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John%20milton

John Milton

POEMAS
SEGUIDORES
9

O for that warning voice, which he who saw
Th’ Apocalypse heard cry in Heaven aloud,
Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,
Came furious down to be reveng’d on men,
“Woe to the inhabitants on Earth!” that now,
While time was, our first parents had been warn’d
The coming of their secret foe, and scap’d,
Haply so scap’d, his mortal snare! For now
Satan, now first inflam’d with rage, came down,
The tempter, ere th’ accuser, of mankind,
To wreak on innocent frail Man his loss
Of that first battle and his flight to Hell;
Yet not rejoicing in his speed, though bold
Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,
Begins his dire attempt; which, nigh the birth
Now rolling, boils in his tumultuous breast,
And like a devilish engine back recoils
Upon himself. Horror and doubt distract
His troubl’d thoughts and from the bottom stir
The hell within him; for within him Hell
He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell
One step, no more than from himself, can fly
By change of place. Now conscience wakes despair
That slumber’d, wakes the bitter memory
Of what he was, what is, and what must be
Worse: of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue!
Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view
Lay pleasant, his griev’d look he fixes sad;
Sometimes towards heaven and the full—blazing sun,
Which now sat high in his meridian tower:
Then, much revolving, thus in sighs began:

“O thou that with surpassing glory crown’d
Look’st from thy sole dominion like the God
Of this new World—at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminish’d heads—to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,
O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere,
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down,
Warring in Heav’n against Heav’n’s matchless King:
Ah, wherefore? He deserv’d no such return
From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.
What could be less than to afford him praise,
The easiest recompense, and pay him thanks,
How due! Yet all his good prov’d ill in me,
And wrought but malice; lifted up so high,
I 'sdain’d 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 receiv’d;
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharg’d: what burden then?
O had his powerful destiny ordain’d
Me some inferior Angel, I had stood
Then happy: no unbounded hope had rais’d
Ambition. Yet why not? Some other Power
As great might have aspir’d, and me, though mean,
Drawn to his part; but other Powers as great
Fell not, but stand unshak’n, from within
Or from without to all temptations arm’d!
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?
Thou hadst. Whom hast thou then, or what, to accuse,
But Heav’n’s free love dealt equally to all?
Be then his love accurs’d, since, love or hate,
To me alike it deals eternal woe.
Nay, curs’d 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 threat’ning to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heav’n.
O 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 seduc’d
With other promises and other vaunts
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
Th’ 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 advanc’d,
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 feign’d 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 pierc’d 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, instead
Of us, outcast, exil’d, 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 Heav’n’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 dimm’d his face,
Thrice chang’d with pale—ire, envy, and despair,
Which marr’d his borrow’d visage and betray’d
Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld;
For heav’nly minds from such distempers foul
Are ever clear. Whereof he soon aware
Each perturbation smooth’d with outward calm,
Artificer of fraud, and was the first
That practis’d falsehood under saintly show,
Deep malice to conceal, couch’d with revenge;
Yet not enough had practis’d to deceive
Uriel, once warn’d, whose eye pursu’d him down
The way he went and on th’ Assyrian mount
Saw him disfigur’d, more than could befall
Spirit of happy sort: his gestures fierce
He mark’d and mad demeanour, then alone,
As he suppos’d, all unobserv’d, unseen.
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 champaign head
Of a steep wilderness, whose hairy sides
With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild,
Access denied; and overhead 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,
Appear’d, with gay enamell’d colours mix’d;
On which the Sun more glad impress’d his beams
Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,
When God hath show’r’d the earth: so lovely seem’d
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
Mozambic, off at sea north—east winds blow
Sabean odours from the spicy shore
Of Araby the Blest, with such delay
Well pleas’d they slack their course, and many a league
Cheer’d with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles:
So entertain’d those odorous sweets the Fiend
Who came their bane, though with them better pleas’d
Than Asmodeus with the fishy fume
That drove him, though enamour’d, from the spouse
Of Tobit’s son, and with a vengeance sent
From Media post to Egypt, there fast bound.

Now to th’ ascent of that steep savage hill
Satan had journeyed on, pensive and slow;
But further way found none: so thick entwin’d,
As one continu’d brake, the undergrowth
Of shrubs and tangling bushes had perplex’d
All path of man or beast that pass’d that way.
One gate there only was, and that look’d east
On th’ other side; which when th’ Arch—felon saw,
Due entrance he disdain’d and, in contempt,
At one slight bound high overleap’d 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 hurdl’d 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—barr’d 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 regain’d, but sat devising death
To them who liv’d; nor on the virtue thought
Of that life—giving plant, but only us’d
For prospect what, well us’d, 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.
Beneath him, with new wonder, now he views,
To all delight of human sense expos’d,
In narrow room Nature’s whole wealth; yea, more—
A Heaven on Earth; for blissful Paradise
Of God the garden was, by him in the east
Of Eden planted; Eden stretch’d her line
From Auran eastward to the royal tow’rs
Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,
Or where the sons of Eden long before
Dwelt in Telassar: in this pleasant soil
His far more pleasant garden God ordain’d.
Out of the fertile ground he caus’d to grow
All trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;
And all amid them stood the Tree of Life,
High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit
Of vegetable gold; and, next to life,
Our death, the Tree of Knowledge, grew fast by—
Knowledge of good, bought dear by knowing ill.
Southward through Eden went a river large,
Nor chang’d his course, but through the shaggy hill
Pass’d underneath ingulf’d; for God had thrown
That mountain, as his garden—mould, high rais’d
Upon the rapid current, which through veins
Of porous earth with kindly thirst up—drawn
Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill
Water’d the garden; thence united fell
Down the steep glade and met the nether flood,
Which from his darksome passage now appears,
And now, divided into four main streams,
Runs diverse, wand’ring many a famous realm
And country, whereof here needs no account,
But rather to tell how, if art could tell,
How from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks,
Rolling on orient pearl and sands of gold,
With mazy error under pendent shades
Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed
Flow’rs worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art
In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon
Pour’d forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain,
Both where the morning sun first warmly smote
The open field, and where the unpierc’d shade
Imbrown’d the noontide bow’rs. Thus was this place,
A happy rural seat of various view:
Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm;
Others whose fruit, burnish’d with golden rind,
Hung amiable—Hesperian fables true,
If true, here only—and of delicious taste.
Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks
Grazing the tender herb, were interpos’d,
Or palmy hillock; or the flow’ry lap
Of some irriguous valley spread her store,
Flow’rs of all hue, and without thorn the rose;
Another side, umbrageous grots and caves
Of cool recess, o’er which the mantling vine
Lays forth her purple grape and gently creeps
Luxuriant. Meanwhile murmuring waters fall
Down the slope hills, dispers’d, or in a lake,
That to the fringed bank with myrtle crown’d
Her crystal mirror holds, unite their streams.
The birds their quire apply; airs, vernal airs,
Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune
The trembling leaves, while universal Pan,
Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance,
Led on th’ eternal Spring. Not that fair field
Of Enna, where Proserpin gath’ring flow’rs,
Herself a fairer flow’r, by gloomy Dis
Was gather’d—which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world; nor that sweet grove
Of Daphne, by Orontes and th’ inspir’d
Castalian spring, might with this Paradise
Of Eden strive; nor that Nyseian isle,
Girt with the river Triton, where old Cham,
Whom Gentiles Ammon call and Libyan Jove,
Hid Amalthea and her florid son,
Young Bacchus, from his stepdame Rhea’s eye;
Nor, where Abassin kings their issue guard,
Mount Amara (though this by some suppos’d
True Paradise) under the Ethiop line
By Nilus’ head, enclos’d with shining rock,
A whole day’s journey high, but wide remote
From this Assyrian garden where the Fiend
Saw undelighted all delight, all kind
Of living creatures, new to sight and strange.
Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall,
God—like erect, with native honour clad
In naked majesty, seem’d lords of all,
And worthy seem’d; for in their looks divine
The image of their glorious Maker shone,
Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure—
Severe, but in true filial freedom plac’d,
Whence true authority in men: though both
Not equal, as their sex not equal seem’d;
For contemplation he and valour form’d,
For softness she and sweet attractive grace;
He for God only, she for God in him.
His fair, large front and eye sublime declar’d
Absolute rule, and hyacinthine locks
Round from his parted forelock manly hung
Clust’ring, but not beneath his shoulders broad;
She, as a veil down to the slender waist,
Her unadorned golden tresses wore
Dishevell’d, but in wanton ringlets wav’d
As the vine curls her tendrils—which implied
Subjection, but requir’d with gentle sway,
And by her yielded, by him best receiv’d,
Yielded with coy submission, modest pride,
And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.
Nor those mysterious parts were then conceal’d:
Then was not guilty shame. Dishonest Shame
Of Nature’s works, Honour dishonourable,
Sin—bred, how have ye troubl’d all mankind
With shows instead, mere shows of seeming pure,
And banish’d from man’s life his happiest life,
Simplicity and spotless innocence!
So pass’d they naked on, nor shunn’d the sight
Of God or Angel; for they thought no ill.
So hand in hand they pass’d, the loveliest pair
That ever since in love’s embraces met—
Adam the goodliest man of men since born
His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve.
Under a tuft of shade that on a green
Stood whispering soft, by a fresh fountain—side,
They sat them down; and, after no more toil
Of their sweet gard’ning labour than suffic’d
To recommend cool Zephyr, and make ease
More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite
More grateful, to their supper—fruits they fell—
Nectarine fruits, which the compliant boughs
Yielded them, sidelong as they sat recline
On the soft downy bank damask’d with flow’rs.
The savoury pulp they chew, and in the rind,
Still as they thirsted, scoop the brimming stream;
Nor gentle purpose, nor endearing smiles
Wanted, nor youthful dalliance, as beseems
Fair couple link’d in happy nuptial league,
Alone as they. About them frisking play’d
All beasts of th’ earth, since wild, and of all chase
In wood or wilderness, forest or den:
Sporting the lion ramp’d, and in his paw
Dandl’d the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,
Gamboll’d before them; th’ unwieldy elephant,
To make them mirth, us’d all his might, and wreath’d
His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly,
Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine
His braided train, and of his fatal guile
Gave proof unheeded. Others on the grass
Couch’d and, now fill’d with pasture, gazing sat,
Or bedward ruminating; for the sun,
Declin’d, was hasting now with prone career
To th’ Ocean Isles, and in th’ ascending scale
Of heav’n the stars that usher evening rose;
When Satan, still in gaze as first he stood,
Scarce thus at length fail’d speech recover’d sad:

“O Hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold?
Into our room of bliss thus high advanc’d
Creatures of other mould—Earth—born perhaps,
Not Spirits, yet to Heav’nly Spirits bright
Little inferior—whom my thoughts pursue
With wonder, and could love so lively shines
In them divine resemblance, and such grace
The hand that form’d them on their shape hath pour’d.
Ah! gentle pair, ye little think how nigh
Your change approaches, when all these delights
Will vanish and deliver ye to woe—
More woe, the more your taste is now of joy:
Happy, but for so happy ill secur’d
Long to continue, and this high seat, your Heav’n,
Ill—fenc’d for Heav’n to keep out such a foe
As now is enter’d; yet no purpos’d foe
To you, whom I could pity thus forlorn,
Though I unpitied. League with you I seek,
And mutual amity, so strait, so close,
That I with you must dwell, or you with me,
Henceforth. My dwelling, haply, may not please
Like this fair Paradise your sense; yet such
Accept your Maker’s work; he gave it me,
Which I as freely give. Hell shall unfold,
To entertain you two, her widest gates,
And send forth all her kings; there will be room,
Not like these narrow limits, to receive
Your numerous offspring; if no better place,
Thank him who puts me, loath, to this revenge
On you, who wrong me not, for him who wrong’d.
And, should I at your harmless innocence
Melt, as I do, yet public reason just—
Honour and empire with revenge enlarg’d
By conquering this new world—compels me now
To do what else, though damn’d, I should abhor.”

