficed,

Not burdened nature, sudden mind arose

In Adam, not to let the occasion pass

Given him by this great conference to know

Of things above his world, and of their being [455]

Who dwell in Heaven, whose excellence he saw

Transcend his own so far; whose radiant forms,

Divine effulgence, whose high power, so far

Exceeded human; and his wary speech

Thus to the empyreal minister he framed. [460]

Inhabitant with God, now know I well

Thy favour, in this honour done to Man;

Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsafed

To enter, and these earthly fruits to taste,

Food not of Angels, yet accepted so, [465]

As that more willingly thou couldst not seem

At Heaven's high feasts to have fed: yet what compare

To whom the winged Hierarch replied.

O Adam, One Almighty is, from whom

All things proceed, and up to him return, [470]

If not depraved from good, created all

Such to perfection, one first matter all,

Endued with various forms, various degrees

Of substance, and, in things that live, of life;

But more refined, more spiritous, and pure, [475]

As nearer to him placed, or nearer tending

Each in their several active spheres assigned,

Till body up to spirit work, in bounds

Proportioned to each kind. So from the root

Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves [480]

More aery, last the bright consummate flower

Spirits odorous breathes: flowers and their fruit,

Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublimed,

To vital spirits aspire, to animal,

To intellectual; give both life and sense, [485]

Fancy and understanding; whence the soul

Reason receives, and reason is her being,

Discursive, or intuitive; discourse

Is oftest yours, the latter most is ours,

Differing but in degree, of kind the same. [490]

Wonder not then, what God for you saw good

If I refuse not, but convert, as you

To proper substance. Time may come, when Men

With Angels may participate, and find

No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare; [495]

And from these corporal nutriments perhaps

Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,

Improved by tract of time, and, winged, ascend

Ethereal, as we; or may, at choice,

Here or in heavenly Paradises dwell; [500]

If ye be found obedient, and retain

Unalterably firm his love entire,

Whose progeny you are. Mean while enjoy

Your fill what happiness this happy state

Can comprehend, incapable of more. [505]

To whom the patriarch of mankind replied.

O favourable Spirit, propitious guest,

Well hast thou taught the way that might direct

Our knowledge, and the scale of nature set

From center to circumference; whereon, [510]

In contemplation of created things,

By steps we may ascend to God. But say,

What meant that caution joined, If ye be found

Obedient? Can we want obedience then

To him, or possibly his love desert, [515]

Who formed us from the dust and placed us here

Full to the utmost measure of what bliss

Human desires can seek or apprehend?

To whom the Angel. Son of Heaven and Earth,

Attend! That thou art happy, owe to God; [520]

That thou continuest such, owe to thyself,

That is, to thy obedience; therein stand.

This was that caution given thee; be advised.

God made thee perfect, not immutable;

And good he made thee, but to persevere [525]

He left it in thy power; ordained thy will

By nature free, not over-ruled by fate

Inextricable, or strict necessity:

Our voluntary service he requires,

Not our necessitated; such with him [530]

Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how

Can hearts, not free, be tried whether they serve

Willing or no, who will but what they must

By destiny, and can no other choose?

Myself, and all the angelick host, that stand [535]

In sight of God, enthroned, our happy state

Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds;

On other surety none: Freely we serve,

Because we freely love, as in our will

To love or not; in this we stand or fall: [540]

And some are fallen, to disobedience fallen,

And so from Heaven to deepest Hell; O fall

From what high state of bliss, into what woe!

To whom our great progenitor. Thy words

Attentive, and with more delighted ear, [545]

Divine instructer, I have heard, than when

Cherubick songs by night from neighbouring hills

Aereal musick send: Nor knew I not

To be both will and deed created free;

Yet that we never shall forget to love [550]

Our Maker, and obey him whose command

Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts

Assured me, and still assure: Though what thou tellest

Hath passed in Heaven, some doubt within me move,

But more desire to hear, if thou consent, [555]

The full relation, which must needs be strange,

Worthy of sacred silence to be heard;

And we have yet large day, for scarce the sun

Hath finished half his journey, and scarce begins

His other half in the great zone of Heaven. [560]

Thus Adam made request; and Raphael,

After short pause assenting, thus began.

High matter thou enjoinest me, O prime of men,

Sad task and hard: For how shall I relate

To human sense the invisible exploits [565]

Of warring Spirits? how, without remorse,

The ruin of so many glorious once

And perfect while they stood? how last unfold

The secrets of another world, perhaps

Not lawful to reveal? yet for thy good [570]

This is dispensed; and what surmounts the reach

Of human sense, I shall delineate so,

By likening spiritual to corporal forms,

As may express them best; though what if Earth

Be but a shadow of Heaven, and things therein [575]

Each to other like, more than on earth is thought?

As yet this world was not, and Chaos wild

Reigned where these Heavens now roll, where Earth now rests

Upon her center poised; when on a day

(For time, though in eternity, applied [580]

To motion, measures all things durable

By present, past, and future,) on such day

As Heaven's great year brings forth, the empyreal host

Of Angels by imperial summons called,

Innumerable before the Almighty's throne [585]

Forthwith, from all the ends of Heaven, appeared

Under their Hierarchs in orders bright:

Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanced,

Standards and gonfalons 'twixt van and rear

Stream in the air, and for distinction serve [590]

Of hierarchies, of orders, and degrees;

Or in their glittering tissues bear imblazed

Holy memorials, acts of zeal and love

Recorded eminent. Thus when in orbs

Of circuit inexpressible they stood, [595]

Orb within orb, the Father Infinite,

By whom in bliss imbosomed sat the Son,

Amidst as from a flaming mount, whose top

Brightness had made invisible, thus spake.

Hear, all ye Angels, progeny of light, [600]

Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers;

Hear my decree, which unrevoked shall stand.

This day I have begot whom I declare

My only Son, and on this holy hill

Him have anointed, whom ye now behold [605]

At my right hand; your head I him appoint;

And by myself have sworn, to him shall bow

All knees in Heaven, and shall confess him Lord:

Under his great vice-gerent reign abide

United, as one individual soul, [610]

For ever happy: Him who disobeys,

Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day,

Cast out from God and blessed vision, falls

Into utter darkness, deep ingulfed, his place

Ordained without redemption, without end. [615]

So spake the Omnipotent, and with his words

All seemed well pleased; all seemed, but were not all.

That day, as other solemn days, they spent

In song and dance about the sacred hill;

Mystical dance, which yonder starry sphere [620]

Of planets, and of fixed, in all her wheels

Resembles nearest, mazes intricate,

Eccentrick, intervolved, yet regular

Then most, when most irregular they seem;

And in their motions harmony divine [625]

So smooths her charming tones, that God's own ear

Listens delighted. Evening now approached,

(For we have also our evening and our morn,

We ours for change delectable, not need;)

Forthwith from dance to sweet repast they turn [630]

Desirous; all in circles as they stood,

Tables are set, and on a sudden piled

With Angels food, and rubied nectar flows

In pearl, in diamond, and massy gold,

Fruit of delicious vines, the growth of Heaven. [635]

On flowers reposed, and with fresh flowerets crowned,

They eat, they drink, and in communion sweet

Quaff immortality and joy, secure

Of surfeit, where full measure only bounds

Excess, before the all-bounteous King, who showered [640]

With copious hand, rejoicing in their joy.

Now when ambrosial night with clouds exhaled

From that high mount of God, whence light and shade

Spring both, the face of brightest Heaven had changed

To grateful twilight, (for night comes not there [645]

In darker veil) and roseate dews disposed

All but the unsleeping eyes of God to rest;

Wide over all the plain, and wider far

Than all this globous earth in plain outspread,

(Such are the courts of God) the angelick throng, [650]

Dispersed in bands and files, their camp extend

By living streams among the trees of life,

Pavilions numberless, and sudden reared,

Celestial tabernacles, where they slept

Fanned with cool winds; save those, who, in their course, [655]

Melodious hymns about the sovran throne

Alternate all night long: but not so waked

Satan; so call him now, his former name

Is heard no more in Heaven; he of the first,

If not the first Arch-Angel, great in power, [660]

In favour and pre-eminence, yet fraught

With envy against the Son of God, that day

Honoured by his great Father, and proclaimed

Messiah King anointed, could not bear

Through pride that sight, and thought himself impaired. [665]

Deep malice thence conceiving and disdain,

Soon as midnight brought on the dusky hour

Friendliest to sleep and silence, he resolved

With all his legions to dislodge, and leave

Unworshipt, unobeyed, the throne supreme, [670]

Contemptuous; and his next subordinate

Awakening, thus to him in secret spake.

Sleepest thou, Companion dear? What sleep can close

Thy eye-lids? and rememberest what decree

Of yesterday, so late hath passed the lips [675]

Of Heaven's Almighty. Thou to me thy thoughts

Wast wont, I mine to thee was wont to impart;

Both waking we were one; how then can now

Thy sleep dissent? New laws thou seest imposed;

New laws from him who reigns, new minds may raise [680]

In us who serve, new counsels to debate

What doubtful may ensue: More in this place

To utter is not safe. Assemble thou

Of all those myriads which we lead the chief;

Tell them, that by command, ere yet dim night [685]

Her shadowy cloud withdraws, I am to haste,

And all who under me their banners wave,

Homeward, with flying march, where we possess

The quarters of the north; there to prepare

Fit entertainment to receive our King, [690]

The great Messiah, and his new commands,

Who speedily through all the hierarchies

Intends to pass triumphant, and give laws.

So spake the false Arch-Angel, and infused

Bad influence into the unwary breast [695]

Of his associate: He together calls,

Or several one by one, the regent Powers,

Under him Regent; tells, as he was taught,

That the Most High commanding, now ere night,

Now ere dim night had disincumbered Heaven, [700]

The great hierarchal standard was to move;

Tells the suggested cause, and casts between

Ambiguous words and jealousies, to sound

Or taint integrity: But all obeyed

The wonted signal, and superiour voice [705]

Of their great Potentate; for great indeed

His name, and high was his degree in Heaven;

His countenance, as the morning-star that guides

The starry flock, allured them, and with lies

Drew after him the third part of Heaven's host. [710]

Mean while the Eternal eye, whose sight discerns

Abstrusest thoughts, from forth his holy mount,

And from within the golden lamps that burn

Nightly before him, saw without their light

Rebellion rising; saw in whom, how spread [715]

Among the sons of morn, what multitudes

Were banded to oppose his high decree;

And, smiling, to his only Son thus said.

Son, thou in whom my glory I behold

In full resplendence, Heir of all my might, [720]

Nearly it now concerns us to be sure

Of our Omnipotence, and with what arms

We mean to hold what anciently we claim

Of deity or empire: Such a foe

Is rising, who intends to erect his throne [725]

Equal to ours, throughout the spacious north;

Nor so content, hath in his thought to try

In battle, what our power is, or our right.

Let us advise, and to this hazard draw

With speed what force is left, and all employ [730]

In our defence; lest unawares we lose

This our high place, our sanctuary, our hill.

To whom the Son with calm aspect and clear,

Lightning divine, ineffable, serene,

Made answer. Mighty Father, thou thy foes [735]

Justly hast in derision, and, secure,

Laughest at their vain designs and tumults vain,

Matter to me of glory, whom their hate

Illustrates, when they see all regal power

Given me to quell their pride, and in event [740]

Know whether I be dextrous to subdue

Thy rebels, or be found the worst in Heaven.

So spake the Son; but Satan, with his Powers,

Far was advanced on winged speed; an host

Innumerable as the stars of night, [745]

Or stars of morning, dew-drops, which the sun

Impearls on every leaf and every flower.

Regions they passed, the mighty regencies

Of Seraphim, and Potentates, and Thrones,

In their triple degrees; regions to which [750]

All thy dominion, Adam, is no more

Than what this garden is to all the earth,

And all the sea, from one entire globose

Stretched into longitude; which having passed,

At length into the limits of the north [755]

They came; and Satan to his royal seat

High on a hill, far blazing, as a mount

Raised on a mount, with pyramids and towers

From diamond quarries hewn, and rocks of gold;

The palace of great Lucifer, (so call [760]

That structure in the dialect of men

Interpreted,) which not long after, he

Affecting all equality with God,

In imitation of that mount whereon

Messiah was declared in sight of Heaven, [765]

The Mountain of the Congregation called;

For thither he assembled all his train,

Pretending so commanded to consult

About the great reception of their King,

Thither to come, and with calumnious art [770]

Of counterfeited truth thus held their ears.

Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers;

If these magnifick titles yet remain

Not merely titular, since by decree

Another now hath to himself engrossed [775]

All power, and us eclipsed under the name

Of King anointed, for whom all this haste

Of midnight-march, and hurried meeting here,

This only to consult how we may best,

With what may be devised of honours new, [780]

Receive him coming to receive from us

Knee-tribute yet unpaid, prostration vile!

Too much to one! but double how endured,

To one, and to his image now proclaimed?

But what if better counsels might erect [785]

Our minds, and teach us to cast off this yoke?

Will ye submit your necks, and choose to bend

The supple knee? Ye will not, if I trust

To know ye right, or if ye know yourselves

Natives and sons of Heaven possessed before [790]

By none; and if not equal all, yet free,

Equally free; for orders and degrees

Jar not with liberty, but well consist.

Who can in reason then, or right, assume

Monarchy over such as live by right [795]

His equals, if in power and splendour less,

In freedom equal? or can introduce

Law and edict on us, who without law

Err not? much less for this to be our Lord,

And look for adoration, to the abuse [800]

Of those imperial titles, which assert

Our being ordained to govern, not to serve.

Thus far his bold discourse without controul

Had audience; when among the Seraphim

Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal adored [805]

The Deity, and divine commands obeyed,

Stood up, and in a flame of zeal severe

The current of his fury thus opposed.

O argument blasphemous, false, and proud!

Words which no ear ever to hear in Heaven [810]

Expected, least of all from thee, Ingrate,

In place thyself so high above thy peers.

Canst thou with impious obloquy condemn

The just decree of God, pronounced and sworn,

That to his only Son, by right endued [815]

With regal scepter, every soul in Heaven

Shall bend the knee, and in that honour due

Confess him rightful King? unjust, thou sayest,

Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free,

And equal over equals to let reign, [820]

One over all with unsucceeded power.

Shalt thou give law to God? shalt thou dispute

With him the points of liberty, who made

Thee what thou art, and formed the Powers of Heaven

Such as he pleased, and circumscribed their being? [825]

Yet, by experience taught, we know how good,

And of our good and of our dignity

How provident he is; how far from thought

To make us less, bent rather to exalt

Our happy state, under one head more near [830]

United. But to grant it thee unjust,

That equal over equals monarch reign:

Thyself, though great and glorious, dost thou count,

Or all angelick nature joined in one,

Equal to him begotten Son? by whom, [835]

As by his Word, the Mighty Father made

All things, even thee; and all the Spirits of Heaven

By him created in their bright degrees,

Crowned them with glory, and to their glory named

Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers, [840]

Essential Powers; nor by his reign obscured,

But more illustrious made; since he the head

One of our number thus reduced becomes;

His laws our laws; all honour to him done

Returns our own. Cease then this impious rage, [845]

And tempt not these; but hasten to appease

The incensed Father, and the incensed Son,

While pardon may be found in time besought.

So spake the fervent Angel; but his zeal

None seconded, as out of season judged, [850]

Or singular and rash: Whereat rejoiced

The Apostate, and, more haughty, thus replied.

That we were formed then sayest thou? and the work

Of secondary hands, by task transferred

From Father to his Son? strange point and new! [855]

Doctrine which we would know whence learned: who saw

When this creation was? rememberest thou

Thy making, while the Maker gave thee being?

We know no time when we were not as now;

Know none before us, self-begot, self-raised [860]

By our own quickening power, when fatal course

Had circled his full orb, the birth mature

Of this our native Heaven, ethereal sons.

Our puissance is our own; our own right hand

Shall teach us highest deeds, by proof to try [865]

Who is our equal: Then thou shalt behold

Whether by supplication we intend

Address, and to begirt the almighty throne

Beseeching or besieging. This report,

These tidings carry to the anointed King; [870]

And fly, ere evil intercept thy flight.

He said; and, as the sound of waters deep,

Hoarse murmur echoed to his words applause

Through the infinite host; nor less for that

The flaming Seraph fearless, though alone [875]

Encompassed round with foes, thus answered bold.

O alienate from God, O Spirit accursed,

Forsaken of all good! I see thy fall

Determined, and thy hapless crew involved

In this perfidious fraud, contagion spread [880]

Both of thy crime and punishment: Henceforth

No more be troubled how to quit the yoke

Of God's Messiah; those indulgent laws

Will not be now vouchsafed; other decrees

Against thee are gone forth without recall; [885]

That golden scepter, which thou didst reject,

Is now an iron rod to bruise and break

Thy disobedience. Well thou didst advise;

Yet not for thy advice or threats I fly

These wicked tents devoted, lest the wrath [890]

Impendent, raging into sudden flame,

Distinguish not: For soon expect to feel

His thunder on thy head, devouring fire.

Then who created thee lamenting learn,

When who can uncreate thee thou shalt know. [895]

So spake the Seraph Abdiel, faithful found

Among the faithless, faithful only he;

Among innumerable false, unmoved,

Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,

His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal; [900]

Nor number, nor example, with him wrought

To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind,

Though single. From amidst them forth he passed,

Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustained

Superiour, nor of violence feared aught; [905]

And, with retorted scorn, his back he turned

On those proud towers to swift destruction doomed.

Book VI

All night the dreadless Angel, unpursued,

Through Heaven's wide champain held his way; till Morn,

Waked by the circling Hours, with rosy hand

Unbarred the gates of light. There is a cave

Within the mount of God, fast by his throne, [5]

Where light and darkness in perpetual round

Lodge and dislodge by turns, which makes through Heaven

Grateful vicissitude, like day and night;

Light issues forth, and at the other door

Obsequious darkness enters, till her hour [10]

To veil the Heaven, though darkness there might well

Seem twilight here: And now went forth the Morn

Such as in highest Heaven arrayed in gold

Empyreal; from before her vanished Night,

Shot through with orient beams; when all the plain [15]

Covered with thick embattled squadrons bright,

Chariots, and flaming arms, and fiery steeds,

Reflecting blaze on blaze, first met his view:

War he perceived, war in procinct; and found

Already known what he for news had thought [20]

To have reported: Gladly then he mixed

Among those friendly Powers, who him received

With joy and acclamations loud, that one,

That of so many myriads fallen, yet one

Returned not lost. On to the sacred hill [25]

They led him high applauded, and present

Before the seat supreme; from whence a voice,

From midst a golden cloud, thus mild was heard.

Servant of God. Well done; well hast thou fought

The better fight, who single hast maintained [30]

Against revolted multitudes the cause

Of truth, in word mightier than they in arms;

And for the testimony of truth hast borne

Universal reproach, far worse to bear

Than violence; for this was all thy care [35]

To stand approved in sight of God, though worlds

Judged thee perverse: The easier conquest now

Remains thee, aided by this host of friends,

Back on thy foes more glorious to return,

Than scorned thou didst depart; and to subdue [40]

By force, who reason for their law refuse,

Right reason for their law, and for their King

Messiah, who by right of merit reigns.

Go, Michael, of celestial armies prince,

And thou, in military prowess next, [45]

Gabriel, lead forth to battle these my sons

Invincible; lead forth my armed Saints,

By thousands and by millions, ranged for fight,

Equal in number to that Godless crew

Rebellious: Them with fire and hostile arms [50]

Fearless assault; and, to the brow of Heaven

Pursuing, drive them out from God and bliss,

Into their place of punishment, the gulf

Of Tartarus, which ready opens wide

His fiery Chaos to receive their fall. [55]

So spake the Sovran Voice, and clouds began

To darken all the hill, and smoke to roll

In dusky wreaths, reluctant flames, the sign

Of wrath awaked; nor with less dread the loud

Ethereal trumpet from on high 'gan blow: [60]

At which command the Powers militant,

That stood for Heaven, in mighty quadrate joined

Of union irresistible, moved on

In silence their bright legions, to the sound

Of instrumental harmony, that breathed [65]

Heroick ardour to adventurous deeds

Under their God-like leaders, in the cause

Of God and his Messiah. On they move

Indissolubly firm; nor obvious hill,

Nor straitening vale, nor wood, nor stream, divides [70]

Their perfect ranks; for high above the ground

Their march was, and the passive air upbore

Their nimble tread; as when the total kind

Of birds, in orderly array on wing,

Came summoned over Eden to receive [75]

Their names of thee; so over many a tract

Of Heaven they marched, and many a province wide,

Tenfold the length of this terrene: At last,

Far in the horizon to the north appeared

From skirt to skirt a fiery region, stretched [80]

In battailous aspect, and nearer view

Bristled with upright beams innumerable

Of rigid spears, and helmets thronged, and shields

Various, with boastful argument portrayed,

The banded Powers of Satan hasting on [85]

With furious expedition; for they weened

That self-same day, by fight or by surprise,

To win the mount of God, and on his throne

To set the Envier of his state, the proud

Aspirer; but their thoughts proved fond and vain [90]

In the mid way: Though strange to us it seemed

At first, that Angel should with Angel war,

And in fierce hosting meet, who wont to meet

So oft in festivals of joy and love

Unanimous, as sons of one great Sire, [95]

Hymning the Eternal Father: But the shout

Of battle now began, and rushing sound

Of onset ended soon each milder thought.

High in the midst, exalted as a God,

The Apostate in his sun-bright chariot sat, [100]

Idol of majesty divine, enclosed

With flaming Cherubim, and golden shields;

Then lighted from his gorgeous throne, for now

'Twixt host and host but narrow space was left,

A dreadful interval, and front to front [105]

Presented stood in terrible array

Of hideous length: Before the cloudy van,

On the rough edge of battle ere it joined,

Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanced,

Came towering, armed in adamant and gold; [110]

Abdiel that sight endured not, where he stood

Among the mightiest, bent on highest deeds,

And thus his own undaunted heart explores.

O Heaven! that such resemblance of the Highest

Should yet remain, where faith and realty [115]

Remain not: Wherefore should not strength and might

There fail where virtue fails, or weakest prove

Where boldest, though to fight unconquerable?

His puissance, trusting in the Almighty's aid,

I mean to try, whose reason I have tried [120]

Unsound and false; nor is it aught but just,

That he, who in debate of truth hath won,

Should win in arms, in both disputes alike

Victor; though brutish that contest and foul,

When reason hath to deal with force, yet so [125]

Most reason is that reason overcome.

So pondering, and from his armed peers

Forth stepping opposite, half-way he met

His daring foe, at this prevention more

Incensed, and thus securely him defied. [130]

Proud, art thou met? thy hope was to have reached

The highth of thy aspiring unopposed,

The throne of God unguarded, and his side

Abandoned, at the terrour of thy power

Or potent tongue: Fool! not to think how vain [135]

Against the Omnipotent to rise in arms;

Who out of smallest things could, without end,

Have raised incessant armies to defeat

Thy folly; or with solitary hand

Reaching beyond all limit, at one blow, [140]

Unaided, could have finished thee, and whelmed

Thy legions under darkness: But thou seest

All are not of thy train; there be, who faith

Prefer, and piety to God, though then

To thee not visible, when I alone [145]

Seemed in thy world erroneous to dissent

From all: My sect thou seest; now learn too late

How few sometimes may know, when thousands err.

Whom the grand foe, with scornful eye askance,

Thus answered. Ill for thee, but in wished hour [150]

Of my revenge, first sought for, thou returnest

From flight, seditious Angel! to receive

Thy merited reward, the first assay

Of this right hand provoked, since first that tongue,

Inspired with contradiction, durst oppose [155]

A third part of the Gods, in synod met

Their deities to assert; who, while they feel

Vigour divine within them, can allow

Omnipotence to none. But well thou comest

Before thy fellows, ambitious to win [160]

From me some plume, that thy success may show

Destruction to the rest: This pause between,

(Unanswered lest thou boast) to let thee know,

At first I thought that Liberty and Heaven

To heavenly souls had been all one; but now [165]

I see that most through sloth had rather serve,

Ministring Spirits, trained up in feast and song!

Such hast thou armed, the minstrelsy of Heaven,

Servility with freedom to contend,

As both their deeds compared this day shall prove. [170]

To whom in brief thus Abdiel stern replied.

Apostate! still thou errest, nor end wilt find

Of erring, from the path of truth remote:

Unjustly thou depravest it with the name

Of servitude, to serve whom God ordains, [175]

Or Nature: God and Nature bid the same,

When he who rules is worthiest, and excels

Them whom he governs. This is servitude,

To serve the unwise, or him who hath rebelled

Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee, [180]

Thyself not free, but to thyself enthralled;

Yet lewdly darest our ministring upbraid.

Reign thou in Hell, thy kingdom; let me serve

In Heaven God ever blest, and his divine

Behests obey, worthiest to be obeyed; [185]

Yet chains in Hell, not realms, expect: Mean while

From me returned, as erst thou saidst, from flight,

This greeting on thy impious crest receive.

So saying, a noble stroke he lifted high,

Which hung not, but so swift with tempest fell [190]

On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight,

Nor motion of swift thought, less could his shield,

Such ruin intercept: Ten paces huge

He back recoiled; the tenth on bended knee

His massy spear upstaid; as if on earth [195]

Winds under ground, or waters forcing way,

Sidelong had pushed a mountain from his seat,

Half sunk with all his pines. Amazement seised

The rebel Thrones, but greater rage, to see

Thus foiled their mightiest; ours joy filled, and shout, [200]

Presage of victory, and fierce desire

Of battle: Whereat Michael bid sound

The Arch-Angel trumpet; through the vast of Heaven

It sounded, and the faithful armies rung

Hosanna to the Highest: Nor stood at gaze [205]

The adverse legions, nor less hideous joined

The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose,

And clamour such as heard in Heaven till now

Was never; arms on armour clashing brayed

Horrible discord, and the madding wheels [210]

Of brazen chariots raged; dire was the noise

Of conflict; over head the dismal hiss

Of fiery darts in flaming vollies flew,

And flying vaulted either host with fire.

So under fiery cope together rushed [215]

Both battles main, with ruinous assault

And inextinguishable rage. All Heaven

Resounded; and had Earth been then, all Earth

Had to her center shook. What wonder? when

Millions of fierce encountering Angels fought [220]

On either side, the least of whom could wield

These elements, and arm him with the force

Of all their regions: How much more of power

Army against army numberless to raise

Dreadful combustion warring, and disturb, [225]

Though not destroy, their happy native seat;

Had not the Eternal King Omnipotent,

From his strong hold of Heaven, high over-ruled

And limited their might; though numbered such

As each divided legion might have seemed [230]

A numerous host; in strength each armed hand

A legion; led in fight, yet leader seemed

Each warriour single as in chief, expert

When to advance, or stand, or turn the sway

Of battle, open when, and when to close [235]

The ridges of grim war: No thought of flight,

None of retreat, no unbecoming deed

That argued fear; each on himself relied,

As only in his arm the moment lay

Of victory: Deeds of eternal fame [240]

Were done, but infinite; for wide was spread

That war and various; sometimes on firm ground

A standing fight, then, soaring on main wing,

Tormented all the air; all air seemed then

Conflicting fire. Long time in even scale [245]

The battle hung; till Satan, who that day

Prodigious power had shown, and met in arms

No equal, ranging through the dire attack

Of fighting Seraphim confused, at length

Saw where the sword of Michael smote, and felled [250]

Squadrons at once; with huge two-handed sway

Brandished aloft, the horrid edge came down

Wide-wasting; such destruction to withstand

He hasted, and opposed the rocky orb

Of tenfold adamant, his ample shield, [255]

A vast circumference. At his approach

The great Arch-Angel from his warlike toil

Surceased, and glad, as hoping here to end

Intestine war in Heaven, the arch-foe subdued

Or captive dragged in chains, with hostile frown [260]

And visage all inflamed first thus began.

Author of evil, unknown till thy revolt,

Unnamed in Heaven, now plenteous as thou seest

These acts of hateful strife, hateful to all,

Though heaviest by just measure on thyself, [265]

And thy adherents: How hast thou disturbed

Heaven's blessed peace, and into nature brought

Misery, uncreated till the crime

Of thy rebellion! how hast thou instilled

Thy malice into thousands, once upright [270]

And faithful, now proved false! But think not here

To trouble holy rest; Heaven casts thee out

From all her confines. Heaven, the seat of bliss,

Brooks not the works of violence and war.

Hence then, and evil go with thee along, [275]

Thy offspring, to the place of evil, Hell;

Thou and thy wicked crew! there mingle broils,

Ere this avenging sword begin thy doom,

Or some more sudden vengeance, winged from God,

Precipitate thee with augmented pain. [280]

So spake the Prince of Angels; to whom thus

The Adversary. Nor think thou with wind

Of aery threats to awe whom yet with deeds

Thou canst not. Hast thou turned the least of these

To flight, or if to fall, but that they rise [285]

Unvanquished, easier to transact with me

That thou shouldst hope, imperious, and with threats

To chase me hence? err not, that so shall end

The strife which thou callest evil, but we style

The strife of glory; which we mean to win, [290]

Or turn this Heaven itself into the Hell

Thou fablest; here however to dwell free,

If not to reign: Mean while thy utmost force,

And join him named Almighty to thy aid,

I fly not, but have sought thee far and nigh. [295]

They ended parle, and both addressed for fight

Unspeakable; for who, though with the tongue

Of Angels, can relate, or to what things

Liken on earth conspicuous, that may lift

Human imagination to such highth [300]

Of Godlike power? for likest Gods they seemed,

Stood they or moved, in stature, motion, arms,

Fit to decide the empire of great Heaven.

Now waved their fiery swords, and in the air

Made horrid circles; two broad suns their shields [305]

Blazed opposite, while Expectation stood

In horrour: From each hand with speed retired,

Where erst was thickest fight, the angelick throng,

And left large field, unsafe within the wind

Of such commotion; such as, to set forth [310]

Great things by small, if, nature's concord broke,

Among the constellations war were sprung,

Two planets, rushing from aspect malign

Of fiercest opposition, in mid sky

Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound. [315]

Together both with next to almighty arm

Up-lifted imminent, one stroke they aimed

That might determine, and not need repeat,

As not of power at once; nor odds appeared

In might or swift prevention: But the sword [320]

Of Michael from the armoury of God

Was given him tempered so, that neither keen

Nor solid might resist that edge: it met

The sword of Satan, with steep force to smite

Descending, and in half cut sheer; nor staid, [325]

But with swift wheel reverse, deep entering, shared

All his right side: Then Satan first knew pain,

And writhed him to and fro convolved; so sore

The griding sword with discontinuous wound

Passed through him: But the ethereal substance closed, [330]

Not long divisible; and from the gash

A stream of necturous humour issuing flowed

Sanguine, such as celestial Spirits may bleed,

And all his armour stained, ere while so bright.

Forthwith on all sides to his aid was run [335]

By Angels many and strong, who interposed

Defence, while others bore him on their shields

Back to his chariot, where it stood retired

From off the files of war: There they him laid

Gnashing for anguish, and despite, and shame, [340]

To find himself not matchless, and his pride

Humbled by such rebuke, so far beneath

His confidence to equal God in power.

Yet soon he healed; for Spirits that live throughout

Vital in every part, not as frail man [345]

In entrails, heart of head, liver or reins,

Cannot but by annihilating die;

Nor in their liquid texture mortal wound

Receive, no more than can the fluid air:

All heart they live, all head, all eye, all ear, [350]

All intellect, all sense; and, as they please,

They limb themselves, and colour, shape, or size

Assume, as likes them best, condense or rare.

Mean while in other parts like deeds deserved

Memorial, where the might of Gabriel fought, [355]

And with fierce ensigns pierced the deep array

Of Moloch, furious king; who him defied,

And at his chariot-wheels to drag him bound

Threatened, nor from the Holy One of Heaven

Refrained his tongue blasphemous; but anon [360]

Down cloven to the waist, with shattered arms

And uncouth pain fled bellowing. On each wing

Uriel, and Raphael, his vaunting foe,

Though huge, and in a rock of diamond armed,

Vanquished Adramelech, and Asmadai, [365]

Two potent Thrones, that to be less than Gods

Disdained, but meaner thoughts learned in their flight,

Mangled with ghastly wounds through plate and mail.

