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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

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


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, travérsing 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,


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


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,

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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


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



"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

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


"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

66 (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 subtle 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 outgrew
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





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