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Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespoused;
Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long
Perplex'd the Greek, and Cytherea's son;
If answerable style I can obtain
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
Hor 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 deem'd; chief mastery to dissect
With long and tedious havoc fabled knights
In battles feign'd; the better fortitude
Of patience and heroic 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 marshald feast
Served up in hall with sewers and seneşhals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroic 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 improved
In meditated fraud and malice, bent

On Man's destruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier on himself, fearless return'd.
By night he fled, and at midnight return'd
From compassing the earth ; cautious of "day,
Since Uriel, regent of the sun,


60 His entrance, and forewarn'd 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 cross’d the car of night. 65 From pole to pole, travérsing each colure ; On the eighth return'd; 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, Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise,

71 Into a gulf shot under ground, till part Rose up a fountain by the tree of life : In with the river sunk, and with it rose Satan, involved in rising mist ; then sought 75 Where to lie hid; sea he had 'search’d, 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 barr’d

80 At Darien ; thence to the land where flows. Ganges and Indus: Thus the orb he roam'd With narrow search; and with inspection deep Consider'd every creature, which of all Most opportune might serve his wiles; and found 85 The Serpent subtlest beast of all the field. Him after long debate, irresolute Of thoughts revolved, his final sentence chose Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom To enter, and his dark suggestions hide

90 From sharpest sight: for, in the wily snake

Whatever sleights, none would suspicious mark,
As from his wit and native subtlety
Proceeding; which, in other beasts observed,
Doubt might beget of diabolic power

Active within, beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolved, but first from inward grief
His bursting passion into plaints thus pour’d:

O Earth, how like to Heaven, if not preferr'd More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as built 100 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,

105 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 those orbs: in thee Not in themselves, all their known virtue appears 110 Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth Of creatures animate with gradual life Of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in Man. With what delight could I have walk'd thee round, If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange

115 Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains, Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown'd, Rocks, dens, and caves! But I in none of these Find place or refuge; and the more I see Pleasures about me, so much more I feel

120 Torment within me, as from the hateful siege Of contraries : all good to me becomes Bane, and in Heaven much worse would be my

state, But neither here seek I, no nor in Heaven To dwell, unless by mastering Heaven's Supreme; 125 Nor hope to be myself less miserable By what I scek, 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 destroy d, 130
Or won to what may work his utter loss,
For whom all this was made, all this will soon
Follow, as to him link'd 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 marr'd
What he, Almighty styled, six nights and days
Continued making ; and who knows how long
Before had been contriving ? though perhaps
Not longer since than I, in one night, freed 140
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 impaird,
Whether such virtue spent of old now fail'd 145
More Angels to create, if they at least
Are his created, or, to spite us more,
Determined to advance into our room
A creature form'd of earth, and him endow,
Exalted from so base original,

150 With heavenly spoils, our spoils : What he detreed, He effected; Man he made, and for him built Magnificent this world, and earth his seat, Him lord pronounced ; and, O indignity! Subjected to his service angel-wings,

155 And flaming ministers to watch and tend Their earthly charge : Of these the vigilance I dread; and, to elude, thus wrapp'd in mist Of midnight vapour glide obscure, and pry In every bush and brake, where hap may find 160 The serpent sleeping; in whose mazy folds To hide me, and the dark intent I bring. O foul descent! that I, who erst contended With Gods to sit the highest, am now constrain'd Into a beast; and, mix'd 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 soar’d; 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 aim'd,
Since higher I fall short, on hin who next
Provokes my envy, this new favourite

175 Of Heaven, this man of clay, son of despite, Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raised From dust : Spite then with spite is best repaid.

So saying, through each thicket dank or dry, Like a black mist low-creeping, he held on 180 His midnight search, where soonest he might find The serpent; him fast sleeping soon he found In labyrinth of many a round self-rollid, His head the midst, well stored with subtile wiles. Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,

185 Nor nocent yet; but, on the grassy herb, Fearless unfear'd he slept: in at his mouth The Devil enter'd ; and his brutal sense, In heart or head, possessing, soon inspired With act intelligential; but his sleep

190 Disturb'd not, waiting close the approach of morn. Now, when as 'sacred light began to dawn In Eden on the humid flowers, that breathed Their morning incense, when all things that breathe, From the Earth's great altar send up silent praise 195 To the Creator, and his nostrils fill With grateful smell, forth came the human pair, And join'd their vocal worship to the choir Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs : 200 Then commune, how that day they best may ply Their growing work: for much their work outgrew The hands' despatch of two gardening so wide, And Eve first to her husband thus began :

Adam, well may we labour still to dress 205

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