Nor stood unmindful Abdiel to annoy

The atheist crew, but with redoubled blow [370]

Ariel, and Arioch, and the violence

Of Ramiel scorched and blasted, overthrew.

I might relate of thousands, and their names

Eternize here on earth; but those elect

Angels, contented with their fame in Heaven, [375]

Seek not the praise of men: The other sort,

In might though wonderous and in acts of war,

Nor of renown less eager, yet by doom

Cancelled from Heaven and sacred memory,

Nameless in dark oblivion let them dwell. [380]

For strength from truth divided, and from just,

Illaudable, nought merits but dispraise

And ignominy; yet to glory aspires

Vain-glorious, and through infamy seeks fame:

Therefore eternal silence be their doom. [385]

And now, their mightiest quelled, the battle swerved,

With many an inroad gored; deformed rout

Entered, and foul disorder; all the ground

With shivered armour strown, and on a heap

Chariot and charioteer lay overturned, [390]

And fiery-foaming steeds; what stood, recoiled

O'er-wearied, through the faint Satanick host

Defensive scarce, or with pale fear surprised,

Then first with fear surprised, and sense of pain,

Fled ignominious, to such evil brought [395]

By sin of disobedience; till that hour

Not liable to fear, or flight, or pain.

Far otherwise the inviolable Saints,

In cubick phalanx firm, advanced entire,

Invulnerable, impenetrably armed; [400]

Such high advantages their innocence

Gave them above their foes; not to have sinned,

Not to have disobeyed; in fight they stood

Unwearied, unobnoxious to be pained

By wound, though from their place by violence moved, [405]

Now Night her course began, and, over Heaven

Inducing darkness, grateful truce imposed,

And silence on the odious din of war:

Under her cloudy covert both retired,

Victor and vanquished: On the foughten field [410]

Michael and his Angels prevalent

Encamping, placed in guard their watches round,

Cherubick waving fires: On the other part,

Satan with his rebellious disappeared,

Far in the dark dislodged; and, void of rest, [415]

His potentates to council called by night;

And in the midst thus undismayed began.

O now in danger tried, now known in arms

Not to be overpowered, Companions dear,

Found worthy not of liberty alone, [420]

Too mean pretence! but what we more affect,

Honour, dominion, glory, and renown;

Who have sustained one day in doubtful fight,

(And if one day, why not eternal days?)

What Heaven's Lord had powerfullest to send [425]

Against us from about his throne, and judged

Sufficient to subdue us to his will,

But proves not so: Then fallible, it seems,

Of future we may deem him, though till now

Omniscient thought. True is, less firmly armed, [430]

Some disadvantage we endured and pain,

Till now not known, but, known, as soon contemned;

Since now we find this our empyreal form

Incapable of mortal injury,

Imperishable, and, though pierced with wound, [435]

Soon closing, and by native vigour healed.

Of evil then so small as easy think

The remedy; perhaps more valid arms,

Weapons more violent, when next we meet,

May serve to better us, and worse our foes, [440]

Or equal what between us made the odds,

In nature none: If other hidden cause

Left them superiour, while we can preserve

Unhurt our minds, and understanding sound,

Due search and consultation will disclose. [445]

He sat; and in the assembly next upstood

Nisroch, of Principalities the prime;

As one he stood escaped from cruel fight,

Sore toiled, his riven arms to havock hewn,

And cloudy in aspect thus answering spake. [450]

Deliverer from new Lords, leader to free

Enjoyment of our right as Gods; yet hard

For Gods, and too unequal work we find,

Against unequal arms to fight in pain,

Against unpained, impassive; from which evil [455]

Ruin must needs ensue; for what avails

Valour or strength, though matchless, quelled with pain

Which all subdues, and makes remiss the hands

Of mightiest? Sense of pleasure we may well

Spare out of life perhaps, and not repine, [460]

But live content, which is the calmest life:

But pain is perfect misery, the worst

Of evils, and, excessive, overturns

All patience. He, who therefore can invent

With what more forcible we may offend [465]

Our yet unwounded enemies, or arm

Ourselves with like defence, to me deserves

No less than for deliverance what we owe.

Whereto with look composed Satan replied.

Not uninvented that, which thou aright [470]

Believest so main to our success, I bring.

Which of us who beholds the bright surface

Of this ethereous mould whereon we stand,

This continent of spacious Heaven, adorned

With plant, fruit, flower ambrosial, gems, and gold; [475]

Whose eye so superficially surveys

These things, as not to mind from whence they grow

Deep under ground, materials dark and crude,

Of spiritous and fiery spume, till touched

With Heaven's ray, and tempered, they shoot forth [480]

So beauteous, opening to the ambient light?

These in their dark nativity the deep

Shall yield us, pregnant with infernal flame;

Which, into hollow engines, long and round,

Thick rammed, at the other bore with touch of fire [485]

Dilated and infuriate, shall send forth

From far, with thundering noise, among our foes

Such implements of mischief, as shall dash

To pieces, and o'erwhelm whatever stands

Adverse, that they shall fear we have disarmed [490]

The Thunderer of his only dreaded bolt.

Nor long shall be our labour; yet ere dawn,

Effect shall end our wish. Mean while revive;

Abandon fear; to strength and counsel joined

Think nothing hard, much less to be despaired. [495]

He ended, and his words their drooping cheer

Enlightened, and their languished hope revived.

The invention all admired, and each, how he

To be the inventer missed; so easy it seemed

Once found, which yet unfound most would have thought [500]

Impossible: Yet, haply, of thy race

In future days, if malice should abound,

Some one intent on mischief, or inspired

With devilish machination, might devise

Like instrument to plague the sons of men [505]

For sin, on war and mutual slaughter bent.

Forthwith from council to the work they flew;

None arguing stood; innumerable hands

Were ready; in a moment up they turned

Wide the celestial soil, and saw beneath [510]

The originals of nature in their crude

Conception; sulphurous and nitrous foam

They found, they mingled, and, with subtle art,

Concocted and adusted they reduced

To blackest grain, and into store conveyed: [515]

Part hidden veins digged up (nor hath this earth

Entrails unlike) of mineral and stone,

Whereof to found their engines and their balls

Of missive ruin; part incentive reed

Provide, pernicious with one touch to fire. [520]

So all ere day-spring, under conscious night,

Secret they finished, and in order set,

With silent circumspection, unespied.

Now when fair morn orient in Heaven appeared,

Up rose the victor-Angels, and to arms [525]

The matin trumpet sung: In arms they stood

Of golden panoply, refulgent host,

Soon banded; others from the dawning hills

Look round, and scouts each coast light-armed scour,

Each quarter to descry the distant foe, [530]

Where lodged, or whither fled, or if for fight,

In motion or in halt: Him soon they met

Under spread ensigns moving nigh, in slow

But firm battalion; back with speediest sail

Zophiel, of Cherubim the swiftest wing, [535]

Came flying, and in mid air aloud thus cried.

Arm, Warriours, arm for fight; the foe at hand,

Whom fled we thought, will save us long pursuit

This day; fear not his flight; so thick a cloud

He comes, and settled in his face I see [540]

Sad resolution, and secure: Let each

His adamantine coat gird well, and each

Fit well his helm, gripe fast his orbed shield,

Borne even or high; for this day will pour down,

If I conjecture aught, no drizzling shower, [545]

But rattling storm of arrows barbed with fire.

So warned he them, aware themselves, and soon

In order, quit of all impediment;

Instant without disturb they took alarm,

And onward moved embattled: When behold! [550]

Not distant far with heavy pace the foe

Approaching gross and huge, in hollow cube

Training his devilish enginery, impaled

On every side with shadowing squadrons deep,

To hide the fraud. At interview both stood [555]

A while; but suddenly at head appeared

Satan, and thus was heard commanding loud.

Vanguard, to right and left the front unfold;

That all may see who hate us, how we seek

Peace and composure, and with open breast [560]

Stand ready to receive them, if they like

Our overture; and turn not back perverse:

But that I doubt; however witness, Heaven!

Heaven, witness thou anon! while we discharge

Freely our part: ye, who appointed stand [565]

Do as you have in charge, and briefly touch

What we propound, and loud that all may hear!

So scoffing in ambiguous words, he scarce

Had ended; when to right and left the front

Divided, and to either flank retired: [570]

Which to our eyes discovered, new and strange,

A triple mounted row of pillars laid

On wheels (for like to pillars most they seemed,

Or hollowed bodies made of oak or fir,

With branches lopt, in wood or mountain felled,) [575]

Brass, iron, stony mould, had not their mouths

With hideous orifice gaped on us wide,

Portending hollow truce: At each behind

A Seraph stood, and in his hand a reed

Stood waving tipt with fire; while we, suspense, [580]

Collected stood within our thoughts amused,

Not long; for sudden all at once their reeds

Put forth, and to a narrow vent applied

With nicest touch. Immediate in a flame,

But soon obscured with smoke, all Heaven appeared, [585]

From those deep-throated engines belched, whose roar

Embowelled with outrageous noise the air,

And all her entrails tore, disgorging foul

Their devilish glut, chained thunderbolts and hail

Of iron globes; which, on the victor host [590]

Levelled, with such impetuous fury smote,

That, whom they hit, none on their feet might stand,

Though standing else as rocks, but down they fell

By thousands, Angel on Arch-Angel rolled;

The sooner for their arms; unarmed, they might [595]

Have easily, as Spirits, evaded swift

By quick contraction or remove; but now

Foul dissipation followed, and forced rout;

Nor served it to relax their serried files.

What should they do? if on they rushed, repulse [600]

Repeated, and indecent overthrow

Doubled, would render them yet more despised,

And to their foes a laughter; for in view

Stood ranked of Seraphim another row,

In posture to displode their second tire [605]

Of thunder: Back defeated to return

They worse abhorred. Satan beheld their plight,

And to his mates thus in derision called.

O Friends! why come not on these victors proud

Ere while they fierce were coming; and when we, [610]

To entertain them fair with open front

And breast, (what could we more?) propounded terms

Of composition, straight they changed their minds,

Flew off, and into strange vagaries fell,

As they would dance; yet for a dance they seemed [615]

Somewhat extravagant and wild; perhaps

For joy of offered peace: But I suppose,

If our proposals once again were heard,

We should compel them to a quick result.

To whom thus Belial, in like gamesome mood. [620]

Leader! the terms we sent were terms of weight,

Of hard contents, and full of force urged home;

Such as we might perceive amused them all,

And stumbled many: Who receives them right,

Had need from head to foot well understand; [625]

Not understood, this gift they have besides,

They show us when our foes walk not upright.

So they among themselves in pleasant vein

Stood scoffing, hightened in their thoughts beyond

All doubt of victory: Eternal Might [630]

To match with their inventions they presumed

So easy, and of his thunder made a scorn,

And all his host derided, while they stood

A while in trouble: But they stood not long;

Rage prompted them at length, and found them arms [635]

Against such hellish mischief fit to oppose.

Forthwith (behold the excellence, the power,

Which God hath in his mighty Angels placed!)

Their arms away they threw, and to the hills

(For Earth hath this variety from Heaven [640]

Of pleasure situate in hill and dale,)

Light as the lightning glimpse they ran, they flew;

From their foundations loosening to and fro,

They plucked the seated hills, with all their load,

Rocks, waters, woods, and by the shaggy tops [645]

Up-lifting bore them in their hands: Amaze,

Be sure, and terrour, seized the rebel host,

When coming towards them so dread they saw

The bottom of the mountains upward turned;

Till on those cursed engines' triple-row [650]

They saw them whelmed, and all their confidence

Under the weight of mountains buried deep;

Themselves invaded next, and on their heads

Main promontories flung, which in the air

Came shadowing, and oppressed whole legions armed; [655]

Their armour helped their harm, crushed in and bruised

Into their substance pent, which wrought them pain

Implacable, and many a dolorous groan;

Long struggling underneath, ere they could wind

Out of such prison, though Spirits of purest light, [660]

Purest at first, now gross by sinning grown.

The rest, in imitation, to like arms

Betook them, and the neighbouring hills uptore:

So hills amid the air encountered hills,

Hurled to and fro with jaculation dire; [665]

That under ground they fought in dismal shade;

Infernal noise! war seemed a civil game

To this uproar; horrid confusion heaped

Upon confusion rose: And now all Heaven

Had gone to wrack, with ruin overspread; [670]

Had not the Almighty Father, where he sits

Shrined in his sanctuary of Heaven secure,

Consulting on the sum of things, foreseen

This tumult, and permitted all, advised:

That his great purpose he might so fulfil, [675]

To honour his anointed Son avenged

Upon his enemies, and to declare

All power on him transferred: Whence to his Son,

The Assessour of his throne, he thus began.

Effulgence of my glory, Son beloved, [680]

Son, in whose face invisible is beheld

Visibly, what by Deity I am;

And in whose hand what by decree I do,

Second Omnipotence! two days are past,

Two days, as we compute the days of Heaven, [685]

Since Michael and his Powers went forth to tame

These disobedient: Sore hath been their fight,

As likeliest was, when two such foes met armed;

For to themselves I left them; and thou knowest,

Equal in their creation they were formed, [690]

Save what sin hath impaired; which yet hath wrought

Insensibly, for I suspend their doom;

Whence in perpetual fight they needs must last

Endless, and no solution will be found:

War wearied hath performed what war can do, [695]

And to disordered rage let loose the reins

With mountains, as with weapons, armed; which makes

Wild work in Heaven, and dangerous to the main.

Two days are therefore past, the third is thine;

For thee I have ordained it; and thus far [700]

Have suffered, that the glory may be thine

Of ending this great war, since none but Thou

Can end it. Into thee such virtue and grace

Immense I have transfused, that all may know

In Heaven and Hell thy power above compare; [705]

And, this perverse commotion governed thus,

To manifest thee worthiest to be Heir

Of all things; to be Heir, and to be King

By sacred unction, thy deserved right.

Go then, Thou Mightiest, in thy Father's might; [710]

Ascend my chariot, guide the rapid wheels

That shake Heaven's basis, bring forth all my war,

My bow and thunder, my almighty arms

Gird on, and sword upon thy puissant thigh;

Pursue these sons of darkness, drive them out [715]

From all Heaven's bounds into the utter deep:

There let them learn, as likes them, to despise

God, and Messiah his anointed King.

He said, and on his Son with rays direct

Shone full; he all his Father full expressed [720]

Ineffably into his face received;

And thus the Filial Godhead answering spake.

O Father, O Supreme of heavenly Thrones,

First, Highest, Holiest, Best; thou always seek'st

To glorify thy Son, I always thee, [725]

As is most just: This I my glory account,

My exaltation, and my whole delight,

That thou, in me well pleased, declarest thy will

Fulfilled, which to fulfil is all my bliss.

Scepter and power, thy giving, I assume, [730]

And gladlier shall resign, when in the end

Thou shalt be all in all, and I in thee

For ever; and in me all whom thou lovest:

But whom thou hatest, I hate, and can put on

Thy terrours, as I put thy mildness on, [735]

Image of thee in all things; and shall soon,

Armed with thy might, rid Heaven of these rebelled;

To their prepared ill mansion driven down,

To chains of darkness, and the undying worm;

That from thy just obedience could revolt, [740]

Whom to obey is happiness entire.

Then shall thy Saints unmixed, and from the impure

Far separate, circling thy holy mount,

Unfeigned Halleluiahs to thee sing,

Hymns of high praise, and I among them Chief. [745]

So said, he, o'er his scepter bowing, rose

From the right hand of Glory where he sat;

And the third sacred morn began to shine,

Dawning through Heaven. Forth rushed with whirlwind sound

The chariot of Paternal Deity, [750]

Flashing thick flames, wheel within wheel undrawn,

Itself instinct with Spirit, but convoyed

By four Cherubick shapes; four faces each

Had wonderous; as with stars, their bodies all

And wings were set with eyes; with eyes the wheels [755]

Of beryl, and careering fires between;

Over their heads a crystal firmament,

Whereon a sapphire throne, inlaid with pure

Amber, and colours of the showery arch.

He, in celestial panoply all armed [760]

Of radiant Urim, work divinely wrought,

Ascended; at his right hand Victory

Sat eagle-winged; beside him hung his bow

And quiver with three-bolted thunder stored;

And from about him fierce effusion rolled [765]

Of smoke, and bickering flame, and sparkles dire:

Attended with ten thousand thousand Saints,

He onward came; far off his coming shone;

And twenty thousand (I their number heard)

Chariots of God, half on each hand, were seen; [770]

He on the wings of Cherub rode sublime

On the crystalline sky, in sapphire throned,

Illustrious far and wide; but by his own

First seen: Them unexpected joy surprised,

When the great ensign of Messiah blazed [775]

Aloft by Angels borne, his sign in Heaven;

Under whose conduct Michael soon reduced

His army, circumfused on either wing,

Under their Head imbodied all in one.

Before him Power Divine his way prepared; [780]

At his command the uprooted hills retired

Each to his place; they heard his voice, and went

Obsequious; Heaven his wonted face renewed,

And with fresh flowerets hill and valley smiled.

This saw his hapless foes, but stood obdured, [785]

And to rebellious fight rallied their Powers,

Insensate, hope conceiving from despair.

In heavenly Spirits could such perverseness dwell?

But to convince the proud what signs avail,

Or wonders move the obdurate to relent? [790]

They, hardened more by what might most reclaim,

Grieving to see his glory, at the sight

Took envy; and, aspiring to his highth,

Stood re-embattled fierce, by force or fraud

Weening to prosper, and at length prevail [795]

Against God and Messiah, or to fall

In universal ruin last; and now

To final battle drew, disdaining flight,

Or faint retreat; when the great Son of God

To all his host on either hand thus spake. [800]

Stand still in bright array, ye Saints; here stand,

Ye Angels armed; this day from battle rest:

Faithful hath been your warfare, and of God

Accepted, fearless in his righteous cause;

And as ye have received, so have ye done, [805]

Invincibly: But of this cursed crew

The punishment to other hand belongs;

Vengeance is his, or whose he sole appoints:

Number to this day's work is not ordained,

Nor multitude; stand only, and behold [810]

God's indignation on these godless poured

By me; not you, but me, they have despised,

Yet envied; against me is all their rage,

Because the Father, to whom in Heaven s'preme

Kingdom, and power, and glory appertains, [815]

Hath honoured me, according to his will.

Therefore to me their doom he hath assigned;

That they may have their wish, to try with me

In battle which the stronger proves; they all,

Or I alone against them; since by strength [820]

They measure all, of other excellence

Not emulous, nor care who them excels;

Nor other strife with them do I vouchsafe.

So spake the Son, and into terrour changed

His countenance too severe to be beheld, [825]

And full of wrath bent on his enemies.

At once the Four spread out their starry wings

With dreadful shade contiguous, and the orbs

Of his fierce chariot rolled, as with the sound

Of torrent floods, or of a numerous host. [830]

He on his impious foes right onward drove,

Gloomy as night; under his burning wheels

The stedfast empyrean shook throughout,

All but the throne itself of God. Full soon

Among them he arrived; in his right hand [835]

Grasping ten thousand thunders, which he sent

Before him, such as in their souls infixed

Plagues: They, astonished, all resistance lost,

All courage; down their idle weapons dropt:

O'er shields, and helms, and helmed heads he rode [840]

Of Thrones and mighty Seraphim prostrate,

That wished the mountains now might be again

Thrown on them, as a shelter from his ire.

Nor less on either side tempestuous fell

His arrows, from the fourfold-visaged Four [845]

Distinct with eyes, and from the living wheels

Distinct alike with multitude of eyes;

One Spirit in them ruled; and every eye

Glared lightning, and shot forth pernicious fire

Among the accursed, that withered all their strength, [850]

And of their wonted vigour left them drained,

Exhausted, spiritless, afflicted, fallen.

Yet half his strength he put not forth, but checked

His thunder in mid volley; for he meant

Not to destroy, but root them out of Heaven: [855]

The overthrown he raised, and as a herd

Of goats or timorous flock together thronged

Drove them before him thunder-struck, pursued

With terrours, and with furies, to the bounds

And crystal wall of Heaven; which, opening wide, [860]

Rolled inward, and a spacious gap disclosed

Into the wasteful deep: The monstrous sight

Struck them with horrour backward, but far worse

Urged them behind: Headlong themselves they threw

Down from the verge of Heaven; eternal wrath [865]

Burnt after them to the bottomless pit.

Hell heard the unsufferable noise, Hell saw

Heaven ruining from Heaven, and would have fled

Affrighted; but strict Fate had cast too deep

Her dark foundations, and too fast had bound. [870]

Nine days they fell: Confounded Chaos roared,

And felt tenfold confusion in their fall

Through his wild anarchy, so huge a rout

Incumbered him with ruin: Hell at last

Yawning received them whole, and on them closed; [875]

Hell, their fit habitation, fraught with fire

Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain.

Disburdened Heaven rejoiced, and soon repaired

Her mural breach, returning whence it rolled.

Sole victor, from the expulsion of his foes, [880]

Messiah his triumphal chariot turned:

To meet him all his Saints, who silent stood

Eye-witnesses of his almighty acts,

With jubilee advanced; and, as they went,

Shaded with branching palm, each Order bright, [885]

Sung triumph, and him sung victorious King,

Son, Heir, and Lord, to him dominion given,

Worthiest to reign: He, celebrated, rode

Triumphant through mid Heaven, into the courts

And temple of his Mighty Father throned [890]

On high; who into glory him received,

Where now he sits at the right hand of bliss.

Thus, measuring things in Heaven by things on Earth,

At thy request, and that thou mayest beware

By what is past, to thee I have revealed [895]

What might have else to human race been hid;

The discord which befel, and war in Heaven

Among the angelick Powers, and the deep fall

Of those too high aspiring, who rebelled

With Satan; he who envies now thy state, [900]

Who now is plotting how he may seduce

Thee also from obedience, that, with him

Bereaved of happiness, thou mayest partake

His punishment, eternal misery;

Which would be all his solace and revenge, [905]

As a despite done against the Most High,

Thee once to gain companion of his woe.

But listen not to his temptations, warn

Thy weaker; let it profit thee to have heard,

By terrible example, the reward [910]

Of disobedience; firm they might have stood,

Yet fell; remember, and fear to transgress.

Book VII

Descend from Heaven, Urania, by that name

If rightly thou art called, whose voice divine

Following, above the Olympian hill I soar,

Above the flight of Pegasean wing!

The meaning, not the name, I call: for thou [5]

Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top

Of old Olympus dwellest; but, heavenly-born,

Before the hills appeared, or fountain flowed,

Thou with eternal Wisdom didst converse,

Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play [10]

In presence of the Almighty Father, pleased

With thy celestial song. Up led by thee

Into the Heaven of Heavens I have presumed,

An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,

Thy tempering: with like safety guided down [15]

Return me to my native element:

Lest from this flying steed unreined, (as once

Bellerophon, though from a lower clime,)

Dismounted, on the Aleian field I fall,

Erroneous there to wander, and forlorn. [20]

Half yet remains unsung, but narrower bound

Within the visible diurnal sphere;

Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,

More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchanged

To hoarse or mute, though fallen on evil days, [25]

On evil days though fallen, and evil tongues;

In darkness, and with dangers compassed round,

And solitude; yet not alone, while thou

Visitest my slumbers nightly, or when morn

Purples the east: still govern thou my song, [30]

Urania, and fit audience find, though few.

But drive far off the barbarous dissonance

Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race

Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard

In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears [35]

To rapture, till the savage clamour drowned

Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend

Her son. So fail not thou, who thee implores:

For thou art heavenly, she an empty dream.

Say, Goddess, what ensued when Raphael, [40]

The affable Arch-Angel, had forewarned

Adam, by dire example, to beware

Apostasy, by what befel in Heaven

To those apostates; lest the like befall

In Paradise to Adam or his race, [45]

Charged not to touch the interdicted tree,

If they transgress, and slight that sole command,

So easily obeyed amid the choice

Of all tastes else to please their appetite,

Though wandering. He, with his consorted Eve, [50]

The story heard attentive, and was filled

With admiration and deep muse, to hear

Of things so high and strange; things, to their thought

So unimaginable, as hate in Heaven,

And war so near the peace of God in bliss, [55]

With such confusion: but the evil, soon

Driven back, redounded as a flood on those

From whom it sprung; impossible to mix

With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repealed

The doubts that in his heart arose: and now [60]

Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know

What nearer might concern him, how this world

Of Heaven and Earth conspicuous first began;

When, and whereof created; for what cause;

What within Eden, or without, was done [65]

Before his memory; as one whose drouth

Yet scarce allayed still eyes the current stream,

Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,

Proceeded thus to ask his heavenly guest.

Great things, and full of wonder in our ears, [70]

Far differing from this world, thou hast revealed,

Divine interpreter! by favour sent

Down from the empyrean, to forewarn

Us timely of what might else have been our loss,

Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach; [75]

For which to the infinitely Good we owe

Immortal thanks, and his admonishment

Receive, with solemn purpose to observe

Immutably his sovran will, the end

Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsafed [80]

Gently, for our instruction, to impart

Things above earthly thought, which yet concerned

Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seemed,

Deign to descend now lower, and relate

What may no less perhaps avail us known, [85]

How first began this Heaven which we behold

Distant so high, with moving fires adorned

Innumerable; and this which yields or fills

All space, the ambient air wide interfused

Embracing round this floried Earth; what cause [90]

Moved the Creator, in his holy rest

Through all eternity, so late to build

In Chaos; and the work begun, how soon

Absolved; if unforbid thou mayest unfold

What we, not to explore the secrets ask [95]

Of his eternal empire, but the more

To magnify his works, the more we know.

And the great light of day yet wants to run

Much of his race though steep; suspense in Heaven,

Held by thy voice, thy potent voice, he hears, [100]

And longer will delay to hear thee tell

His generation, and the rising birth

Of Nature from the unapparent Deep:

Or if the star of evening and the moon

Haste to thy audience, Night with her will bring, [105]

Silence; and Sleep, listening to thee, will watch;

Or we can bid his absence, till thy song

End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine.

Thus Adam his illustrious guest besought:

And thus the Godlike Angel answered mild. [110]

This also thy request, with caution asked,

Obtain; though to recount almighty works

What words or tongue of Seraph can suffice,

Or heart of man suffice to comprehend?

Yet what thou canst attain, which best may serve [115]

To glorify the Maker, and infer

Thee also happier, shall not be withheld

Thy hearing; such commission from above

I have received, to answer thy desire

Of knowledge within bounds; beyond, abstain [120]

To ask; nor let thine own inventions hope

Things not revealed, which the invisible King,

Only Omniscient, hath suppressed in night;

To none communicable in Earth or Heaven:

Enough is left besides to search and know. [125]

But knowledge is as food, and needs no less

Her temperance over appetite, to know

In measure what the mind may well contain;

Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns

Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind. [130]

Know then, that, after Lucifer from Heaven

(So call him, brighter once amidst the host

Of Angels, than that star the stars among,)

Fell with his flaming legions through the deep

Into his place, and the great Son returned [135]

Victorious with his Saints, the Omnipotent

Eternal Father from his throne beheld

Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake.

At least our envious Foe hath failed, who thought

All like himself rebellious, by whose aid [140]

This inaccessible high strength, the seat

Of Deity supreme, us dispossessed,

He trusted to have seised, and into fraud

Drew many, whom their place knows here no more:

Yet far the greater part have kept, I see, [145]

Their station; Heaven, yet populous, retains

Number sufficient to possess her realms

Though wide, and this high temple to frequent

With ministeries due, and solemn rites:

But, lest his heart exalt him in the harm [150]

Already done, to have dispeopled Heaven,

My damage fondly deemed, I can repair

That detriment, if such it be to lose

Self-lost; and in a moment will create

Another world, out of one man a race [155]

Of men innumerable, there to dwell,

Not here; till, by degrees of merit raised,

They open to themselves at length the way

Up hither, under long obedience tried;

And Earth be changed to Heaven, and Heaven to Earth, [160]

One kingdom, joy and union without end.

Mean while inhabit lax, ye Powers of Heaven;

And thou my Word, begotten Son, by thee

This I perform; speak thou, and be it done!

My overshadowing Spirit and Might with thee [165]

I send along; ride forth, and bid the Deep

Within appointed bounds be Heaven and Earth;

Boundless the Deep, because I Am who fill

Infinitude, nor vacuous the space.

Though I, uncircumscribed myself, retire, [170]

And put not forth my goodness, which is free

To act or not, Necessity and Chance

Approach not me, and what I will is Fate.

So spake the Almighty, and to what he spake

His Word, the Filial Godhead, gave effect. [175]

Immediate are the acts of God, more swift

Than time or motion, but to human ears

Cannot without process of speech be told,

So told as earthly notion can receive.

Great triumph and rejoicing was in Heaven, [180]

When such was heard declared the Almighty's will;

Glory they sung to the Most High, good will

To future men, and in their dwellings peace;

Glory to Him, whose just avenging ire

Had driven out the ungodly from his sight [185]

And the habitations of the just; to Him

Glory and praise, whose wisdom had ordained

Good out of evil to create; instead

Of Spirits malign, a better race to bring

Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse [190]

His good to worlds and ages infinite.

So sang the Hierarchies: Mean while the Son

On his great expedition now appeared,

Girt with Omnipotence, with radiance crowned

Of Majesty Divine; sapience and love [195]

Immense, and all his Father in him shone.

About his chariot numberless were poured

Cherub, and Seraph, Potentates, and Thrones,

And Virtues, winged Spirits, and chariots winged

From the armoury of God; where stand of old [200]

Myriads, between two brazen mountains lodged

Against a solemn day, harnessed at hand,

Celestial equipage; and now came forth

Spontaneous, for within them Spirit lived,

Attendant on their Lord: Heaven opened wide [205]

Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound

On golden hinges moving, to let forth

The King of Glory, in his powerful Word

And Spirit, coming to create new worlds.

On heavenly ground they stood; and from the shore [210]

They viewed the vast immeasurable abyss

Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,

Up from the bottom turned by furious winds

And surging waves, as mountains, to assault

Heaven's highth, and with the center mix the pole. [215]

Silence, ye troubled Waves, and thou Deep, peace,

Said then the Omnifick Word; your discord end!

Nor staid; but, on the wings of Cherubim

Uplifted, in paternal glory rode

Far into Chaos, and the world unborn; [220]

For Chaos heard his voice: Him all his train

Followed in bright procession, to behold

Creation, and the wonders of his might.

Then staid the fervid wheels, and in his hand

He took the golden compasses, prepared [225]

In God's eternal store, to circumscribe

This universe, and all created things:

One foot he centered, and the other turned

Round through the vast profundity obscure;

And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds, [230]

This be thy just circumference, O World!

Thus God the Heaven created, thus the Earth,

Matter unformed and void: Darkness profound

Covered the abyss: but on the watery calm

His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread, [235]

And vital virtue infused, and vital warmth

Throughout the fluid mass; but downward purged

The black tartareous cold infernal dregs,

Adverse to life: then founded, then conglobed

Like things to like; the rest to several place [240]

Disparted, and between spun out the air;

And Earth self-balanced on her center hung.

Let there be light, said God; and forthwith Light

Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure,

Sprung from the deep; and from her native east [245]

To journey through the aery gloom began,

Sphered in a radiant cloud, for yet the sun

Was not; she in a cloudy tabernacle

Sojourned the while. God saw the light was good;

And light from darkness by the hemisphere [250]

Divided: light the Day, and darkness Night,

He named. Thus was the first day even and morn:

Nor past uncelebrated, nor unsung

By the celestial quires, when orient light

Exhaling first from darkness they beheld; [255]

Birth-day of Heaven and Earth; with joy and shout

The hollow universal orb they filled,

And touched their golden harps, and hymning praised

God and his works; Creator him they sung,

Both when first evening was, and when first morn. [260]

Again, God said, Let there be firmament

Amid the waters, and let it divide

The waters from the waters; and God made

The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure,

Transparent, elemental air, diffused [265]

In circuit to the uttermost convex

Of this great round; partition firm and sure,

The waters underneath from those above

Dividing: for as earth, so he the world

Built on circumfluous waters calm, in wide [270]

Crystalline ocean, and the loud misrule

Of Chaos far removed; lest fierce extremes

Contiguous might distemper the whole frame:

And Heaven he named the Firmament: So even

And morning chorus sung the second day. [275]

The Earth was formed, but in the womb as yet

Of waters, embryon immature involved,

Appeared not: over all the face of Earth

Main ocean flowed, not idle; but, with warm

Prolifick humour softening all her globe, [280]

Fermented the great mother to conceive,

Satiate with genial moisture; when God said,

Be gathered now ye waters under Heaven

Into one place, and let dry land appear.