So spake the Fiend, and with necessity,
The tyrant’s plea, excus’d his devilish deeds.
Then from his lofty stand on that high tree
Down he alights among the sportful herd
Of those four—footed kinds, himself now one,
Now other, as their shape serv’d best his end,
Nearer to view his prey, and, unespied,
To mark what of their state he more might learn
By word or action mark’d. About them round
A lion now he stalks with fiery glare;
Then as a tiger, who by chance hath spied
In some purlieu two gentle fawns at play,
Straight crouches close, then, rising, changes oft
His couchant watch, as one who chose his ground,
Whence rushing he might surest seize them both
Gripp’d in each paw; when Adam, first of men,
To first of women, Eve, thus moving speech,
Turn’d him all ear to hear new utterance flow:

“Sole partner and sole part of all these joys,
Dearer thyself than all, needs must the Power
That made us, and for us this ample world,
Be infinitely good, and of his good
As liberal and free as infinite;
That rais’d us from the dust, and plac’d us here
In all this happiness, who at his hand
Have nothing merited, nor can perform
Aught whereof he hath need; he who requires
From us no other service than to keep
This one, this easy charge: of all the trees
In Paradise that bear delicious fruit
So various, not to taste that only Tree
Of Knowledge, planted by the Tree of Life:
So near grows Death to Life, whate’er death is—
Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou know’st
God hath pronounc’d it death to taste that Tree:
The only sign of our obedience left
Among so many signs of power and rule
Conferr’d upon us, and dominion giv’n
Over all other creatures that possess
Earth, air, and sea. Then let us not think hard
One easy prohibition, who enjoy
Free leave so large to all things else, and choice
Unlimited of manifold delights;
But let us ever praise him and extol
His bounty, following our delightful task,
To prune these growing plants and tend these flowers;
Which, were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet.”

To whom thus Eve replied: “O thou for whom
And from whom I was form’d flesh of thy flesh,
And without whom am to no end, my guide
And head! what thou hast said is just and right.
For we to him, indeed, all praises owe,
And daily thanks—I chiefly, who enjoy
So far the happier lot, enjoying thee,
Pre—eminent by so much odds, while thou
Like consort to thyself canst nowhere find.
That day I oft remember, when from sleep
I first awak’d and found myself repos’d,
Under a shade, on flow’rs, much wond’ring where
And what I was, whence thither brought, and how.
Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound
Of waters issu’d from a cave, and spread
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmov’d,
Pure as th’ expanse of heav’n. I thither went
With unexperienc’d thought, and laid me down
On the green bank, to look into the clear
Smooth lake, that to me seem’d another sky.
As I bent down to look, just opposite
A shape within the wat’ry gleam appear’d,
Bending to look on me. I started back,
It started back; but pleas’d I soon return’d
Pleas’d it return’d as soon with answering looks
Of sympathy and love. There I had fix’d
Mine eyes till now, and pin’d with vain desire,
Had not a voice thus warn’d me: 'What thou seest
What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself:
With thee it came and goes; but follow me,
And I will bring thee where no shadow stays
Thy coming and thy soft embraces—he
Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy
Inseparably thine; to him shalt bear
Multitudes like thyself, and thence be call’d
Mother of human race.' What could I do
But follow straight, invisibly thus led?
Till I espied thee, fair indeed and tall,
Under a platan; yet methought less fair,
Less winning soft, less amiably mild,
Than that smooth wat’ry image. Back I turn’d;
Thou, following, cried’st aloud, ‘Return, fair Eve;
Whom fliest thou? Whom thou fliest, of him thou art,
His flesh, his bone; to give thee being I lent
Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,
Substantial life, to have thee by my side
Henceforth an individual solace dear:
Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim
My other half.’ With that thy gentle hand
Seiz’d mine: I yielded, and from that time see
How beauty is excell’d by manly grace
And wisdom, which alone is truly fair.”

So spake our general mother, and, with eyes
Of conjugal attraction unreprov’d,
And meek surrender, half—embracing lean’d
On our first father; half her swelling breast
Naked met his, under the flowing gold
Of her loose tresses hid. He, in delight
Both of her beauty and submissive charms,
Smil’d with superior love, as Jupiter
On Juno smiles when he impregns the clouds
That shed May flowers, and press’d her matron lip
With kisses pure. Aside the Devil turn’d
For envy; yet with jealous leer malign
Ey’d them askance, and to himself thus plain’d:

“Sight hateful, sight tormenting! Thus these two,
Imparadis’d in one another’s arms,
The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill
Of bliss on bliss; while I to Hell am thrust,
Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire,
Among our other torments not the least,
Still unfulfill’d, with pain of longing pines!
Yet let me not forget what I have gain’d
From their own mouths. All is not theirs, it seems;
One fatal tree there stands, of Knowledge call’d,
Forbidden them to taste. Knowledge forbidd’n?
Suspicious, reasonless! Why should their Lord
Envy them that? Can it be sin to know?
Can it be death? And do they only stand
By ignorance? Is that their happy state,
The proof of their obedience and their faith?
O fair foundation laid whereon to build
Their ruin! Hence I will excite their minds
With more desire to know, and to reject
Envious commands, invented with design
To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt
Equal with Gods. Aspiring to be such,
They taste and die: what likelier can ensue?
But first with narrow search I must walk round
This garden, and no corner leave unspied:—
A chance, but chance may lead where I may meet
Some wand’ring Spirit of Heav’n, by fountain—side,
Or in thick shade retir’d, from him to draw
What further would be learn’d. Live while ye may,
Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return,
Short pleasures; for long woes are to succeed!”

So saying, his proud step he scornful turn’d,
But with sly circumspection, and began
Through wood, through waste, o’er hill, o’er dale, his roam.
Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where heav’n
With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun
Slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise
Levell’d his evening rays. It was a rock
Of alabaster, pil’d up to the clouds,
Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent
Accessible from earth, one entrance high;
The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung
Still as it rose, impossible to dimb.
Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,
Chief of th’ angelic guards, awaiting night;
About him exercis’d heroic games
Th’ unarmed youth of Heav’n; but nigh at hand
Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,
Hung high, with diamond flaming and with gold.
Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even
On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fir’d
Impress the air, and shows the mariner
From what point of his compass to beware
Impetuous winds. He thus began in haste:

“Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath giv’n
Charge and strict watch that to this happy place
No evil thing approach or enter in.
This day at highth of noon came to my sphere
A Spirit, zealous as he seem’d to know
More of th’ Almighty’s works, and chiefly Man,
God’s latest image. I describ’d his way
Bent all on speed, and mark’d his airy gait,
But in the mount that lies from Eden north,
Where he first lighted, soon discern’d his looks
Alien from Heav’n, with passions foul obscur’d.
Mine eye pursu’d him still, but under shade
Lost sight of him. One of the banish’d crew,
I fear, hath ventur’d from the Deep, to raise
New troubles; him thy care must be to find.”

To whom the winged warrior thus return’d:
“Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight,
Amid the sun’s bright circle where thou sitt’st,
See far and wide. In at this gate none pass
The vigilance here plac’d, but such as come
Well known from Heav’n; and since meridian hour
No creature thence. If Spirit of other sort,
So minded, have o’erleap’d these earthy bounds
On purpose, hard thou know’st it to exclude
Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.
But if within the circuit of these walks,
In whatsoever shape, he lurk of whom
Thou tell’st, by morrow dawning I shall know.”

So promis’d he; and Uriel to his charge
Return’d on that bright beam, whose point now rais’d
Bore him slope downward to the sun, now fall’n
Beneath th’ Azores; whether the prime orb,
Incredible how swift, had thither roll’d
Diurnal, or this less volúbil earth,
By shorter flight to th’ east, had left him there
Arraying with reflected purple and gold
The clouds that on his western throne attend.

Now came still Evening on, and Twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad;
Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests,
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale;
She all night long her amorous descant sung:
Silence was pleas’d. Now glow’d the firmament
With living sapphires; Hesperus, that led
The starry host, rode brightest, till the Moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent queen, unveil’d her peerless light
And o’er the dark her silver mantle threw.

When Adam thus to Eve: “Fair consort, th’ hour
Of night, and all things now retir’d to rest,
Mind us of like repose, since God hath set
Labour and rest, as day and night, to men
Successive, and the timely dew of sleep
Now falling with soft slumb’rous weight inclines
Our eyelids. Other creatures all day long
Rove idle, unemploy’d, and less need rest;
Man hath his daily work of body or mind
Appointed, which declares his dignity
And the regard of Heav’n on all his ways;
While other animals unactive range,
And of their doings God takes no account.
To—morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east
With first approach of light, we must be ris’n
And at our pleasant labour, to reform
Yon flow’ry arbours, yonder alleys green,
Our walks at noon, with branches overgrown,
That mock our scant manuring, and require
More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth.
Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums,
That lie bestrewn, unsightly and unsmooth,
Ask riddance if we mean to tread with ease.
Meanwhile, as Nature wills, Night bids us rest.”

To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorned:
“My author and disposer, what thou bidd’st
Unargu’d I obey; so God ordains.
God is thy law, thou mine: to know no more
Is woman’s happiest knowledge and her praise.
With thee conversing I forget all time,
All seasons and their change: all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun,
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flow’r,
Glist’ring with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming—on
Of grateful evening mild; then silent night,
With this her solemn bird, and this her moon,
And these the gems of heav’n, her starry train:
But neither breath of morn when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glist’ring with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful evening mild, nor silent night,
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon
Or glittering starlight, without thee is sweet.
But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom
This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?”

To whom our general ancestor replied:
“Daughter of God and Man, accomplish’d Eve,
Those have their course to finish round the earth
By morrow evening, and from land to land
In order, though to nations yet unborn,
Minist’ring light prepar’d, they set and rise;
Lest total darkness should by night regain
Her old possession, and extinguish life
In nature and all things, which these soft fires
Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat
Of various influence foment and warm,
Temper or nourish, or in part shed down
Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow
On earth, made hereby apter to receive
Perfection from the sun’s more potent ray.
These, then, though unbeheld in deep of night,
Shine not in vain. Nor think, though men were none,
That heav’n would want spectators, God want praise.
Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep:
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold
Both day and night. How often, from the steep
Of echoing hill or thicket, have we heard
Celestial voices to the midnight air,
Sole or responsive each to other’s note,
Singing their great Creator! Oft in bands
While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk,
With heav’nly touch of instrumental sounds
In full harmonic number join’d, their songs
Divide the night and lift our thoughts to Heaven.”

Thus talking, hand in hand alone they pass’d
On to their blissful bower. It was a place
Chos’n by the sovran Planter, when he fram’d
All things to Man’s delightful use: the roof
Of thickest covert was inwoven shade,
Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew
Of firm and fragrant leaf; on either side
Acanthus and each odorous bushy shrub
Fenc’d up the verdant wall; each beauteous flower,
Iris all hues, roses, and jessamine,
Rear’d high their flourish’d heads between, and wrought
Mosaic; under foot the violet,
Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay
Broider’d the ground, more colour’d than with stone
Of costliest emblem. Other creature here,
Beast, bird, insect, or worm, durst enter none;
Such was their awe of Man. In shadier bower
More sacred and sequester’d, though but feign’d,
Pan or Silvanus never slept, nor nymph
Nor Faunus haunted. Here in close recess,
With flowers, garlands, and sweet—smelling herbs,
Espoused Eve deck’d first her nuptial bed,
And heav’nly quires the hymenæan sung,
What day the genial Angel to our sire
Brought her, in naked beauty more adorn’d,
More lovely, than Pandora, whom the Gods
Endow’d with all their gifts; and O too like
In sad event, when, to the unwiser son
Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnar’d
Mankind with her fair looks, to be aveng’d
On him who had stole Jove’s authentic fire.

