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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 highth 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?
The 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 the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition; there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy the 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 stedfast 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 had 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 the utmost pole.
0, 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 know in Palestine, and named

Beelzebub. To whom the 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 enterprize,
Joined with me once, now misery hath joined
In equal ruin ! Into what pit thou seest,
From what highth 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 contention 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 terrour 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 substance 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,
Irreconcileable to our grand Foe,
Who now triumphs, and, in the excess of joy
Sole reigning, holds the tyranny of Heaven.

So spake the 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 the 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.

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But what if he our Conquerour (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 then avail, though yet we feel
Strength undiminished, or eternal being,
To undergo eternal punishment ?
Whereto with speedy words the 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 oft-times 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

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