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Milton, John. Paradise Lost.

Originally published: 1667


  • Book I
  • Book II
  • Book III
  • Book IV
  • Book V
  • Book VI
  • Book VII
  • Book VIII
  • Book IX
  • Book X
  • Book XI
  • Book XII
  • 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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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!
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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?
    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
    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
    This downfall; since, by fate, the strength of Gods,
    And this empyreal sybstance, cannot fail;
    Since, through experience of this great event,
    In arms not worse, in foresight much advanced,
    We may with more successful hope resolve
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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)
    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,
    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?’
    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,
    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;
    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
    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,
    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,
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    Of subterranean wind transprots 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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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:
    Here we may reigh 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,
    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?’
    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
    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,
    As we erewhile, astounded and amazed;
    No wonder, fallen such a pernicious height!’
    He scare had ceased when the superior Fiend
    Was moving toward the shore; his ponderous shield,
    Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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!’
    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
    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
    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,
    ‘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:
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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
    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.
    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?
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    Of Solomon he led by fraoud 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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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 nigntly by the moon
    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
    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
    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 proch
    Ezekiel saw, when, by the vision led,
    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,
    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,
    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:
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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:
    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,
    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
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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;
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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 eteranl splendours flung
    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
    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
    Words interwove with sighs found out their way:—
    ‘O myriads of immortal Spirits! O Powers
    Matchless, but with th’ Almighth!—and that strife
    Was not inglorious, though th’ event was dire,
    As this place testifies, and this dire change,
    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?
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    On Lemnos, th’ Aegaean isle. Thus they relate,
    Erring; for he with this rebellious rout
    Fell long before; nor aught aviled him now
    To have built in Heaven high towers; nor did he scape
    By all his engines, but was headlong sent,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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 or 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
    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:—
    ‘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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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.
    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:—
    ‘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
    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 ryranny who reigns
    By our delay? No! let us rather choose,
    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
    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
    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 porper motion we ascend
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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.’
    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
    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—
    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
    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
    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
    Impregnable: oft on the bodering 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
    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
    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—
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    What yet they know must follow—to endure
    Exile, or igominy, 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
    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
    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;
    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.’
    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
    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
    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
    Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne
    With warbled hyms, and to his Godhead sing
    Forced hallelujahs, while he lordly sits
    Our envied sovereign, and his altar breathes
    Ambrosial odours and ambrosial flowers,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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?
    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
    (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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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—
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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!
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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.
    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
    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.
    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
    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!
    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,
    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:
    Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim
    Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,
    By herald’s voice explained; the hollow Abyss
    Heard far adn wide, and all the host of Hell
    With deafening shout returned them loud acclaim.
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    (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,
    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!—
    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,
    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
    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,
    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—
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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:—
    ‘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.
    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
    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?
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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;
    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,
    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?
    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
    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
    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.’
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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—
    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
    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.’
    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
    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,
    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,
    Under spread ensigns marching, mibht 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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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,
    And Tumult, and Confusion, all embroiled,
    And Discord with a thousand various mouths.
    T’ whom Satan, turning boldly, thus:—‘Ye Powers
    And Spirtis of this nethermost Abyss,
    Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy
    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,
    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:
    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
    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— ***
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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)
    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
    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
    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;
    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,
    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;
    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.

    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
    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 ***
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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.
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    , that Man should find grace;
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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?
    Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?
    And silence was in Heaven: $ on Man’s behalf
    He ask’d, but all the heavenly quire stood mute,
    Patron or intercessour none appear’d,
    Much less that durst upon his own head draw
    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,
    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
    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;
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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.