Thus at their shady lodge arriv’d, both stood,
Both turn’d, and under open sky ador’d
The God that made both sky, air, earth, and Heav’n,
Which they beheld, the moon’s resplendent globe,
And starry pole:—"Thou also mad’st the night,
Maker Omnipotent, and thou the day,
Which we, in our appointed work employ’d,
Have finish’d, happy in our mutual help
And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss
Ordain’d by thee, and this delicious place,
For us too large, where thy abundance wants
Partakers, and uncropt falls to the ground.
But thou hast promis’d from us two a race
To fill the earth, who shall with us extol
Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake
And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep."

This said unanimous, and other rites
Observing none, but adoration pure
Which God likes best, into their inmost bower
Handed they went; and, eas’d the putting—off
These troublesome disguises which we wear,
Straight side by side were laid; nor turn’d, I ween,
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites
Mysterious of connubial love refus’d—
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Of purity, and place, and innocence,
Deeming as impure what God declares
Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.
Our Maker bids increase; who bids abstain
But our destroyer, foe to God and Man?
Hail wedded Love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise of all things common else!
By thee adulterous lust was driv’n from men
Among the bestial herds to range; by thee,
Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother, first were known.
Far be it that I should write thee sin or blame,
Or think thee unbefitting holiest place,
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,
Whose bed is undefil’d and chaste pronounc’d,
Present or past, as saints and patriarchs us’d.
Here Love his golden shafts employs, here lights
His constant lamp and waves his purple wings,
Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile
Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendear’d,
Casual fruition, nor in court amours,
Mix’d dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball,
Or serenate, which the starv’d lover sings
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.
These, lull’d by nightingales, embracing slept,
And on their naked limbs the flow’ry roof
Show’r’d roses, which the morn repair’d. Sleep on,
Blest pair! and O yet happiest, if ye seek
No happier state, and know to know no more!

Now had Night measur’d with her shadowy cone
Half—way uphill this vast sublunar vault,
And from their ivory port the Cherubim,
Forth issuing at th’ accustom’d hour, stood arm’d
To their night—watches in warlike parade;
When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake:
“Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south
With strictest watch; these other wheel the north:
Our circuit meets full west.” As flame they part,
Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear.
From these, two strong and subtle Spirits he call’d
That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge:
“Ithuriel and Zephon, with wing’d speed
Search through this garden; leave unsearch’d no nook;
But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge,
Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm.
This evening from the sun’s decline arriv’d
Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen
Hitherward bent (who could have thought?), escap’d
The bars of Hell, on errand bad, no doubt:
Such, where ye find, seize fasst and hither bring.”

So saying, on he led his radiant files,
Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct
In search of whom they sought. Him there they found
Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,
Assaying by his devilish art to reach
The organs of her fancy and with them forge
Illusions as he list, phantasms and dreams;
Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint
Th’ animal spirits that from pure blood arise
Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise
At least distemper’d, discontented thoughts,
Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,
Blown up with high conceits engend’ring pride.
Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
Touch’d lightly; for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness. Up he starts,
Discover’d and surpris’d. As when a spark
Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid
Fit for the tun, some magazine to store
Against a rumour’d war, the smutty grain,
With sudden blaze diffus’d, inflames the air:
So started up in his own shape the Fiend.
Back stept those two fair Angels, half amaz’d
So sudden to behold the grisly king;
Yet thus, unmov’d with fear, accost him soon:

“Which of those rebel Spirits adjudg’d to Hell
Com’st thou, escap’d thy prison? and, transform’d,
Why satt’st thou like an enemy in wait,
Here watching at the head of these that sleep?”

“Know ye not, then,” said Satan, fill’d with scorn,
“Know ye not me? Ye knew me once no mate
For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar!
Not to know me argues yourselves unknown,
The lowest of your throng; or, if ye know,
Why ask ye, and superfluous begin
Your message, like to end as much in vain?”
To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn:
“Think not, revolted Spirit, thy shape the same,
Or undiminish’d brightness, to be known
As when thou stood’st in Heav’n upright and pure.
That glory then, when thou no more wast good,
Departed from thee, and thou resembl’st now
Thy sin and place of doom obscure and foul.
But come; for thou, be sure, shalt give account
To him who sent us whose charge is to keep
This place inviolable and these from harm.”

So spake the Cherub; and his grave rebuke,
Severe in youthful beauty, added grace
Invincible. Abash’d the Devil stood,
And felt how awful goodness is, and saw
Virtue in her shape how lovely—saw and pin’d
His loss, but chiefly to find here observ’d
His lustre visibly impair’d; yet seem’d
Undaunted. “If I must contend,” said he,
“Best with the best—the sender, not the sent,
Or all at once: more glory will be won,
Or less be lost.” “Thy fear,” said Zephon bold,
“Will save us trial what the least can do
Single against thee, wicked and thence weak.”

The Fiend replied not, overcome with rage;
But, like a proud steed rein’d, went haughty on,
Champing his iron curb. To strive or fly
He held it vain; awe from above had quell’d
His heart, not else dismay’d. Now drew they nigh
The western point, where those half—rounding guards
Just met and, closing, stood in squadron join’d,
Awaiting next command. To whom their chief,
Gabriel, from the front thus call’d aloud:

'O friends, I hear the tread of nimble feet
Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern
Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade;
And with them comes a third, of regal port,
But faded splendour wan, who by his gait
And fierce demeanour seems the Prince of Hell—
Not likely to part hence without contést.
Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours."

He scarce had ended, when those two approach’d,
And brief related whom they brought, where found,
How busied, in what form and posture couch’d.
To whom, with stern regard, thus Gabriel spake:
“Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescrib’d
To thy transgressions, and disturb’d the charge
Of others who approve not to transgress
By thy example, but have power and right
To question thy bold entrance on this place,
Employ’d, it seems, to violate sleep and those
Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss?”

To whom thus Satan, with contemptuous brow:
“Gabriel, thou hadst in Heav’n th’ esteem of wise,
And such I held thee; but this question ask’d
Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain?
Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,
Though thither doom’d? Thou wouldst thyself, no doubt,
And boldly venture to whatever place
Farthest from pain, where thou mightst hope to change
Torment with ease, and soonest recompense
Dole with delight, which in this place I sought:
To thee no reason, who know’st only good,
But evil hast not tried. And wilt object
His will who bound us? Let him surer bar
His iron gates if he intends our stay
In that dark durance. Thus much what was ask’d;
The rest is true: they found me where they say;
But that implies not violence or harm.”

Thus he in scorn. The warlike Angel mov’d,
Disdainfully half smiling, thus replied:
“O loss of one in Heav’n to judge of wise
Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew,
And now returns him from his prison scap’d,
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
Or not who ask what boldness brought him hither
Unlicens’d from his bounds in Hell prescrib’d!
So wise he judges it to fly from pain,
However, and to scape his punishment!
So judge thou still, presumptuous, till the wrath
Which thou incurr’st by flying meet thy flight
Sevenfold and scourge that wisdom back to Hell,
Which taught thee yet no better that no pain
Can equal anger infinite provok’d.
But wherefore thou alone? Wherefore with thee
Came not all Hell broke loose? Is pain to them
Less pain, less to be fled? or thou than they
Less hardy to endure? Courageous chief,
The first in flight from pain, hadst thou alleg’d
To thy deserted host this cause of flight,
Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive.”

To which the Fiend thus answer’d, frowning stern:
“Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain,
Insulting Angel! well thou know’st I stood
Thy fiercest, when in battle to thy aid
The blasting volley’d thunder made all speed
And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.
But still thy words at random, as before,
Argue thy inexperience what behoves,
From hard assays and ill successes past,
A faithful leader—not to hazard all
Through ways of danger by himself untried.
I, therefore, I alone, first undertook
To wing the desolate Abyss and spy
This new—created World, whereof in Hell
Fame is not silent, here in hope to find
Better abode, and my afflicted powers
To settle here on earth, or in mid—air;
Though for possession put to try once more
What thou and thy gay legions dare against,
Whose easier business were to serve their Lord
High up in Heav’n, with songs to hymn his throne,
And practis’d distances to cringe, not fight.”

To whom the warrior Angel soon replied:
“To say and straight unsay, pretending first
Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy,
Argues no leader, but a liar trac’d,
Satan; and couldst thou 'faithful’ add? O name,
O sacred name of faithfulness profan’d!
Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew?
Army of fiends, fit body to fit head!
Was this your discipline and faith engag’d,
Your military obedience, to dissolve
Allegiance to th’ acknowledg’d Power Supreme?
And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem
Patron of liberty, who more than thou
Once fawn’d, and cring’d, and servilely ador’d
Heav’n’s awful Monarch? wherefore, but in hope
To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?
But mark what I aread thee now: Avaunt!
Fly thither whence thou fledd’st. If from this hour
Within these hallow’d limits thou appear,
Back to th’ infernal Pit I drag thee chain’d,
And seal thee so as henceforth not to scorn
The facile gates of Hell too slightly barr’d.”

So threat’n’d he; but Satan to no threats
Gave heed, but waxing more in rage, replied:
“Then, when I am thy captive, talk of chains,
Proud limitary Cherub! but ere then
Far heavier load thyself expect to feel
From my prevailing arm, though Heaven’s King
Ride on thy wings and thou with thy compeers,
Us’d to the yoke, draw’st his triumphant wheels
In progress through the road of Heav’n star—pav’d.”

While thus he spake, th’ angelic squadron bright
Turn’d fiery red, sharp’ning in mooned horns
Their phalanx, and began to hem him round
With ported spears, as thick as when a field
Of Ceres, ripe for harvest, waving bends
Her bearded grove of ears which way the wind
Sways them, the careful ploughman doubting stands,
Lest on the thrashing—floor his hopeful sheaves
Prove chaff. On th’ other side, Satan, alarm’d,
Collecting all his might, dilated stood,
Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremov’d:
His stature reach’d the sky, and on his crest
Sat Horror plum’d; nor wanted in his grasp
What seem’d both spear and shield. Now dreadful deeds
Might have ensu’d; nor only Paradise,
In this commotion, but the starry cope
Of heav’n perhaps, or all the elements
At least, had gone to wrack, disturb’d and torn
With violence of this conflict, had not soon
Th’ Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,
Hung forth in heav’n his golden scales, yet seen
Betwixt Astraea and the Scorpion sign,
Wherein all things created first he weigh’d—
The pendulous round Earth with balanc’d Air
In counterpoise—now ponders all events,
Battles and realms. In these he put two weights,
The sequel each of parting and of fight:
The latter quick up flew and kick’d the beam;
Which Gabriel spying thus bespake the Fiend:

“Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know’st mine,
Neither our own, but giv’n; what folly then
To boast what arms can do! since thine no more
Than Heav’n permits, nor mine, though doubl’d now
To trample thee as mire. For proof look up,
And read thy lot in yon celestial sign,
Where thou art weigh’d, and shown how light, how weak
If thou resist.” The Fiend look’d up and knew
His mounted scale aloft: nor more, but fled
Murmuring; and with him fled the shades of night.