Immediately the mountains huge appear [285]

Emergent, and their broad bare backs upheave

Into the clouds; their tops ascend the sky:

So high as heaved the tumid hills, so low

Down sunk a hollow bottom broad and deep,

Capacious bed of waters: Thither they [290]

Hasted with glad precipitance, uprolled,

As drops on dust conglobing from the dry:

Part rise in crystal wall, or ridge direct,

For haste; such flight the great command impressed

On the swift floods: As armies at the call [295]

Of trumpet (for of armies thou hast heard)

Troop to their standard; so the watery throng,

Wave rolling after wave, where way they found,

If steep, with torrent rapture, if through plain,

Soft-ebbing; nor withstood them rock or hill; [300]

But they, or under ground, or circuit wide

With serpent errour wandering, found their way,

And on the washy oose deep channels wore;

Easy, ere God had bid the ground be dry,

All but within those banks, where rivers now [305]

Stream, and perpetual draw their humid train.

The dry land, Earth; and the great receptacle

Of congregated waters, he called Seas:

And saw that it was good; and said, Let the Earth

Put forth the verdant grass, herb yielding seed, [310]

And fruit-tree yielding fruit after her kind,

Whose seed is in herself upon the Earth.

He scarce had said, when the bare Earth, till then

Desart and bare, unsightly, unadorned,

Brought forth the tender grass, whose verdure clad [315]

Her universal face with pleasant green;

Then herbs of every leaf, that sudden flowered

Opening their various colours, and made gay

Her bosom, smelling sweet: and, these scarce blown,

Forth flourished thick the clustering vine, forth crept [320]

The swelling gourd, up stood the corny reed

Embattled in her field, and the humble shrub,

And bush with frizzled hair implicit: Last

Rose, as in dance, the stately trees, and spread

Their branches hung with copious fruit, or gemmed [325]

Their blossoms: With high woods the hills were crowned;

With tufts the valleys, and each fountain side;

With borders long the rivers: that Earth now

Seemed like to Heaven, a seat where Gods might dwell,

Or wander with delight, and love to haunt [330]

Her sacred shades: though God had yet not rained

Upon the Earth, and man to till the ground

None was; but from the Earth a dewy mist

Went up, and watered all the ground, and each

Plant of the field; which, ere it was in the Earth, [335]

God made, and every herb, before it grew

On the green stem: God saw that it was good:

So even and morn recorded the third day.

Again the Almighty spake, Let there be lights

High in the expanse of Heaven, to divide [340]

The day from night; and let them be for signs,

For seasons, and for days, and circling years;

And let them be for lights, as I ordain

Their office in the firmament of Heaven,

To give light on the Earth; and it was so. [345]

And God made two great lights, great for their use

To Man, the greater to have rule by day,

The less by night, altern; and made the stars,

And set them in the firmament of Heaven

To illuminate the Earth, and rule the day [350]

In their vicissitude, and rule the night,

And light from darkness to divide. God saw,

Surveying his great work, that it was good:

For of celestial bodies first the sun

A mighty sphere he framed, unlightsome first, [355]

Though of ethereal mould: then formed the moon

Globose, and every magnitude of stars,

And sowed with stars the Heaven, thick as a field:

Of light by far the greater part he took,

Transplanted from her cloudy shrine, and placed [360]

In the sun's orb, made porous to receive

And drink the liquid light; firm to retain

Her gathered beams, great palace now of light.

Hither, as to their fountain, other stars

Repairing, in their golden urns draw light, [365]

And hence the morning-planet gilds her horns;

By tincture or reflection they augment

Their small peculiar, though from human sight

So far remote, with diminution seen,

First in his east the glorious lamp was seen, [370]

Regent of day, and all the horizon round

Invested with bright rays, jocund to run

His longitude through Heaven's high road; the gray

Dawn, and the Pleiades, before him danced,

Shedding sweet influence: Less bright the moon, [375]

But opposite in levelled west was set,

His mirrour, with full face borrowing her light

From him; for other light she needed none

In that aspect, and still that distance keeps

Till night; then in the east her turn she shines, [380]

Revolved on Heaven's great axle, and her reign

With thousand lesser lights dividual holds,

With thousand thousand stars, that then appeared

Spangling the hemisphere: Then first adorned

With their bright luminaries that set and rose, [385]

Glad evening and glad morn crowned the fourth day.

And God said, Let the waters generate

Reptile with spawn abundant, living soul:

And let fowl fly above the Earth, with wings

Displayed on the open firmament of Heaven. [390]

And God created the great whales, and each

Soul living, each that crept, which plenteously

The waters generated by their kinds;

And every bird of wing after his kind;

And saw that it was good, and blessed them, saying. [395]

Be fruitful, multiply, and in the seas,

And lakes, and running streams, the waters fill;

And let the fowl be multiplied, on the Earth.

Forthwith the sounds and seas, each creek and bay,

With fry innumerable swarm, and shoals [400]

Of fish that with their fins, and shining scales,

Glide under the green wave, in sculls that oft

Bank the mid sea: part single, or with mate,

Graze the sea-weed their pasture, and through groves

Of coral stray; or, sporting with quick glance, [405]

Show to the sun their waved coats dropt with gold;

Or, in their pearly shells at ease, attend

Moist nutriment; or under rocks their food

In jointed armour watch: on smooth the seal

And bended dolphins play: part huge of bulk [410]

Wallowing unwieldy, enormous in their gait,

Tempest the ocean: there leviathan,

Hugest of living creatures, on the deep

Stretched like a promontory sleeps or swims,

And seems a moving land; and at his gills [415]

Draws in, and at his trunk spouts out, a sea.

Mean while the tepid caves, and fens, and shores,

Their brood as numerous hatch, from the egg that soon

Bursting with kindly rupture forth disclosed

Their callow young; but feathered soon and fledge [420]

They summed their pens; and, soaring the air sublime,

With clang despised the ground, under a cloud

In prospect; there the eagle and the stork

On cliffs and cedar tops their eyries build:

Part loosely wing the region, part more wise [425]

In common, ranged in figure, wedge their way,

Intelligent of seasons, and set forth

Their aery caravan, high over seas

Flying, and over lands, with mutual wing

Easing their flight; so steers the prudent crane [430]

Her annual voyage, borne on winds; the air

Floats as they pass, fanned with unnumbered plumes:

From branch to branch the smaller birds with song

Solaced the woods, and spread their painted wings

Till even; nor then the solemn nightingale [435]

Ceased warbling, but all night tun'd her soft lays:

Others, on silver lakes and rivers, bathed

Their downy breast; the swan with arched neck,

Between her white wings mantling proudly, rows

Her state with oary feet; yet oft they quit [440]

The dank, and, rising on stiff pennons, tower

The mid aereal sky: Others on ground

Walked firm; the crested cock whose clarion sounds

The silent hours, and the other whose gay train

Adorns him, coloured with the florid hue [445]

Of rainbows and starry eyes. The waters thus

With fish replenished, and the air with fowl,

Evening and morn solemnized the fifth day.

The sixth, and of creation last, arose

With evening harps and matin; when God said, [450]

Let the Earth bring forth soul living in her kind,

Cattle, and creeping things, and beast of the Earth,

Each in their kind. The Earth obeyed, and straight

Opening her fertile womb teemed at a birth

Innumerous living creatures, perfect forms, [455]

Limbed and full grown: Out of the ground up rose,

As from his lair, the wild beast where he wons

In forest wild, in thicket, brake, or den;

Among the trees in pairs they rose, they walked:

The cattle in the fields and meadows green: [460]

Those rare and solitary, these in flocks

Pasturing at once, and in broad herds upsprung.

The grassy clods now calved; now half appeared

The tawny lion, pawing to get free

His hinder parts, then springs as broke from bonds, [465]

And rampant shakes his brinded mane; the ounce,

The libbard, and the tiger, as the mole

Rising, the crumbled earth above them threw

In hillocks: The swift stag from under ground

Bore up his branching head: Scarce from his mould [470]

Behemoth biggest born of earth upheaved

His vastness: Fleeced the flocks and bleating rose,

As plants: Ambiguous between sea and land

The river-horse, and scaly crocodile.

At once came forth whatever creeps the ground, [475]

Insect or worm: those waved their limber fans

For wings, and smallest lineaments exact

In all the liveries decked of summer's pride

With spots of gold and purple, azure and green:

These, as a line, their long dimension drew, [480]

Streaking the ground with sinuous trace; not all

Minims of nature; some of serpent-kind,

Wonderous in length and corpulence, involved

Their snaky folds, and added wings. First crept

The parsimonious emmet, provident [485]

Of future; in small room large heart enclosed;

Pattern of just equality perhaps

Hereafter, joined in her popular tribes

Of commonalty: Swarming next appeared

The female bee, that feeds her husband drone [490]

Deliciously, and builds her waxen cells

With honey stored: The rest are numberless,

And thou their natures knowest, and gavest them names,

Needless to thee repeated; nor unknown

The serpent, subtlest beast of all the field, [495]

Of huge extent sometimes, with brazen eyes

And hairy mane terrifick, though to thee

Not noxious, but obedient at thy call.

Now Heaven in all her glory shone, and rolled

Her motions, as the great first Mover's hand [500]

First wheeled their course: Earth in her rich attire

Consummate lovely smiled; air, water, earth,

By fowl, fish, beast, was flown, was swum, was walked,

Frequent; and of the sixth day yet remained:

There wanted yet the master-work, the end [505]

Of all yet done; a creature, who, not prone

And brute as other creatures, but endued

With sanctity of reason, might erect

His stature, and upright with front serene

Govern the rest, self-knowing; and from thence [510]

Magnanimous to correspond with Heaven,

But grateful to acknowledge whence his good

Descends, thither with heart, and voice, and eyes

Directed in devotion, to adore

And worship God Supreme, who made him chief [515]

Of all his works: therefore the Omnipotent

Eternal Father (for where is not he

Present?) thus to his Son audibly spake.

Let us make now Man in our image, Man

In our similitude, and let them rule [520]

Over the fish and fowl of sea and air,

Beast of the field, and over all the Earth,

And every creeping thing that creeps the ground.

This said, he formed thee, Adam, thee, O Man,

Dust of the ground, and in thy nostrils breathed [525]

The breath of life; in his own image he

Created thee, in the image of God

Express; and thou becamest a living soul.

Male he created thee; but thy consort

Female, for race; then blessed mankind, and said, [530]

Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the Earth;

Subdue it, and throughout dominion hold

Over fish of the sea, and fowl of the air,

And every living thing that moves on the Earth.

Wherever thus created, for no place [535]

Is yet distinct by name, thence, as thou knowest,

He brought thee into this delicious grove,

This garden, planted with the trees of God,

Delectable both to behold and taste;

And freely all their pleasant fruit for food [540]

Gave thee; all sorts are here that all the Earth yields,

Variety without end; but of the tree,

Which, tasted, works knowledge of good and evil,

Thou mayest not; in the day thou eatest, thou diest;

Death is the penalty imposed; beware, [545]

And govern well thy appetite; lest Sin

Surprise thee, and her black attendant Death.

Here finished he, and all that he had made

Viewed, and behold all was entirely good;

So even and morn accomplished the sixth day: [550]

Yet not till the Creator from his work

Desisting, though unwearied, up returned,

Up to the Heaven of Heavens, his high abode;

Thence to behold this new created world,

The addition of his empire, how it showed [555]

In prospect from his throne, how good, how fair,

Answering his great idea. Up he rode

Followed with acclamation, and the sound

Symphonious of ten thousand harps, that tuned

Angelick harmonies: The earth, the air [560]

Resounded, (thou rememberest, for thou heardst,)

The heavens and all the constellations rung,

The planets in their station listening stood,

While the bright pomp ascended jubilant.

Open, ye everlasting gates! they sung, [565]

Open, ye Heavens! your living doors; let in

The great Creator from his work returned

Magnificent, his six days work, a World;

Open, and henceforth oft; for God will deign

To visit oft the dwellings of just men, [570]

Delighted; and with frequent intercourse

Thither will send his winged messengers

On errands of supernal grace. So sung

The glorious train ascending: He through Heaven,

That opened wide her blazing portals, led [575]

To God's eternal house direct the way;

A broad and ample road, whose dust is gold

And pavement stars, as stars to thee appear,

Seen in the galaxy, that milky way,

Which nightly, as a circling zone, thou seest [580]

Powdered with stars. And now on Earth the seventh

Evening arose in Eden, for the sun

Was set, and twilight from the east came on,

Forerunning night; when at the holy mount

Of Heaven's high-seated top, the imperial throne [585]

Of Godhead, fixed for ever firm and sure,

The Filial Power arrived, and sat him down

With his great Father; for he also went

Invisible, yet staid, (such privilege

Hath Omnipresence) and the work ordained, [590]

Author and End of all things; and, from work

Now resting, blessed and hallowed the seventh day,

As resting on that day from all his work,

But not in silence holy kept: the harp

Had work and rested not; the solemn pipe, [595]

And dulcimer, all organs of sweet stop,

All sounds on fret by string or golden wire,

Tempered soft tunings, intermixed with voice

Choral or unison: of incense clouds,

Fuming from golden censers, hid the mount. [600]

Creation and the six days acts they sung:

Great are thy works, Jehovah! infinite

Thy power! what thought can measure thee, or tongue

Relate thee! Greater now in thy return

Than from the giant Angels: Thee that day [605]

Thy thunders magnified; but to create

Is greater than created to destroy.

Who can impair thee, Mighty King, or bound

Thy empire! Easily the proud attempt

Of Spirits apostate, and their counsels vain, [610]

Thou hast repelled; while impiously they thought

Thee to diminish, and from thee withdraw

The number of thy worshippers. Who seeks

To lessen thee, against his purpose serves

To manifest the more thy might: his evil [615]

Thou usest, and from thence createst more good.

Witness this new-made world, another Heaven

From Heaven-gate not far, founded in view

On the clear hyaline, the glassy sea;

Of amplitude almost immense, with stars [620]

Numerous, and every star perhaps a world

Of destined habitation; but thou knowest

Their seasons: among these the seat of Men,

Earth, with her nether ocean circumfused,

Their pleasant dwelling-place. Thrice happy Men, [625]

And sons of Men, whom God hath thus advanced!

Created in his image, there to dwell

And worship him; and in reward to rule

Over his works, on earth, in sea, or air,

And multiply a race of worshippers [630]

Holy and just: Thrice happy, if they know

Their happiness, and persevere upright!

So sung they, and the empyrean rung

With halleluiahs: Thus was sabbath kept.

And thy request think now fulfilled, that asked [635]

How first this world and face of things began,

And what before thy memory was done

From the beginning; that posterity,

Informed by thee, might know: If else thou seekest

Aught, not surpassing human measure, say. [640]


The Angel ended, and in Adam's ear

So charming left his voice, that he a while

Thought him still speaking, still stood fixed to hear;

Then, as new waked, thus gratefully replied.

What thanks sufficient, or what recompence [5]

Equal, have I to render thee, divine

Historian, who thus largely hast allayed

The thirst I had of knowledge, and vouchsafed

This friendly condescension to relate

Things, else by me unsearchable; now heard [10]

With wonder, but delight, and, as is due,

With glory attributed to the high

Creator! Something yet of doubt remains,

Which only thy solution can resolve.

When I behold this goodly frame, this world, [15]

Of Heaven and Earth consisting; and compute

Their magnitudes; this Earth, a spot, a grain,

An atom, with the firmament compared

And all her numbered stars, that seem to roll

Spaces incomprehensible, (for such [20]

Their distance argues, and their swift return

Diurnal,) merely to officiate light

Round this opacous Earth, this punctual spot,

One day and night; in all her vast survey

Useless besides; reasoning I oft admire, [25]

How Nature wise and frugal could commit

Such disproportions, with superfluous hand

So many nobler bodies to create,

Greater so manifold, to this one use,

For aught appears, and on their orbs impose [30]

Such restless revolution day by day

Repeated; while the sedentary Earth,

That better might with far less compass move,

Served by more noble than herself, attains

Her end without least motion, and receives, [35]

As tribute, such a sumless journey brought

Of incorporeal speed, her warmth and light;

Speed, to describe whose swiftness number fails.

So spake our sire, and by his countenance seemed

Entering on studious thoughts abstruse; which Eve [40]

Perceiving, where she sat retired in sight,

With lowliness majestick from her seat,

And grace that won who saw to wish her stay,

Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,

To visit how they prospered, bud and bloom, [45]

Her nursery; they at her coming sprung,

And, touched by her fair tendance, gladlier grew.

Yet went she not, as not with such discourse

Delighted, or not capable her ear

Of what was high: such pleasure she reserved, [50]

Adam relating, she sole auditress;

Her husband the relater she preferred

Before the Angel, and of him to ask

Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix

Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute [55]

With conjugal caresses: from his lip

Not words alone pleased her. O! when meet now

Such pairs, in love and mutual honour joined?

With Goddess-like demeanour forth she went,

Not unattended; for on her, as Queen, [60]

A pomp of winning Graces waited still,

And from about her shot darts of desire

Into all eyes, to wish her still in sight.

And Raphael now, to Adam's doubt proposed,

Benevolent and facile thus replied. [65]

To ask or search, I blame thee not; for Heaven

Is as the book of God before thee set,

Wherein to read his wonderous works, and learn

His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years:

This to attain, whether Heaven move or Earth, [70]

Imports not, if thou reckon right; the rest

From Man or Angel the great Architect

Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge

His secrets to be scanned by them who ought

Rather admire; or, if they list to try [75]

Conjecture, he his fabrick of the Heavens

Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move

His laughter at their quaint opinions wide

Hereafter; when they come to model Heaven

And calculate the stars, how they will wield [80]

The mighty frame; how build, unbuild, contrive

To save appearances; how gird the sphere

With centrick and eccentrick scribbled o'er,

Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb:

Already by thy reasoning this I guess, [85]

Who art to lead thy offspring, and supposest

That bodies bright and greater should not serve

The less not bright, nor Heaven such journeys run,

Earth sitting still, when she alone receives

The benefit: Consider first, that great [90]

Or bright infers not excellence: the Earth

Though, in comparison of Heaven, so small,

Nor glistering, may of solid good contain

More plenty than the sun that barren shines;

Whose virtue on itself works no effect, [95]

But in the fruitful Earth; there first received,

His beams, unactive else, their vigour find.

Yet not to Earth are those bright luminaries

Officious; but to thee, Earth's habitant.

And for the Heaven's wide circuit, let it speak [100]

The Maker's high magnificence, who built

So spacious, and his line stretched out so far;

That Man may know he dwells not in his own;

An edifice too large for him to fill,

Lodged in a small partition; and the rest [105]

Ordained for uses to his Lord best known.

The swiftness of those circles attribute,

Though numberless, to his Omnipotence,

That to corporeal substances could add

Speed almost spiritual: Me thou thinkest not slow, [110]

Who since the morning-hour set out from Heaven

Where God resides, and ere mid-day arrived

In Eden; distance inexpressible

By numbers that have name. But this I urge,

Admitting motion in the Heavens, to show [115]

Invalid that which thee to doubt it moved;

Not that I so affirm, though so it seem

To thee who hast thy dwelling here on Earth.

God, to remove his ways from human sense,

Placed Heaven from Earth so far, that earthly sight, [120]

If it presume, might err in things too high,

And no advantage gain. What if the sun

Be center to the world; and other stars,

By his attractive virtue and their own

Incited, dance about him various rounds? [125]

Their wandering course now high, now low, then hid,

Progressive, retrograde, or standing still,

In six thou seest; and what if seventh to these

The planet earth, so stedfast though she seem,

Insensibly three different motions move? [130]

Which else to several spheres thou must ascribe,

Moved contrary with thwart obliquities;

Or save the sun his labour, and that swift

Nocturnal and diurnal rhomb supposed,

Invisible else above all stars, the wheel [135]

Of day and night; which needs not thy belief,

If earth, industrious of herself, fetch day

Travelling east, and with her part averse

From the sun's beam meet night, her other part

Still luminous by his ray. What if that light, [140]

Sent from her through the wide transpicuous air,

To the terrestrial moon be as a star,

Enlightening her by day, as she by night

This earth? reciprocal, if land be there,

Fields and inhabitants: Her spots thou seest [145]

As clouds, and clouds may rain, and rain produce

Fruits in her softened soil for some to eat

Allotted there; and other suns perhaps,

With their attendant moons, thou wilt descry,

Communicating male and female light; [150]

Which two great sexes animate the world,

Stored in each orb perhaps with some that live.

For such vast room in Nature unpossessed

By living soul, desart and desolate,

Only to shine, yet scarce to contribute [155]

Each orb a glimpse of light, conveyed so far

Down to this habitable, which returns

Light back to them, is obvious to dispute.

But whether thus these things, or whether not;

But whether the sun, predominant in Heaven, [160]

Rise on the earth; or earth rise on the sun;

He from the east his flaming road begin;

Or she from west her silent course advance,

With inoffensive pace that spinning sleeps

On her soft axle, while she paces even, [165]

And bears thee soft with the smooth hair along;

Sollicit not thy thoughts with matters hid;

Leave them to God above; him serve, and fear!

Of other creatures, as him pleases best,

Wherever placed, let him dispose; joy thou [170]

In what he gives to thee, this Paradise

And thy fair Eve; Heaven is for thee too high

To know what passes there; be lowly wise:

Think only what concerns thee, and thy being;

Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there [175]

Live, in what state, condition, or degree;

Contented that thus far hath been revealed

Not of Earth only, but of highest Heaven.

To whom thus Adam, cleared of doubt, replied.

How fully hast thou satisfied me, pure [180]

Intelligence of Heaven, Angel serene!

And, freed from intricacies, taught to live

The easiest way; nor with perplexing thoughts

To interrupt the sweet of life, from which

God hath bid dwell far off all anxious cares, [185]

And not molest us; unless we ourselves

Seek them with wandering thoughts, and notions vain.

But apt the mind or fancy is to rove

Unchecked, and of her roving is no end;

Till warned, or by experience taught, she learn, [190]

That, not to know at large of things remote

From use, obscure and subtle; but, to know

That which before us lies in daily life,

Is the prime wisdom: What is more, is fume,

Or emptiness, or fond impertinence: [195]

And renders us, in things that most concern,

Unpractised, unprepared, and still to seek.

Therefore from this high pitch let us descend

A lower flight, and speak of things at hand

Useful; whence, haply, mention may arise [200]

Of something not unseasonable to ask,

By sufferance, and thy wonted favour, deigned.

Thee I have heard relating what was done

Ere my remembrance: now, hear me relate

My story, which perhaps thou hast not heard; [205]

And day is not yet spent; till then thou seest

How subtly to detain thee I devise;

Inviting thee to hear while I relate;

Fond! were it not in hope of thy reply:

For, while I sit with thee, I seem in Heaven; [210]

And sweeter thy discourse is to my ear

Than fruits of palm-tree pleasantest to thirst

And hunger both, from labour, at the hour

Of sweet repast; they satiate, and soon fill,

Though pleasant; but thy words, with grace divine [215]

Imbued, bring to their sweetness no satiety.

To whom thus Raphael answered heavenly meek.

Nor are thy lips ungraceful, Sire of men,

Nor tongue ineloquent; for God on thee

Abundantly his gifts hath also poured [220]

Inward and outward both, his image fair:

Speaking, or mute, all comeliness and grace

Attends thee; and each word, each motion, forms;

Nor less think we in Heaven of thee on Earth

Than of our fellow-servant, and inquire [225]

Gladly into the ways of God with Man:

For God, we see, hath honoured thee, and set

On Man his equal love: Say therefore on;

For I that day was absent, as befel,

Bound on a voyage uncouth and obscure, [230]

Far on excursion toward the gates of Hell;

Squared in full legion (such command we had)

To see that none thence issued forth a spy,

Or enemy, while God was in his work;

Lest he, incensed at such eruption bold, [235]

Destruction with creation might have mixed.

Not that they durst without his leave attempt;

But us he sends upon his high behests

For state, as Sovran King; and to inure

Our prompt obedience. Fast we found, fast shut, [240]

The dismal gates, and barricadoed strong;

But long ere our approaching heard within

Noise, other than the sound of dance or song,

Torment, and loud lament, and furious rage.

Glad we returned up to the coasts of light [245]

Ere sabbath-evening: so we had in charge.

But thy relation now; for I attend,

Pleased with thy words no less than thou with mine.

So spake the Godlike Power, and thus our Sire.

For Man to tell how human life began [250]

Is hard; for who himself beginning knew

Desire with thee still longer to converse

Induced me. As new waked from soundest sleep,

Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid,

In balmy sweat; which with his beams the sun [255]

Soon dried, and on the reeking moisture fed.

Straight toward Heaven my wondering eyes I turned,

And gazed a while the ample sky; till, raised

By quick instinctive motion, up I sprung,

As thitherward endeavouring, and upright [260]

Stood on my feet: about me round I saw

Hill, dale, and shady woods, and sunny plains,

And liquid lapse of murmuring streams; by these,

Creatures that lived and moved, and walked, or flew;

Birds on the branches warbling; all things smiled; [265]

With fragrance and with joy my heart o'erflowed.

Myself I then perused, and limb by limb

Surveyed, and sometimes went, and sometimes ran

With supple joints, as lively vigour led:

But who I was, or where, or from what cause, [270]

Knew not; to speak I tried, and forthwith spake;

My tongue obeyed, and readily could name

Whate'er I saw. Thou Sun, said I, fair light,

And thou enlightened Earth, so fresh and gay,

Ye Hills, and Dales, ye Rivers, Woods, and Plains, [275]

And ye that live and move, fair Creatures, tell,

Tell, if ye saw, how I came thus, how here?--

Not of myself;--by some great Maker then,

In goodness and in power pre-eminent:

Tell me, how may I know him, how adore, [280]

From whom I have that thus I move and live,

And feel that I am happier than I know.--

While thus I called, and strayed I knew not whither,

From where I first drew air, and first beheld

This happy light; when, answer none returned, [285]

On a green shady bank, profuse of flowers,

Pensive I sat me down: There gentle sleep

First found me, and with soft oppression seised

My droused sense, untroubled, though I thought

I then was passing to my former state [290]

Insensible, and forthwith to dissolve:

When suddenly stood at my head a dream,

Whose inward apparition gently moved

My fancy to believe I yet had being,

And lived: One came, methought, of shape divine, [295]

And said, "Thy mansion wants thee, Adam; rise,

First Man, of men innumerable ordained

First Father! called by thee, I come thy guide

To the garden of bliss, thy seat prepared."

So saying, by the hand he took me raised, [300]

And over fields and waters, as in air

Smooth-sliding without step, last led me up

A woody mountain; whose high top was plain,

A circuit wide, enclosed, with goodliest trees

Planted, with walks, and bowers; that what I saw [305]

Of Earth before scarce pleasant seemed. Each tree,

Loaden with fairest fruit that hung to the eye

Tempting, stirred in me sudden appetite

To pluck and eat; whereat I waked, and found

Before mine eyes all real, as the dream [310]

Had lively shadowed: Here had new begun

My wandering, had not he, who was my guide

Up hither, from among the trees appeared,

Presence Divine. Rejoicing, but with awe,

In adoration at his feet I fell [315]

Submiss: He reared me, and "Whom thou soughtest I am,"

Said mildly, "Author of all this thou seest

Above, or round about thee, or beneath.

This Paradise I give thee, count it thine

To till and keep, and of the fruit to eat: [320]

Of every tree that in the garden grows

Eat freely with glad heart; fear here no dearth:

But of the tree whose operation brings

Knowledge of good and ill, which I have set

The pledge of thy obedience and thy faith, [325]

Amid the garden by the tree of life,

Remember what I warn thee, shun to taste,

And shun the bitter consequence: for know,

The day thou eatest thereof, my sole command

Transgressed, inevitably thou shalt die, [330]

From that day mortal; and this happy state

Shalt lose, expelled from hence into a world

Of woe and sorrow." Sternly he pronounced

The rigid interdiction, which resounds

Yet dreadful in mine ear, though in my choice [335]

Not to incur; but soon his clear aspect

Returned, and gracious purpose thus renewed.

"Not only these fair bounds, but all the Earth

To thee and to thy race I give; as lords

Possess it, and all things that therein live, [340]

Or live in sea, or air; beast, fish, and fowl.

In sign whereof, each bird and beast behold

After their kinds; I bring them to receive

From thee their names, and pay thee fealty

With low subjection; understand the same [345]

Of fish within their watery residence,

Not hither summoned, since they cannot change

Their element, to draw the thinner air."

As thus he spake, each bird and beast behold

Approaching two and two; these cowering low [350]

With blandishment; each bird stooped on his wing.

I named them, as they passed, and understood

Their nature, with such knowledge God endued

My sudden apprehension: But in these

I found not what methought I wanted still; [355]

And to the heavenly Vision thus presumed.

O, by what name, for thou above all these,

Above mankind, or aught than mankind higher,

Surpassest far my naming; how may I

Adore thee, Author of this universe, [360]

And all this good to man? for whose well being

So amply, and with hands so liberal,

Thou hast provided all things: But with me

I see not who partakes. In solitude

What happiness, who can enjoy alone, [365]

Or, all enjoying, what contentment find?

Thus I presumptuous; and the Vision bright,

As with a smile more brightened, thus replied.

What callest thou solitude? Is not the Earth

With various living creatures, and the air [370]

Replenished, and all these at thy command

To come and play before thee? Knowest thou not

Their language and their ways? They also know,

And reason not contemptibly: With these

Find pastime, and bear rule; thy realm is large. [375]

So spake the Universal Lord, and seemed

So ordering: I, with leave of speech implored,

And humble deprecation, thus replied.

Let not my words offend thee, Heavenly Power;

My Maker, be propitious while I speak. [380]

Hast thou not made me here thy substitute,

And these inferiour far beneath me set?

Among unequals what society

Can sort, what harmony, or true delight?

Which must be mutual, in proportion due [385]

Given and received; but, in disparity

The one intense, the other still remiss,

Cannot well suit with either, but soon prove

Tedious alike: Of fellowship I speak

Such as I seek, fit to participate [390]

All rational delight: wherein the brute

Cannot be human consort: They rejoice

Each with their kind, lion with lioness;

So fitly them in pairs thou hast combined:

Much less can bird with beast, or fish with fowl [395]

So well converse, nor with the ox the ape;

Worse then can man with beast, and least of all.

Whereto the Almighty answered, not displeased.

A nice and subtle happiness, I see,

Thou to thyself proposest, in the choice [400]

Of thy associates, Adam! and wilt taste

No pleasure, though in pleasure, solitary.

What thinkest thou then of me, and this my state?

Seem I to thee sufficiently possessed

Of happiness, or not? who am alone [405]

From all eternity; for none I know

Second to me or like, equal much less.

How have I then with whom to hold converse,

Save with the creatures which I made, and those

To me inferiour, infinite descents [410]

Beneath what other creatures are to thee?

He ceased; I lowly answered. To attain

The highth and depth of thy eternal ways

All human thoughts come short, Supreme of things!

Thou in thyself art perfect, and in thee [415]

Is no deficience found: Not so is Man,

But in degree; the cause of his desire

By conversation with his like to help

Or solace his defects. No need that thou

Shouldst propagate, already Infinite; [420]

And through all numbers absolute, though One:

But Man by number is to manifest

His single imperfection, and beget

Like of his like, his image multiplied,

In unity defective; which requires [425]

Collateral love, and dearest amity.

