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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. 0, 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 sceptre 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
Of us out-cast, exiled, his new delight,
Mankind created, and for him this world.
So farewell, hope; and with hope, farewell fear;
Farewell, remorse! all good to me is lost;
Evil, be thou my good ; by thee at least
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 falshood 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, unsem. 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 champain head Of a steep wilderness, whose hairy sides With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild, Access denied; and over-head up grew Insuperable highth 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 up sprung :
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 sail
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 slight 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.