So spake the Son of God, and Satan stood
A while as mute confounded what to say,
What to reply, confuted and convinc’t
Of his weak arguing, and fallacious drift;
At length collecting all his Serpent wiles,
With soothing words renew’d, him thus accosts.
   I see thou know’st what is of use to know,
What best to say canst say, to do canst do;
Thy actions to thy words accord, thy words
To thy large heart give utterance due, thy heart
Conteins of good, wise, just, the perfect shape.
Should Kings and Nations from thy mouth consult,
Thy Counsel would be as the Oracle
Urim and Thummim, those oraculous gems
On Aaron’s breast: or tongue of Seers old
Infallible; or wert thou sought to deeds
That might require th’ array of war, thy skill
Of conduct would be such, that all the world
Could not sustain thy Prowess, or subsist
In battel, though against thy few in arms.
These God—like Vertues wherefore dost thou hide?
Affecting private life, or more obscure
In savage Wilderness, wherefore deprive
All Earth her wonder at thy acts, thy self
The fame and glory, glory the reward
That sole excites to high attempts the flame
Of most erected Spirits, most temper’d pure
Ætherial, who all pleasures else despise,
All treasures and all gain esteem as dross,
And dignities and powers all but the highest?
Thy years are ripe, and over—ripe, the Son
Of Macedonian Philip had e’re these
Won Asia and the Throne of Cyrus held
At his dispose, young Scipio had brought down
The Carthaginian pride, young Pompey quell’d
The Pontic King and in triumph had rode.
Yet years, and to ripe years judgment mature,
Quench not the thirst of glory, but augment.
Great Julius, whom now all the world admires
The more he grew in years, the more inflam’d
With glory, wept that he had liv’d so long
Inglorious: but thou yet art not too late.
   To whom our Saviour calmly thus reply’d.
Thou neither dost perswade me to seek wealth
For Empires sake, nor Empire to affect
For glories sake by all thy argument.
For what is glory but the blaze of fame,
The peoples praise, if always praise unmixt?
And what the people but a herd confus’d,
A miscellaneous rabble, who extol
Things vulgar, & well weigh’d, scarce worth the praise,
They praise and they admire they know not what;
And know not whom, but as one leads the other;
And what delight to be by such extoll’d,
To live upon thir tongues and be thir talk,
Of whom to be disprais’d were no small praise?
His lot who dares be singularly good.
Th’ intelligent among them and the wise
Are few, and glory scarce of few is rais’d.
This is true glory and renown, when God
Looking on the Earth, with approbation marks
The just man, and divulges him through Heaven
To all his Angels, who with true applause
Recount his praises; thus he did to Job,
When to extend his fame through Heaven & Earth,
As thou to thy reproach mayst well remember,
He ask’d thee, hast thou seen my servant Job?
Famous he was in Heaven, on Earth less known;
Where glory is false glory, attributed
To things not glorious, men not worthy of fame.
They err who count it glorious to subdue
By Conquest far and wide, to over—run
Large Countries, and in field great Battels win,
Great Cities by assault: what do these Worthies,
But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave
Peaceable Nations, neighbouring, or remote,
Made Captive, yet deserving freedom more
Then those thir Conquerours, who leave behind
Nothing but ruin wheresoe’re they rove,
And all the flourishing works of peace destroy,
Then swell with pride, and must be titl’d Gods,
Great Benefactors of mankind, Deliverers,
Worship’t with Temple, Priest and Sacrifice;
One is the Son of Jove, of Mars the other,
Till Conquerour Death discover them scarce men,
Rowling in brutish vices, and deform’d,
Violent or shameful death thir due reward.
But if there be in glory aught of good,
It may by means far different be attain’d
Without ambition, war, or violence;
By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,
By patience, temperance; I mention still
Him whom thy wrongs with Saintly patience born,
Made famous in a Land and times obscure;
Who names not now with honour patient Job?
Poor Socrates (who next more memorable?)
By what he taught and suffer’d for so doing,
For truths sake suffering death unjust, lives now
Equal in fame to proudest Conquerours.
Yet if for fame and glory aught be done,
Aught suffer’d; if young African for fame
His wasted Country freed from Punic rage,
The deed becomes unprais’d, the man at least,
And loses, though but verbal, his reward.
Shall I seek glory then, as vain men seek
Oft not deserv’d?   I seek not mine, but his
Who sent me, and thereby witness whence I am.
   To whom the Tempter murmuring thus reply’d.
Think not so slight of glory; therein least
Resembling thy great Father: he seeks glory,
And for his glory all things made, all things
Orders and governs, nor content in Heaven
By all his Angels glorifi’d, requires
Glory from men, from all men good or bad,
Wise or unwise, no difference, no exemption;
Above all Sacrifice, or hallow’d gift
Glory he requires, and glory he receives
Promiscuous from all Nations, Jew, or Greek,
Or Barbarous, nor exception hath declar’d;
From us his foes pronounc’t glory he exacts.
   To whom our Saviour fervently reply’d.
And reason; since his word all things produc’d,
Though chiefly not for glory as prime end,
But to shew forth his goodness, and impart
His good communicable to every soul
Freely; of whom what could he less expect
Then glory and benediction, that is thanks,
The slightest, easiest, readiest recompence
From them who could return him nothing else,
And not returning that would likeliest render
Contempt instead, dishonour, obloquy?
Hard recompence, unsutable return
For so much good, so much beneficence.
But why should man seek glory? who of his own
Hath nothing, and to whom nothing belongs
But condemnation, ignominy, and shame?
Who for so many benefits receiv’d
Turn’d recreant to God, ingrate and false,
And so of all true good himself despoil’d,
Yet, sacrilegious, to himself would take
That which to God alone of right belongs;
Yet so much bounty is in God, such grace,
That who advance his glory, not thir own,
Them he himself to glory will advance.
   So spake the Son of God; and here again
Satan had not to answer, but stood struck
With guilt of his own sin, for he himself
Insatiable of glory had lost all,
Yet of another Plea bethought him soon.
   Of glory as thou wilt, said he, so deem,
Worth or not worth the seeking, let it pass:
But to a Kingdom thou art born, ordain’d
To sit upon thy Father David’s Throne;
By Mothers side thy Father, though thy right
Be now in powerful hands, that will not part
Easily from possession won with arms;
Judæa now and all the promis’d land
Reduc’t a Province under Roman yoke,
Obeys Tiberius; nor is always rul’d
With temperate sway; oft have they violated
The Temple, oft the Law with foul affronts,
Abominations rather, as did once
Antiochus: and think’st thou to regain
Thy right by sitting still or thus retiring?
So did not Machabeus: he indeed
Retir’d unto the Desert, but with arms;
And o’re a mighty King so oft prevail’d,
That by strong hand his Family obtain’d,
Though Priests, the Crown, and David’s Throne usurp’d,
With Modin and her Suburbs once content.
If Kingdom move thee not, let move thee Zeal,
And Duty; Zeal and Duty are not slow;
But on Occasions forelock watchful wait.
They themselves rather are occasion best,
Zeal of thy Fathers house, Duty to free
Thy Country from her Heathen servitude;
So shalt thou best fullfil, best verifie
The Prophets old, who sung thy endless raign,
The happier raign the sooner it begins,
Raign then; what canst thou better do the while?
   To whom our Saviour answer thus return’d.
All things are best fullfil’d in their due time,
And time there is for all things, Truth hath said:
If of my raign Prophetic Writ hath told,
That it shall never end, so when begin
The Father in his purpose hath decreed,
He in whose hand all times and seasons roul.
What if he hath decreed that I shall first
Be try’d in humble state, and things adverse,
By tribulations, injuries, insults,
Contempts, and scorns, and snares, and violence,
Suffering, abstaining, quietly expecting
Without distrust or doubt, that he may know
What I can suffer, how obey? who best
Can suffer, best can do; best reign, who first
Well hath obey’d; just tryal e’re I merit
My exaltation without change or end.
But what concerns it thee when I begin
My everlasting Kingdom, why art thou
Sollicitous, what moves thy inquisition?
Know’st thou not that my rising is thy fall,
And my promotion will be thy destruction?
   To whom the Tempter inly rackt reply’d.
Let that come when it comes; all hope is lost
Of my reception into grace; what worse?
For where no hope is left, is left no fear;
If there be worse, the expectation more
Of worse torments me then the feeling can.
I would be at the worst; worst is my Port,
My harbour and my ultimate repose,
The end I would attain, my final good.
My error was my error and my crime
My crime; whatever for it self condemn’d,
And will alike be punish’d; whether thou
Raign or raign not; though to that gentle brow
Willingly I could flye, and hope thy raign,
From that placid aspect and meek regard,
Rather then aggravate my evil state,
Would stand between me and thy Fathers ire,
(Whose ire I dread more then the fire of Hell)
A shelter and a kind of shading cool
Interposition, as a summers cloud.
If I then to the worst that can be hast,
Why move thy feet so slow to what is best,
Happiest both to thy self and all the world,
That thou who worthiest art should’st be thir King?
Perhaps thou linger’st in deep thoughts detain’d
Of the enterprize so hazardous and high;
No wonder, for though in thee be united
What of perfection can in man be found,
Or human nature can receive, consider
Thy life hath yet been private, most part spent
At home, scarce view’d the Gallilean Towns,
And once a year Jerusalem, few days
Short sojourn; and what thence could’st thou observe?
The world thou hast not seen, much less her glory,
Empires, and Monarchs, and thir radiant Courts,
Best school of best experience, quickest in sight
In all things that to greatest actions lead.
The wisest, unexperienc’t, will be ever
Timorous and loth, with novice modesty,
(As he who seeking Asses found a Kingdom)
Irresolute, unhardy, unadventrous:
But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit
Those rudiments, and see before thine eyes
The Monarchies of the Earth, thir pomp and state,
Sufficient introduction to inform
Thee, of thy self so apt, in regal Arts,
And regal Mysteries; that thou may’st know
How best their opposition to withstand.
   With that (such power was giv’n him then) he took
The Son of God up to a Mountain high.
It was a Mountain at whose verdant feet
A spatious plain out stretch’t in circuit wide
Lay pleasant; from his side two rivers flow’d,
Th’ one winding, the other strait and left between
Fair Champain with less rivers interveind,
Then meeting joyn’d thir tribute to the Sea:
Fertil of corn the glebe, of oyl and wine,
With herds the pastures throng’d, with flocks the hills,
Huge Cities and high towr’d, that well might seem
The seats of mightiest Monarchs, and so large
The Prospect was, that here and there was room
For barren desert fountainless and dry.
To this high mountain top the Tempter brought
Our Saviour, and new train of words began.
   Well have we speeded, and o’re hill and dale,
Forest and field, and flood, Temples and Towers
Cut shorter many a league; here thou behold’st
Assyria and her Empires antient bounds,
Araxes and the Caspian lake, thence on
As far as Indus East, Euphrates West,
And oft beyond; to South the Persian Bay,
And inaccessible the Arabian drouth:
Here Ninevee, of length within her wall
Several days journey, built by Ninus old,
Of that first golden Monarchy the seat,
And seat of Salmanassar, whose success
Israel in long captivity still mourns;
There Babylon the wonder of all tongues,
As antient, but rebuilt by him who twice
Judah and all thy Father David’s house
Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,
Till Cyrus set them free; Persepolis
His City there thou seest, and Bactra there;
Ecbatana her structure vast there shews,
And Hecatompylos her hunderd gates,
There Susa by Choaspes, amber stream,
The drink of none but Kings; of later fame
Built by Emathian, or by Parthian hands,
The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there
Artaxata, Teredon, Tesiphon,
Turning with easie eye thou may’st behold.
All these the Parthian, now some Ages past,
By great Arsaces led, who founded first
That Empire, under his dominion holds
From the luxurious Kings of Antioch won.
And just in time thou com’st to have a view
Of his great power; for now the Parthian King
In Ctesiphon hath gather’d all his Host
Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
Have wasted Sogdiana; to her aid
He marches now in hast; see, though from far,
His thousands, in what martial equipage
They issue forth, Steel Bows, and Shafts their arms
Of equal dread in flight, or in pursuit;
All Horsemen, in which fight they most excel;
See how in warlike muster they appear,
In Rhombs and wedges, and half moons, and wings.
   He look’t and saw what numbers numberless
The City gates out powr’d, light armed Troops
In coats of Mail and military pride;
In Mail thir horses clad, yet fleet and strong,
Prauncing their riders bore, the flower and choice
Of many Provinces from bound to bound;
From Arachosia, from Candaor East,
And Margiana to the Hyrcanian cliffs
Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales,
From Atropatia and the neighbouring plains
Of Adiabene, Media, and the South
Of Susiana to Balsara’s hav’n.
He saw them in thir forms of battell rang’d,
How quick they wheel’d, and flying behind them shot
Sharp sleet of arrowie showers against the face
Of thir pursuers, and overcame by flight;
The field all iron cast a gleaming brown,
Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor on each horn,
Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight;
Chariots or Elephants endorst with Towers
Of Archers, nor of labouring Pioners
A multitude with Spades and Axes arm’d
To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,
Or where plain was raise hill, or over—lay
With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke;
Mules after these, Camels and Dromedaries,
And Waggons fraught with Utensils of war.
Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
When Agrican with all his Northern powers
Besieg’d Albracca, as Romances tell;
The City of Gallaphrone, from thence to win
The fairest of her Sex Angelica
His daughter, sought by many Prowest Knights,
Both Paynim, and the Peers of Charlemane.
Such and so numerous was thir Chivalrie;
At sight whereof the Fiend yet more presum’d,
And to our Saviour thus his words renew’d.
   That thou may’st know I seek not to engage
Thy Vertue, and not every way secure
On no slight grounds thy safety; hear, and mark
To what end I have brought thee hither and shewn
All this fair sight; thy Kingdom though foretold
By Prophet or by Angel, unless thou
Endeavour, as thy Father David did,
Thou never shalt obtain; prediction still
In all things, and all men, supposes means,
Without means us’d, what it predicts revokes.
But say thou wer’t possess’d of David’s Throne
By free consent of all, none opposite,
Samaritan or Jew; how could’st thou hope
Long to enjoy it quiet and secure,
Between two such enclosing enemies
Roman and Parthian? therefore one of these
Thou must make sure thy own, the Parthian first
By my advice, as nearer and of late
Found able by invasion to annoy
Thy country, and captive lead away her Kings
Antigonus, and old Hyrcanus bound,
Maugre the Roman: it shall be my task
To render thee the Parthian at dispose;
Chuse which thou wilt by conquest or by league.
By him thou shalt regain, without him not,
That which alone can truly reinstall thee
In David’s royal seat, his true Successour,
Deliverance of thy brethren, those ten Tribes
Whose off—spring in his Territory yet serve
In Habor, and among the Medes dispers’t,
Ten Sons of Jacob, two of Joseph lost
Thus long from Israel; serving as of old
Thir Fathers in the land of Egypt serv’d,
This offer sets before thee to deliver.
These if from servitude thou shalt restore
To thir inheritance, then, nor till then,
Thou on the Throne of David in full glory,
From Egypt to Euphrates and beyond
Shalt raign, and Rome or Caesar not need fear.
   To whom our Saviour answer’d thus unmov’d.
Much ostentation vain of fleshly arm,
And fragile arms, much instrument of war
Long in preparing, soon to nothing brought,
Before mine eyes thou hast set; and in my ear
Vented much policy, and projects deep
Of enemies, of aids, battels and leagues,
Plausible to the world, to me worth naught.
Means I must use thou say’st, prediction else
Will unpredict and fail me of the Throne:
My time I told thee, (and that time for thee
Were better farthest off) is not yet come,;
When that comes think not thou to find me slack
On my part aught endeavouring, or to need
Thy politic maxims, or that cumbersome
Luggage of war there shewn me, argument
Of human weakness rather then of strength.
My brethren, as thou call’st them; those Ten Tribes
I must deliver, if I mean to raign
David’s true heir, and his full Scepter sway
To just extent over all Israel’s Sons;
But whence to thee this zeal, where was it then
For Israel, or for David, or his Throne,
When thou stood’st up his Tempter to the pride
Of numbring Israel, which cost the lives
Of threescore and ten thousand Israelites
By three days Pestilence? such was thy zeal
To Israel then, the same that now to me.
As for those captive Tribes, themselves were they
Who wrought their own captivity, fell off
From God to worship Calves, the Deities
Of Egypt, Baal next and Ashtaroth,
And all the Idolatries of Heathen round,
Besides thir other worse then heathenish crimes;
Nor in the land of their captivity
Humbled themselves, or penitent besought
The God of their fore—fathers; but so dy’d
Impenitent, and left a race behind
Like to themselves, distinguishable scarce
From Gentils, but by Circumcision vain,
And God with Idols in their worship joyn’d.
Should I of these the liberty regard,
Who freed, as to their antient Patrimony,
Unhumbl’d, unrepentant, unreform’d,
Headlong would follow; and to thir Gods perhaps
Of Bethel and of Dan? no, let them serve
Thir enemies, who serve Idols with God.
Yet he at length, time to himself best known,
Remembring Abraham by some wond’rous call
May bring them back repentant and sincere,
And at their passing cleave the Assyrian flood,
While to their native land with joy they hast,
As the Red Sea and Jordan once he cleft,
When to the promis’d land thir Fathers pass’d;
To his due time and providence I leave them.
   So spake Israel’s true King, and to the Fiend
Made answer meet, that made void all his wiles.
So fares it when with truth falshood contends.