Thou in thy secresy although alone,

Best with thyself accompanied, seekest not

Social communication; yet, so pleased,

Canst raise thy creature to what highth thou wilt [430]

Of union or communion, deified:

I, by conversing, cannot these erect

From prone; nor in their ways complacence find.

Thus I emboldened spake, and freedom used

Permissive, and acceptance found; which gained [435]

This answer from the gracious Voice Divine.

Thus far to try thee, Adam, I was pleased;

And find thee knowing, not of beasts alone,

Which thou hast rightly named, but of thyself;

Expressing well the spirit within thee free, [440]

My image, not imparted to the brute;

Whose fellowship therefore unmeet for thee

Good reason was thou freely shouldst dislike;

And be so minded still: I, ere thou spakest,

Knew it not good for Man to be alone; [445]

And no such company as then thou sawest

Intended thee; for trial only brought,

To see how thou couldest judge of fit and meet:

What next I bring shall please thee, be assured,

Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self, [450]

Thy wish exactly to thy heart's desire.

He ended, or I heard no more; for now

My earthly by his heavenly overpowered,

Which it had long stood under, strained to the highth

In that celestial colloquy sublime, [455]

As with an object that excels the sense

Dazzled and spent, sunk down; and sought repair

Of sleep, which instantly fell on me, called

By Nature as in aid, and closed mine eyes.

Mine eyes he closed, but open left the cell [460]

Of fancy, my internal sight; by which,

Abstract as in a trance, methought I saw,

Though sleeping, where I lay, and saw the shape

Still glorious before whom awake I stood:

Who stooping opened my left side, and took [465]

From thence a rib, with cordial spirits warm,

And life-blood streaming fresh; wide was the wound,

But suddenly with flesh filled up and healed:

The rib he formed and fashioned with his hands;

Under his forming hands a creature grew, [470]

Man-like, but different sex; so lovely fair,

That what seemed fair in all the world, seemed now

Mean, or in her summed up, in her contained

And in her looks; which from that time infused

Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before, [475]

And into all things from her air inspired

The spirit of love and amorous delight.

She disappeared, and left me dark; I waked

To find her, or for ever to deplore

Her loss, and other pleasures all abjure: [480]

When out of hope, behold her, not far off,

Such as I saw her in my dream, adorned

With what all Earth or Heaven could bestow

To make her amiable: On she came,

Led by her heavenly Maker, though unseen, [485]

And guided by his voice; nor uninformed

Of nuptial sanctity, and marriage rites:

Grace was in all her steps, Heaven in her eye,

In every gesture dignity and love.

I, overjoyed, could not forbear aloud. [490]

This turn hath made amends; thou hast fulfilled

Thy words, Creator bounteous and benign,

Giver of all things fair! but fairest this

Of all thy gifts! nor enviest. I now see

Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, myself [495]

Before me: Woman is her name; of Man

Extracted: for this cause he shall forego

Father and mother, and to his wife adhere;

And they shall be one flesh, one heart, one soul.

She heard me thus; and though divinely brought, [500]

Yet innocence, and virgin modesty,

Her virtue, and the conscience of her worth,

That would be wooed, and not unsought be won,

Not obvious, not obtrusive, but, retired,

The more desirable; or, to say all, [505]

Nature herself, though pure of sinful thought,

Wrought in her so, that, seeing me, she turned:

I followed her; she what was honour knew,

And with obsequious majesty approved

My pleaded reason. To the nuptial bower [510]

I led her blushing like the morn: All Heaven,

And happy constellations, on that hour

Shed their selectest influence; the Earth

Gave sign of gratulation, and each hill;

Joyous the birds; fresh gales and gentle airs [515]

Whispered it to the woods, and from their wings

Flung rose, flung odours from the spicy shrub,

Disporting, till the amorous bird of night

Sung spousal, and bid haste the evening-star

On his hill top, to light the bridal lamp. [520]

Thus have I told thee all my state, and brought

My story to the sum of earthly bliss,

Which I enjoy; and must confess to find

In all things else delight indeed, but such

As, used or not, works in the mind no change, [525]

Nor vehement desire; these delicacies

I mean of taste, sight, smell, herbs, fruits, and flowers,

Walks, and the melody of birds: but here

Far otherwise, transported I behold,

Transported touch; here passion first I felt, [530]

Commotion strange! in all enjoyments else

Superiour and unmoved; here only weak

Against the charm of Beauty's powerful glance.

Or Nature failed in me, and left some part

Not proof enough such object to sustain; [535]

Or, from my side subducting, took perhaps

More than enough; at least on her bestowed

Too much of ornament, in outward show

Elaborate, of inward less exact.

For well I understand in the prime end [540]

Of Nature her the inferiour, in the mind

And inward faculties, which most excel;

In outward also her resembling less

His image who made both, and less expressing

The character of that dominion given [545]

O'er other creatures: Yet when I approach

Her loveliness, so absolute she seems

And in herself complete, so well to know

Her own, that what she wills to do or say,

Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best: [550]

All higher knowledge in her presence falls

Degraded; Wisdom in discourse with her

Loses discountenanced, and like Folly shows;

Authority and Reason on her wait,

As one intended first, not after made [555]

Occasionally; and, to consummate all,

Greatness of mind and Nobleness their seat

Build in her loveliest, and create an awe

About her, as a guard angelick placed.

To whom the Angel with contracted brow. [560]

Accuse not Nature, she hath done her part;

Do thou but thine; and be not diffident

Of Wisdom; she deserts thee not, if thou

Dismiss not her, when most thou needest her nigh,

By attributing overmuch to things [565]

Less excellent, as thou thyself perceivest.

For, what admirest thou, what transports thee so,

An outside? fair, no doubt, and worthy well

Thy cherishing, thy honouring, and thy love;

Not thy subjection: Weigh with her thyself; [570]

Then value: Oft-times nothing profits more

Than self-esteem, grounded on just and right

Well managed; of that skill the more thou knowest,

The more she will acknowledge thee her head,

And to realities yield all her shows: [575]

Made so adorn for thy delight the more,

So awful, that with honour thou mayest love

Thy mate, who sees when thou art seen least wise.

But if the sense of touch, whereby mankind

Is propagated, seem such dear delight [580]

Beyond all other; think the same vouchsafed

To cattle and each beast; which would not be

To them made common and divulged, if aught

Therein enjoyed were worthy to subdue

The soul of man, or passion in him move. [585]

What higher in her society thou findest

Attractive, human, rational, love still;

In loving thou dost well, in passion not,

Wherein true love consists not: Love refines

The thoughts, and heart enlarges; hath his seat [590]

In reason, and is judicious; is the scale

By which to heavenly love thou mayest ascend,

Not sunk in carnal pleasure; for which cause,

Among the beasts no mate for thee was found.

To whom thus, half abashed, Adam replied. [595]

Neither her outside formed so fair, nor aught

In procreation common to all kinds,

(Though higher of the genial bed by far,

And with mysterious reverence I deem,)

So much delights me, as those graceful acts, [600]

Those thousand decencies, that daily flow

From all her words and actions mixed with love

And sweet compliance, which declare unfeigned

Union of mind, or in us both one soul;

Harmony to behold in wedded pair [605]

More grateful than harmonious sound to the ear.

Yet these subject not; I to thee disclose

What inward thence I feel, not therefore foiled,

Who meet with various objects, from the sense

Variously representing; yet, still free, [610]

Approve the best, and follow what I approve.

To love, thou blamest me not; for Love, thou sayest,

Leads up to Heaven, is both the way and guide;

Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask:

Love not the heavenly Spirits, and how their love [615]

Express they? by looks only? or do they mix

Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch?

To whom the Angel, with a smile that glowed

Celestial rosy red, Love's proper hue,

Answered. Let it suffice thee that thou knowest [620]

Us happy, and without love no happiness.

Whatever pure thou in the body enjoyest,

(And pure thou wert created) we enjoy

In eminence; and obstacle find none

Of membrane, joint, or limb, exclusive bars; [625]

Easier than air with air, if Spirits embrace,

Total they mix, union of pure with pure

Desiring, nor restrained conveyance need,

As flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul.

But I can now no more; the parting sun [630]

Beyond the Earth's green Cape and verdant Isles

Hesperian sets, my signal to depart.

Be strong, live happy, and love! But, first of all,

Him, whom to love is to obey, and keep

His great command; take heed lest passion sway [635]

Thy judgement to do aught, which else free will

Would not admit: thine, and of all thy sons,

The weal or woe in thee is placed; beware!

I in thy persevering shall rejoice,

And all the Blest: Stand fast; to stand or fall [640]

Free in thine own arbitrement it lies.

Perfect within, no outward aid require;

And all temptation to transgress repel.

So saying, he arose; whom Adam thus

Followed with benediction. Since to part, [645]

Go, heavenly guest, ethereal Messenger,

Sent from whose sovran goodness I adore!

Gentle to me and affable hath been

Thy condescension, and shall be honoured ever

With grateful memory: Thou to mankind [650]

Be good and friendly still, and oft return!

So parted they; the Angel up to Heaven

From the thick shade, and Adam to his bower.

Book IX

No more of talk where God or Angel guest

With Man, as with his friend, familiar us'd,

To sit indulgent, and with him partake

Rural repast; permitting him the while

Venial discourse unblam'd. I now must change [5]

Those notes to tragick; foul distrust, and breach

Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt,

And disobedience: on the part of Heaven

Now alienated, distance and distaste,

Anger and just rebuke, and judgement given, [10]

That brought into this world a world of woe,

Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery

Death's harbinger: Sad task! yet argument

Not less but more heroick than the wrath

Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued [15]

Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage

Of Turnus for Lavinia disespous'd;

Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long

Perplexed the Greek, and Cytherea's son:

If answerable style I can obtain [20]

Of my celestial patroness, who deigns

Her nightly visitation unimplor'd,

And dictates to me slumbering; or inspires

Easy my unpremeditated verse:

Since first this subject for heroick song [25]

Pleas'd me long choosing, and beginning late;

Not sedulous by nature to indite

Wars, hitherto the only argument

Heroick deem'd chief mastery to dissect

With long and tedious havock fabled knights [30]

In battles feign'd; the better fortitude

Of patience and heroick martyrdom

Unsung; or to describe races and games,

Or tilting furniture, imblazon'd shields,

Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds, [35]

Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights

At joust and tournament; then marshall'd feast

Serv'd up in hall with sewers and seneshals;

The skill of artifice or office mean,

Not that which justly gives heroick name [40]

To person, or to poem. Me, of these

Nor skill'd nor studious, higher argument

Remains; sufficient of itself to raise

That name, unless an age too late, or cold

Climate, or years, damp my intended wing [45]

Depress'd; and much they may, if all be mine,

Not hers, who brings it nightly to my ear.

The sun was sunk, and after him the star

Of Hesperus, whose office is to bring

Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter [50]

'Twixt day and night, and now from end to end

Night's hemisphere had veil'd the horizon round:

When satan, who late fled before the threats

Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd

In meditated fraud and malice, bent [55]

On Man's destruction, maugre what might hap

Of heavier on himself, fearless returned

By night he fled, and at midnight returned

From compassing the earth; cautious of day,

Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descried [60]

His entrance, and foreworned the Cherubim

That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven,

The space of seven continued nights he rode

With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line

He circled; four times crossed the car of night [65]

From pole to pole, traversing each colure;

On the eighth returned; and, on the coast averse

From entrance or Cherubick watch, by stealth

Found unsuspected way. There was a place,

Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the change, [70]

Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise,

Into a gulf shot under ground, till part

Rose up a fountain by the tree of life:

In with the river sunk, and with it rose

Satan, involved in rising mist; then sought [75]

Where to lie hid; sea he had searched, and land,

From Eden over Pontus and the pool

Maeotis, up beyond the river Ob;

Downward as far antarctick; and in length,

West from Orontes to the ocean barred [80]

At Darien; thence to the land where flows

Ganges and Indus: Thus the orb he roamed

With narrow search; and with inspection deep

Considered every creature, which of all

Most opportune might serve his wiles; and found [85]

The Serpent subtlest beast of all the field.

Him after long debate, irresolute

Of thoughts revolved, his final sentence chose

Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom

To enter, and his dark suggestions hide [90]

From sharpest sight: for, in the wily snake

Whatever sleights, none would suspicious mark,

As from his wit and native subtlety

Proceeding; which, in other beasts observed,

Doubt might beget of diabolick power [95]

Active within, beyond the sense of brute.

Thus he resolved, but first from inward grief

His bursting passion into plaints thus poured.

More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as built

With second thoughts, reforming what was old! [100]

O Earth, how like to Heaven, if not preferred

For what God, after better, worse would build?

Terrestrial Heaven, danced round by other Heavens

That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,

Light above light, for thee alone, as seems, [105]

In thee concentring all their precious beams

Of sacred influence! As God in Heaven

Is center, yet extends to all; so thou,

Centring, receivest from all those orbs: in thee,

Not in themselves, all their known virtue appears [110]

Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth

Of creatures animate with gradual life

Of growth, sense, reason, all summed up in Man.

With what delight could I have walked thee round,

If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange [115]

Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,

Now land, now sea and shores with forest crowned,

Rocks, dens, and caves! But I in none of these

Find place or refuge; and the more I see

Pleasures about me, so much more I feel [120]

Torment within me, as from the hateful siege

Of contraries: all good to me becomes

Bane, and in Heaven much worse would be my state.

But neither here seek I, no nor in Heaven

To dwell, unless by mastering Heaven's Supreme; [125]

Nor hope to be myself less miserable

By what I seek, but others to make such

As I, though thereby worse to me redound:

For only in destroying I find ease

To my relentless thoughts; and, him destroyed, [130]

Or won to what may work his utter loss,

For whom all this was made, all this will soon

Follow, as to him linked in weal or woe;

In woe then; that destruction wide may range:

To me shall be the glory sole among [135]

The infernal Powers, in one day to have marred

What he, Almighty styled, six nights and days

Continued making; and who knows how long

Before had been contriving? though perhaps

Not longer than since I, in one night, freed [140]

From servitude inglorious well nigh half

The angelick name, and thinner left the throng

Of his adorers: He, to be avenged,

And to repair his numbers thus impaired,

Whether such virtue spent of old now failed [145]

More Angels to create, if they at least

Are his created, or, to spite us more,

Determined to advance into our room

A creature formed of earth, and him endow,

Exalted from so base original, [150]

With heavenly spoils, our spoils: What he decreed,

He effected; Man he made, and for him built

Magnificent this world, and earth his seat,

Him lord pronounced; and, O indignity!

Subjected to his service angel-wings, [155]

And flaming ministers to watch and tend

Their earthly charge: Of these the vigilance

I dread; and, to elude, thus wrapt in mist

Of midnight vapour glide obscure, and pry

In every bush and brake, where hap may find [160]

The serpent sleeping; in whose mazy folds

To hide me, and the dark intent I bring.

O foul descent! that I, who erst contended

With Gods to sit the highest, am now constrained

Into a beast; and, mixed with bestial slime, [165]

This essence to incarnate and imbrute,

That to the highth of Deity aspired!

But what will not ambition and revenge

Descend to? Who aspires, must down as low

As high he soared; obnoxious, first or last, [170]

To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,

Bitter ere long, back on itself recoils:

Let it; I reck not, so it light well aimed,

Since higher I fall short, on him who next

Provokes my envy, this new favourite [175]

Of Heaven, this man of clay, son of despite,

Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raised

From dust: Spite then with spite is best repaid.

So saying, through each thicket dank or dry,

Like a black mist low-creeping, he held on [180]

His midnight-search, where soonest he might find

The serpent; him fast-sleeping soon he found

In labyrinth of many a round self-rolled,

His head the midst, well stored with subtile wiles:

Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den, [185]

Nor nocent yet; but, on the grassy herb,

Fearless unfeared he slept: in at his mouth

The Devil entered; and his brutal sense,

In heart or head, possessing, soon inspired

With act intelligential; but his sleep [190]

Disturbed not, waiting close the approach of morn.

Now, when as sacred light began to dawn

In Eden on the humid flowers, that breathed

Their morning incense, when all things, that breathe,

From the Earth's great altar send up silent praise [195]

To the Creator, and his nostrils fill

With grateful smell, forth came the human pair,

And joined their vocal worship to the quire

Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake

The season prime for sweetest scents and airs: [200]

Then commune, how that day they best may ply

Their growing work: for much their work out-grew

The hands' dispatch of two gardening so wide,

And Eve first to her husband thus began.

Adam, well may we labour still to dress [205]

This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower,

Our pleasant task enjoined; but, till more hands

Aid us, the work under our labour grows,

Luxurious by restraint; what we by day

Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind, [210]

One night or two with wanton growth derides

Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise,

Or bear what to my mind first thoughts present:

Let us divide our labours; thou, where choice

Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind [215]

The woodbine round this arbour, or direct

The clasping ivy where to climb; while I,

In yonder spring of roses intermixed

With myrtle, find what to redress till noon:

For, while so near each other thus all day [220]

Our task we choose, what wonder if so near

Looks intervene and smiles, or object new

Casual discourse draw on; which intermits

Our day's work, brought to little, though begun

Early, and the hour of supper comes unearned? [225]

To whom mild answer Adam thus returned.

Sole Eve, associate sole, to me beyond

Compare above all living creatures dear!

Well hast thou motioned, well thy thoughts employed,

How we might best fulfil the work which here [230]

God hath assigned us; nor of me shalt pass

Unpraised: for nothing lovelier can be found

In woman, than to study houshold good,

And good works in her husband to promote.

Yet not so strictly hath our Lord imposed [235]

Labour, as to debar us when we need

Refreshment, whether food, or talk between,

Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourse

Of looks and smiles; for smiles from reason flow,

To brute denied, and are of love the food; [240]

Love, not the lowest end of human life.

For not to irksome toil, but to delight,

He made us, and delight to reason joined.

These paths and bowers doubt not but our joint hands

Will keep from wilderness with ease, as wide [245]

As we need walk, till younger hands ere long

Assist us; But, if much converse perhaps

Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield:

For solitude sometimes is best society,

And short retirement urges sweet return. [250]

But other doubt possesses me, lest harm

Befall thee severed from me; for thou knowest

What hath been warned us, what malicious foe

Envying our happiness, and of his own

Despairing, seeks to work us woe and shame [255]

By sly assault; and somewhere nigh at hand

Watches, no doubt, with greedy hope to find

His wish and best advantage, us asunder;

Hopeless to circumvent us joined, where each

To other speedy aid might lend at need: [260]

Whether his first design be to withdraw

Our fealty from God, or to disturb

Conjugal love, than which perhaps no bliss

Enjoyed by us excites his envy more;

Or this, or worse, leave not the faithful side [265]

That gave thee being, still shades thee, and protects.

The wife, where danger or dishonour lurks,

Safest and seemliest by her husband stays,

Who guards her, or with her the worst endures.

To whom the virgin majesty of Eve, [270]

As one who loves, and some unkindness meets,

With sweet austere composure thus replied.

Offspring of Heaven and Earth, and all Earth's Lord!

That such an enemy we have, who seeks

Our ruin, both by thee informed I learn, [275]

And from the parting Angel over-heard,

As in a shady nook I stood behind,

Just then returned at shut of evening flowers.

But, that thou shouldst my firmness therefore doubt

To God or thee, because we have a foe [280]

May tempt it, I expected not to hear.

His violence thou fearest not, being such

As we, not capable of death or pain,

Can either not receive, or can repel.

His fraud is then thy fear; which plain infers [285]

Thy equal fear, that my firm faith and love

Can by his fraud be shaken or seduced;

Thoughts, which how found they harbour in thy breast,

Adam, mis-thought of her to thee so dear?

To whom with healing words Adam replied. [290]

Daughter of God and Man, immortal Eve!

For such thou art; from sin and blame entire:

Not diffident of thee do I dissuade

Thy absence from my sight, but to avoid

The attempt itself, intended by our foe. [295]

For he who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses

The tempted with dishonour foul; supposed

Not incorruptible of faith, not proof

Against temptation: Thou thyself with scorn

And anger wouldst resent the offered wrong, [300]

Though ineffectual found: misdeem not then,

If such affront I labour to avert

From thee alone, which on us both at once

The enemy, though bold, will hardly dare;

Or daring, first on me the assault shall light. [305]

Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn;

Subtle he needs must be, who could seduce

Angels; nor think superfluous other's aid.

I, from the influence of thy looks, receive

Access in every virtue; in thy sight [310]

More wise, more watchful, stronger, if need were

Of outward strength; while shame, thou looking on,

Shame to be overcome or over-reached,

Would utmost vigour raise, and raised unite.

Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee feel [315]

When I am present, and thy trial choose

With me, best witness of thy virtue tried?

So spake domestick Adam in his care

And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought

Less attributed to her faith sincere, [320]

Thus her reply with accent sweet renewed.

If this be our condition, thus to dwell

In narrow circuit straitened by a foe,

Subtle or violent, we not endued

Single with like defence, wherever met; [325]

How are we happy, still in fear of harm?

But harm precedes not sin: only our foe,

Tempting, affronts us with his foul esteem

Of our integrity: his foul esteem

Sticks no dishonour on our front, but turns [330]

Foul on himself; then wherefore shunned or feared

By us? who rather double honour gain

From his surmise proved false; find peace within,

Favour from Heaven, our witness, from the event.

And what is faith, love, virtue, unassayed [335]

Alone, without exteriour help sustained?

Let us not then suspect our happy state

Left so imperfect by the Maker wise,

As not secure to single or combined.

Frail is our happiness, if this be so, [340]

And Eden were no Eden, thus exposed.

To whom thus Adam fervently replied.

O Woman, best are all things as the will

Of God ordained them: His creating hand

Nothing imperfect or deficient left [345]

Of all that he created, much less Man,

Or aught that might his happy state secure,

Secure from outward force; within himself

The danger lies, yet lies within his power:

Against his will he can receive no harm. [350]

But God left free the will; for what obeys

Reason, is free; and Reason he made right,

But bid her well be ware, and still erect;

Lest, by some fair-appearing good surprised,

She dictate false; and mis-inform the will [355]

To do what God expressly hath forbid.

Not then mistrust, but tender love, enjoins,

That I should mind thee oft; and mind thou me.

Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve;

Since Reason not impossibly may meet [360]

Some specious object by the foe suborned,

And fall into deception unaware,

Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warned.

Seek not temptation then, which to avoid

Were better, and most likely if from me [365]

Thou sever not: Trial will come unsought.

Wouldst thou approve thy constancy, approve

First thy obedience; the other who can know,

Not seeing thee attempted, who attest?

But, if thou think, trial unsought may find [370]

Us both securer than thus warned thou seemest,

Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more;

Go in thy native innocence, rely

On what thou hast of virtue; summon all!

For God towards thee hath done his part, do thine. [375]

So spake the patriarch of mankind; but Eve

Persisted; yet submiss, though last, replied.

With thy permission then, and thus forewarned

Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words

Touched only; that our trial, when least sought, [380]

May find us both perhaps far less prepared,

The willinger I go, nor much expect

A foe so proud will first the weaker seek;

So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse.

Thus saying, from her husband's hand her hand [385]

Soft she withdrew; and, like a Wood-Nymph light,

Oread or Dryad, or of Delia's train,

Betook her to the groves; but Delia's self

In gait surpassed, and Goddess-like deport,

Though not as she with bow and quiver armed, [390]

But with such gardening tools as Art yet rude,

Guiltless of fire, had formed, or Angels brought.

To Pales, or Pomona, thus adorned,

Likest she seemed, Pomona when she fled

Vertumnus, or to Ceres in her prime, [395]

Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.

Her long with ardent look his eye pursued

Delighted, but desiring more her stay.

Oft he to her his charge of quick return

Repeated; she to him as oft engaged [400]

To be returned by noon amid the bower,

And all things in best order to invite

Noontide repast, or afternoon's repose.

O much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve,

Of thy presumed return! event perverse! [405]

Thou never from that hour in Paradise

Foundst either sweet repast, or sound repose;

Such ambush, hid among sweet flowers and shades,

Waited with hellish rancour imminent

To intercept thy way, or send thee back [410]

Despoiled of innocence, of faith, of bliss!

For now, and since first break of dawn, the Fiend,

Mere serpent in appearance, forth was come;

And on his quest, where likeliest he might find

The only two of mankind, but in them [415]

The whole included race, his purposed prey.

In bower and field he sought, where any tuft

Of grove or garden-plot more pleasant lay,

Their tendance, or plantation for delight;

By fountain or by shady rivulet [420]

He sought them both, but wished his hap might find

Eve separate; he wished, but not with hope

Of what so seldom chanced; when to his wish,

Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies,

Veiled in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood, [425]

Half spied, so thick the roses blushing round

About her glowed, oft stooping to support

Each flower of slender stalk, whose head, though gay

Carnation, purple, azure, or specked with gold,

Hung drooping unsustained; them she upstays [430]

Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while

Herself, though fairest unsupported flower,

From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh.

Nearer he drew, and many a walk traversed

Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm; [435]

Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen,

Among thick-woven arborets, and flowers

Imbordered on each bank, the hand of Eve:

Spot more delicious than those gardens feigned

Or of revived Adonis, or renowned [440]

Alcinous, host of old Laertes' son;

Or that, not mystick, where the sapient king

Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.

Much he the place admired, the person more.

As one who long in populous city pent, [445]

Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air,

Forth issuing on a summer's morn, to breathe

Among the pleasant villages and farms

Adjoined, from each thing met conceives delight;

The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine, [450]

Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound;

If chance, with nymph-like step, fair virgin pass,

What pleasing seemed, for her now pleases more;

She most, and in her look sums all delight:

Such pleasure took the Serpent to behold [455]

This flowery plat, the sweet recess of Eve

Thus early, thus alone: Her heavenly form

Angelick, but more soft, and feminine,

Her graceful innocence, her every air

Of gesture, or least action, overawed [460]

His malice, and with rapine sweet bereaved

His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought:

That space the Evil-one abstracted stood

From his own evil, and for the time remained

Stupidly good; of enmity disarmed, [465]

Of guile, of hate, of envy, of revenge:

But the hot Hell that always in him burns,

Though in mid Heaven, soon ended his delight,

And tortures him now more, the more he sees

Of pleasure, not for him ordained: then soon [470]

Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts

Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites.

Thoughts, whither have ye led me! with what sweet

Compulsion thus transported, to forget

What hither brought us! hate, not love; nor hope [475]

Of Paradise for Hell, hope here to taste

Of pleasure; but all pleasure to destroy,

Save what is in destroying; other joy

To me is lost. Then, let me not let pass

Occasion which now smiles; behold alone [480]

The woman, opportune to all attempts,

Her husband, for I view far round, not nigh,

Whose higher intellectual more I shun,

And strength, of courage haughty, and of limb

Heroick built, though of terrestrial mould; [485]

Foe not informidable! exempt from wound,

I not; so much hath Hell debased, and pain

Enfeebled me, to what I was in Heaven.

She fair, divinely fair, fit love for Gods!

Not terrible, though terrour be in love [490]

And beauty, not approached by stronger hate,

Hate stronger, under show of love well feigned;

The way which to her ruin now I tend.

So spake the enemy of mankind, enclosed

In serpent, inmate bad! and toward Eve [495]

Addressed his way: not with indented wave,

Prone on the ground, as since; but on his rear,

Circular base of rising folds, that towered

Fold above fold, a surging maze! his head

Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes; [500]

With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect

Amidst his circling spires, that on the grass

Floated redundant: pleasing was his shape

And lovely; never since of serpent-kind

Lovelier, not those that in Illyria changed, [505]

Hermione and Cadmus, or the god

In Epidaurus; nor to which transformed

Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline, was seen;

He with Olympias; this with her who bore

Scipio, the highth of Rome. With tract oblique [510]

At first, as one who sought access, but feared

To interrupt, side-long he works his way.

As when a ship, by skilful steersmen wrought

Nigh river's mouth or foreland, where the wind

Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail: [515]

So varied he, and of his tortuous train

Curled many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve,

To lure her eye; she, busied, heard the sound

Of rusling leaves, but minded not, as used

To such disport before her through the field, [520]

From every beast; more duteous at her call,

Than at Circean call the herd disguised.

He, bolder now, uncalled before her stood,

But as in gaze admiring: oft he bowed

His turret crest, and sleek enamelled neck, [525]

Fawning; and licked the ground whereon she trod.

His gentle dumb expression turned at length

The eye of Eve to mark his play; he, glad

Of her attention gained, with serpent-tongue

Organick, or impulse of vocal air, [530]

His fraudulent temptation thus began.

Wonder not, sovran Mistress, if perhaps

Thou canst, who art sole wonder! much less arm

Thy looks, the Heaven of mildness, with disdain,

Displeased that I approach thee thus, and gaze [535]

Insatiate; I thus single; nor have feared

Thy awful brow, more awful thus retired.

Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair,

Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine

By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore [540]

With ravishment beheld! there best beheld,

Where universally admired; but here

In this enclosure wild, these beasts among,

Beholders rude, and shallow to discern

Half what in thee is fair, one man except, [545]

Who sees thee? and what is one? who should be seen

A Goddess among Gods, adored and served

By Angels numberless, thy daily train.

So glozed the Tempter, and his proem tuned:

Into the heart of Eve his words made way, [550]

Though at the voice much marvelling; at length,

Not unamazed, she thus in answer spake.

What may this mean? language of man pronounced

By tongue of brute, and human sense expressed?

The first, at least, of these I thought denied [555]

To beasts; whom God, on their creation-day,

Created mute to all articulate sound:

The latter I demur; for in their looks

Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears.

Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the field [560]

I knew, but not with human voice endued;

Redouble then this miracle, and say,

How camest thou speakable of mute, and how

To me so friendly grown above the rest

Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight? [565]

Say, for such wonder claims attention due.

To whom the guileful Tempter thus replied.

Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve!

Easy to me it is to tell thee all

What thou commandest; and right thou shouldst be obeyed: [570]

I was at first as other beasts that graze

The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low,

As was my food; nor aught but food discerned

Or sex, and apprehended nothing high:

Till, on a day roving the field, I chanced [575]

A goodly tree far distant to behold

Loaden with fruit of fairest colours mixed,

Ruddy and gold: I nearer drew to gaze;

When from the boughs a savoury odour blown,

Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense [580]

Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats

Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at even,

Unsucked of lamb or kid, that tend their play.

To satisfy the sharp desire I had

Of tasting those fair apples, I resolved [585]

Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once,

Powerful persuaders, quickened at the scent

Of that alluring fruit, urged me so keen.

About the mossy trunk I wound me soon;

For, high from ground, the branches would require [590]

Thy utmost reach or Adam's: Round the tree

All other beasts that saw, with like desire

Longing and envying stood, but could not reach.

Amid the tree now got, where plenty hung

Tempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fill [595]

I spared not; for, such pleasure till that hour,

At feed or fountain, never had I found.

Sated at length, ere long I might perceive

Strange alteration in me, to degree

Of reason in my inward powers; and speech [600]

Wanted not long; though to this shape retained.

Thenceforth to speculations high or deep

I turned my thoughts, and with capacious mind

Considered all things visible in Heaven,

Or Earth, or Middle; all things fair and good: [605]

But all that fair and good in thy divine

Semblance, and in thy beauty's heavenly ray,

United I beheld; no fair to thine

Equivalent or second! which compelled

Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come [610]

And gaze, and worship thee of right declared

Sovran of creatures, universal Dame!

So talked the spirited sly Snake; and Eve,

Yet more amazed, unwary thus replied.

Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt [615]

The virtue of that fruit, in thee first proved:

But say, where grows the tree? from hence how far?

For many are the trees of God that grow

In Paradise, and various, yet unknown

To us; in such abundance lies our choice, [620]

As leaves a greater store of fruit untouched,

Still hanging incorruptible, till men

Grow up to their provision, and more hands

Help to disburden Nature of her birth.

To whom the wily Adder, blithe and glad. [625]

Empress, the way is ready, and not long;

Beyond a row of myrtles, on a flat,

Fast by a fountain, one small thicket past

Of blowing myrrh and balm: if thou accept

My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon [630]

Lead then, said Eve. He, leading, swiftly rolled

In tangles, and made intricate seem straight,

To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy

Brightens his crest; as when a wandering fire,

Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night [635]

Condenses, and the cold environs round,

Kindled through agitation to a flame,

Which oft, they say, some evil Spirit attends,

Hovering and blazing with delusive light,

Misleads the amazed night-wanderer from his way [640]

To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool;

There swallowed up and lost, from succour far.

