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SATAN having encompassed the Earth, with meditated guile returns, as a mist, by night into Paradise; enters into the serpent sleeping. Adam and Eve in the morning go forth to their labours, which Eve proposes to divide in several places, each labouring apart: Adam consents not, alleging the danger, lest that enemy, of whom they were forewarned, should attempt her found alone. Eve, loth to be thought not circumspect or firm enough, urges her going apart, the rather desirous to make trial of her strength; Adam at last yields: the serpent finds her alone: his subtle approach, first gazing, then speaking; with much flattery extolling Eve above all other creatures. Eve, wondering to hear the serpent speak, asks how he attained to human speech, and such understanding, not till now: the serpent answers, that by tasting of a certain tree in the garden he attained both to speech and reason, till then void of both: Eve requires him to bring her to that tree, and finds it to be the tree of knowledge forbidden; the serpent, now grown bolder, with many wiles and arguments, induces her at length to eat; she, pleased with the taste, deliberates awhile whether to impart thereof to Adam or not; at last brings him of the fruit; relates what persuaded her to eat thereof: Adam, at first amazed, but perceiving her lost, resolves, through vehemence of love, to perish with her; and, extenuating the trespass, eats also of the fruit: the effects thereof in them both; they seek to cover their nakedness; then fall to variance and accusation of one another.

No more of talk where God or angel guest
With Man, as with his friend, familiar used
To sit indulgent, and with him partake
Rural repast; permitting him the while
Venial discourse unblamed.

I now must change

Those notes to tragic; 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 judgment given,
That brought into this world a world of woe,—
Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery,
Death's harbinger. Sad task! yet argument
Not less, but more heroic, than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespoused;
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 unimplored,

And dictates to me slumbering, or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse,

Since first this subject for heroic song

Pleased me, long choosing and beginning late;
Not sedulous by nature to indite

Wars, hitherto the only argument

IO

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Heroic deemed; chief mastery to dissect

With long and tedious havoc fabled knights,
In battles feigned; (the better fortitude
Of patience and heroic martyrdom
Unsung;) or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, emblazoned shields,
Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds,
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and tournament; then marshalled feast
Served up in hall with sewers and seneschals;
The skill of artifice or office mean!
Not that which justly gives heroic name
To person, or to poem. Me, of these
Nor skilled 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
Depressed; 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

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Twilight upon the Earth, short arbiter

"Twixt day and night; and now, from end to end,
Night's hemisphere had veiled the horizon round;
When Satan, who late fled before the threats
Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improved
In meditated fraud and malice,—bent
On man's destruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier on himself,-fearless returned.
By night he fled, and at midnight returned
From compassing the Earth; cautious of day,
Since Uriel, regent of the Sun, descried
His entrance, and forewarned the Cherubim

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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 colúre ;

On the eighth returned; and, on the coast averse
From entrance or cherubic watch, by stealth

Found unsuspected way. There was a place,

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Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the change, 70

Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise,

Into a gulf shot under ground; till part

Rose up a fountain by the tree of life :

In with the river sunk, and with it rose,

Satan, involved in rising mist; then sought

Where to lie hid: sea he had searched, and land,
From Eden over Pontus, and the pool
Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob;
Downward as far antarctic; 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

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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 diabolic power
Active within, beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolved; but first from inward grief
His bursting passion into plaints thus poured:
"O Earth, how like to Heaven, if not preferred
"More justly-seat worthier of Gods, as built
"With second thoughts, reforming what was old!
"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 centre, yet extends to all; so thou,
"Centring, receivest from all these 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

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By what I seek, but others to make such

"As I, though thereby worse to me redound: "For only in destroying I find ease

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"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 angelic name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers. He, to be avenged,

"And to repair his numbers thus impaired,

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(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

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"A creature formed of earth; and him endow, "Exalted from so base original,

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"With heavenly spoils-our spoils! What he decreed,

"He effected; man he made, and for him built

66 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 wrapped 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 height of deity aspired!
"But what will not ambition and revenge

"Descend to? Who aspires, must down as low

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