Be not thou silent now at length
O God hold not thy peace,
Sit not thou still O God of strength
We cry and do not cease.
For lo thy furious foes now *swell
And *storm outrageously,                                *Jehemajun.
And they that hate thee proud and fill
Exalt their heads full hie.
Against thy people they *contrive                       *Jagnarimu.
*Their Plots and Counsels deep,                             *Sod.
*Them to ensnare they chiefly strive             *Jithjagnatsu gnal.
*Whom thou dost hide and keep.                          *Tsephuneca.
Come let us cut them off say they,
Till they no Nation be
That Israels name for ever may
Be lost in memory.
For they consult *with all their might,               *Lev jachdau.
And all as one in mind
Themselves against thee they unite
And in firm union bind.
The tents of Edom, and the brood
Of scornful Ishmael,
Moab, with them of Hagars blood
That in the Desart dwell,
Gebal and Ammon there conspire,
And hateful Amalec,
The Philistims, and they of Tyre
Whose bounds the sea doth check.
With them great Asshur also bands
And doth confirm the knot,
All these have lent their armed hands
To aid the Sons of Lot.
Do to them as to Midian bold
That wasted all the Coast.
To Sisera, and as is told
Thou didst to Jabins hoast,
When at the brook of Kishon old
They were repulst and slain,
At Endor quite cut off, and rowl’d
As dung upon the plain.
As Zeb and Oreb evil sped
So let their Princes speed
As Zeba, and Zalmunna bled
So let their Princes bleed.
For they amidst their pride have said
By right now shall we seize
Gods houses, and will now invade
*Their stately Palaces.                    *Neoth Elohim bears both.
My God, oh make them as a wheel
No quiet let them find,
Giddy and restless let them reel
Like stubble from the wind.
As when an aged wood takes fire
Which on a sudden straies,
The greedy flame runs hier and hier
Till all the mountains blaze,
So with thy whirlwind them pursue,
And with thy tempest chase;
*And till they *yield thee honour due,                *They seek thy
Lord fill with shame their face.                         Name. Heb.
Asham’d and troubl’d let them be,
Troubl’d and sham’d for ever,
Ever confounded, and so die
With shame, and scape it never.
Then shall they know that thou whose name
Jehova is alone,
Art the most high, and thou the same
O’re all the earth art one.

XX

Lawrence, of virtuous father virtuous son,
Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire,
Where shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire
Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
From the hard season gaining? Time will run
On smoother, till Favonius re-inspire
The frozen earth, and clothe in fresh attire
The lily and rose, that neither sowed nor spun.
What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,
Of Attic taste, with wine, whence we may rise
To hear the lute well touched, or artful voice
Warble immortal notes and Tuscan air?
He who of those delights can judge, and spare
To interpose them oft, is not unwise.

Cyriack, this three years’ day these eyes, though clear
       To outward view of blemish or of spot,
       Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot;
       Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Of sun or moon or star throughout the year,
       Or man or woman. Yet I argue not
       Against Heav’n’s hand or will, not bate a jot
       Of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer
Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?
       The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied
       In liberty’s defence, my noble task,
Of which all Europe talks from side to side.
       This thought might lead me through the world’s vain mask
       Content, though blind, had I no better guide.

Daughter to that good Earl, one President
Of England’€™s Council and her Treasury,
Who lived in both unstained with gold or fee,
And left them both, more in himself content,
Till the sad breaking of that Parliament
Broke him, as that dishonest victory
At Chæronea, fatal to liberty,
Killed with report that old man eloquent,
Though later born than to have known the days
Wherein your father flourished, yet by you,
Madam, methinks I see him living yet:
So well your words his noble virtues praise
That all both judge you to relate them true
And to possess them, honoured Margaret.

Fairfax, whose name in armes through Europe rings
Filling each mouth with envy, or with praise,
And all her jealous monarchs with amaze,
And rumors loud, that daunt remotest kings,
Thy firm unshak’n vertue ever brings
Victory home, though new rebellions raise
Their Hydra heads, & the fals North displaies
Her brok’n league, to impe their serpent wings,
O yet a nobler task awaites thy hand;
Yet what can Warr, but endless warr still breed,
Till Truth, & Right from Violence be freed,
And Public Faith cleard from the shamefull brand
Of Public Fraud.  In vain doth Valour bleed
While Avarice, & Rapine share the land.

To the Lord General Cromwell

On the Proposals of Certain Ministers of the Committee
for the Propagation of the Gospel

Cromwell, our chief of men, who through a cloud
Not of war only, but detractions rude,
Guided by faith and matchless fortitude,
To peace and truth thy glorious way hast ploughed,
And on the neck of crowned Fortune proud
Hast reared God’s trophies, and his work pursued,
While Darwen stream with blood of Scots imbrued,
And Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud,
And Worcester’s laureate wreath. Yet much remains
To conquer still; peace hath her victories
No less renowned than war: new foes arise,
Threat’ning to bind our souls with secular chains:
Help us to save free conscience from the paw
Of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw.

Cromwell, our chief of men, who through a cloud,
      Not of war only, but detractions rude,
      Guided by faith and matchless fortitude,
      To peace and truth thy glorious way hast ploughed,
And on the neck of crownèd Fortune proud
      Hast reared God’s trophies, and His work pursued,
      While Darwen stream, with blood of Scots imbrued,
      And Dunbar field, resounds thy praises loud,
And Worchester’s laureate wreath: yet much remains
      To conquer still; peace hath her victories
      No less renowned than war: new foes arise,
Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains.
      Help us to save free conscience from the paw
      Of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw.

Harry, whose tuneful and well-measured song
First taught our English music how to span
Words with just note and accent, not to scan
With Midas’ ears, committing short and long,
Thy worth and skill exempts thee from the throng,
With praise enough for Envy to look wan;
To after age thou shalt be writ the man
That with smooth air couldst humour best our tongue.
Thou honour’st Verse, and Verse must lend her wing
To honour thee, the priest of Phœbus’ quire,
That tunest their happiest lines in hymn or story.
Dante shall give Fame leave to set thee higher
Than his Casella, whom he wooed to sing,
Met in the milder shades of Purgatory.