So glistered the dire Snake, and into fraud

Led Eve, our credulous mother, to the tree

Of prohibition, root of all our woe; [645]

Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake.

Serpent, we might have spared our coming hither,

Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess,

The credit of whose virtue rest with thee;

Wonderous indeed, if cause of such effects. [650]

But of this tree we may not taste nor touch;

God so commanded, and left that command

Sole daughter of his voice; the rest, we live

Law to ourselves; our reason is our law.

To whom the Tempter guilefully replied. [655]

Indeed! hath God then said that of the fruit

Of all these garden-trees ye shall not eat,

Yet Lords declared of all in earth or air?

To whom thus Eve, yet sinless. Of the fruit

Of each tree in the garden we may eat; [660]

But of the fruit of this fair tree amidst

The garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat

Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

She scarce had said, though brief, when now more bold

The Tempter, but with show of zeal and love [665]

To Man, and indignation at his wrong,

New part puts on; and, as to passion moved,

Fluctuates disturbed, yet comely and in act

Raised, as of some great matter to begin.

As when of old some orator renowned, [670]

In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence

Flourished, since mute! to some great cause addressed,

Stood in himself collected; while each part,

Motion, each act, won audience ere the tongue;

Sometimes in highth began, as no delay [675]

Of preface brooking, through his zeal of right:

So standing, moving, or to highth up grown,

The Tempter, all impassioned, thus began.

O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving Plant,

Mother of science! now I feel thy power [680]

Within me clear; not only to discern

Things in their causes, but to trace the ways

Of highest agents, deemed however wise.

Queen of this universe! do not believe

Those rigid threats of death: ye shall not die: [685]

How should you? by the fruit? it gives you life

To knowledge; by the threatener? look on me,

Me, who have touched and tasted; yet both live,

And life more perfect have attained than Fate

Meant me, by venturing higher than my lot. [690]

Shall that be shut to Man, which to the Beast

Is open? or will God incense his ire

For such a petty trespass? and not praise

Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain

Of death denounced, whatever thing death be, [695]

Deterred not from achieving what might lead

To happier life, knowledge of good and evil;

Of good, how just? of evil, if what is evil

Be real, why not known, since easier shunned?

God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just; [700]

Not just, not God; not feared then, nor obeyed:

Your fear itself of death removes the fear.

Why then was this forbid? Why, but to awe;

Why, but to keep ye low and ignorant,

His worshippers? He knows that in the day [705]

Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,

Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then

Opened and cleared, and ye shall be as Gods,

Knowing both good and evil, as they know.

That ye shall be as Gods, since I as Man, [710]

Internal Man, is but proportion meet;

I, of brute, human; ye, of human, Gods.

So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off

Human, to put on Gods; death to be wished,

Though threatened, which no worse than this can bring. [715]

And what are Gods, that Man may not become

As they, participating God-like food?

The Gods are first, and that advantage use

On our belief, that all from them proceeds:

I question it; for this fair earth I see, [720]

Warmed by the sun, producing every kind;

Them, nothing: if they all things, who enclosed

Knowledge of good and evil in this tree,

That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains

Wisdom without their leave? and wherein lies [725]

The offence, that Man should thus attain to know?

What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree

Impart against his will, if all be his?

Or is it envy? and can envy dwell

In heavenly breasts? These, these, and many more [730]

Causes import your need of this fair fruit.

Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste!

He ended; and his words, replete with guile,

Into her heart too easy entrance won:

Fixed on the fruit she gazed, which to behold [735]

Might tempt alone; and in her ears the sound

Yet rung of his persuasive words, impregned

With reason, to her seeming, and with truth:

Mean while the hour of noon drew on, and waked

An eager appetite, raised by the smell [740]

So savoury of that fruit, which with desire,

Inclinable now grown to touch or taste,

Solicited her longing eye; yet first

Pausing a while, thus to herself she mused.

Great are thy virtues, doubtless, best of fruits, [745]

Though kept from man, and worthy to be admired;

Whose taste, too long forborn, at first assay

Gave elocution to the mute, and taught

The tongue not made for speech to speak thy praise:

Thy praise he also, who forbids thy use, [750]

Conceals not from us, naming thee the tree

Of knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil;

Forbids us then to taste! but his forbidding

Commends thee more, while it infers the good

By thee communicated, and our want: [755]

For good unknown sure is not had; or, had

And yet unknown, is as not had at all.

In plain then, what forbids he but to know,

Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise?

Such prohibitions bind not. But, if death [760]

Bind us with after-bands, what profits then

Our inward freedom? In the day we eat

Of this fair fruit, our doom is, we shall die!

How dies the Serpent? he hath eaten and lives,

And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discerns, [765]

Irrational till then. For us alone

Was death invented? or to us denied

This intellectual food, for beasts reserved?

For beasts it seems: yet that one beast which first

Hath tasted envies not, but brings with joy [770]

The good befallen him, author unsuspect,

Friendly to man, far from deceit or guile.

What fear I then? rather, what know to fear

Under this ignorance of good and evil,

Of God or death, of law or penalty? [775]

Here grows the cure of all, this fruit divine,

Fair to the eye, inviting to the taste,

Of virtue to make wise: What hinders then

To reach, and feed at once both body and mind?

So saying, her rash hand in evil hour [780]

Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she eat!

Earth felt the wound; and Nature from her seat,

Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe,

That all was lost. Back to the thicket slunk

The guilty Serpent; and well might; for Eve, [785]

Intent now wholly on her taste, nought else

Regarded; such delight till then, as seemed,

In fruit she never tasted, whether true

Or fancied so, through expectation high

Of knowledge; not was Godhead from her thought. [790]

Greedily she ingorged without restraint,

And knew not eating death: Satiate at length,

And hightened as with wine, jocund and boon,

Thus to herself she pleasingly began.

O sovran, virtuous, precious of all trees [795]

In Paradise! of operation blest

To sapience, hitherto obscured, infamed.

And thy fair fruit let hang, as to no end

Created; but henceforth my early care,

Not without song, each morning, and due praise, [800]

Shall tend thee, and the fertile burden ease

Of thy full branches offered free to all;

Till, dieted by thee, I grow mature

In knowledge, as the Gods, who all things know;

Though others envy what they cannot give: [805]

For, had the gift been theirs, it had not here

Thus grown. Experience, next, to thee I owe,

Best guide; not following thee, I had remained

In ignorance; thou openest wisdom's way,

And givest access, though secret she retire. [810]

And I perhaps am secret: Heaven is high,

High, and remote to see from thence distinct

Each thing on Earth; and other care perhaps

May have diverted from continual watch

Our great Forbidder, safe with all his spies [815]

About him. But to Adam in what sort

Shall I appear? shall I to him make known

As yet my change, and give him to partake

Full happiness with me, or rather not,

But keeps the odds of knowledge in my power [820]

Without copartner? so to add what wants

In female sex, the more to draw his love,

And render me more equal; and perhaps,

A thing not undesirable, sometime

Superiour; for, inferiour, who is free [825]

This may be well: But what if God have seen,

And death ensue? then I shall be no more!

And Adam, wedded to another Eve,

Shall live with her enjoying, I extinct;

A death to think! Confirmed then I resolve, [830]

Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe:

So dear I love him, that with him all deaths

I could endure, without him live no life.

So saying, from the tree her step she turned;

But first low reverence done, as to the Power [835]

That dwelt within, whose presence had infused

Into the plant sciential sap, derived

From nectar, drink of Gods. Adam the while,

Waiting desirous her return, had wove

Of choicest flowers a garland, to adorn [840]

Her tresses, and her rural labours crown;

As reapers oft are wont their harvest-queen.

Great joy he promised to his thoughts, and new

Solace in her return, so long delayed:

Yet oft his heart, divine of something ill, [845]

Misgave him; he the faltering measure felt;

And forth to meet her went, the way she took

That morn when first they parted: by the tree

Of knowledge he must pass; there he her met,

Scarce from the tree returning; in her hand [850]

A bough of fairest fruit, that downy smiled,

New gathered, and ambrosial smell diffused.

To him she hasted; in her face excuse

Came prologue, and apology too prompt;

Which, with bland words at will, she thus addressed. [855]

Hast thou not wondered, Adam, at my stay?

Thee I have missed, and thought it long, deprived

Thy presence; agony of love till now

Not felt, nor shall be twice; for never more

Mean I to try, what rash untried I sought, [860]

The pain of absence from thy sight. But strange

Hath been the cause, and wonderful to hear:

This tree is not, as we are told, a tree

Of danger tasted, nor to evil unknown

Opening the way, but of divine effect [865]

To open eyes, and make them Gods who taste;

And hath been tasted such: The serpent wise,

Or not restrained as we, or not obeying,

Hath eaten of the fruit; and is become,

Not dead, as we are threatened, but thenceforth [870]

Endued with human voice and human sense,

Reasoning to admiration; and with me

Persuasively hath so prevailed, that I

Have also tasted, and have also found

The effects to correspond; opener mine eyes, [875]

Dim erst, dilated spirits, ampler heart,

And growing up to Godhead; which for thee

Chiefly I sought, without thee can despise.

For bliss, as thou hast part, to me is bliss;

Tedious, unshared with thee, and odious soon. [880]

Thou therefore also taste, that equal lot

May join us, equal joy, as equal love;

Lest, thou not tasting, different degree

Disjoin us, and I then too late renounce

Deity for thee, when Fate will not permit. [885]

Thus Eve with countenance blithe her story told;

But in her cheek distemper flushing glowed.

On the other side Adam, soon as he heard

The fatal trespass done by Eve, amazed,

Astonied stood and blank, while horrour chill [890]

Ran through his veins, and all his joints relaxed;

From his slack hand the garland wreathed for Eve

Down dropt, and all the faded roses shed:

Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at length

First to himself he inward silence broke. [895]

O fairest of Creation, last and best

Of all God's works, Creature in whom excelled

Whatever can to sight or thought be formed,

Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!

How art thou lost! how on a sudden lost, [900]

Defaced, deflowered, and now to death devote!

Rather, how hast thou yielded to transgress

The strict forbiddance, how to violate

The sacred fruit forbidden! Some cursed fraud

Of enemy hath beguiled thee, yet unknown, [905]

And me with thee hath ruined; for with thee

Certain my resolution is to die:

How can I live without thee! how forego

Thy sweet converse, and love so dearly joined,

To live again in these wild woods forlorn! [910]

Should God create another Eve, and I

Another rib afford, yet loss of thee

Would never from my heart: no, no! I feel

The link of Nature draw me: flesh of flesh,

Bone of my bone thou art, and from thy state [915]

Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.

So having said, as one from sad dismay

Recomforted, and after thoughts disturbed

Submitting to what seemed remediless,

Thus in calm mood his words to Eve he turned. [920]

Bold deed thou hast presumed, adventurous Eve,

And peril great provoked, who thus hast dared,

Had it been only coveting to eye

That sacred fruit, sacred to abstinence,

Much more to taste it under ban to touch. [925]

But past who can recall, or done undo?

Not God Omnipotent, nor Fate; yet so

Perhaps thou shalt not die, perhaps the fact

Is not so heinous now, foretasted fruit,

Profaned first by the serpent, by him first [930]

Made common, and unhallowed, ere our taste;

Nor yet on him found deadly; yet he lives;

Lives, as thou saidst, and gains to live, as Man,

Higher degree of life; inducement strong

To us, as likely tasting to attain [935]

Proportional ascent; which cannot be

But to be Gods, or Angels, demi-Gods.

Nor can I think that God, Creator wise,

Though threatening, will in earnest so destroy

Us his prime creatures, dignified so high, [940]

Set over all his works; which in our fall,

For us created, needs with us must fail,

Dependant made; so God shall uncreate,

Be frustrate, do, undo, and labour lose;

Not well conceived of God, who, though his power [945]

Creation could repeat, yet would be loth

Us to abolish, lest the Adversary

Triumph, and say; "Fickle their state whom God

Most favours; who can please him long? Me first

He ruined, now Mankind; whom will he next?" [950]

Matter of scorn, not to be given the Foe.

However I with thee have fixed my lot,

Certain to undergo like doom: If death

Consort with thee, death is to me as life;

So forcible within my heart I feel [955]

The bond of Nature draw me to my own;

My own in thee, for what thou art is mine;

Our state cannot be severed; we are one,

One flesh; to lose thee were to lose myself.

So Adam; and thus Eve to him replied. [960]

O glorious trial of exceeding love,

Illustrious evidence, example high!

Engaging me to emulate; but, short

Of thy perfection, how shall I attain,

Adam, from whose dear side I boast me sprung, [965]

And gladly of our union hear thee speak,

One heart, one soul in both; whereof good proof

This day affords, declaring thee resolved,

Rather than death, or aught than death more dread,

Shall separate us, linked in love so dear, [970]

To undergo with me one guilt, one crime,

If any be, of tasting this fair fruit;

Whose virtue for of good still good proceeds,

Direct, or by occasion, hath presented

This happy trial of thy love, which else [975]

So eminently never had been known?

Were it I thought death menaced would ensue

This my attempt, I would sustain alone

The worst, and not persuade thee, rather die

Deserted, than oblige thee with a fact [980]

Pernicious to thy peace; chiefly assured

Remarkably so late of thy so true,

So faithful, love unequalled: but I feel

Far otherwise the event; not death, but life

Augmented, opened eyes, new hopes, new joys, [985]

Taste so divine, that what of sweet before

Hath touched my sense, flat seems to this, and harsh.

On my experience, Adam, freely taste,

And fear of death deliver to the winds.

So saying, she embraced him, and for joy [990]

Tenderly wept; much won, that he his love

Had so ennobled, as of choice to incur

Divine displeasure for her sake, or death.

In recompence (for such compliance bad

Such recompence best merits) from the bough [995]

She gave him of that fair enticing fruit

With liberal hand: he scrupled not to eat,

Against his better knowledge; not deceived,

But fondly overcome with female charm.

Earth trembled from her entrails, as again [1000]

In pangs; and Nature gave a second groan;

Sky loured; and, muttering thunder, some sad drops

Wept at completing of the mortal sin

Original: while Adam took no thought,

Eating his fill; nor Eve to iterate [1005]

Her former trespass feared, the more to sooth

Him with her loved society; that now,

As with new wine intoxicated both,

They swim in mirth, and fancy that they feel

Divinity within them breeding wings, [1010]

Wherewith to scorn the earth: But that false fruit

Far other operation first displayed,

Carnal desire inflaming; he on Eve

Began to cast lascivious eyes; she him

As wantonly repaid; in lust they burn: [1015]

Till Adam thus 'gan Eve to dalliance move.

Eve, now I see thou art exact of taste,

And elegant, of sapience no small part;

Since to each meaning savour we apply,

And palate call judicious; I the praise [1020]

Yield thee, so well this day thou hast purveyed.

Much pleasure we have lost, while we abstained

From this delightful fruit, nor known till now

True relish, tasting; if such pleasure be

In things to us forbidden, it might be wished, [1025]

For this one tree had been forbidden ten.

But come, so well refreshed, now let us play,

As meet is, after such delicious fare;

For never did thy beauty, since the day

I saw thee first and wedded thee, adorned [1030]

With all perfections, so inflame my sense

With ardour to enjoy thee, fairer now

Than ever; bounty of this virtuous tree!

So said he, and forbore not glance or toy

Of amorous intent; well understood [1035]

Of Eve, whose eye darted contagious fire.

Her hand he seised; and to a shady bank,

Thick over-head with verdant roof imbowered,

He led her nothing loth; flowers were the couch,

Pansies, and violets, and asphodel, [1040]

And hyacinth; Earth's freshest softest lap.

There they their fill of love and love's disport

Took largely, of their mutual guilt the seal,

The solace of their sin; till dewy sleep

Oppressed them, wearied with their amorous play, [1045]

Soon as the force of that fallacious fruit,

That with exhilarating vapour bland

About their spirits had played, and inmost powers

Made err, was now exhaled; and grosser sleep,

Bred of unkindly fumes, with conscious dreams [1050]

Incumbered, now had left them; up they rose

As from unrest; and, each the other viewing,

Soon found their eyes how opened, and their minds

How darkened; innocence, that as a veil

Had shadowed them from knowing ill, was gone; [1055]

Just confidence, and native righteousness,

And honour, from about them, naked left

To guilty Shame; he covered, but his robe

Uncovered more. So rose the Danite strong,

Herculean Samson, from the harlot-lap [1060]

Of Philistean Dalilah, and waked

Shorn of his strength. They destitute and bare

Of all their virtue: Silent, and in face

Confounded, long they sat, as strucken mute:

Till Adam, though not less than Eve abashed, [1065]

At length gave utterance to these words constrained.

O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give ear

To that false worm, of whomsoever taught

To counterfeit Man's voice; true in our fall,

False in our promised rising; since our eyes [1070]

Opened we find indeed, and find we know

Both good and evil; good lost, and evil got;

Bad fruit of knowledge, if this be to know;

Which leaves us naked thus, of honour void,

Of innocence, of faith, of purity, [1075]

Our wonted ornaments now soiled and stained,

And in our faces evident the signs

Of foul concupiscence; whence evil store;

Even shame, the last of evils; of the first

Be sure then.--How shall I behold the face [1080]

Henceforth of God or Angel, erst with joy

And rapture so oft beheld? Those heavenly shapes

Will dazzle now this earthly with their blaze

Insufferably bright. O! might I here

In solitude live savage; in some glade [1085]

Obscured, where highest woods, impenetrable

To star or sun-light, spread their umbrage broad

And brown as evening: Cover me, ye Pines!

Ye Cedars, with innumerable boughs

Hide me, where I may never see them more!-- [1090]

But let us now, as in bad plight, devise

What best may for the present serve to hide

The parts of each from other, that seem most

To shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen;

Some tree, whose broad smooth leaves together sewed, [1095]

And girded on our loins, may cover round

Those middle parts; that this new comer, Shame,

There sit not, and reproach us as unclean.

So counselled he, and both together went

Into the thickest wood; there soon they chose [1100]

The fig-tree; not that kind for fruit renowned,

But such as at this day, to Indians known,

In Malabar or Decan spreads her arms

Branching so broad and long, that in the ground

The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow [1105]

About the mother tree, a pillared shade

High over-arched, and echoing walks between:

There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat,

Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds

At loop-holes cut through thickest shade: Those leaves [1110]

They gathered, broad as Amazonian targe;

And, with what skill they had, together sewed,

To gird their waist; vain covering, if to hide

Their guilt and dreaded shame! O, how unlike

To that first naked glory! Such of late [1115]

Columbus found the American, so girt

With feathered cincture; naked else, and wild

Among the trees on isles and woody shores.

Thus fenced, and, as they thought, their shame in part

Covered, but not at rest or ease of mind, [1120]

They sat them down to weep; nor only tears

Rained at their eyes, but high winds worse within

Began to rise, high passions, anger, hate,

Mistrust, suspicion, discord; and shook sore

Their inward state of mind, calm region once [1125]

And full of peace, now tost and turbulent:

For Understanding ruled not, and the Will

Heard not her lore; both in subjection now

To sensual Appetite, who from beneath

Usurping over sovran Reason claimed [1130]

Superiour sway: From thus distempered breast,

Adam, estranged in look and altered style,

Speech intermitted thus to Eve renewed.

Would thou hadst hearkened to my words, and staid

With me, as I besought thee, when that strange [1135]

Desire of wandering, this unhappy morn,

I know not whence possessed thee; we had then

Remained still happy; not, as now, despoiled

Of all our good; shamed, naked, miserable!

Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approve [1140]

The faith they owe; when earnestly they seek

Such proof, conclude, they then begin to fail.

To whom, soon moved with touch of blame, thus Eve.

What words have passed thy lips, Adam severe!

Imputest thou that to my default, or will [1145]

Of wandering, as thou callest it, which who knows

But might as ill have happened thou being by,

Or to thyself perhaps? Hadst thou been there,

Or here the attempt, thou couldst not have discerned

Fraud in the Serpent, speaking as he spake; [1150]

No ground of enmity between us known,

Why he should mean me ill, or seek to harm.

Was I to have never parted from thy side?

As good have grown there still a lifeless rib.

Being as I am, why didst not thou, the head, [1155]

Command me absolutely not to go,

Going into such danger, as thou saidst?

Too facile then, thou didst not much gainsay;

Nay, didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.

Hadst thou been firm and fixed in thy dissent, [1160]

Neither had I transgressed, nor thou with me.

To whom, then first incensed, Adam replied.

Is this the love, is this the recompence

Of mine to thee, ingrateful Eve! expressed

Immutable, when thou wert lost, not I; [1165]

Who might have lived, and joyed immortal bliss,

Yet willingly chose rather death with thee?

And am I now upbraided as the cause

Of thy transgressing? Not enough severe,

It seems, in thy restraint: What could I more [1170]

I warned thee, I admonished thee, foretold

The danger, and the lurking enemy

That lay in wait; beyond this, had been force;

And force upon free will hath here no place.

But confidence then bore thee on; secure [1175]

Either to meet no danger, or to find

Matter of glorious trial; and perhaps

I also erred, in overmuch admiring

What seemed in thee so perfect, that I thought

No evil durst attempt thee; but I rue [1180]

The errour now, which is become my crime,

And thou the accuser. Thus it shall befall

Him, who, to worth in women overtrusting,

Lets her will rule: restraint she will not brook;

And, left to herself, if evil thence ensue, [1185]

She first his weak indulgence will accuse.

Thus they in mutual accusation spent

The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning;

And of their vain contest appeared no end.

Book X

Mean while the heinous and despiteful act

Of Satan, done in Paradise; and how

He, in the serpent, had perverted Eve,

Her husband she, to taste the fatal fruit,

Was known in Heaven; for what can 'scape the eye [5]

Of God all-seeing, or deceive his heart

Omniscient? who, in all things wise and just,

Hindered not Satan to attempt the mind

Of Man, with strength entire and free will armed,

Complete to have discovered and repulsed [10]

Whatever wiles of foe or seeming friend.

For still they knew, and ought to have still remembered,

The high injunction, not to taste that fruit,

Whoever tempted; which they not obeying,

(Incurred what could they less?) the penalty; [15]

And, manifold in sin, deserved to fall.

Up into Heaven from Paradise in haste

The angelick guards ascended, mute, and sad,

For Man; for of his state by this they knew,

Much wondering how the subtle Fiend had stolen [20]

Entrance unseen. Soon as the unwelcome news

From Earth arrived at Heaven-gate, displeased

All were who heard; dim sadness did not spare

That time celestial visages, yet, mixed

With pity, violated not their bliss. [25]

About the new-arrived, in multitudes

The ethereal people ran, to hear and know

How all befel: They towards the throne supreme,

Accountable, made haste, to make appear,

With righteous plea, their utmost vigilance [30]

And easily approved; when the Most High

Eternal Father, from his secret cloud,

Amidst in thunder uttered thus his voice.

Assembled Angels, and ye Powers returned

From unsuccessful charge; be not dismayed, [35]

Nor troubled at these tidings from the earth,

Which your sincerest care could not prevent;

Foretold so lately what would come to pass,

When first this tempter crossed the gulf from Hell.

I told ye then he should prevail, and speed [40]

On his bad errand; Man should be seduced,

And flattered out of all, believing lies

Against his Maker; no decree of mine

Concurring to necessitate his fall,

Or touch with lightest moment of impulse [45]

His free will, to her own inclining left

In even scale. But fallen he is; and now

What rests, but that the mortal sentence pass

On his transgression,--death denounced that day?

Which he presumes already vain and void, [50]

Because not yet inflicted, as he feared,

By some immediate stroke; but soon shall find

Forbearance no acquittance, ere day end.

Justice shall not return as bounty scorned.

But whom send I to judge them? whom but thee, [55]

Vicegerent Son? To thee I have transferred

All judgement, whether in Heaven, or Earth, or Hell.

Easy it may be seen that I intend

Mercy colleague with justice, sending thee

Man's friend, his Mediator, his designed [60]

Both ransom and Redeemer voluntary,

And destined Man himself to judge Man fallen.

So spake the Father; and, unfolding bright

Toward the right hand his glory, on the Son

Blazed forth unclouded Deity: He full [65]

Resplendent all his Father manifest

Expressed, and thus divinely answered mild.

Father Eternal, thine is to decree;

Mine, both in Heaven and Earth, to do thy will

Supreme; that thou in me, thy Son beloved, [70]

Mayest ever rest well pleased. I go to judge

On earth these thy transgressours; but thou knowest,

Whoever judged, the worst on me must light,

When time shall be; for so I undertook

Before thee; and, not repenting, this obtain [75]

Of right, that I may mitigate their doom

On me derived; yet I shall temper so

Justice with mercy, as may illustrate most

Them fully satisfied, and thee appease.

Attendance none shall need, nor train, where none [80]

Are to behold the judgement, but the judged,

Those two; the third best absent is condemned,

Convict by flight, and rebel to all law:

Conviction to the serpent none belongs.

Thus saying, from his radiant seat he rose [85]

Of high collateral glory: Him Thrones, and Powers,

Princedoms, and Dominations ministrant,

Accompanied to Heaven-gate; from whence

Eden, and all the coast, in prospect lay.

Down he descended straight; the speed of Gods [90]

Time counts not, though with swiftest minutes winged.

Now was the sun in western cadence low

From noon, and gentle airs, due at their hour,

To fan the earth now waked, and usher in

The evening cool; when he, from wrath more cool, [95]

Came the mild Judge, and Intercessour both,

To sentence Man: The voice of God they heard

Now walking in the garden, by soft winds

Brought to their ears, while day declined; they heard,

And from his presence hid themselves among [100]

The thickest trees, both man and wife; till God,

Approaching, thus to Adam called aloud.

Where art thou, Adam, wont with joy to meet

My coming seen far off? I miss thee here,

Not pleased, thus entertained with solitude, [105]

Where obvious duty ere while appeared unsought:

Or come I less conspicuous, or what change

Absents thee, or what chance detains?--Come forth!

He came; and with him Eve, more loth, though first

To offend; discountenanced both, and discomposed; [110]

Love was not in their looks, either to God,

Or to each other; but apparent guilt,

And shame, and perturbation, and despair,

Anger, and obstinacy, and hate, and guile.

Whence Adam, faltering long, thus answered brief. [115]

I heard thee in the garden, and of thy voice

Afraid, being naked, hid myself. To whom

The gracious Judge without revile replied.

My voice thou oft hast heard, and hast not feared,

But still rejoiced; how is it now become [120]

So dreadful to thee? That thou art naked, who

Hath told thee? Hast thou eaten of the tree,

Whereof I gave thee charge thou shouldst not eat?

To whom thus Adam sore beset replied.

O Heaven! in evil strait this day I stand [125]

Before my Judge; either to undergo

Myself the total crime, or to accuse

My other self, the partner of my life;

Whose failing, while her faith to me remains,

I should conceal, and not expose to blame [130]

By my complaint: but strict necessity

Subdues me, and calamitous constraint;

Lest on my head both sin and punishment,

However insupportable, be all

Devolved; though should I hold my peace, yet thou [135]

Wouldst easily detect what I conceal.--

This Woman, whom thou madest to be my help,

And gavest me as thy perfect gift, so good,

So fit, so acceptable, so divine,

That from her hand I could suspect no ill, [140]

And what she did, whatever in itself,

Her doing seemed to justify the deed;

She gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

To whom the Sovran Presence thus replied.

Was she thy God, that her thou didst obey [145]

Before his voice? or was she made thy guide,

Superiour, or but equal, that to her

Thou didst resign thy manhood, and the place

Wherein God set thee above her made of thee,

And for thee, whose perfection far excelled [150]

Hers in all real dignity? Adorned

She was indeed, and lovely, to attract

Thy love, not thy subjection; and her gifts

Were such, as under government well seemed;

Unseemly to bear rule; which was thy part [155]

And person, hadst thou known thyself aright.

So having said, he thus to Eve in few.

Say, Woman, what is this which thou hast done?

To whom sad Eve, with shame nigh overwhelmed,

Confessing soon, yet not before her Judge [160]

Bold or loquacious, thus abashed replied.

The Serpent me beguiled, and I did eat.

Which when the Lord God heard, without delay

To judgement he proceeded on the accused

Serpent, though brute; unable to transfer [165]

The guilt on him, who made him instrument

Of mischief, and polluted from the end

Of his creation; justly then accursed,

As vitiated in nature: More to know

Concerned not Man, (since he no further knew) [170]

Nor altered his offence; yet God at last

To Satan first in sin his doom applied,

Though in mysterious terms, judged as then best:

And on the Serpent thus his curse let fall.

Because thou hast done this, thou art accursed [175]

Above all cattle, each beast of the field;

Upon thy belly groveling thou shalt go,

And dust shalt eat all the days of thy life.

Between thee and the woman I will put

Enmity, and between thine and her seed; [180]

Her seed shall bruise thy head, thou bruise his heel.

So spake this oracle, then verified

When Jesus, Son of Mary, second Eve,

Saw Satan fall, like lightning, down from Heaven,

Prince of the air; then, rising from his grave [185]

Spoiled Principalities and Powers, triumphed

In open show; and, with ascension bright,

Captivity led captive through the air,

The realm itself of Satan, long usurped;

Whom he shall tread at last under our feet; [190]

Even he, who now foretold his fatal bruise;

And to the Woman thus his sentence turned.

Thy sorrow I will greatly multiply

By thy conception; children thou shalt bring

In sorrow forth; and to thy husband's will [195]

Thine shall submit; he over thee shall rule.

On Adam last thus judgement he pronounced.

Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife,

And eaten of the tree, concerning which

I charged thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat thereof: [200]

Cursed is the ground for thy sake; thou in sorrow

Shalt eat thereof, all the days of thy life;

Thorns also and thistles it shall bring thee forth

Unbid; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, [205]

Till thou return unto the ground; for thou

Out of the ground wast taken, know thy birth,

For dust thou art, and shalt to dust return.

So judged he Man, both Judge and Saviour sent;

And the instant stroke of death, denounced that day, [210]

Removed far off; then, pitying how they stood

Before him naked to the air, that now

Must suffer change, disdained not to begin

Thenceforth the form of servant to assume;

As when he washed his servants feet; so now, [215]

As father of his family, he clad

Their nakedness with skins of beasts, or slain,

Or as the snake with youthful coat repaid;

And thought not much to clothe his enemies;

Nor he their outward only with the skins [220]

Of beasts, but inward nakedness, much more.

Opprobrious, with his robe of righteousness,

Arraying, covered from his Father's sight.

To him with swift ascent he up returned,

Into his blissful bosom reassumed [225]

In glory, as of old; to him appeased

All, though all-knowing, what had passed with Man

Recounted, mixing intercession sweet.

Mean while, ere thus was sinned and judged on Earth,

Within the gates of Hell sat Sin and Death, [230]

In counterview within the gates, that now

Stood open wide, belching outrageous flame

Far into Chaos, since the Fiend passed through,

Sin opening; who thus now to Death began.

O Son, why sit we here each other viewing [235]

Idly, while Satan, our great author, thrives

In other worlds, and happier seat provides

For us, his offspring dear? It cannot be

But that success attends him; if mishap,

Ere this he had returned, with fury driven [240]

By his avengers; since no place like this

Can fit his punishment, or their revenge.

Methinks I feel new strength within me rise,

Wings growing, and dominion given me large

Beyond this deep; whatever draws me on, [245]

Or sympathy, or some connatural force,

Powerful at greatest distance to unite,

With secret amity, things of like kind,

By secretest conveyance. Thou, my shade

Inseparable, must with me along; [250]

For Death from Sin no power can separate.

But, lest the difficulty of passing back

Stay his return perhaps over this gulf

Impassable, impervious; let us try

Adventurous work, yet to thy power and mine [255]

Not unagreeable, to found a path

Over this main from Hell to that new world,

Where Satan now prevails; a monument

Of merit high to all the infernal host,

Easing their passage hence, for intercourse, [260]

Or transmigration, as their lot shall lead.