    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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:
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    Melodious part, such concord is in Heaven.
    Thee, Father, first they sung Omnipotent,
    Immutable, Immortal, Infinite,
    Eternal King; the Author of all being,
    Fonntain of light, thyself invisible
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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:
    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,
    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.
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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:
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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?;nd desart ways with?oeril gone
    All?might,?;t?kast by break of cheerful dawn
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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;
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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:
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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;
    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,
    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.
    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:
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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;
    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;
    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,
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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:
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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.
    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;
    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?
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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, in stead
    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
    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;
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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:
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    From Auran eastward to the royal towers
    Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,
    Of where the sons of Eden long before
    Dwelt in Telassar: In this pleasant soil
    His far more pleasant garden God ordained;
    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,
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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:
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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:
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    To make them mirth, used all his might, and wreathed
    His?kithetmroboscis; close the serpent sly,
    Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine
    His braided train, and of his fatal guile
    Gave proof unheeded; others on the grass
    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:
    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,
    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.
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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;
    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
    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,
    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
    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:
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    ‘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,
    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;
    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
    ‘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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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?
    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
    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
    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!
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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;
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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.
    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.
    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;
    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.
    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,
    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:
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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;
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    To say and straight unsay, pretending first
    Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy,
    Argues no leader but a liear traced,
    Satan, and couldst thou faithful add? O name,
    O sacred name of faithfulness profaned!
    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?
    And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem
    Patron of liberty, who more than thou
    Once fawned, and cringed, and servily adored
    Heaven’s awful Monarch? wherefore, but in hope
    To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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;
    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;
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    (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,
    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
    ‘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?
    ‘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
    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
    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?
    ‘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
    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:
    ‘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,
    ‘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
    ‘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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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
    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,
    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!
    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,
    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.
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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:
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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;
    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;
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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:
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    In darker veil,) and roseat 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,
    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,
    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,
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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?
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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!
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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.
    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;
    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;
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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:
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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;
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    All intellect, all sense; and, as they please,
    They limb themselves, and colour, shape, or size
    Assume, as?kikes them best, condense or rare.
    Mean while in other parts like deeds deserved
    Memorial, where the might of Gabriel fought,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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.
    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,
    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
    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;
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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.
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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:
    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.
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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!
    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
    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
    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
    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:
    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,)
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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,
    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;
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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;
    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;
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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;
    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,
    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?
    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
    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.
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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:
    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,
    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
    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.
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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;
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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.
    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.
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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;
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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.
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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.
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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:
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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:
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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.

    Book VIII

    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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?
    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?
    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
    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,
    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
    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;
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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:
    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
    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;
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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:
    ‘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,
    ‘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,
    ‘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
    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,
    ‘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
    ‘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
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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
    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.
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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:
    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,
    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.
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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;
    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
    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
    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:
    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
    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.
    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
    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;
    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:
    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
    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.
    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
    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.
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    That brought into this world a world of woe,
    Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery
    Death’s harbinger: Sad talk!yet argument
    Not less but more heroick than the wrath
    Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    ‘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
    On Man’s destruction, maugre what might hap
    Of heavier on himself, fearless returned
    From compassing the earth; cautious of day,
    Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descried
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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!
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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:
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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?
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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.
    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
    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:
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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.
    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.
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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,
    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;
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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!
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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;
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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;
    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,
    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
    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:
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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?
    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:
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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:
    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
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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.
    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.
    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;
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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:
    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.
    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,
    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;
    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
    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,
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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:
    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
    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,
    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
    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?
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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,
    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:
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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.
    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.
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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!
    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
    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.
    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.
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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?’
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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:
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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;
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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!—
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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;
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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)
    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
    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;
    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
    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;
    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
    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:
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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;
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    Of that stupendious 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;
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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:
    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;
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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.
    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?
    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
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    Why am I mocked with death, and lengthened out
    To deathless pain? How gladly would I meet
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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!
    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
    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
    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;
    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;
    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,
    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
    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
    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!
    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:
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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,
    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
    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;
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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, —
    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,
    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,
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
    Of sorrow unfeigned, and humiliation meek

    Book XI

    Undoubtedly he will relent, and turn
    From his displeasure; in whose look serene,
    When angry most he seemed and most severe,
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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
    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;
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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;
    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;
    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
    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
    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,
    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;
    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.
    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,
    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.
    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
    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?
    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
    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;
    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;
    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
    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.
    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,
    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;
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    ;t 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
    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?
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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:
    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,
    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
    ‘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,
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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;
    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
    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
    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,
    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:
    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
    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
    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,
    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.
    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!
    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.
    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
    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
    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,
    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;
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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;
    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,
    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:
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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;
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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;
    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,
    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:
    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;
    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
    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
    Vapour, and exhalation dusk and moist,
    Sent up amain; and now the thickened sky
    Like a dark cieling stood; down rushed the rain
    Impetuous; and continued, till the earth
    No more was seen: the floating vessel swum
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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;
    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
    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
    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:
    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
    Offended: fearless of reproach and scorn,
    The grand-child, with twelve sons encreased, departs
    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
    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
    To stop their overgrowth, as inmate guests
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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:
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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,
    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:
    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
    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
    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
    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?
    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,
    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,
    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
    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,
    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.
    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:
    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,
    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,
    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
    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)
    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;
    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
    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
    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,
    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:
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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:
    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
    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;
    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;
    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,
    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;
    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
    (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
    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
    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
    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
    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;)
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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:
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    ‘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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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;
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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,
    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:
    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
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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.
    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
    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.
    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.
    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;
    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;
    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.
    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,
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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,
    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
    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:
    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
    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,
    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
    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;
    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,
    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.
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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,
    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
    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
    (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.
    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;
    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,
    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
    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
    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,
    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,
    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.
    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;
    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.

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