Perplexed and troubled at his bad success
The Tempter stood, nor had what to reply,
Discovered in his fraud, thrown from his hope
So oft, and the persuasive rhetoric
That sleeked his tongue, and won so much on Eve,
So little here, nay lost.  But Eve was Eve;
This far his over-match, who, self-deceived
And rash, beforehand had no better weighed
The strength he was to cope with, or his own.
But—as a man who had been matchless held
In cunning, over-reached where least he thought,
To salve his credit, and for very spite,
Still will be tempting him who foils him still,
And never cease, though to his shame the more;
Or as a swarm of flies in vintage-time,
About the wine-press where sweet must is poured,
Beat off, returns as oft with humming sound;
Or surging waves against a solid rock,
Though all to shivers dashed, the assault renew,
(Vain battery!) and in froth or bubbles end—
So Satan, whom repulse upon repulse
Met ever, and to shameful silence brought,
Yet gives not o’er, though desperate of success,
And his vain importunity pursues.
He brought our Saviour to the western side
Of that high mountain, whence he might behold
Another plain, long, but in breadth not wide,
Washed by the southern sea, and on the north
To equal length backed with a ridge of hills
That screened the fruits of the earth and seats of men
From cold Septentrion blasts; thence in the midst
Divided by a river, off whose banks
On each side an Imperial City stood,
With towers and temples proudly elevate
On seven small hills, with palaces adorned,
Porches and theatres, baths, aqueducts,
Statues and trophies, and triumphal arcs,
Gardens and groves, presented to his eyes
Above the highth of mountains interposed—
By what strange parallax, or optic skill
Of vision, multiplied through air, or glass
Of telescope, were curious to enquire.
And now the Tempter thus his silence broke:—
  “The city which thou seest no other deem
Than great and glorious Rome, Queen of the Earth
So far renowned, and with the spoils enriched
Of nations.  There the Capitol thou seest,
Above the rest lifting his stately head
On the Tarpeian rock, her citadel
Impregnable; and there Mount Palatine,
The imperial palace, compass huge, and high
The structure, skill of noblest architects,
With gilded battlements, conspicuous far,
Turrets, and terraces, and glittering spires.
Many a fair edifice besides, more like
Houses of gods—so well I have disposed
My aerie microscope—thou may’st behold,
Outside and inside both, pillars and roofs
Carved work, the hand of famed artificers
In cedar, marble, ivory, or gold.
Thence to the gates cast round thine eye, and see
What conflux issuing forth, or entering in:
Praetors, proconsuls to their provinces
Hasting, or on return, in robes of state;
Lictors and rods, the ensigns of their power;
Legions and cohorts, turms of horse and wings;
Or embassies from regions far remote,
In various habits, on the Appian road,
Or on the AEmilian—some from farthest south,
Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe, Nilotic isle, and, more to west,
The realm of Bocchus to the Blackmoor sea;
From the Asian kings (and Parthian among these),
From India and the Golden Chersoness,
And utmost Indian isle Taprobane,
Dusk faces with white silken turbants wreathed;
From Gallia, Gades, and the British west;
Germans, and Scythians, and Sarmatians north
Beyond Danubius to the Tauric pool.
All nations now to Rome obedience pay—
To Rome’s great Emperor, whose wide domain,
In ample territory, wealth and power,
Civility of manners, arts and arms,
And long renown, thou justly may’st prefer
Before the Parthian.  These two thrones except,
The rest are barbarous, and scarce worth the sight,
Shared among petty kings too far removed;
These having shewn thee, I have shewn thee all
The kingdoms of the world, and all their glory.
This Emperor hath no son, and now is old,
Old and lascivious, and from Rome retired
To Capreae, an island small but strong
On the Campanian shore, with purpose there
His horrid lusts in private to enjoy;
Committing to a wicked favourite
All public cares, and yet of him suspicious;
Hated of all, and hating.  With what ease,
Endued with regal virtues as thou art,
Appearing, and beginning noble deeds,
Might’st thou expel this monster from his throne,
Now made a sty, and, in his place ascending,
A victor-people free from servile yoke!
And with my help thou may’st; to me the power
Is given, and by that right I give it thee.
Aim, therefore, at no less than all the world;
Aim at the highest; without the highest attained,
Will be for thee no sitting, or not long,
On David’s throne, be prophesied what will.”
  To whom the Son of God, unmoved, replied:—
“Nor doth this grandeur and majestic shew
Of luxury, though called magnificence,
More than of arms before, allure mine eye,
Much less my mind; though thou should’st add to tell
Their sumptuous gluttonies, and gorgeous feasts
On citron tables or Atlantic stone
(For I have also heard, perhaps have read),
Their wines of Setia, Cales, and Falerne,
Chios and Crete, and how they quaff in gold,
Crystal, and myrrhine cups, imbossed with gems
And studs of pearl—to me should’st tell, who thirst
And hunger still.  Then embassies thou shew’st
From nations far and nigh!  What honour that,
But tedious waste of time, to sit and hear
So many hollow compliments and lies,
Outlandish flatteries?  Then proceed’st to talk
Of the Emperor, how easily subdued,
How gloriously.  I shall, thou say’st, expel
A brutish monster: what if I withal
Expel a Devil who first made him such?
Let his tormentor, Conscience, find him out;
For him I was not sent, nor yet to free
That people, victor once, now vile and base,
Deservedly made vassal—who, once just,
Frugal, and mild, and temperate, conquered well,
But govern ill the nations under yoke,
Peeling their provinces, exhausted all
By lust and rapine; first ambitious grown
Of triumph, that insulting vanity;
Then cruel, by their sports to blood inured
Of fighting beasts, and men to beasts exposed;
Luxurious by their wealth, and greedier still,
And from the daily Scene effeminate.
What wise and valiant man would seek to free
These, thus degenerate, by themselves enslaved,
Or could of inward slaves make outward free?
Know, therefore, when my season comes to sit
On David’s throne, it shall be like a tree
Spreading and overshadowing all the earth,
Or as a stone that shall to pieces dash
All monarchies besides throughout the world;
And of my Kingdom there shall be no end.
Means there shall be to this; but what the means
Is not for thee to know, nor me to tell.”
  To whom the Tempter, impudent, replied:—
“I see all offers made by me how slight
Thou valuest, because offered, and reject’st.
Nothing will please the difficult and nice,
Or nothing more than still to contradict.
On the other side know also thou that I
On what I offer set as high esteem,
Nor what I part with mean to give for naught,
All these, which in a moment thou behold’st,
The kingdoms of the world, to thee I give
(For, given to me, I give to whom I please),
No trifle; yet with this reserve, not else—
On this condition, if thou wilt fall down,
And worship me as thy superior Lord
(Easily done), and hold them all of me;
For what can less so great a gift deserve?”
  Whom thus our Saviour answered with disdain:—
“I never liked thy talk, thy offers less;
Now both abhor, since thou hast dared to utter
The abominable terms, impious condition.
But I endure the time, till which expired
Thou hast permission on me.  It is written,
The first of all commandments, ‘Thou shalt worship
The Lord thy God, and only Him shalt serve.’
And dar’st thou to the Son of God propound
To worship thee, accursed? now more accursed
For this attempt, bolder than that on Eve,
And more blasphemous; which expect to rue.
The kingdoms of the world to thee were given!
Permitted rather, and by thee usurped;
Other donation none thou canst produce.
If given, by whom but by the King of kings,
God over all supreme?  If given to thee,
By thee how fairly is the Giver now
Repaid!  But gratitude in thee is lost
Long since.  Wert thou so void of fear or shame
As offer them to me, the Son of God—
To me my own, on such abhorred pact,
That I fall down and worship thee as God?
Get thee behind me!  Plain thou now appear’st
That Evil One, Satan for ever damned.”
  To whom the Fiend, with fear abashed, replied:—
“Be not so sore offended, Son of God—
Though Sons of God both Angels are and Men—
If I, to try whether in higher sort
Than these thou bear’st that title, have proposed
What both from Men and Angels I receive,
Tetrarchs of Fire, Air, Flood, and on the Earth
Nations besides from all the quartered winds—
God of this World invoked, and World beneath.
Who then thou art, whose coming is foretold
To me most fatal, me it most concerns.
The trial hath indamaged thee no way,
Rather more honour left and more esteem;
Me naught advantaged, missing what I aimed.
Therefore let pass, as they are transitory,
The kingdoms of this world; I shall no more
Advise thee; gain them as thou canst, or not.
And thou thyself seem’st otherwise inclined
Than to a worldly crown, addicted more
To contemplation and profound dispute;
As by that early action may be judged,
When, slipping from thy mother’s eye, thou went’st
Alone into the Temple, there wast found
Among the gravest Rabbies, disputant
On points and questions fitting Moses’ chair,
Teaching, not taught.  The childhood shews the man,
As morning shews the day.  Be famous, then,
By wisdom; as thy empire must extend,
So let extend thy mind o’er all the world
In knowledge; all things in it comprehend.
All knowledge is not couched in Moses’ law,
The Pentateuch, or what the Prophets wrote;
The Gentiles also know, and write, and teach
To admiration, led by Nature’s light;
And with the Gentiles much thou must converse,
Ruling them by persuasion, as thou mean’st.
Without their learning, how wilt thou with them,
Or they with thee, hold conversation meet?
How wilt thou reason with them, how refute
Their idolisms, traditions, paradoxes?
Error by his own arms is best evinced.
Look once more, ere we leave this specular mount,
Westward, much nearer by south-west; behold
Where on the AEgean shore a city stands,
Built nobly, pure the air and light the soil—
Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts
And Eloquence, native to famous wits
Or hospitable, in her sweet recess,
City or suburban, studious walks and shades.
See there the olive-grove of Academe,
Plato’s retirement, where the Attic bird
Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long;
There, flowery hill, Hymettus, with the sound
Of bees’ industrious murmur, oft invites
To studious musing; there Ilissus rowls
His whispering stream.  Within the walls then view
The schools of ancient sages—his who bred
Great Alexander to subdue the world,
Lyceum there; and painted Stoa next.
There thou shalt hear and learn the secret power
Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit
By voice or hand, and various-measured verse,
AEolian charms and Dorian lyric odes,
And his who gave them breath, but higher sung,
Blind Melesigenes, thence Homer called,
Whose poem Phoebus challenged for his own.
Thence what the lofty grave Tragedians taught
In chorus or iambic, teachers best
Of moral prudence, with delight received
In brief sententious precepts, while they treat
Of fate, and chance, and change in human life,
High actions and high passions best describing.
Thence to the famous Orators repair,
Those ancient whose resistless eloquence
Wielded at will that fierce democraty,
Shook the Arsenal, and fulmined over Greece
To Macedon and Artaxerxes’ throne.
To sage Philosophy next lend thine ear,
From heaven descended to the low-roofed house
Of Socrates—see there his tenement—
Whom, well inspired, the Oracle pronounced
Wisest of men; from whose mouth issued forth
Mellifluous streams, that watered all the schools
Of Academics old and new, with those
Surnamed Peripatetics, and the sect
Epicurean, and the Stoic severe.
These here revolve, or, as thou likest, at home,
Till time mature thee to a kingdom’s weight;
These rules will render thee a king complete
Within thyself, much more with empire joined.”
  To whom our Saviour sagely thus replied:—
“Think not but that I know these things; or, think
I know them not, not therefore am I short
Of knowing what I ought.  He who receives
Light from above, from the Fountain of Light,
No other doctrine needs, though granted true;
But these are false, or little else but dreams,
Conjectures, fancies, built on nothing firm.
The first and wisest of them all professed
To know this only, that he nothing knew;
The next to fabling fell and smooth conceits;
A third sort doubted all things, though plain sense;
Others in virtue placed felicity,
But virtue joined with riches and long life;
In corporal pleasure he, and careless ease;
The Stoic last in philosophic pride,
By him called virtue, and his virtuous man,
Wise, perfect in himself, and all possessing,
Equal to God, oft shames not to prefer,
As fearing God nor man, contemning all
Wealth, pleasure, pain or torment, death and life—
Which, when he lists, he leaves, or boasts he can;
For all his tedious talk is but vain boast,
Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.
Alas! what can they teach, and not mislead,
Ignorant of themselves, of God much more,
And how the World began, and how Man fell,
Degraded by himself, on grace depending?
Much of the Soul they talk, but all awry;
And in themselves seek virtue; and to themselves
All glory arrogate, to God give none;
Rather accuse him under usual names,
Fortune and Fate, as one regardless quite
Of mortal things.  Who, therefore, seeks in these
True wisdom finds her not, or, by delusion
Far worse, her false resemblance only meets,
An empty cloud.  However, many books,
Wise men have said, are wearisome; who reads
Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
A spirit and judgment equal or superior,