Nor can I miss the way, so strongly drawn

By this new-felt attraction and instinct.

Whom thus the meager Shadow answered soon.

Go, whither Fate, and inclination strong, [265]

Leads thee; I shall not lag behind, nor err

The way, thou leading; such a scent I draw

Of carnage, prey innumerable, and taste

The savour of death from all things there that live:

Nor shall I to the work thou enterprisest [270]

Be wanting, but afford thee equal aid.

So saying, with delight he snuffed the smell

Of mortal change on earth. As when a flock

Of ravenous fowl, though many a league remote,

Against the day of battle, to a field, [275]

Where armies lie encamped, come flying, lured

With scent of living carcasses designed

For death, the following day, in bloody fight:

So scented the grim Feature, and upturned

His nostril wide into the murky air; [280]

Sagacious of his quarry from so far.

Then both from out Hell-gates, into the waste

Wide anarchy of Chaos, damp and dark,

Flew diverse; and with power (their power was great)

Hovering upon the waters, what they met [285]

Solid or slimy, as in raging sea

Tost up and down, together crouded drove,

From each side shoaling towards the mouth of Hell;

As when two polar winds, blowing adverse

Upon the Cronian sea, together drive [290]

Mountains of ice, that stop the imagined way

Beyond Petsora eastward, to the rich

Cathaian coast. The aggregated soil

Death with his mace petrifick, cold and dry,

As with a trident, smote; and fixed as firm [295]

As Delos, floating once; the rest his look

Bound with Gorgonian rigour not to move;

And with Asphaltick slime, broad as the gate,

Deep to the roots of Hell the gathered beach

They fastened, and the mole immense wrought on [300]

Over the foaming deep high-arched, a bridge

Of length prodigious, joining to the wall

Immoveable of this now fenceless world,

Forfeit to Death; from hence a passage broad,

Smooth, easy, inoffensive, down to Hell. [305]

So, if great things to small may be compared,

Xerxes, the liberty of Greece to yoke,

From Susa, his Memnonian palace high,

Came to the sea: and, over Hellespont

Bridging his way, Europe with Asia joined, [310]

And scourged with many a stroke the indignant waves.

Now had they brought the work by wonderous art

Pontifical, a ridge of pendant rock,

Over the vexed abyss, following the track

Of Satan to the self-same place where he [315]

First lighted from his wing, and landed safe

From out of Chaos, to the outside bare

Of this round world: With pins of adamant

And chains they made all fast, too fast they made

And durable! And now in little space [320]

The confines met of empyrean Heaven,

And of this World; and, on the left hand, Hell

With long reach interposed; three several ways

In sight, to each of these three places led.

And now their way to Earth they had descried, [325]

To Paradise first tending; when, behold!

Satan, in likeness of an Angel bright,

Betwixt the Centaur and the Scorpion steering

His zenith, while the sun in Aries rose:

Disguised he came; but those his children dear [330]

Their parent soon discerned, though in disguise.

He, after Eve seduced, unminded slunk

Into the wood fast by; and, changing shape,

To observe the sequel, saw his guileful act

By Eve, though all unweeting, seconded [335]

Upon her husband; saw their shame that sought

Vain covertures; but when he saw descend

The Son of God to judge them, terrified

He fled; not hoping to escape, but shun

The present; fearing, guilty, what his wrath [340]

Might suddenly inflict; that past, returned

By night, and listening where the hapless pair

Sat in their sad discourse, and various plaint,

Thence gathered his own doom; which understood

Not instant, but of future time, with joy [345]

And tidings fraught, to Hell he now returned;

And at the brink of Chaos, near the foot

Of this new wonderous pontifice, unhoped

Met, who to meet him came, his offspring dear.

Great joy was at their meeting, and at sight [350]

Of that stupendous bridge his joy encreased.

Long he admiring stood, till Sin, his fair

Enchanting daughter, thus the silence broke.

O Parent, these are thy magnifick deeds,

Thy trophies! which thou viewest as not thine own; [355]

Thou art their author, and prime architect:

For I no sooner in my heart divined,

My heart, which by a secret harmony

Still moves with thine, joined in connexion sweet,

That thou on earth hadst prospered, which thy looks [360]

Now also evidence, but straight I felt,

Though distant from thee worlds between, yet felt,

That I must after thee, with this thy son;

Such fatal consequence unites us three!

Hell could no longer hold us in our bounds, [365]

Nor this unvoyageable gulf obscure

Detain from following thy illustrious track.

Thou hast achieved our liberty, confined

Within Hell-gates till now; thou us impowered

To fortify thus far, and overlay, [370]

With this portentous bridge, the dark abyss.

Thine now is all this world; thy virtue hath won

What thy hands builded not; thy wisdom gained

With odds what war hath lost, and fully avenged

Our foil in Heaven; here thou shalt monarch reign, [375]

There didst not; there let him still victor sway,

As battle hath adjudged; from this new world

Retiring, by his own doom alienated;

And henceforth monarchy with thee divide

Of all things, parted by the empyreal bounds, [380]

His quadrature, from thy orbicular world;

Or try thee now more dangerous to his throne.

Whom thus the Prince of darkness answered glad.

Fair Daughter, and thou Son and Grandchild both;

High proof ye now have given to be the race [385]

Of Satan (for I glory in the name,

Antagonist of Heaven's Almighty King,)

Amply have merited of me, of all

The infernal empire, that so near Heaven's door

Triumphal with triumphal act have met, [390]

Mine, with this glorious work; and made one realm,

Hell and this world, one realm, one continent

Of easy thorough-fare. Therefore, while I

Descend through darkness, on your road with ease,

To my associate Powers, them to acquaint [395]

With these successes, and with them rejoice;

You two this way, among these numerous orbs,

All yours, right down to Paradise descend;

There dwell, and reign in bliss; thence on the earth

Dominion exercise and in the air, [400]

Chiefly on Man, sole lord of all declared;

Him first make sure your thrall, and lastly kill.

My substitutes I send ye, and create

Plenipotent on earth, of matchless might

Issuing from me: on your joint vigour now [405]

My hold of this new kingdom all depends,

Through Sin to Death exposed by my exploit.

If your joint power prevail, the affairs of Hell

No detriment need fear; go, and be strong!

So saying he dismissed them; they with speed [410]

Their course through thickest constellations held,

Spreading their bane; the blasted stars looked wan,

And planets, planet-struck, real eclipse

Then suffered. The other way Satan went down

The causey to Hell-gate: On either side [415]

Disparted Chaos overbuilt exclaimed,

And with rebounding surge the bars assailed,

That scorned his indignation: Through the gate,

Wide open and unguarded, Satan passed,

And all about found desolate; for those, [420]

Appointed to sit there, had left their charge,

Flown to the upper world; the rest were all

Far to the inland retired, about the walls

Of Pandemonium; city and proud seat

Of Lucifer, so by allusion called [425]

Of that bright star to Satan paragoned;

There kept their watch the legions, while the Grand

In council sat, solicitous what chance

Might intercept their emperour sent; so he

Departing gave command, and they observed. [430]

As when the Tartar from his Russian foe,

By Astracan, over the snowy plains,

Retires; or Bactrin Sophi, from the horns

Of Turkish crescent, leaves all waste beyond

The realm of Aladule, in his retreat [435]

To Tauris or Casbeen: So these, the late

Heaven-banished host, left desart utmost Hell

Many a dark league, reduced in careful watch

Round their metropolis; and now expecting

Each hour their great adventurer, from the search [440]

Of foreign worlds: He through the midst unmarked,

In show plebeian Angel militant

Of lowest order, passed; and from the door

Of that Plutonian hall, invisible

Ascended his high throne; which, under state [445]

Of richest texture spread, at the upper end

Was placed in regal lustre. Down a while

He sat, and round about him saw unseen:

At last, as from a cloud, his fulgent head

And shape star-bright appeared, or brighter; clad [450]

With what permissive glory since his fall

Was left him, or false glitter: All amazed

At that so sudden blaze the Stygian throng

Bent their aspect, and whom they wished beheld,

Their mighty Chief returned: loud was the acclaim: [455]

Forth rushed in haste the great consulting peers,

Raised from their dark Divan, and with like joy

Congratulant approached him; who with hand

Silence, and with these words attention, won.

Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers; [460]

For in possession such, not only of right,

I call ye, and declare ye now; returned

Successful beyond hope, to lead ye forth

Triumphant out of this infernal pit

Abominable, accursed, the house of woe, [465]

And dungeon of our tyrant: Now possess,

As Lords, a spacious world, to our native Heaven

Little inferiour, by my adventure hard

With peril great achieved. Long were to tell

What I have done; what suffered; with what pain [470]

Voyaged th' unreal, vast, unbounded deep

Of horrible confusion; over which

By Sin and Death a broad way now is paved,

To expedite your glorious march; but I

Toiled out my uncouth passage, forced to ride [475]

The untractable abyss, plunged in the womb

Of unoriginal Night and Chaos wild;

That, jealous of their secrets, fiercely opposed

My journey strange, with clamorous uproar

Protesting Fate supreme; thence how I found [480]

The new created world, which fame in Heaven

Long had foretold, a fabrick wonderful

Of absolute perfection! therein Man

Placed in a Paradise, by our exile

Made happy: Him by fraud I have seduced [485]

From his Creator; and, the more to encrease

Your wonder, with an apple; he, thereat

Offended, worth your laughter! hath given up

Both his beloved Man, and all his world,

To Sin and Death a prey, and so to us, [490]

Without our hazard, labour, or alarm;

To range in, and to dwell, and over Man

To rule, as over all he should have ruled.

True is, me also he hath judged, or rather

Me not, but the brute serpent in whose shape [495]

Man I deceived: that which to me belongs,

Is enmity which he will put between

Me and mankind; I am to bruise his heel;

His seed, when is not set, shall bruise my head:

A world who would not purchase with a bruise, [500]

Or much more grievous pain?--Ye have the account

Of my performance: What remains, ye Gods,

But up, and enter now into full bliss?

So having said, a while he stood, expecting

Their universal shout, and high applause, [505]

To fill his ear; when, contrary, he hears

On all sides, from innumerable tongues,

A dismal universal hiss, the sound

Of publick scorn; he wondered, but not long

Had leisure, wondering at himself now more, [510]

His visage drawn he felt to sharp and spare;

His arms clung to his ribs; his legs entwining

Each other, till supplanted down he fell

A monstrous serpent on his belly prone,

Reluctant, but in vain; a greater power [515]

Now ruled him, punished in the shape he sinned,

According to his doom: he would have spoke,

But hiss for hiss returned with forked tongue

To forked tongue; for now were all transformed

Alike, to serpents all, as accessories [520]

To his bold riot: Dreadful was the din

Of hissing through the hall, thick swarming now

With complicated monsters head and tail,

Scorpion, and Asp, and Amphisbaena dire,

Cerastes horned, Hydrus, and Elops drear, [525]

And Dipsas; (not so thick swarmed once the soil

Bedropt with blood of Gorgon, or the isle

Ophiusa,) but still greatest he the midst,

Now Dragon grown, larger than whom the sun

Ingendered in the Pythian vale or slime, [530]

Huge Python, and his power no less he seemed

Above the rest still to retain; they all

Him followed, issuing forth to the open field,

Where all yet left of that revolted rout,

Heaven-fallen, in station stood or just array; [535]

Sublime with expectation when to see

In triumph issuing forth their glorious Chief;

They saw, but other sight instead! a croud

Of ugly serpents; horrour on them fell,

And horrid sympathy; for, what they saw, [540]

They felt themselves, now changing; down their arms,

Down fell both spear and shield; down they as fast;

And the dire hiss renewed, and the dire form

Catched, by contagion; like in punishment,

As in their crime. Thus was the applause they meant, [545]

Turned to exploding hiss, triumph to shame

Cast on themselves from their own mouths. There stood

A grove hard by, sprung up with this their change,

His will who reigns above, to aggravate

Their penance, laden with fair fruit, like that [550]

Which grew in Paradise, the bait of Eve

Used by the Tempter: on that prospect strange

Their earnest eyes they fixed, imagining

For one forbidden tree a multitude

Now risen, to work them further woe or shame; [555]

Yet, parched with scalding thirst and hunger fierce,

Though to delude them sent, could not abstain;

But on they rolled in heaps, and, up the trees

Climbing, sat thicker than the snaky locks

That curled Megaera: greedily they plucked [560]

The fruitage fair to sight, like that which grew

Near that bituminous lake where Sodom flamed;

This more delusive, not the touch, but taste

Deceived; they, fondly thinking to allay

Their appetite with gust, instead of fruit [565]

Chewed bitter ashes, which the offended taste

With spattering noise rejected: oft they assayed,

Hunger and thirst constraining; drugged as oft,

With hatefullest disrelish writhed their jaws,

With soot and cinders filled; so oft they fell [570]

Into the same illusion, not as Man

Whom they triumphed once lapsed. Thus were they plagued

And worn with famine, long and ceaseless hiss,

Till their lost shape, permitted, they resumed;

Yearly enjoined, some say, to undergo, [575]

This annual humbling certain numbered days,

To dash their pride, and joy, for Man seduced.

However, some tradition they dispersed

Among the Heathen, of their purchase got,

And fabled how the Serpent, whom they called [580]

Ophion, with Eurynome, the wide--

Encroaching Eve perhaps, had first the rule

Of high Olympus; thence by Saturn driven

And Ops, ere yet Dictaean Jove was born.

Mean while in Paradise the hellish pair [585]

Too soon arrived; Sin, there in power before,

Once actual; now in body, and to dwell

Habitual habitant; behind her Death,

Close following pace for pace, not mounted yet

On his pale horse: to whom Sin thus began. [590]

Second of Satan sprung, all-conquering Death!

What thinkest thou of our empire now, though earned

With travel difficult, not better far

Than still at Hell's dark threshold to have sat watch,

Unnamed, undreaded, and thyself half starved? [595]

Whom thus the Sin-born monster answered soon.

To me, who with eternal famine pine,

Alike is Hell, or Paradise, or Heaven;

There best, where most with ravine I may meet;

Which here, though plenteous, all too little seems [600]

To stuff this maw, this vast unhide-bound corps.

To whom the incestuous mother thus replied.

Thou therefore on these herbs, and fruits, and flowers,

Feed first; on each beast next, and fish, and fowl;

No homely morsels! and, whatever thing [605]

The sithe of Time mows down, devour unspared;

Till I, in Man residing, through the race,

His thoughts, his looks, words, actions, all infect;

And season him thy last and sweetest prey.

This said, they both betook them several ways, [610]

Both to destroy, or unimmortal make

All kinds, and for destruction to mature

Sooner or later; which the Almighty seeing,

From his transcendent seat the Saints among,

To those bright Orders uttered thus his voice. [615]

See, with what heat these dogs of Hell advance

To waste and havock yonder world, which I

So fair and good created; and had still

Kept in that state, had not the folly of Man

Let in these wasteful furies, who impute [620]

Folly to me; so doth the Prince of Hell

And his adherents, that with so much ease

I suffer them to enter and possess

A place so heavenly; and, conniving, seem

To gratify my scornful enemies, [625]

That laugh, as if, transported with some fit

Of passion, I to them had quitted all,

At random yielded up to their misrule;

And know not that I called, and drew them thither,

My Hell-hounds, to lick up the draff and filth [630]

Which Man's polluting sin with taint hath shed

On what was pure; til, crammed and gorged, nigh burst

With sucked and glutted offal, at one sling

Of thy victorious arm, well-pleasing Son,

Both Sin, and Death, and yawning Grave, at last, [635]

Through Chaos hurled, obstruct the mouth of Hell

For ever, and seal up his ravenous jaws.

Then Heaven and Earth renewed shall be made pure

To sanctity, that shall receive no stain:

Till then, the curse pronounced on both precedes. [640]

He ended, and the heavenly audience loud

Sung Halleluiah, as the sound of seas,

Through multitude that sung: Just are thy ways,

Righteous are thy decrees on all thy works;

Who can extenuate thee? Next, to the Son, [645]

Destined Restorer of mankind, by whom

New Heaven and Earth shall to the ages rise,

Or down from Heaven descend.--Such was their song;

While the Creator, calling forth by name

His mighty Angels, gave them several charge, [650]

As sorted best with present things. The sun

Had first his precept so to move, so shine,

As might affect the earth with cold and heat

Scarce tolerable; and from the north to call

Decrepit winter; from the south to bring [655]

Solstitial summer's heat. To the blanc moon

Her office they prescribed; to the other five

Their planetary motions, and aspects,

In sextile, square, and trine, and opposite,

Of noxious efficacy, and when to join [660]

In synod unbenign; and taught the fixed

Their influence malignant when to shower,

Which of them rising with the sun, or falling,

Should prove tempestuous: To the winds they set

Their corners, when with bluster to confound [665]

Sea, air, and shore; the thunder when to roll

With terrour through the dark aereal hall.

Some say, he bid his Angels turn ascanse

The poles of earth, twice ten degrees and more,

From the sun's axle; they with labour pushed [670]

Oblique the centrick globe: Some say, the sun

Was bid turn reins from the equinoctial road

Like distant breadth to Taurus with the seven

Atlantick Sisters, and the Spartan Twins,

Up to the Tropick Crab: thence down amain [675]

By Leo, and the Virgin, and the Scales,

As deep as Capricorn; to bring in change

Of seasons to each clime; else had the spring

Perpetual smiled on earth with vernant flowers,

Equal in days and nights, except to those [680]

Beyond the polar circles; to them day

Had unbenighted shone, while the low sun,

To recompense his distance, in their sight

Had rounded still the horizon, and not known

Or east or west; which had forbid the snow [685]

From cold Estotiland, and south as far

Beneath Magellan. At that tasted fruit

The sun, as from Thyestean banquet, turned

His course intended; else, how had the world

Inhabited, though sinless, more than now, [690]

Avoided pinching cold and scorching heat?

These changes in the Heavens, though slow, produced

Like change on sea and land; sideral blast,

Vapour, and mist, and exhalation hot,

Corrupt and pestilent: Now from the north [695]

Of Norumbega, and the Samoed shore,

Bursting their brazen dungeon, armed with ice,

And snow, and hail, and stormy gust and flaw,

Boreas, and Caecias, and Argestes loud,

And Thrascias, rend the woods, and seas upturn; [700]

With adverse blast upturns them from the south

Notus, and Afer black with thunderous clouds

From Serraliona; thwart of these, as fierce,

Forth rush the Levant and the Ponent winds,

Eurus and Zephyr, with their lateral noise, [705]

Sirocco and Libecchio. Thus began

Outrage from lifeless things; but Discord first,

Daughter of Sin, among the irrational

Death introduced, through fierce antipathy:

Beast now with beast 'gan war, and fowl with fowl, [710]

And fish with fish; to graze the herb all leaving,

Devoured each other; nor stood much in awe

Of Man, but fled him; or, with countenance grim,

Glared on him passing. These were from without

The growing miseries, which Adam saw [715]

Already in part, though hid in gloomiest shade,

To sorrow abandoned, but worse felt within;

And, in a troubled sea of passion tost,

Thus to disburden sought with sad complaint.

O miserable of happy! Is this the end [720]

Of this new glorious world, and me so late

The glory of that glory, who now become

Accursed, of blessed? hide me from the face

Of God, whom to behold was then my highth

Of happiness!--Yet well, if here would end [725]

The misery; I deserved it, and would bear

My own deservings; but this will not serve:

All that I eat or drink, or shall beget,

Is propagated curse. O voice, once heard

Delightfully, Encrease and multiply; [730]

Now death to hear! for what can I encrease,

Or multiply, but curses on my head?

Who of all ages to succeed, but, feeling

The evil on him brought by me, will curse

My head? Ill fare our ancestor impure, [735]

For this we may thank Adam! but his thanks

Shall be the execration: so, besides

Mine own that bide upon me, all from me

Shall with a fierce reflux on me rebound;

On me, as on their natural center, light [740]

Heavy, though in their place. O fleeting joys

Of Paradise, dear bought with lasting woes!

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay

To mould me Man? did I solicit thee

From darkness to promote me, or here place [745]

In this delicious garden? As my will

Concurred not to my being, it were but right

And equal to reduce me to my dust;

Desirous to resign and render back

All I received; unable to perform [750]

Thy terms too hard, by which I was to hold

The good I sought not. To the loss of that,

Sufficient penalty, why hast thou added

The sense of endless woes? Inexplicable

Thy justice seems; yet to say truth, too late [755]

I thus contest; then should have been refused

Those terms whatever, when they were proposed:

Thou didst accept them; wilt thou enjoy the good,

Then cavil the conditions? And, though God

Made thee without thy leave, what if thy son [760]

Prove disobedient, and reproved, retort,

"Wherefore didst thou beget me? I sought it not!"

Wouldst thou admit for his contempt of thee

That proud excuse? yet him not thy election,

But natural necessity begot. [765]

God made thee of choice his own, and of his own

To serve him; thy reward was of his grace;

Thy punishment then, justly is at his will.

Be it so, for I submit; his doom is fair,

That dust I am, and shall to dust return. [770]

O welcome hour whenever! Why delays

His hand to execute what his decree

Fixed on this day? Why do I overlive,

Why am I mocked with death, and lengthened out

To deathless pain? How gladly would I meet [775]

Mortality my sentence, and be earth

Insensible! How glad would lay me down

As in my mother's lap! There I should rest,

And sleep secure; his dreadful voice no more

Would thunder in my ears; no fear of worse [780]

To me, and to my offspring, would torment me

With cruel expectation. Yet one doubt

Pursues me still, lest all I cannot die;

Lest that pure breath of life, the spirit of Man

Which God inspired, cannot together perish [785]

With this corporeal clod; then, in the grave,

Or in some other dismal place, who knows

But I shall die a living death? O thought

Horrid, if true! Yet why? It was but breath

Of life that sinned; what dies but what had life [790]

And sin? The body properly had neither,

All of me then shall die: let this appease

The doubt, since human reach no further knows.

For though the Lord of all be infinite,

Is his wrath also? Be it, Man is not so, [795]

But mortal doomed. How can he exercise

Wrath without end on Man, whom death must end?

Can he make deathless death? That were to make

Strange contradiction, which to God himself

Impossible is held; as argument [800]

Of weakness, not of power. Will he draw out,

For anger's sake, finite to infinite,

In punished Man, to satisfy his rigour,

Satisfied never? That were to extend

His sentence beyond dust and Nature's law; [805]

By which all causes else, according still

To the reception of their matter, act;

Not to the extent of their own sphere. But say

That death be not one stroke, as I supposed,

Bereaving sense, but endless misery [810]

From this day onward; which I feel begun

Both in me, and without me; and so last

To perpetuity;--Ay me! that fear

Comes thundering back with dreadful revolution

On my defenceless head; both Death and I [815]

Am found eternal, and incorporate both;

Nor I on my part single; in me all

Posterity stands cursed: Fair patrimony

That I must leave ye, Sons! O, were I able

To waste it all myself, and leave ye none! [820]

So disinherited, how would you bless

Me, now your curse! Ah, why should all mankind,

For one man's fault, thus guiltless be condemned,

It guiltless? But from me what can proceed,

But all corrupt; both mind and will depraved [825]

Not to do only, but to will the same

With me? How can they then acquitted stand

In sight of God? Him, after all disputes,

Forced I absolve: all my evasions vain,

And reasonings, though through mazes, lead me still [830]

But to my own conviction: first and last

On me, me only, as the source and spring

Of all corruption, all the blame lights due;

So might the wrath! Fond wish! couldst thou support

That burden, heavier than the earth to bear; [835]

Than all the world much heavier, though divided

With that bad Woman? Thus, what thou desirest,

And what thou fearest, alike destroys all hope

Of refuge, and concludes thee miserable

Beyond all past example and future; [840]

To Satan only like both crime and doom.

O Conscience! into what abyss of fears

And horrours hast thou driven me; out of which

I find no way, from deep to deeper plunged!

Thus Adam to himself lamented loud, [845]

Through the still night; not now, as ere Man fell,

Wholesome, and cool, and mild, but with black air

Accompanied; with damps, and dreadful gloom;

Which to his evil conscience represented

All things with double terrour: On the ground [850]

Outstretched he lay, on the cold ground; and oft

Cursed his creation; Death as oft accused

Of tardy execution, since denounced

The day of his offence. Why comes not Death,

Said he, with one thrice-acceptable stroke [855]

To end me? Shall Truth fail to keep her word,

Justice Divine not hasten to be just?

But Death comes not at call; Justice Divine

Mends not her slowest pace for prayers or cries,

O woods, O fountains, hillocks, dales, and bowers! [860]

With other echo late I taught your shades

To answer, and resound far other song.--

Whom thus afflicted when sad Eve beheld,

Desolate where she sat, approaching nigh,

Soft words to his fierce passion she assayed: [865]

But her with stern regard he thus repelled.

Out of my sight, thou Serpent! That name best

Befits thee with him leagued, thyself as false

And hateful; nothing wants, but that thy shape,

Like his, and colour serpentine, may show [870]

Thy inward fraud; to warn all creatures from thee

Henceforth; lest that too heavenly form, pretended

To hellish falshood, snare them! But for thee

I had persisted happy; had not thy pride

And wandering vanity, when least was safe, [875]

Rejected my forewarning, and disdained

Not to be trusted; longing to be seen,

Though by the Devil himself; him overweening

To over-reach; but, with the serpent meeting,

Fooled and beguiled; by him thou, I by thee [880]

To trust thee from my side; imagined wise,

Constant, mature, proof against all assaults;

And understood not all was but a show,

Rather than solid virtue; all but a rib

Crooked by nature, bent, as now appears, [885]

More to the part sinister, from me drawn;

Well if thrown out, as supernumerary

To my just number found. O! why did God,

Creator wise, that peopled highest Heaven

With Spirits masculine, create at last [890]

This novelty on earth, this fair defect

Of nature, and not fill the world at once

With Men, as Angels, without feminine;

Or find some other way to generate

Mankind? This mischief had not been befallen, [895]

And more that shall befall; innumerable

Disturbances on earth through female snares,

And strait conjunction with this sex: for either

He never shall find out fit mate, but such

As some misfortune brings him, or mistake; [900]

Or whom he wishes most shall seldom gain

Through her perverseness, but shall see her gained

By a far worse; or, if she love, withheld

By parents; or his happiest choice too late

Shall meet, already linked and wedlock-bound [905]

To a fell adversary, his hate or shame:

Which infinite calamity shall cause

To human life, and houshold peace confound.

He added not, and from her turned; but Eve,

Not so repulsed, with tears that ceased not flowing [910]

And tresses all disordered, at his feet

Fell humble; and, embracing them, besought

His peace, and thus proceeded in her plaint.

Forsake me not thus, Adam! witness Heaven

What love sincere, and reverence in my heart [915]

I bear thee, and unweeting have offended,

Unhappily deceived! Thy suppliant

I beg, and clasp thy knees; bereave me not,

Whereon I live, thy gentle looks, thy aid,

Thy counsel, in this uttermost distress, [920]

My only strength and stay: Forlorn of thee,

Whither shall I betake me, where subsist?

While yet we live, scarce one short hour perhaps,

Between us two let there be peace; both joining,

As joined in injuries, one enmity [925]

Against a foe by doom express assigned us,

That cruel Serpent: On me exercise not

Thy hatred for this misery befallen;

On me already lost, me than thyself

More miserable! Both have sinned; but thou [930]

Against God only; I against God and thee;

And to the place of judgement will return,

There with my cries importune Heaven; that all

The sentence, from thy head removed, may light

On me, sole cause to thee of all this woe; [935]

Me, me only, just object of his ire!

She ended weeping; and her lowly plight,

Immoveable, till peace obtained from fault

Acknowledged and deplored, in Adam wrought

Commiseration: Soon his heart relented [940]

Towards her, his life so late, and sole delight,

Now at his feet submissive in distress;

Creature so fair his reconcilement seeking,

His counsel, whom she had displeased, his aid:

As one disarmed, his anger all he lost, [945]

And thus with peaceful words upraised her soon.

Unwary, and too desirous, as before,

So now of what thou knowest not, who desirest

The punishment all on thyself; alas!

Bear thine own first, ill able to sustain [950]

His full wrath, whose thou feelest as yet least part,

And my displeasure bearest so ill. If prayers

Could alter high decrees, I to that place

Would speed before thee, and be louder heard,

That on my head all might be visited; [955]

Thy frailty and infirmer sex forgiven,

To me committed, and by me exposed.

But rise;--let us no more contend, nor blame

Each other, blamed enough elsewhere; but strive

In offices of love, how we may lighten [960]

Each other's burden, in our share of woe;

Since this day's death denounced, if aught I see,

Will prove no sudden, but a slow-paced evil;

A long day's dying, to augment our pain;

And to our seed (O hapless seed!) derived. [965]

To whom thus Eve, recovering heart, replied.

Adam, by sad experiment I know

How little weight my words with thee can find,

Found so erroneous; thence by just event

Found so unfortunate: Nevertheless, [970]

Restored by thee, vile as I am, to place

Of new acceptance, hopeful to regain

Thy love, the sole contentment of my heart

Living or dying, from thee I will not hide

What thoughts in my unquiet breast are risen, [975]

Tending to some relief of our extremes,

Or end; though sharp and sad, yet tolerable,

As in our evils, and of easier choice.

If care of our descent perplex us most,

Which must be born to certain woe, devoured [980]

By Death at last; and miserable it is

To be to others cause of misery,

Our own begotten, and of our loins to bring

Into this cursed world a woeful race,

That after wretched life must be at last [985]

Food for so foul a monster; in thy power

It lies, yet ere conception to prevent

The race unblest, to being yet unbegot.

Childless thou art, childless remain: so Death

Shall be deceived his glut, and with us two [990]

Be forced to satisfy his ravenous maw.

But if thou judge it hard and difficult,

Conversing, looking, loving, to abstain

From love's due rights, nuptial embraces sweet;

And with desire to languish without hope, [995]

Before the present object languishing

With like desire; which would be misery

And torment less than none of what we dread;

Then, both ourselves and seed at once to free

From what we fear for both, let us make short,-- [1000]

Let us seek Death;--or, he not found, supply

With our own hands his office on ourselves:

Why stand we longer shivering under fears,

That show no end but death, and have the power,

Of many ways to die the shortest choosing, [1005]

Destruction with destruction to destroy?--

She ended here, or vehement despair

Broke off the rest: so much of death her thoughts

Had entertained, as dyed her cheeks with pale.

But Adam, with such counsel nothing swayed, [1010]

To better hopes his more attentive mind

Labouring had raised; and thus to Eve replied.

Eve, thy contempt of life and pleasure seems

To argue in thee something more sublime

And excellent, than what thy mind contemns; [1015]

But self-destruction therefore sought, refutes

That excellence thought in thee; and implies,

Not thy contempt, but anguish and regret

For loss of life and pleasure overloved.

Or if thou covet death, as utmost end [1020]

Of misery, so thinking to evade

The penalty pronounced; doubt not but God

Hath wiselier armed his vengeful ire, than so

To be forestalled; much more I fear lest death,

So snatched, will not exempt us from the pain [1025]

We are by doom to pay; rather, such acts

Of contumacy will provoke the Highest

To make death in us live: Then let us seek

Some safer resolution, which methinks

I have in view, calling to mind with heed [1030]

Part of our sentence, that thy seed shall bruise

The Serpent's head; piteous amends! unless

Be meant, whom I conjecture, our grand foe,

Satan; who, in the serpent, hath contrived

Against us this deceit: To crush his head [1035]

Would be revenge indeed! which will be lost

By death brought on ourselves, or childless days

Resolved, as thou proposest; so our foe

Shal 'scape his punishment ordained, and we

Instead shall double ours upon our heads. [1040]

No more be mentioned then of violence

Against ourselves; and wilful barrenness,

That cuts us off from hope; and savours only

Rancour and pride, impatience and despite,

Reluctance against God and his just yoke [1045]

Laid on our necks. Remember with what mild

And gracious temper he both heard, and judged,

Without wrath or reviling; we expected

Immediate dissolution, which we thought

Was meant by death that day; when lo! to thee [1050]

Pains only in child-bearing were foretold,

And bringing forth; soon recompensed with joy,

Fruit of thy womb: On me the curse aslope

Glanced on the ground; with labour I must earn

My bread; what harm? Idleness had been worse; [1055]

My labour will sustain me; and, lest cold

Or heat should injure us, his timely care

Hath, unbesought, provided; and his hands

Clothed us unworthy, pitying while he judged;

How much more, if we pray him, will his ear [1060]

Be open, and his heart to pity incline,

And teach us further by what means to shun

The inclement seasons, rain, ice, hail, and snow!