(And what he brings what needs he elsewhere seek?)
Uncertain and unsettled still remains,
Deep-versed in books and shallow in himself,
Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys
And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge,
As children gathering pebbles on the shore.
Or, if I would delight my private hours
With music or with poem, where so soon
As in our native language can I find
That solace?  All our Law and Story strewed
With hymns, our Psalms with artful terms inscribed,
Our Hebrew songs and harps, in Babylon
That pleased so well our victor’s ear, declare
That rather Greece from us these arts derived—
Ill imitated while they loudest sing
The vices of their deities, and their own,
In fable, hymn, or song, so personating
Their gods ridiculous, and themselves past shame.
Remove their swelling epithetes, thick-laid
As varnish on a harlot’s cheek, the rest,
Thin-sown with aught of profit or delight,
Will far be found unworthy to compare
With Sion’s songs, to all true tastes excelling,
Where God is praised aright and godlike men,
The Holiest of Holies and his Saints
(Such are from God inspired, not such from thee);
Unless where moral virtue is expressed
By light of Nature, not in all quite lost.
Their orators thou then extoll’st as those
The top of eloquence—statists indeed,
And lovers of their country, as may seem;
But herein to our Prophets far beneath,
As men divinely taught, and better teaching
The solid rules of civil government,
In their majestic, unaffected style,
Than all the oratory of Greece and Rome.
In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt,
What makes a nation happy, and keeps it so,
What ruins kingdoms, and lays cities flat;
These only, with our Law, best form a king.”
  So spake the Son of God; but Satan, now
Quite at a loss (for all his darts were spent),
Thus to our Saviour, with stern brow, replied:—
  “Since neither wealth nor honour, arms nor arts,
Kingdom nor empire, pleases thee, nor aught
By me proposed in life contemplative
Or active, tended on by glory or fame,
What dost thou in this world?  The Wilderness
For thee is fittest place: I found thee there,
And thither will return thee.  Yet remember
What I foretell thee; soon thou shalt have cause
To wish thou never hadst rejected, thus
Nicely or cautiously, my offered aid,
Which would have set thee in short time with ease
On David’s throne, or throne of all the world,
Now at full age, fulness of time, thy season,
When prophecies of thee are best fulfilled.
Now, contrary—if I read aught in heaven,
Or heaven write aught of fate—by what the stars
Voluminous, or single characters
In their conjunction met, give me to spell,
Sorrows and labours, opposition, hate,
Attends thee; scorns, reproaches, injuries,
Violence and stripes, and, lastly, cruel death.
A kingdom they portend thee, but what kingdom,
Real or allegoric, I discern not;
Nor when: eternal sure—as without end,
Without beginning; for no date prefixed
Directs me in the starry rubric set.”
  So saying, he took (for still he knew his power
Not yet expired), and to the Wilderness
Brought back, the Son of God, and left him there,
Feigning to disappear.  Darkness now rose,
As daylight sunk, and brought in louring Night,
Her shadowy offspring, unsubstantial both,
Privation mere of light and absent day.
Our Saviour, meek, and with untroubled mind
After hisaerie jaunt, though hurried sore,
Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest,
Wherever, under some concourse of shades,
Whose branching arms thick intertwined might shield
From dews and damps of night his sheltered head;
But, sheltered, slept in vain; for at his head
The Tempter watched, and soon with ugly dreams
Disturbed his sleep.  And either tropic now
‘Gan thunder, and both ends of heaven; the clouds
From many a horrid rift abortive poured
Fierce rain with lightning mixed, water with fire,
In ruin reconciled; nor slept the winds
Within their stony caves, but rushed abroad
From the four hinges of the world, and fell
On the vexed wilderness, whose tallest pines,
Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest oaks,
Bowed their stiff necks, loaden with stormy blasts,
Or torn up sheer.  Ill wast thou shrouded then,
O patient Son of God, yet only stood’st
Unshaken!  Nor yet staid the terror there:
Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round
Environed thee; some howled, some yelled, some shrieked,
Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou
Sat’st unappalled in calm and sinless peace.
Thus passed the night so foul, till Morning fair
Came forth with pilgrim steps, in amice grey,
Who with her radiant finger stilled the roar
Of thunder, chased the clouds, and laid the winds,
And griesly spectres, which the Fiend had raised
To tempt the Son of God with terrors dire.
And now the sun with more effectual beams
Had cheered the face of earth, and dried the wet
From drooping plant, or dropping tree; the birds,
Who all things now behold more fresh and green,
After a night of storm so ruinous,
Cleared up their choicest notes in bush and spray,
To gratulate the sweet return of morn.
Nor yet, amidst this joy and brightest morn,
Was absent, after all his mischief done,
The Prince of Darkness; glad would also seem
Of this fair change, and to our Saviour came;
Yet with no new device (they all were spent),
Rather by this his last affront resolved,
Desperate of better course, to vent his rage
And mad despite to be so oft repelled.
Him walking on a sunny hill he found,
Backed on the north and west by a thick wood;
Out of the wood he starts in wonted shape,
And in a careless mood thus to him said:—
  “Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God,
After a dismal night.  I heard the wrack,
As earth and sky would mingle; but myself
Was distant; and these flaws, though mortals fear them,
As dangerous to the pillared frame of Heaven,
Or to the Earth’s dark basis underneath,
Are to the main as inconsiderable
And harmless, if not wholesome, as a sneeze
To man’s less universe, and soon are gone.
Yet, as being ofttimes noxious where they light
On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent,
Like turbulencies in the affairs of men,
Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point,
They oft fore-signify and threaten ill.
This tempest at this desert most was bent;
Of men at thee, for only thou here dwell’st.
Did I not tell thee, if thou didst reject
The perfect season offered with my aid
To win thy destined seat, but wilt prolong
All to the push of fate, pursue thy way
Of gaining David’s throne no man knows when
(For both the when and how is nowhere told),
Thou shalt be what thou art ordained, no doubt;
For Angels have proclaimed it, but concealing
The time and means?  Each act is rightliest done
Not when it must, but when it may be best.
If thou observe not this, be sure to find
What I foretold thee—many a hard assay
Of dangers, and adversities, and pains,
Ere thou of Israel’s sceptre get fast hold;
Whereof this ominous night that closed thee round,
So many terrors, voices, prodigies,
May warn thee, as a sure foregoing sign.”
  So talked he, while the Son of God went on,
And staid not, but in brief him answered thus:—
  “Me worse than wet thou find’st not; other harm
Those terrors which thou speak’st of did me none.
I never feared they could, though noising loud
And threatening nigh: what they can do as signs
Betokening or ill-boding I contemn
As false portents, not sent from God, but thee;
Who, knowing I shall reign past thy preventing,
Obtrud’st thy offered aid, that I, accepting,
At least might seem to hold all power of thee,
Ambitious Spirit! and would’st be thought my God;
And storm’st, refused, thinking to terrify
Me to thy will!  Desist (thou art discerned,
And toil’st in vain), nor me in vain molest.”
  To whom the Fiend, now swoln with rage, replied:—
“Then hear, O Son of David, virgin-born!
For Son of God to me is yet in doubt.
Of the Messiah I have heard foretold
By all the Prophets; of thy birth, at length
Announced by Gabriel, with the first I knew,
And of the angelic song in Bethlehem field,
On thy birth-night, that sung thee Saviour born.
From that time seldom have I ceased to eye
Thy infancy, thy childhood, and thy youth,
Thy manhood last, though yet in private bred;
Till, at the ford of Jordan, whither all
Flocked to the Baptist, I among the rest
(Though not to be baptized), by voice from Heaven
Heard thee pronounced the Son of God beloved.
Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer view
And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn
In what degree or meaning thou art called
The Son of God, which bears no single sense.
The Son of God I also am, or was;
And, if I was, I am; relation stands:
All men are Sons of God; yet thee I thought
In some respect far higher so declared.
Therefore I watched thy footsteps from that hour,
And followed thee still on to this waste wild,
Where, by all best conjectures, I collect
Thou art to be my fatal enemy.
Good reason, then, if I beforehand seek
To understand my adversary, who
And what he is; his wisdom, power, intent;
By parle or composition, truce or league,
To win him, or win from him what I can.
And opportunity I here have had
To try thee, sift thee, and confess have found thee
Proof against all temptation, as a rock
Of adamant and as a centre, firm
To the utmost of mere man both wise and good,
Not more; for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory,
Have been before contemned, and may again.
Therefore, to know what more thou art than man,
Worth naming the Son of God by voice from Heaven,
Another method I must now begin.”
  So saying, he caught him up, and, without wing
Of hippogrif, bore through the air sublime,
Over the wilderness and o’er the plain,
Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,
The Holy City, lifted high her towers,
And higher yet the glorious Temple reared
Her pile, far off appearing like a mount
Of alablaster, topt with golden spires:
There, on the highest pinnacle, he set
The Son of God, and added thus in scorn:—
  “There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright
Will ask thee skill.  I to thy Father’s house
Have brought thee, and highest placed: highest is best.
Now shew thy progeny; if not to stand,
Cast thyself down.  Safely, if Son of God;
For it is written, ‘He will give command
Concerning thee to his Angels; in their hands
They shall uplift thee, lest at any time
Thou chance to dash thy foot against a stone.’”
  To whom thus Jesus: “Also it is written,
‘Tempt not the Lord thy God.’”  He said, and stood;
But Satan, smitten with amazement, fell.
As when Earth’s son, Antaeus (to compare
Small things with greatest), in Irassa strove
With Jove’s Alcides, and, oft foiled, still rose,
Receiving from his mother Earth new strength,
Fresh from his fall, and fiercer grapple joined,
Throttled at length in the air expired and fell,
So, after many a foil, the Tempter proud,
Renewing fresh assaults, amidst his pride
Fell whence he stood to see his victor fall;
And, as that Theban monster that proposed
Her riddle, and him who solved it not devoured,
That once found out and solved, for grief and spite
Cast herself headlong from the Ismenian steep,
So, strook with dread and anguish, fell the Fiend,
And to his crew, that sat consulting, brought
Joyless triumphals of his hoped success,
Ruin, and desperation, and dismay,
Who durst so proudly tempt the Son of God.
So Satan fell; and straight a fiery globe
Of Angels on full sail of wing flew nigh,
Who on their plumy vans received Him soft
From his uneasy station, and upbore,
As on a floating couch, through the blithe air;
Then, in a flowery valley, set him down
On a green bank, and set before him spread
A table of celestial food, divine
Ambrosial fruits fetched from the Tree of Life,
And from the Fount of Life ambrosial drink,
That soon refreshed him wearied, and repaired
What hunger, if aught hunger, had impaired,
Or thirst; and, as he fed, Angelic quires
Sung heavenly anthems of his victory
Over temptation and the Tempter proud:—
  “True Image of the Father, whether throned
In the bosom of bliss, and light of light
Conceiving, or, remote from Heaven, enshrined
In fleshly tabernacle and human form,
Wandering the wilderness—whatever place,
Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing
The Son of God, with Godlike force endued
Against the attempter of thy Father’s throne
And thief of Paradise!  Him long of old
Thou didst debel, and down from Heaven cast
With all his army; now thou hast avenged
Supplanted Adam, and, by vanquishing
Temptation, hast regained lost Paradise,
And frustrated the conquest fraudulent.
He never more henceforth will dare set foot
In paradise to tempt; his snares are broke.
For, though that seat of earthly bliss be failed,
A fairer Paradise is founded now
For Adam and his chosen sons, whom thou,
A Saviour, art come down to reinstall;
Where they shall dwell secure, when time shall be,
Of tempter and temptation without fear.
But thou, Infernal Serpent! shalt not long
Rule in the clouds.  Like an autumnal star,
Or lightning, thou shalt fall from Heaven, trod down
Under his feet.  For proof, ere this thou feel’st
Thy wound (yet not thy last and deadliest wound)
By this repulse received, and hold’st in Hell
No triumph; in all her gates Abaddon rues
Thy bold attempt.  Hereafter learn with awe
To dread the Son of God.  He, all unarmed,
Shall chase thee, with the terror of his voice,
From thy demoniac holds, possession foul—
Thee and thy legions; yelling they shall fly,
And beg to hide them in a herd of swine,
Lest he command them down into the Deep,
Bound, and to torment sent before their time.
Hail, Son of the Most High, heir of both Worlds,
Queller of Satan!  On thy glorious work
Now enter, and begin to save Mankind.”
  Thus they the Son of God, our Saviour meek,
Sung victor, and, from heavenly feast refreshed,
Brought on his way with joy.  He, unobserved,
Home to his mother’s house private returned.