Which now the sky, with various face, begins

To show us in this mountain; while the winds [1065]

Blow moist and keen, shattering the graceful locks

Of these fair spreading trees; which bids us seek

Some better shroud, some better warmth to cherish

Our limbs benummed, ere this diurnal star

Leave cold the night, how we his gathered beams [1070]

Reflected may with matter sere foment;

Or, by collision of two bodies, grind

The air attrite to fire; as late the clouds

Justling, or pushed with winds, rude in their shock,

Tine the slant lightning; whose thwart flame, driven down [1075]

Kindles the gummy bark of fir or pine;

And sends a comfortable heat from far,

Which might supply the sun: Such fire to use,

And what may else be remedy or cure

To evils which our own misdeeds have wrought, [1080]

He will instruct us praying, and of grace

Beseeching him; so as we need not fear

To pass commodiously this life, sustained

By him with many comforts, till we end

In dust, our final rest and native home. [1085]

What better can we do, than, to the place

Repairing where he judged us, prostrate fall

Before him reverent; and there confess

Humbly our faults, and pardon beg; with tears

Watering the ground, and with our sighs the air [1090]

Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign

Of sorrow unfeigned, and humiliation meek.

Undoubtedly he will relent, and turn

From his displeasure; in whose look serene,

When angry most he seemed and most severe, [1095]

What else but favour, grace, and mercy, shone?

So spake our father penitent; nor Eve

Felt less remorse: they, forthwith to the place

Repairing where he judged them, prostrate fell

Before him reverent; and both confessed [1100]

Humbly their faults, and pardon begged; with tears

Watering the ground, and with their sighs the air

Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign

Of sorrow unfeigned, and humiliation meek.

Book XI

Thus they, in lowliest plight, repentant stood

Praying; for from the mercy-seat above

Prevenient grace descending had removed

The stony from their hearts, and made new flesh

Regenerate grow instead; that sighs now breathed [5]

Unutterable; which the Spirit of prayer

Inspired, and winged for Heaven with speedier flight

Than loudest oratory: Yet their port

Not of mean suitors; nor important less

Seemed their petition, than when the ancient pair [10]

In fables old, less ancient yet than these,

Deucalion and chaste Pyrrha, to restore

The race of mankind drowned, before the shrine

Of Themis stood devout. To Heaven their prayers

Flew up, nor missed the way, by envious winds [15]

Blown vagabond or frustrate: in they passed

Dimensionless through heavenly doors; then clad

With incense, where the golden altar fumed,

By their great intercessour, came in sight

Before the Father's throne: them the glad Son [20]

Presenting, thus to intercede began.

See Father, what first-fruits on earth are sprung

From thy implanted grace in Man; these sighs

And prayers, which in this golden censer mixed

With incense, I thy priest before thee bring; [25]

Fruits of more pleasing savour, from thy seed

Sown with contrition in his heart, than those

Which, his own hand manuring, all the trees

Of Paradise could have produced, ere fallen

From innocence. Now therefore, bend thine ear [30]

To supplication; hear his sighs, though mute;

Unskilful with what words to pray, let me

Interpret for him; me, his advocate

And propitiation; all his works on me,

Good, or not good, ingraft; my merit those [35]

Shall perfect, and for these my death shall pay.

Accept me; and, in me, from these receive

The smell of peace toward mankind: let him live

Before thee reconciled, at least his days

Numbered, though sad; till death, his doom, (which I [40]

To mitigate thus plead, not to reverse,)

To better life shall yield him: where with me

All my redeemed may dwell in joy and bliss;

Made one with me, as I with thee am one.

To whom the Father, without cloud, serene. [45]

All thy request for Man, accepted Son,

Obtain; all thy request was my decree:

But, longer in that Paradise to dwell,

The law I gave to Nature him forbids:

Those pure immortal elements, that know, [50]

No gross, no unharmonious mixture foul,

Eject him, tainted now; and purge him off,

As a distemper, gross, to air as gross,

And mortal food; as may dispose him best

For dissolution wrought by sin, that first [55]

Distempered all things, and of incorrupt

Corrupted. I, at first, with two fair gifts

Created him endowed; with happiness,

And immortality: that fondly lost,

This other served but to eternize woe; [60]

Till I provided death: so death becomes

His final remedy; and, after life,

Tried in sharp tribulation, and refined

By faith and faithful works, to second life,

Waked in the renovation of the just, [65]

Resigns him up with Heaven and Earth renewed.

But let us call to synod all the Blest,

Through Heaven's wide bounds: from them I will not hide

My judgements; how with mankind I proceed,

As how with peccant Angels late they saw, [70]

And in their state, though firm, stood more confirmed.

He ended, and the Son gave signal high

To the bright minister that watched; he blew

His trumpet, heard in Oreb since perhaps

When God descended, and perhaps once more [75]

To sound at general doom. The angelick blast

Filled all the regions: from their blisful bowers

Of amarantine shade, fountain or spring,

By the waters of life, where'er they sat

In fellowships of joy, the sons of light [80]

Hasted, resorting to the summons high;

And took their seats; till from his throne supreme

The Almighty thus pronounced his sovran will.

O Sons, like one of us Man is become

To know both good and evil, since his taste [85]

Of that defended fruit; but let him boast

His knowledge of good lost, and evil got;

Happier! had it sufficed him to have known

Good by itself, and evil not at all.

He sorrows now, repents, and prays contrite, [90]

My motions in him; longer than they move,

His heart I know, how variable and vain,

Self-left. Lest therefore his now bolder hand

Reach also of the tree of life, and eat,

And live for ever, dream at least to live [95]

For ever, to remove him I decree,

And send him from the garden forth to till

The ground whence he was taken, fitter soil.

Michael, this my behest have thou in charge;

Take to thee from among the Cherubim [100]

Thy choice of flaming warriours, lest the Fiend,

Or in behalf of Man, or to invade

Vacant possession, some new trouble raise:

Haste thee, and from the Paradise of God

Without remorse drive out the sinful pair; [105]

From hallowed ground the unholy; and denounce

To them, and to their progeny, from thence

Perpetual banishment. Yet, lest they faint

At the sad sentence rigorously urged,

(For I behold them softened, and with tears [110]

Bewailing their excess,) all terrour hide.

If patiently thy bidding they obey,

Dismiss them not disconsolate; reveal

To Adam what shall come in future days,

As I shall thee enlighten; intermix [115]

My covenant in the Woman's seed renewed;

So send them forth, though sorrowing, yet in peace:

And on the east side of the garden place,

Where entrance up from Eden easiest climbs,

Cherubick watch; and of a sword the flame [120]

Wide-waving; all approach far off to fright,

And guard all passage to the tree of life:

Lest Paradise a receptacle prove

To Spirits foul, and all my trees their prey;

With whose stolen fruit Man once more to delude. [125]

He ceased; and the arch-angelick Power prepared

For swift descent; with him the cohort bright

Of watchful Cherubim: four faces each

Had, like a double Janus; all their shape

Spangled with eyes more numerous than those [130]

Of Argus, and more wakeful than to drouse,

Charmed with Arcadian pipe, the pastoral reed

Of Hermes, or his opiate rod. Mean while,

To re-salute the world with sacred light,

Leucothea waked; and with fresh dews imbalmed [135]

The earth; when Adam and first matron Eve

Had ended now their orisons, and found

Strength added from above; new hope to spring

Out of despair; joy, but with fear yet linked;

Which thus to Eve his welcome words renewed. [140]

Eve, easily my faith admit, that all

The good which we enjoy from Heaven descends;

But, that from us aught should ascend to Heaven

So prevalent as to concern the mind

Of God high-blest, or to incline his will, [145]

Hard to belief may seem; yet this will prayer

Or one short sigh of human breath, upborne

Even to the seat of God. For since I sought

By prayer the offended Deity to appease;

Kneeled, and before him humbled all my heart; [150]

Methought I saw him placable and mild,

Bending his ear; persuasion in me grew

That I was heard with favour; peace returned

Home to my breast, and to my memory

His promise, that thy seed shall bruise our foe; [155]

Which, then not minded in dismay, yet now

Assures me that the bitterness of death

Is past, and we shall live. Whence hail to thee,

Eve rightly called, mother of all mankind,

Mother of all things living, since by thee [160]

Man is to live; and all things live for Man.

To whom thus Eve with sad demeanour meek.

Ill-worthy I such title should belong

To me transgressour; who, for thee ordained

A help, became thy snare; to me reproach [165]

Rather belongs, distrust, and all dispraise:

But infinite in pardon was my Judge,

That I, who first brought death on all, am graced

The source of life; next favourable thou,

Who highly thus to entitle me vouchsaf'st, [170]

Far other name deserving. But the field

To labour calls us, now with sweat imposed,

Though after sleepless night; for see! the morn,

All unconcerned with our unrest, begins

Her rosy progress smiling: let us forth; [175]

I never from thy side henceforth to stray,

Where'er our day's work lies, though now enjoined

Laborious, till day droop; while here we dwell,

What can be toilsome in these pleasant walks?

Here let us live, though in fallen state, content. [180]

So spake, so wished much humbled Eve; but Fate

Subscribed not: Nature first gave signs, impressed

On bird, beast, air; air suddenly eclipsed,

After short blush of morn; nigh in her sight

The bird of Jove, stooped from his aery tour, [185]

Two birds of gayest plume before him drove;

Down from a hill the beast that reigns in woods,

First hunter then, pursued a gentle brace,

Goodliest of all the forest, hart and hind;

Direct to the eastern gate was bent their flight. [190]

Adam observed, and with his eye the chase

Pursuing, not unmoved, to Eve thus spake.

O Eve, some further change awaits us nigh,

Which Heaven, by these mute signs in Nature, shows

Forerunners of his purpose; or to warn [195]

Us, haply too secure, of our discharge

From penalty, because from death released

Some days: how long, and what till then our life,

Who knows? or more than this, that we are dust,

And thither must return, and be no more? [200]

Why else this double object in our sight

Of flight pursued in the air, and o'er the ground,

One way the self-same hour? why in the east

Darkness ere day's mid-course, and morning-light

More orient in yon western cloud, that draws [205]

O'er the blue firmament a radiant white,

And slow descends with something heavenly fraught?

He erred not; for by this the heavenly bands

Down from a sky of jasper lighted now

In Paradise, and on a hill made halt; [210]

A glorious apparition, had not doubt

And carnal fear that day dimmed Adam's eye.

Not that more glorious, when the Angels met

Jacob in Mahanaim, where he saw

The field pavilioned with his guardians bright; [215]

Nor that, which on the flaming mount appeared

In Dothan, covered with a camp of fire,

Against the Syrian king, who to surprise

One man, assassin-like, had levied war,

War unproclaimed. The princely Hierarch [220]

In their bright stand there left his Powers, to seise

Possession of the garden; he alone,

To find where Adam sheltered, took his way,

Not unperceived of Adam; who to Eve,

While the great visitant approached, thus spake. [225]

Eve, now expect great tidings, which perhaps

Of us will soon determine, or impose

New laws to be observed; for I descry,

From yonder blazing cloud that veils the hill,

One of the heavenly host; and, by his gait, [230]

None of the meanest; some great Potentate

Or of the Thrones above; such majesty

Invests him coming! yet not terrible,

That I should fear; nor sociably mild,

As Raphael, that I should much confide; [235]

But solemn and sublime; whom not to offend,

With reverence I must meet, and thou retire.

He ended: and the Arch-Angel soon drew nigh,

Not in his shape celestial, but as man

Clad to meet man; over his lucid arms [240]

A military vest of purple flowed,

Livelier than Meliboean, or the grain

Of Sarra, worn by kings and heroes old

In time of truce; Iris had dipt the woof;

His starry helm unbuckled showed him prime [245]

In manhood where youth ended; by his side,

As in a glistering zodiack, hung the sword,

Satan's dire dread; and in his hand the spear.

Adam bowed low; he, kingly, from his state

Inclined not, but his coming thus declared. [250]

Adam, Heaven's high behest no preface needs:

Sufficient that thy prayers are heard; and Death,

Then due by sentence when thou didst transgress,

Defeated of his seisure many days

Given thee of grace; wherein thou mayest repent, [255]

And one bad act with many deeds well done

Mayest cover: Well may then thy Lord, appeased,

Redeem thee quite from Death's rapacious claim;

But longer in this Paradise to dwell

Permits not: to remove thee I am come, [260]

And send thee from the garden forth to till

The ground whence thou wast taken, fitter soil.

He added not; for Adam at the news

Heart-struck with chilling gripe of sorrow stood,

That all his senses bound; Eve, who unseen [265]

Yet all had heard, with audible lament

Discovered soon the place of her retire.

O unexpected stroke, worse than of Death!

Must I thus leave thee Paradise? thus leave

Thee, native soil! these happy walks and shades, [270]

Fit haunt of Gods? where I had hope to spend,

Quiet though sad, the respite of that day

That must be mortal to us both. O flowers,

That never will in other climate grow,

My early visitation, and my last [275]

At even, which I bred up with tender hand

From the first opening bud, and gave ye names,

Who now shall rear ye to the sun, or rank

Your tribes, and water from the ambrosial fount?

Thee lastly, nuptial bower! by me adorned [280]

With what to sight or smell was sweet! from thee

How shall I part, and whither wander down

Into a lower world; to this obscure

And wild, how shall we breathe in other air

Less pure, accustomed to immortal fruits? [285]

Whom thus the Angel interrupted mild.

Lament not, Eve, but patiently resign

What justly thou hast lost, nor set thy heart,

Thus over-fond, on that which is not thine:

Thy going is not lonely; with thee goes [290]

Thy husband; whom to follow thou art bound;

Where he abides, think there thy native soil.

Adam, by this from the cold sudden damp

Recovering, and his scattered spirits returned,

To Michael thus his humble words addressed. [295]

Celestial, whether among the Thrones, or named

Of them the highest; for such of shape may seem

Prince above princes! gently hast thou told

Thy message, which might else in telling wound,

And in performing end us; what besides [300]

Of sorrow, and dejection, and despair,

Our frailty can sustain, thy tidings bring,

Departure from this happy place, our sweet

Recess, and only consolation left

Familiar to our eyes! all places else [305]

Inhospitable appear, and desolate;

Nor knowing us, nor known: And, if by prayer

Incessant I could hope to change the will

Of Him who all things can, I would not cease

To weary him with my assiduous cries: [310]

But prayer against his absolute decree

No more avails than breath against the wind,

Blown stifling back on him that breathes it forth:

Therefore to his great bidding I submit.

This most afflicts me, that, departing hence, [315]

As from his face I shall be hid, deprived

His blessed countenance: Here I could frequent

With worship place by place where he vouchsafed

Presence Divine; and to my sons relate,

On this mount he appeared; under this tree [320]

Stood visible; among these pines his voice

I heard; here with him at this fountain talked:

So many grateful altars I would rear

Of grassy turf, and pile up every stone

Of lustre from the brook, in memory, [325]

Or monument to ages; and theron

Offer sweet-smelling gums, and fruits, and flowers:

In yonder nether world where shall I seek

His bright appearances, or foot-step trace?

For though I fled him angry, yet recalled [330]

To life prolonged and promised race, I now

Gladly behold though but his utmost skirts

Of glory; and far off his steps adore.

To whom thus Michael with regard benign.

Adam, thou knowest Heaven his, and all the Earth; [335]

Not this rock only; his Omnipresence fills

Land, sea, and air, and every kind that lives,

Fomented by his virtual power and warmed:

All the earth he gave thee to possess and rule,

No despicable gift; surmise not then [340]

His presence to these narrow bounds confined

Of Paradise, or Eden: this had been

Perhaps thy capital seat, from whence had spread

All generations; and had hither come

From all the ends of the earth, to celebrate [345]

And reverence thee, their great progenitor.

But this pre-eminence thou hast lost, brought down

To dwell on even ground now with thy sons:

Yet doubt not but in valley, and in plain,

God is, as here; and will be found alike [350]

Present; and of his presence many a sign

Still following thee, still compassing thee round

With goodness and paternal love, his face

Express, and of his steps the track divine.

Which that thou mayest believe, and be confirmed [355]

Ere thou from hence depart; know, I am sent

To show thee what shall come in future days

To thee, and to thy offspring: good with bad

Expect to hear; supernal grace contending

With sinfulness of men; thereby to learn [360]

True patience, and to temper joy with fear

And pious sorrow; equally inured

By moderation either state to bear,

Prosperous or adverse: so shalt thou lead

Safest thy life, and best prepared endure [365]

Thy mortal passage when it comes.--Ascend

This hill; let Eve (for I have drenched her eyes)

Here sleep below; while thou to foresight wakest;

As once thou sleptst, while she to life was formed.

To whom thus Adam gratefully replied. [370]

Ascend, I follow thee, safe Guide, the path

Thou leadest me; and to the hand of Heaven submit,

However chastening; to the evil turn

My obvious breast; arming to overcome

By suffering, and earn rest from labour won, [375]

If so I may attain.--So both ascend

In the visions of God. It was a hill,

Of Paradise the highest; from whose top

The hemisphere of earth, in clearest ken,

Stretched out to the amplest reach of prospect lay. [380]

Not higher that hill, nor wider looking round,

Whereon, for different cause, the Tempter set

Our second Adam, in the wilderness;

To show him all Earth's kingdoms, and their glory.

His eye might there command wherever stood [385]

City of old or modern fame, the seat

Of mightiest empire, from the destined walls

Of Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Can,

And Samarchand by Oxus, Temir's throne,

To Paquin of Sinaean kings; and thence [390]

To Agra and Lahor of great Mogul,

Down to the golden Chersonese; or where

The Persian in Ecbatan sat, or since

In Hispahan; or where the Russian Ksar

In Mosco; or the Sultan in Bizance, [395]

Turchestan-born; nor could his eye not ken

The empire of Negus to his utmost port

Ercoco, and the less maritim kings

Mombaza, and Quiloa, and Melind,

And Sofala, thought Ophir, to the realm [400]

Of Congo, and Angola farthest south;

Or thence from Niger flood to Atlas mount

The kingdoms of Almansor, Fez and Sus,

Morocco, and Algiers, and Tremisen;

On Europe thence, and where Rome was to sway [405]

The world: in spirit perhaps he also saw

Rich Mexico, the seat of Montezume,

And Cusco in Peru, the richer seat

Of Atabalipa; and yet unspoiled

Guiana, whose great city Geryon's sons [410]

Call El Dorado. But to nobler sights

Michael from Adam's eyes the film removed,

Which that false fruit that promised clearer sight

Had bred; then purged with euphrasy and rue

The visual nerve, for he had much to see; [415]

And from the well of life three drops instilled.

So deep the power of these ingredients pierced,

Even to the inmost seat of mental sight,

That Adam, now enforced to close his eyes,

Sunk down, and all his spirits became entranced; [420]

But him the gentle Angel by the hand

Soon raised, and his attention thus recalled.

Adam, now ope thine eyes; and first behold

The effects, which thy original crime hath wrought

In some to spring from thee; who never touched [425]

The excepted tree; nor with the snake conspired;

Nor sinned thy sin; yet from that sin derive

Corruption, to bring forth more violent deeds.

His eyes he opened, and beheld a field,

Part arable and tilth, whereon were sheaves [430]

New reaped; the other part sheep-walks and folds;

I' the midst an altar as the land-mark stood,

Rustick, of grassy sord; thither anon

A sweaty reaper from his tillage brought

First fruits, the green ear, and the yellow sheaf, [435]

Unculled, as came to hand; a shepherd next,

More meek, came with the firstlings of his flock,

Choicest and best; then, sacrificing, laid

The inwards and their fat, with incense strowed,

On the cleft wood, and all due rights performed: [440]

His offering soon propitious fire from Heaven

Consumed with nimble glance, and grateful steam;

The other's not, for his was not sincere;

Whereat he inly raged, and, as they talked,

Smote him into the midriff with a stone [445]

That beat out life; he fell; and, deadly pale,

Groaned out his soul with gushing blood effused.

Much at that sight was Adam in his heart

Dismayed, and thus in haste to the Angel cried.

O Teacher, some great mischief hath befallen [450]

To that meek man, who well had sacrificed;

Is piety thus and pure devotion paid?

To whom Michael thus, he also moved, replied.

These two are brethren, Adam, and to come

Out of thy loins; the unjust the just hath slain, [455]

For envy that his brother's offering found

From Heaven acceptance; but the bloody fact

Will be avenged; and the other's faith, approved,

Lose no reward; though here thou see him die,

Rolling in dust and gore. To which our sire. [460]

Alas! both for the deed, and for the cause!

But have I now seen Death? Is this the way

I must return to native dust? O sight

Of terrour, foul and ugly to behold,

Horrid to think, how horrible to feel! [465]

To whom thus Michael. Death thou hast seen

In his first shape on Man; but many shapes

Of Death, and many are the ways that lead

To his grim cave, all dismal; yet to sense

More terrible at the entrance, than within. [470]

Some, as thou sawest, by violent stroke shall die;

By fire, flood, famine, by intemperance more

In meats and drinks, which on the earth shall bring

Diseases dire, of which a monstrous crew

Before thee shall appear; that thou mayest know [475]

What misery the inabstinence of Eve

Shall bring on Men. Immediately a place

Before his eyes appeared, sad, noisome, dark;

A lazar-house it seemed; wherein were laid

Numbers of all diseased; all maladies [480]

Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms

Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds,

Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs,

Intestine stone and ulcer, colick-pangs,

Demoniack phrenzy, moaping melancholy, [485]

And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy,

Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence,

Dropsies, and asthmas, and joint-racking rheums.

Dire was the tossing, deep the groans; Despair

Tended the sick busiest from couch to couch; [490]

And over them triumphant Death his dart

Shook, but delayed to strike, though oft invoked

With vows, as their chief good, and final hope.

Sight so deform what heart of rock could long

Dry-eyed behold? Adam could not, but wept, [495]

Though not of woman born; compassion quelled

His best of man, and gave him up to tears

A space, till firmer thoughts restrained excess;

And, scarce recovering words, his plaint renewed.

O miserable mankind, to what fall [500]

Degraded, to what wretched state reserved!

Better end here unborn. Why is life given

To be thus wrested from us? rather, why

Obtruded on us thus? who, if we knew

What we receive, would either no accept [505]

Life offered, or soon beg to lay it down;

Glad to be so dismissed in peace. Can thus

The image of God in Man, created once

So goodly and erect, though faulty since,

To such unsightly sufferings be debased [510]

Under inhuman pains? Why should not Man,

Retaining still divine similitude

In part, from such deformities be free,

And, for his Maker's image sake, exempt?

Their Maker's image, answered Michael, then [515]

Forsook them, when themselves they vilified

To serve ungoverned Appetite; and took

His image whom they served, a brutish vice,

Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve.

Therefore so abject is their punishment, [520]

Disfiguring not God's likeness, but their own;

Or if his likeness, by themselves defaced;

While they pervert pure Nature's healthful rules

To loathsome sickness; worthily, since they

God's image did not reverence in themselves. [525]

I yield it just, said Adam, and submit.

But is there yet no other way, besides

These painful passages, how we may come

To death, and mix with our connatural dust?

There is, said Michael, if thou well observe [530]

The rule of Not too much; by temperance taught,

In what thou eatest and drinkest; seeking from thence

Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight,

Till many years over thy head return:

So mayest thou live; till, like ripe fruit, thou drop [535]

Into thy mother's lap; or be with ease

Gathered, nor harshly plucked; for death mature:

This is Old Age; but then, thou must outlive

Thy youth, thy strength, thy beauty; which will change

To withered, weak, and gray; thy senses then, [540]

Obtuse, all taste of pleasure must forego,

To what thou hast; and, for the air of youth,

Hopeful and cheerful, in thy blood will reign

A melancholy damp of cold and dry

To weigh thy spirits down, and last consume [545]

The balm of life. To whom our ancestor.

Henceforth I fly not death, nor would prolong

Life much; bent rather, how I may be quit,

Fairest and easiest, of this cumbrous charge;

Which I must keep till my appointed day [550]

Of rendering up, and patiently attend

My dissolution. Michael replied.

Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou livest

Live well; how long, or short, permit to Heaven:

And now prepare thee for another sight. [555]

He looked, and saw a spacious plain, whereon

Were tents of various hue; by some, were herds

Of cattle grazing; others, whence the sound

Of instruments, that made melodious chime,

Was heard, of harp and organ; and, who moved [560]

Their stops and chords, was seen; his volant touch,

Instinct through all proportions, low and high,

Fled and pursued transverse the resonant fugue.

In other part stood one who, at the forge

Labouring, two massy clods of iron and brass [565]

Had melted, (whether found where casual fire

Had wasted woods on mountain or in vale,

Down to the veins of earth; thence gliding hot

To some cave's mouth; or whether washed by stream

From underground;) the liquid ore he drained [570]

Into fit moulds prepared; from which he formed

First his own tools; then, what might else be wrought

Fusil or graven in metal. After these,

But on the hither side, a different sort

From the high neighbouring hills, which was their seat, [575]

Down to the plain descended; by their guise

Just men they seemed, and all their study bent

To worship God aright, and know his works

Not hid; nor those things last, which might preserve

Freedom and peace to Men; they on the plain [580]

Long had not walked, when from the tents, behold!

A bevy of fair women, richly gay

In gems and wanton dress; to the harp they sung

Soft amorous ditties, and in dance came on:

The men, though grave, eyed them; and let their eyes [585]

Rove without rein; till, in the amorous net

Fast caught, they liked; and each his liking chose;

And now of love they treat, till the evening-star,

Love's harbinger, appeared; then, all in heat

They light the nuptial torch, and bid invoke [590]

Hymen, then first to marriage rites invoked:

With feast and musick all the tents resound.

Such happy interview, and fair event

Of love and youth not lost, songs, garlands, flowers,

And charming symphonies, attached the heart [595]

Of Adam, soon inclined to admit delight,

The bent of nature; which he thus expressed.

True opener of mine eyes, prime Angel blest;

Much better seems this vision, and more hope

Of peaceful days portends, than those two past; [600]

Those were of hate and death, or pain much worse;

Here Nature seems fulfilled in all her ends.

To whom thus Michael. Judge not what is best

By pleasure, though to nature seeming meet;

Created, as thou art, to nobler end [605]

Holy and pure, conformity divine.

Those tents thou sawest so pleasant, were the tents

Of wickedness, wherein shall dwell his race

Who slew his brother; studious they appear

Of arts that polish life, inventers rare; [610]

Unmindful of their Maker, though his Spirit

Taught them; but they his gifts acknowledged none.

Yet they a beauteous offspring shall beget;

For that fair female troop thou sawest, that seemed

Of Goddesses, so blithe, so smooth, so gay, [615]

Yet empty of all good wherein consists

Woman's domestick honour and chief praise;

Bred only and completed to the taste

Of lustful appetence, to sing, to dance,

To dress, and troll the tongue, and roll the eye: [620]

To these that sober race of men, whose lives

Religious titled them the sons of God,

Shall yield up all their virtue, all their fame

Ignobly, to the trains and to the smiles

Of these fair atheists; and now swim in joy, [625]

Erelong to swim at large; and laugh, for which

The world erelong a world of tears must weep.

To whom thus Adam, of short joy bereft.

O pity and shame, that they, who to live well

Entered so fair, should turn aside to tread [630]

Paths indirect, or in the mid way faint!

But still I see the tenour of Man's woe

Holds on the same, from Woman to begin.

From Man's effeminate slackness it begins,

Said the Angel, who should better hold his place [635]

By wisdom, and superiour gifts received.

But now prepare thee for another scene.

He looked, and saw wide territory spread

Before him, towns, and rural works between;

Cities of men with lofty gates and towers, [640]

Concourse in arms, fierce faces threatening war,

Giants of mighty bone and bold emprise;

Part wield their arms, part curb the foaming steed,

Single or in array of battle ranged

Both horse and foot, nor idly mustering stood; [645]

One way a band select from forage drives

A herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine,

From a fat meadow ground; or fleecy flock,

Ewes and their bleating lambs over the plain,

Their booty; scarce with life the shepherds fly, [650]

But call in aid, which makes a bloody fray;

With cruel tournament the squadrons join;

Where cattle pastured late, now scattered lies

With carcasses and arms the ensanguined field,

Deserted: Others to a city strong [655]

Lay siege, encamped; by battery, scale, and mine,

Assaulting; others from the wall defend

With dart and javelin, stones, and sulphurous fire;

On each hand slaughter, and gigantick deeds.

In other part the sceptered heralds call [660]

To council, in the city-gates; anon

Gray-headed men and grave, with warriours mixed,

Assemble, and harangues are heard; but soon,

In factious opposition; till at last,

Of middle age one rising, eminent [665]

In wise deport, spake much of right and wrong,

Of justice, or religion, truth, and peace,

And judgement from above: him old and young

Exploded, and had seized with violent hands,

Had not a cloud descending snatched him thence [670]

Unseen amid the throng: so violence

Proceeded, and oppression, and sword-law,

Through all the plain, and refuge none was found.

Adam was all in tears, and to his guide

Lamenting turned full sad; O! what are these, [675]

Death's ministers, not men? who thus deal death

Inhumanly to men, and multiply

Ten thousandfold the sin of him who slew

His brother: for of whom such massacre

Make they, but of their brethren; men of men [680]

But who was that just man, whom had not Heaven

Rescued, had in his righteousness been lost?

To whom thus Michael. These are the product

Of those ill-mated marriages thou sawest;

Where good with bad were matched, who of themselves [685]

Abhor to join; and, by imprudence mixed,

Produce prodigious births of body or mind.

Such were these giants, men of high renown;

For in those days might only shall be admired,

And valour and heroick virtue called; [690]

To overcome in battle, and subdue

Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite

Man-slaughter, shall be held the highest pitch

Of human glory; and for glory done

Of triumph, to be styled great conquerours [695]

Patrons of mankind, Gods, and sons of Gods;

Destroyers rightlier called, and plagues of men.

Thus fame shall be achieved, renown on earth;

And what most merits fame, in silence hid.

But he, the seventh from thee, whom thou beheldst [700]

The only righteous in a world preverse,

And therefore hated, therefore so beset

With foes, for daring single to be just,

And utter odious truth, that God would come

To judge them with his Saints; him the Most High [705]

Rapt in a balmy cloud with winged steeds

Did, as thou sawest, receive, to walk with God

High in salvation and the climes of bliss,

Exempt from death; to show thee what reward

Awaits the good; the rest what punishment; [710]

Which now direct thine eyes and soon behold.

He looked, and saw the face of things quite changed;

The brazen throat of war had ceased to roar;

All now was turned to jollity and game,

To luxury and riot, feast and dance; [715]

Marrying or prostituting, as befel,

Rape or adultery, where passing fair

Allured them; thence from cups to civil broils.

At length a reverend sire among them came,

And of their doings great dislike declared, [720]

And testified against their ways; he oft

Frequented their assemblies, whereso met,

Triumphs or festivals; and to them preached

Conversion and repentance, as to souls

In prison, under judgements imminent: [725]

But all in vain: which when he saw, he ceased

Contending, and removed his tents far off;

Then, from the mountain hewing timber tall,

Began to build a vessel of huge bulk;

Measured by cubit, length, and breadth, and highth; [730]

Smeared round with pitch; and in the side a door

Contrived; and of provisions laid in large,

For man and beast: when lo, a wonder strange!

Of every beast, and bird, and insect small,

Came sevens, and pairs; and entered in as taught [735]

Their order: last the sire and his three sons,

With their four wives; and God made fast the door.

Mean while the south-wind rose, and, with black wings

Wide-hovering, all the clouds together drove

From under Heaven; the hills to their supply [740]

Vapour, and exhalation dusk and moist,

Sent up amain; and now the thickened sky

Like a dark ceiling stood; down rushed the rain

Impetuous; and continued, till the earth

No more was seen: the floating vessel swum [745]

Uplifted, and secure with beaked prow

Rode tilting o'er the waves; all dwellings else

Flood overwhelmed, and them with all their pomp

Deep under water rolled; sea covered sea,

Sea without shore; and in their palaces, [750]

Where luxury late reigned, sea-monsters whelped

And stabled; of mankind, so numerous late,

All left, in one small bottom swum imbarked.

How didst thou grieve then, Adam, to behold

The end of all thy offspring, end so sad, [755]

Depopulation! Thee another flood,

Of tears and sorrow a flood, thee also drowned,

And sunk thee as thy sons; till, gently reared

By the Angel, on thy feet thou stoodest at last,

Though comfortless; as when a father mourns [760]

His children, all in view destroyed at once;

And scarce to the Angel utter'dst thus thy plaint.

O visions ill foreseen! Better had I

Lived ignorant of future! so had borne

My part of evil only, each day's lot [765]

Enough to bear; those now, that were dispensed

The burden of many ages, on me light

At once, by my foreknowledge gaining birth

Abortive, to torment me ere their being,

With thought that they must be. Let no man seek [770]

Henceforth to be foretold, what shall befall

Him or his children; evil he may be sure,

Which neither his foreknowing can prevent;

And he the future evil shall no less

In apprehension than in substance feel, [775]

Grievous to bear: but that care now is past,

Man is not whom to warn: those few escaped

Famine and anguish will at last consume,

Wandering that watery desart: I had hope,

When violence was ceased, and war on earth, [780]

All would have then gone well; peace would have crowned

With length of happy days the race of Man;

But I was far deceived; for now I see

Peace to corrupt no less than war to waste.

How comes it thus? unfold, celestial Guide, [785]

And whether here the race of Man will end.

To whom thus Michael. Those, whom last thou sawest

In triumph and luxurious wealth, are they

First seen in acts of prowess eminent

And great exploits, but of true virtue void; [790]

Who, having spilt much blood, and done much wast

Subduing nations, and achieved thereby

Fame in the world, high titles, and rich prey;

Shall change their course to pleasure, ease, and sloth,

Surfeit, and lust; till wantonness and pride [795]

Raise out of friendship hostile deeds in peace.

The conquered also, and enslaved by war,

Shall, with their freedom lost, all virtue lose

And fear of God; from whom their piety feigned

In sharp contest of battle found no aid [800]

Against invaders; therefore, cooled in zeal,

Thenceforth shall practice how to live secure,

Worldly or dissolute, on what their lords

Shall leave them to enjoy; for the earth shall bear

More than enough, that temperance may be tried: [805]

So all shall turn degenerate, all depraved;

Justice and temperance, truth and faith, forgot;

One man except, the only son of light

In a dark age, against example good,

Against allurement, custom, and a world [810]

Offended: fearless of reproach and scorn,

Or violence, he of their wicked ways

Shall them admonish; and before them set

The paths of righteousness, how much more safe

And full of peace; denouncing wrath to come [815]

On their impenitence; and shall return

Of them derided, but of God observed

The one just man alive; by his command

Shall build a wonderous ark, as thou beheldst,

To save himself, and houshold, from amidst [820]

A world devote to universal wrack.

No sooner he, with them of man and beast

Select for life, shall in the ark be lodged,

And sheltered round; but all the cataracts

Of Heaven set open on the Earth shall pour [825]

Rain, day and night; all fountains of the deep,

Broke up, shall heave the ocean to usurp

Beyond all bounds; till inundation rise

Above the highest hills: Then shall this mount

Of Paradise by might of waves be moved [830]

Out of his place, pushed by the horned flood,

With all his verdure spoiled, and trees adrift,

Down the great river to the opening gulf,

And there take root an island salt and bare,

The haunt of seals, and orcs, and sea-mews' clang: [835]

To teach thee that God attributes to place

No sanctity, if none be thither brought

By men who there frequent, or therein dwell.

And now, what further shall ensue, behold.

He looked, and saw the ark hull on the flood, [840]

Which now abated; for the clouds were fled,

Driven by a keen north-wind, that, blowing dry,

Wrinkled the face of deluge, as decayed;

And the clear sun on his wide watery glass

Gazed hot, and of the fresh wave largely drew, [845]

As after thirst; which made their flowing shrink

From standing lake to tripping ebb, that stole

With soft foot towards the deep; who now had stopt

His sluces, as the Heaven his windows shut.

The ark no more now floats, but seems on ground, [850]

Fast on the top of some high mountain fixed.

And now the tops of hills, as rocks, appear;

With clamour thence the rapid currents drive,

Towards the retreating sea, their furious tide.

Forthwith from out the ark a raven flies, [855]

And after him, the surer messenger,

A dove sent forth once and again to spy

Green tree or ground, whereon his foot may light:

The second time returning, in his bill

An olive-leaf he brings, pacifick sign: [860]

Anon dry ground appears, and from his ark

The ancient sire descends, with all his train;

Then with uplifted hands, and eyes devout,

Grateful to Heaven, over his head beholds

A dewy cloud, and in the cloud a bow [865]

Conspicuous with three lifted colours gay,

Betokening peace from God, and covenant new.

Whereat the heart of Adam, erst so sad,

Greatly rejoiced; and thus his joy broke forth.

O thou, who future things canst represent [870]

As present, heavenly Instructer! I revive

At this last sight; assured that Man shall live,

With all the creatures, and their seed preserve.

Far less I now lament for one whole world

Of wicked sons destroyed, than I rejoice [875]

For one man found so perfect, and so just,

That God vouchsafes to raise another world

From him, and all his anger to forget.

But say, what mean those coloured streaks in Heaven

Distended, as the brow of God appeased? [880]

Or serve they, as a flowery verge, to bind

The fluid skirts of that same watery cloud,

Lest it again dissolve, and shower the earth?

To whom the Arch-Angel. Dextrously thou aimest;

So willingly doth God remit his ire, [885]

Though late repenting him of Man depraved;

Grieved at his heart, when looking down he saw

The whole earth filled with violence, and all flesh

Corrupting each their way; yet, those removed,

Such grace shall one just man find in his sight, [890]

That he relents, not to blot out mankind;

And makes a covenant never to destroy

The earth again by flood; nor let the sea

Surpass his bounds; nor rain to drown the world,

With man therein or beast; but, when he brings [895]

Over the earth a cloud, will therein set

His triple-coloured bow, whereon to look,

And call to mind his covenant: Day and night,

Seed-time and harvest, heat and hoary frost,

Shall hold their course; till fire purge all things new, [900]

Both Heaven and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell.

Book XII

As one who in his journey bates at noon,

Though bent on speed; so here the Arch-Angel paused

Betwixt the world destroyed and world restored,

If Adam aught perhaps might interpose;

Then, with transition sweet, new speech resumes. [5]

Thus thou hast seen one world begin, and end;

And Man, as from a second stock, proceed.

Much thou hast yet to see; but I perceive

Thy mortal sight to fail; objects divine

Must needs impair and weary human sense: [10]

Henceforth what is to come I will relate;

Thou therefore give due audience, and attend.

This second source of Men, while yet but few,

And while the dread of judgement past remains

Fresh in their minds, fearing the Deity, [15]

With some regard to what is just and right

Shall lead their lives, and multiply apace;

Labouring the soil, and reaping plenteous crop,

Corn, wine, and oil; and, from the herd or flock,

Oft sacrificing bullock, lamb, or kid, [20]

With large wine-offerings poured, and sacred feast,

Shall spend their days in joy unblamed; and dwell

Long time in peace, by families and tribes,

Under paternal rule: till one shall rise

Of proud ambitious heart; who, not content [25]

With fair equality, fraternal state,

Will arrogate dominion undeserved

Over his brethren, and quite dispossess

Concord and law of nature from the earth;

Hunting (and men not beasts shall be his game) [30]

With war, and hostile snare, such as refuse

Subjection to his empire tyrannous:

A mighty hunter thence he shall be styled

Before the Lord; as in despite of Heaven,

Or from Heaven, claiming second sovranty; [35]

And from rebellion shall derive his name,

Though of rebellion others he accuse.

He with a crew, whom like ambition joins

With him or under him to tyrannize,

Marching from Eden towards the west, shall find [40]

The plain, wherein a black bituminous gurge

Boils out from under ground, the mouth of Hell:

Of brick, and of that stuff, they cast to build

A city and tower, whose top may reach to Heaven;

And get themselves a name; lest, far dispersed [45]

In foreign lands, their memory be lost;

Regardless whether good or evil fame.

But God, who oft descends to visit men

Unseen, and through their habitations walks

To mark their doings, them beholding soon, [50]

Comes down to see their city, ere the tower

Obstruct Heaven-towers, and in derision sets

Upon their tongues a various spirit, to rase

Quite out their native language; and, instead,

To sow a jangling noise of words unknown: [55]

Forthwith a hideous gabble rises loud,

Among the builders; each to other calls

Not understood; till hoarse, and all in rage,

As mocked they storm: great laughter was in Heaven,

And looking down, to see the hubbub strange, [60]

And hear the din: Thus was the building left

Ridiculous, and the work Confusion named.

Whereto thus Adam, fatherly displeased.

O execrable son! so to aspire

Above his brethren; to himself assuming [65]

Authority usurped, from God not given:

He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl,

Dominion absolute; that right we hold

By his donation; but man over men

He made not lord; such title to himself [70]

Reserving, human left from human free.

But this usurper his encroachment proud

Stays not on Man; to God his tower intends

Siege and defiance: Wretched man! what food

Will he convey up thither, to sustain [75]

Himself and his rash army; where thin air

Above the clouds will pine his entrails gross,

And famish him of breath, if not of bread?

To whom thus Michael. Justly thou abhorrest

That son, who on the quiet state of men [80]

Such trouble brought, affecting to subdue

Rational liberty; yet know withal,

Since thy original lapse, true liberty

Is lost, which always with right reason dwells

Twinned, and from her hath no dividual being: [85]

Reason in man obscured, or not obeyed,

Immediately inordinate desires,

And upstart passions, catch the government

From reason; and to servitude reduce

Man, till then free. Therefore, since he permits [90]

Within himself unworthy powers to reign

Over free reason, God, in judgement just,

Subjects him from without to violent lords;

Who oft as undeservedly enthrall

His outward freedom: Tyranny must be; [95]

Though to the tyrant thereby no excuse.

Yet sometimes nations will decline so low

From virtue, which is reason, that no wrong,

But justice, and some fatal curse annexed,

Deprives them of their outward liberty; [100]

Their inward lost: Witness the irreverent son

Of him who built the ark; who, for the shame

Done to his father, heard this heavy curse,

Servant of servants, on his vicious race.

Thus will this latter, as the former world, [105]

Still tend from bad to worse; till God at last,

Wearied with their iniquities, withdraw

His presence from among them, and avert

His holy eyes; resolving from thenceforth

To leave them to their own polluted ways; [110]

And one peculiar nation to select

From all the rest, of whom to be invoked,

A nation from one faithful man to spring:

Him on this side Euphrates yet residing,

Bred up in idol-worship: O, that men [115]

(Canst thou believe?) should be so stupid grown,

While yet the patriarch lived, who 'scaped the flood,

As to forsake the living God, and fall

To worship their own work in wood and stone

For Gods! Yet him God the Most High vouchsafes [120]

To call by vision, from his father's house,

His kindred, and false Gods, into a land

Which he will show him; and from him will raise

A mighty nation; and upon him shower

His benediction so, that in his seed [125]

All nations shall be blest: he straight obeys;

Not knowing to what land, yet firm believes:

I see him, but thou canst not, with what faith

He leaves his Gods, his friends, and native soil,

Ur of Chaldaea, passing now the ford [130]

To Haran; after him a cumbrous train

Of herds and flocks, and numerous servitude;

Not wandering poor, but trusting all his wealth

With God, who called him, in a land unknown.

Canaan he now attains; I see his tents [135]

Pitched about Sechem, and the neighbouring plain

Of Moreh; there by promise he receives

Gift to his progeny of all that land,

From Hameth northward to the Desart south;

(Things by their names I call, though yet unnamed;) [140]

From Hermon east to the great western Sea;

Mount Hermon, yonder sea; each place behold

In prospect, as I point them; on the shore

Mount Carmel; here, the double-founted stream,

Jordan, true limit eastward; but his sons [145]

Shall dwell to Senir, that long ridge of hills.

This ponder, that all nations of the earth

Shall in his seed be blessed: By that seed

Is meant thy great Deliverer, who shall bruise

The Serpent's head; whereof to thee anon [150]

Plainlier shall be revealed. This patriarch blest,

Whom faithful Abraham due time shall call,

A son, and of his son a grand-child, leaves;

Like him in faith, in wisdom, and renown:

The grandchild, with twelve sons increased, departs [155]

From Canaan to a land hereafter called

Egypt, divided by the river Nile

See where it flows, disgorging at seven mouths

Into the sea. To sojourn in that land

He comes, invited by a younger son [160]

In time of dearth, a son whose worthy deeds

Raise him to be the second in that realm

Of Pharaoh. There he dies, and leaves his race

Growing into a nation, and now grown

Suspected to a sequent king, who seeks [165]

To stop their overgrowth, as inmate guests

Too numerous; whence of guests he makes them slaves

Inhospitably, and kills their infant males:

Till by two brethren (these two brethren call

Moses and Aaron) sent from God to claim [170]

His people from enthralment, they return,

With glory and spoil, back to their promised land.

But first, the lawless tyrant, who denies

To know their God, or message to regard,

Must be compelled by signs and judgements dire; [175]

To blood unshed the rivers must be turned;

Frogs, lice, and flies, must all his palace fill

With loathed intrusion, and fill all the land;

His cattle must of rot and murren die;

Botches and blains must all his flesh emboss, [180]

And all his people; thunder mixed with hail,

Hail mixed with fire, must rend the Egyptians sky,

And wheel on the earth, devouring where it rolls;

What it devours not, herb, or fruit, or grain,

A darksome cloud of locusts swarming down [185]

Must eat, and on the ground leave nothing green;

Darkness must overshadow all his bounds,

Palpable darkness, and blot out three days;

Last, with one midnight stroke, all the first-born

Of Egypt must lie dead. Thus with ten wounds [190]

The river-dragon tamed at length submits

To let his sojourners depart, and oft

Humbles his stubborn heart; but still, as ice

More hardened after thaw; till, in his rage

Pursuing whom he late dismissed, the sea [195]

Swallows him with his host; but them lets pass,

As on dry land, between two crystal walls;

Awed by the rod of Moses so to stand

Divided, till his rescued gain their shore:

Such wondrous power God to his saint will lend, [200]

Though present in his Angel; who shall go

Before them in a cloud, and pillar of fire;

By day a cloud, by night a pillar of fire;

To guide them in their journey, and remove

Behind them, while the obdurate king pursues: [205]

All night he will pursue; but his approach

Darkness defends between till morning watch;

Then through the fiery pillar, and the cloud,

God looking forth will trouble all his host,

And craze their chariot-wheels: when by command [210]

Moses once more his potent rod extends

Over the sea; the sea his rod obeys;

On their embattled ranks the waves return,

And overwhelm their war: The race elect

Safe toward Canaan from the shore advance [215]

Through the wild Desart, not the readiest way;

Lest, entering on the Canaanite alarmed,

War terrify them inexpert, and fear

Return them back to Egypt, choosing rather

Inglorious life with servitude; for life [220]

To noble and ignoble is more sweet

Untrained in arms, where rashness leads not on.

This also shall they gain by their delay

In the wide wilderness; there they shall found

Their government, and their great senate choose [225]

Through the twelve tribes, to rule by laws ordained:

God from the mount of Sinai, whose gray top

Shall tremble, he descending, will himself

In thunder, lightning, and loud trumpets' sound,

Ordain them laws; part, such as appertain [230]

To civil justice; part, religious rites

Of sacrifice; informing them, by types

And shadows, of that destined Seed to bruise

The Serpent, by what means he shall achieve

Mankind's deliverance. But the voice of God [235]

To mortal ear is dreadful: They beseech

That Moses might report to them his will,

And terrour cease; he grants what they besought,

Instructed that to God is no access

Without Mediator, whose high office now [240]

Moses in figure bears; to introduce

One greater, of whose day he shall foretel,

And all the Prophets in their age the times

Of great Messiah shall sing. Thus, laws and rites

Established, such delight hath God in Men [245]

Obedient to his will, that he vouchsafes

Among them to set up his tabernacle;

The Holy One with mortal Men to dwell:

By his prescript a sanctuary is framed

Of cedar, overlaid with gold; therein [250]

An ark, and in the ark his testimony,

The records of his covenant; over these

A mercy-seat of gold, between the wings

Of two bright Cherubim; before him burn

Seven lamps as in a zodiack representing [255]

The heavenly fires; over the tent a cloud

Shall rest by day, a fiery gleam by night;

Save when they journey, and at length they come,

Conducted by his Angel, to the land

Promised to Abraham and his seed:--The rest [260]

Were long to tell; how many battles fought

How many kings destroyed; and kingdoms won;

Or how the sun shall in mid Heaven stand still

A day entire, and night's due course adjourn,

Man's voice commanding, "Sun, in Gibeon stand, [265]

And thou moon in the vale of Aialon,

Till Israel overcome!" so call the third

From Abraham, son of Isaac; and from him

His whole descent, who thus shall Canaan win.

Here Adam interposed. O sent from Heaven, [270]

Enlightener of my darkness, gracious things

Thou hast revealed; those chiefly, which concern

Just Abraham and his seed: now first I find

Mine eyes true-opening, and my heart much eased;

Erewhile perplexed with thoughts, what would become [275]

Of me and all mankind: But now I see

His day, in whom all nations shall be blest;

Favour unmerited by me, who sought

Forbidden knowledge by forbidden means.

This yet I apprehend not, why to those [280]

Among whom God will deign to dwell on earth

So many and so various laws are given;

So many laws argue so many sins

Among them; how can God with such reside?

To whom thus Michael. Doubt not but that sin [285]

Will reign among them, as of thee begot;

And therefore was law given them, to evince

Their natural pravity, by stirring up

Sin against law to fight: that when they see

Law can discover sin, but not remove, [290]

Save by those shadowy expiations weak,

The blood of bulls and goats, they may conclude

Some blood more precious must be paid for Man;

Just for unjust; that, in such righteousness

To them by faith imputed, they may find [295]

Justification towards God, and peace

Of conscience; which the law by ceremonies

Cannot appease; nor Man the mortal part

Perform; and, not performing, cannot live.

So law appears imperfect; and but given [300]

With purpose to resign them, in full time,

Up to a better covenant; disciplined

From shadowy types to truth; from flesh to spirit;

From imposition of strict laws to free

Acceptance of large grace; from servile fear [305]

To filial; works of law to works of faith.

And therefore shall not Moses, though of God

Highly beloved, being but the minister

Of law, his people into Canaan lead;

But Joshua, whom the Gentiles Jesus call, [310]

His name and office bearing, who shall quell

The adversary-Serpent, and bring back

Through the world's wilderness long-wandered Man

Safe to eternal Paradise of rest.

Mean while they, in their earthly Canaan placed, [315]

Long time shall dwell and prosper, but when sins

National interrupt their publick peace,

Provoking God to raise them enemies;

From whom as oft he saves them penitent

By Judges first, then under Kings; of whom [320]

The second, both for piety renowned

And puissant deeds, a promise shall receive

Irrevocable, that his regal throne

For ever shall endure; the like shall sing

All Prophecy, that of the royal stock [325]

Of David (so I name this king) shall rise

A Son, the Woman's seed to thee foretold,

Foretold to Abraham, as in whom shall trust

All nations; and to kings foretold, of kings

The last; for of his reign shall be no end. [330]

But first, a long succession must ensue;

And his next son, for wealth and wisdom famed,

The clouded ark of God, till then in tents

Wandering, shall in a glorious temple enshrine.

Such follow him, as shall be registered [335]

Part good, part bad; of bad the longer scroll;

Whose foul idolatries, and other faults

Heaped to the popular sum, will so incense

God, as to leave them, and expose their land,

Their city, his temple, and his holy ark, [340]

With all his sacred things, a scorn and prey

To that proud city, whose high walls thou sawest

Left in confusion; Babylon thence called.

There in captivity he lets them dwell

The space of seventy years; then brings them back, [345]

Remembering mercy, and his covenant sworn

To David, stablished as the days of Heaven.

Returned from Babylon by leave of kings

Their lords, whom God disposed, the house of God

They first re-edify; and for a while [350]

In mean estate live moderate; till, grown

In wealth and multitude, factious they grow;

But first among the priests dissention springs,

Men who attend the altar, and should most

Endeavour peace: their strife pollution brings [355]

Upon the temple itself: at last they seise

The scepter, and regard not David's sons;

Then lose it to a stranger, that the true

Anointed King Messiah might be born

Barred of his right; yet at his birth a star, [360]

Unseen before in Heaven, proclaims him come;

And guides the eastern sages, who inquire

His place, to offer incense, myrrh, and gold:

His place of birth a solemn Angel tells

To simple shepherds, keeping watch by night; [365]

They gladly thither haste, and by a quire

Of squadroned Angels hear his carol sung.

A virgin is his mother, but his sire

The power of the Most High: He shall ascend

The throne hereditary, and bound his reign [370]

With Earth's wide bounds, his glory with the Heavens.

He ceased, discerning Adam with such joy

Surcharged, as had like grief been dewed in tears,

Without the vent of words; which these he breathed.

O prophet of glad tidings, finisher [375]

Of utmost hope! now clear I understand

What oft my steadiest thoughts have searched in vain;

Why our great Expectation should be called

The seed of Woman: Virgin Mother, hail,

High in the love of Heaven; yet from my loins [380]

Thou shalt proceed, and from thy womb the Son

Of God Most High: so God with Man unites!

Needs must the Serpent now his capital bruise

Expect with mortal pain: Say where and when

Their fight, what stroke shall bruise the victor's heel. [385]

To whom thus Michael. Dream not of their fight,

As of a duel, or the local wounds

Of head or heel: Not therefore joins the Son

Manhood to Godhead, with more strength to foil

Thy enemy; nor so is overcome [390]

Satan, whose fall from Heaven, a deadlier bruise,

Disabled, not to give thee thy death's wound:

Which he, who comes thy Saviour, shall recure,

Not by destroying Satan, but his works

In thee, and in thy seed: Nor can this be, [395]

But by fulfilling that which thou didst want,

Obedience to the law of God, imposed

On penalty of death, and suffering death;

The penalty to thy transgression due,

And due to theirs which out of thine will grow: [400]

So only can high Justice rest appaid.

The law of God exact he shall fulfil

Both by obedience and by love, though love

Alone fulfil the law; thy punishment

He shall endure, by coming in the flesh [405]

To a reproachful life, and cursed death;

Proclaiming life to all who shall believe

In his redemption; and that his obedience,

Imputed, becomes theirs by faith; his merits

To save them, not their own, though legal, works. [410]

For this he shall live hated, be blasphemed,

Seised on by force, judged, and to death condemned

A shameful and accursed, nailed to the cross

By his own nation; slain for bringing life:

But to the cross he nails thy enemies, [415]

The law that is against thee, and the sins

Of all mankind, with him there crucified,

Never to hurt them more who rightly trust

In this his satisfaction; so he dies,

But soon revives; Death over him no power [420]

Shall long usurp; ere the third dawning light

Return, the stars of morn shall see him rise

Out of his grave, fresh as the dawning light,

Thy ransom paid, which Man from death redeems,

His death for Man, as many as offered life [425]

Neglect not, and the benefit embrace

By faith not void of works: This God-like act

Annuls thy doom, the death thou shouldest have died,

In sin for ever lost from life; this act

Shall bruise the head of Satan, crush his strength, [430]

Defeating Sin and Death, his two main arms;

And fix far deeper in his head their stings

Than temporal death shall bruise the victor's heel,

Or theirs whom he redeems; a death, like sleep,

A gentle wafting to immortal life. [435]

Nor after resurrection shall he stay

Longer on earth, than certain times to appear

To his disciples, men who in his life

Still followed him; to them shall leave in charge

To teach all nations what of him they learned [440]

And his salvation; them who shall believe

Baptizing in the profluent stream, the sign

Of washing them from guilt of sin to life

Pure, and in mind prepared, if so befall,

For death, like that which the Redeemer died. [445]

All nations they shall teach; for, from that day,

Not only to the sons of Abraham's loins

Salvation shall be preached, but to the sons

Of Abraham's faith wherever through the world;

So in his seed all nations shall be blest. [450]

Then to the Heaven of Heavens he shall ascend

With victory, triumphing through the air

Over his foes and thine; there shall surprise

The Serpent, prince of air, and drag in chains

Through all his realm, and there confounded leave; [455]

Then enter into glory, and resume

His seat at God's right hand, exalted high

Above all names in Heaven; and thence shall come,

When this world's dissolution shall be ripe,

With glory and power to judge both quick and dead; [460]

To judge the unfaithful dead, but to reward

His faithful, and receive them into bliss,

Whether in Heaven or Earth; for then the Earth

Shall all be Paradise, far happier place

Than this of Eden, and far happier days. [465]

So spake the Arch-Angel Michael; then paused,

As at the world's great period; and our sire,

Replete with joy and wonder, thus replied.

O Goodness infinite, Goodness immense!

That all this good of evil shall produce, [470]

And evil turn to good; more wonderful

Than that which by creation first brought forth

Light out of darkness! Full of doubt I stand,

Whether I should repent me now of sin

By me done, and occasioned; or rejoice [475]

Much more, that much more good thereof shall spring;

To God more glory, more good-will to Men

From God, and over wrath grace shall abound.

But say, if our Deliverer up to Heaven

Must re-ascend, what will betide the few [480]

His faithful, left among the unfaithful herd,

The enemies of truth? Who then shall guide

His people, who defend? Will they not deal

Worse with his followers than with him they dealt?

Be sure they will, said the Angel; but from Heaven [485]

He to his own a Comforter will send,

The promise of the Father, who shall dwell

His Spirit within them; and the law of faith,

Working through love, upon their hearts shall write,

To guide them in all truth; and also arm [490]

With spiritual armour, able to resist

Satan's assaults, and quench his fiery darts;

What man can do against them, not afraid,

Though to the death; against such cruelties

With inward consolations recompensed, [495]

And oft supported so as shall amaze

Their proudest persecutors: For the Spirit,

Poured first on his Apostles, whom he sends

To evangelize the nations, then on all

Baptized, shall them with wonderous gifts endue [500]

To speak all tongues, and do all miracles,

As did their Lord before them. Thus they win

Great numbers of each nation to receive

With joy the tidings brought from Heaven: At length

Their ministry performed, and race well run, [505]

Their doctrine and their story written left,

They die; but in their room, as they forewarn,

Wolves shall succeed for teachers, grievous wolves,

Who all the sacred mysteries of Heaven

To their own vile advantages shall turn [510]

Of lucre and ambition; and the truth

With superstitions and traditions taint,

Left only in those written records pure,

Though not but by the Spirit understood.

Then shall they seek to avail themselves of names, [515]

Places, and titles, and with these to join

Secular power; though feigning still to act

By spiritual, to themselves appropriating

The Spirit of God, promised alike and given

To all believers; and, from that pretence, [520]

Spiritual laws by carnal power shall force

On every conscience; laws which none shall find

Left them inrolled, or what the Spirit within

Shall on the heart engrave. What will they then

But force the Spirit of Grace itself, and bind [525]

His consort Liberty? what, but unbuild

His living temples, built by faith to stand,

Their own faith, not another's? for, on earth,

Who against faith and conscience can be heard

Infallible? yet many will presume: [530]

Whence heavy persecution shall arise

On all, who in the worship persevere

Of spirit and truth; the rest, far greater part,

Will deem in outward rites and specious forms

Religion satisfied; Truth shall retire [535]

Bestuck with slanderous darts, and works of faith

Rarely be found: So shall the world go on,

To good malignant, to bad men benign;

Under her own weight groaning; till the day

Appear of respiration to the just, [540]

And vengeance to the wicked, at return

Of him so lately promised to thy aid,

The Woman's Seed; obscurely then foretold,

Now ampler known thy Saviour and thy Lord;

Last, in the clouds, from Heaven to be revealed [545]

In glory of the Father, to dissolve

Satan with his perverted world; then raise

From the conflagrant mass, purged and refined,

New Heavens, new Earth, ages of endless date,

Founded in righteousness, and peace, and love; [550]

To bring forth fruits, joy and eternal bliss.

He ended; and thus Adam last replied.

How soon hath thy prediction, Seer blest,

Measured this transient world, the race of time,

Till time stand fixed! Beyond is all abyss, [555]

Eternity, whose end no eye can reach.

Greatly-instructed I shall hence depart;

Greatly in peace of thought; and have my fill

Of knowledge, what this vessel can contain;

Beyond which was my folly to aspire. [560]

Henceforth I learn, that to obey is best,

And love with fear the only God; to walk

As in his presence; ever to observe

His providence; and on him sole depend,

Merciful over all his works, with good [565]

Still overcoming evil, and by small

Accomplishing great things, by things deemed weak

Subverting worldly strong, and worldly wise

By simply meek: that suffering for truth's sake

Is fortitude to highest victory, [570]

And, to the faithful, death the gate of life;

Taught this by his example, whom I now

Acknowledge my Redeemer ever blest.

To whom thus also the Angel last replied.

This having learned, thou hast attained the sum [575]

Of wisdom; hope no higher, though all the stars

Thou knewest by name, and all the ethereal powers,

All secrets of the deep, all Nature's works,

Or works of God in Heaven, air, earth, or sea,

And all the riches of this world enjoyedst, [580]

And all the rule, one empire; only add

Deeds to thy knowledge answerable; add faith,

Add virtue, patience, temperance; add love,

By name to come called charity, the soul

Of all the rest: then wilt thou not be loth [585]

To leave this Paradise, but shalt possess

A Paradise within thee, happier far.--

Let us descend now therefore from this top

Of speculation; for the hour precise

Exacts our parting hence; and see the guards, [590]

By me encamped on yonder hill, expect

Their motion; at whose front a flaming sword,

In signal of remove, waves fiercely round:

We may no longer stay: go, waken Eve;

Her also I with gentle dreams have calmed [595]

Portending good, and all her spirits composed

To meek submission: thou, at season fit,

Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard;

Chiefly what may concern her faith to know,

The great deliverance by her seed to come [600]

(For by the Woman's seed) on all mankind:

That ye may live, which will be many days,

Both in one faith unanimous, though sad,

With cause, for evils past; yet much more cheered

With meditation on the happy end. [605]

He ended, and they both descend the hill;

Descended, Adam to the bower, where Eve

Lay sleeping, ran before; but found her waked;

And thus with words not sad she him received.

Whence thou returnest, and whither wentest, I know; [610]

For God is also in sleep; and dreams advise,

Which he hath sent propitious, some great good

Presaging, since with sorrow and heart's distress

Wearied I fell asleep: But now lead on;

In me is no delay; with thee to go, [615]

Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,

Is to go hence unwilling; thou to me

Art all things under Heaven, all places thou,

Who for my wilful crime art banished hence.

This further consolation yet secure [620]

I carry hence; though all by me is lost,

Such favour I unworthy am vouchsafed,

By me the Promised Seed shall all restore.

So spake our mother Eve; and Adam heard

Well pleased, but answered not: For now, too nigh [625]

The Arch-Angel stood; and, from the other hill

To their fixed station, all in bright array

The Cherubim descended; on the ground

Gliding meteorous, as evening-mist

Risen from a river o'er the marish glides, [630]

And gathers ground fast at the labourer's heel

Homeward returning. High in front advanced,

The brandished sword of God before them blazed,

Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat,

And vapour as the Libyan air adust, [635]

Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat

In either hand the hastening Angel caught

Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate

Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast

To the subjected plain; then disappeared. [640]

They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld

Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,

Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate

With dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms:

Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon; [645]

The world was all before them, where to choose

Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:

They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,

Through Eden took their solitary way.