THE END

Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, Heav’nly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed
In the beginning how the heav’ns and earth
Rose out of Chaos; or if Sion hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa’s brook that flow’d
Fast by the oracle of God, I thence
Invoke thy aid to my advent’rous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th’ Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples th’ upright heart and pure,
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 Heav’n hides nothing from thy view,
Nor the deep tract of Hell—say first what cause
Mov’d our grand parents in that happy state,
Favour’d of Heav’n so highly, to fall off
From their Creator and transgress his will
For one restraint, lords of the world besides?
Who first seduc’d them to that foul revolt?
Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile,
Stirr’d up with envy and revenge, deceiv’d
The Mother of Mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from Heav’n, with all his host
Of rebel Angels, by whose aid, aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equall’d the Most High,
If he oppos’d; and with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God
Rais’d impious war in Heav’n and battle proud,
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurl’d headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and night
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquish’d, rolling in the fiery gulf,
Confounded though immortal. But his doom
Reserv’d him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain
Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witness’d huge affliction and dismay
Mix’d with obdurate pride and steadfast 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 flam’d; yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv’d 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 unconsum’d.
Such place Eternal Justice had prepar’d
For those rebellious; here their prison ordain’d
In utter darkness, and their portion set,
As far remov’d from God and light of Heav’n
As from the centre thrice to th’ utmost pole.
Oh how unlike the place from whence they fell!
There the companions of his fall, o’erwhelm’d
With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire,
He soon discerns; and welt’ring by his side
One next himself in power and next in crime,
Long after known in Palestine and nam’d
Beëlzebub. To whom th’ Arch—Enemy,
And thence in Heav’n call’d Satan, with bold words
Breaking the horrid silence, thus began:

“If thou beest he—but oh how fall’n! how chang’d
From him who, in the happy realms of light,
Cloth’d with transcendent brightness didst outshine
Myriads though bright!—if he whom mutual league,
United thoughts and counsels, equal hope
And hazard in the glorious enterprise,
Join’d with me once, now misery hath join’d
In equal ruin, into what pit thou seest
From what highth fall’n. So much the stronger prov’d
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 chang’d in outward lustre, that fix’d mind,
And high disdain from sense of injur’d merit,
That with the mightiest rais’d me to contend,
And to the fierce contention brought along
Innumerable force of Spirits arm’d,
That durst dislike his reign and, me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power oppos’d
In dubious battle on the plains of Heav’n,
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 terror 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 advanc’d,
We may with more successful hope resolve
To wage by force or guile eternal war,
Irreconcilable to our grand foe,
Who now triumphs and, in th’ excess of joy
Sole reigning, holds the tyranny of Heav’n.”

So spake th’ apostate Angel, though in pain,
Vaunting aloud, but rack’d with deep despair.
And him thus answer’d soon his bold compeer:

“O Prince, O Chief of many throned Powers,
That led th’ embattl’d Seraphim to war
Under thy conduct and, in dreadful deeds
Fearless, endanger’d Heav’n’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 Heav’n, and all this mighty host
In horrible destruction laid thus low,
As far as Gods and heav’nly essences
Can perish: for the mind and spirit remains
Invincible, and vigour soon returns,
Though all our glory extinct, and happy state
Here swallow’d up in endless misery.
But what if he our conqueror (whom I now
Of force believe almighty, since no less
Than such could have o’erpow’r’d 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 undiminish’d, or eternal being
To undergo eternal punishment?”

Whereto with speedy words th’ Arch—Fiend replied:
“Fall’n 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 ofttimes may succeed so as perhaps
Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost counsels from their destin’d aim.
But see! the angry victor hath recall’d
His ministers of vengeance and pursuit
Back to the gates of Heav’n: the sulphurous hail,
Shot after us in storm, o’erblown hath laid
The fiery surge that from the precipice
Of Heav’n receiv’d us falling, and the thunder,
Wing’d with red lightning and impetuous rage,
Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now
To bellow through the vast and boundless deep.
Let us not slip th’ occasion, whether scorn
Or satiate fury yield it from our foe.
Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
The seat of desolation, void of light,
Save what the glimmering of these livid flames
Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend
From off the tossing of these fiery waves;
There rest, if any rest can harbour there,
And, re—assembling our afflicted powers,
Consult how we may henceforth most offend
Our enemy, our own loss how repair,
How overcome this dire calamity,
What reinforcement we may gain from hope,
If not, what resolution from despair.”

Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate,
With head uplift above the wave, and eyes
That sparkling blaz’d; his other parts besides,
Prone on the flood, extended long and large,
Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
As whom the fables name of monstrous size,
Titanian, or Earth—born, that warr’d on Jove,
Briareos or Typhon, whom the den
By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea—beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim th’ ocean—stream:
Him haply slumb’ring on the Norway foam
The pilot of some small night—founder’d skiff,
Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind
Moors by his side under the lee, while night
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays.
So stretch’d out huge in length the Arch—Fiend lay
Chain’d on the burning lake; nor ever thence
Had ris’n or heav’d his head, but that the will
And high permission of all—ruling Heaven
Left him at large to his own dark designs,
That with reiterated crimes he might
Heap on himself damnation, while he sought
Evil to others, and enrag’d might see
How all his malice serv’d but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy shewn
On Man by him seduc’d, but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath and vengeance pour’d.

Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
His mighty stature; on each hand the flames
Driv’n backward slope their pointing spires and, roll’d
In billows, leave i’ th’ midst a horrid vale.
Then with expanded wings he steers his flight
Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air,
That felt unusual weight, till on dry land
He lights—if it were land that ever burn’d
With solid, as the lake with liquid fire,
And such appear’d in hue as when the force
Of subterranean wind transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shatter’d side
Of thund’ring Ætna, whose combustible
And fuell’d entrails, thence conceiving fire,
Sublim’d with mineral fury, aid the winds,
And leave a singed bottom all involv’d
With stench and smoke: such resting found the sole
Of unblest feet. Him follow’d his next mate,
Both glorying to have scap’d the Stygian flood
As Gods, and by their own recover’d strength,
Not by the sufferance of Supernal Power.

“Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,”
Said then the lost Archangel, “this the seat
That we must change for Heav’n?—this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so, since he
Who now is sovran can dispose and bid
What shall be right: farthest from him is best
Whom reason hath equall’d, force hath made supreme
Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields
Where joy for ever dwells! hail horrors, hail
Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell,
Receive thy new possessor: one who brings
A mind not to be chang’d by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.
What matter where, if I be still the same
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th’ Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav’n.
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
Th’ associates and co—partners of our loss,
Lie thus astonish’d on th’ oblivious pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
In this unhappy mansion, or once more
With rallied arms to try what may be yet
Regain’d in Heav’n, or what more lost in Hell?”

So Satan spake; and him Beëlzebub
Thus answer’d: “Leader of those armies bright,
Which but th’ Omnipotent none could have foil’d,
If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge
Of hope in fears and dangers, heard so oft
In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge
Of battle when it rag’d, in all assaults
Their surest signal, they will soon resume
New courage and revive, though now they lie
Grovelling and prostrate on yon lake of fire,
As we erewhile, astounded and amaz’d—
No wonder, fall’n such a pernicious highth!”

He scarce had ceas’d when the superior Fiend
Was moving toward the shore; his ponderous shield,
Ethereal temper, massy, large and round,
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views
At ev’ning from the top of Fesole,
Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,
Rivers or mountains in her spotty globe.
His spear—to equal which the tallest pine
Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast
Of some great ammiral, were but a wand—
He walk’d with, to support uneasy steps
Over the burning marle, not like those steps
On Heaven’s azure, and the torrid clime
Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire.
Nathless he so endur’d, till on the beach
Of that inflamed sea, he stood and call’d
His legions—angel forms, who lay entranc’d
Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks
In Vallombrosa, where th’ Etrurian shades
High over—arch’d embow’r; or scatter’d sedge
Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion arm’d
Hath vex’d the Red—Sea coast, whose waves o’erthrew
Busiris and his Memphian chivalry,
While with perfidious hatred they pursu’d
The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld
From the safe shore their floating carcases
And broken chariot—wheels: so thick bestrown,
Abject and lost, lay these, covering the flood,
Under amazement of their hideous change.
He call’d so loud that all the hollow deep
Of Hell resounded: “Princes, Potentates,
Warriors, the flow’r of Heav’n, once yours, now lost
If such astonishment as this can seize
Eternal spirits—or have ye chos’n this place
After the toil of battle to repose
Your wearied virtue, for the ease you find
To slumber here, as in the vales of Heav’n?
Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
To adore the conqueror, who now beholds
Cherub and Seraph rolling in the flood
With scatter’d arms and ensigns, till anon
His swift pursuers from Heav’n—gates discern
Th’ advantage, and descending tread us down
Thus drooping, or with linked thunderbolts
Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf?—
Awake, arise, or be for ever fall’n!”

They heard, and were abash’d, and up they sprung
Upon the wing, as when men wont to watch,
On duty sleeping found by whom they dread,
Rouse and bestir themselves ere well awake.
Nor did they not perceive the evil plight
In which they were, or the fierce pains not feel;
Yet to their General’s voice they soon obey’d
Innumerable. As when the potent rod
Of Amram’s son, in Egypt’s evil day,
Wav’d round the coast, up—call’d a pitchy cloud
Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind,
That o’er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung
Like night, and darken’d all the land of Nile:
So numberless were those bad Angels seen
Hovering on wing under the cope of Hell,
'Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires;
Till, as a signal giv’n, th’ uplifted spear
Of their great Sultan waving to direct
Their course, in even balance down they light
On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain:
A multitude like which the populous North
Pour’d never from her frozen loins, to pass
Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons
Came like a deluge on the South, and spread
Beneath Gibraltar to the Lybian sands.
Forthwith, from every squadron and each band,
The heads and leaders thither haste where stood
Their great Commander: godlike shapes and forms
Excelling human, princely dignities,
And Powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones,
Though of their names in heav’nly records now
Be no memorial, blotted out and ras’d
By their rebellion from the Books of Life.
Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve
Got them new names, till wand’ring o’er the earth,
Through God’s high sufferance for the trial of man,
By falsities and lies the greatest part
Of mankind they corrupted to forsake
God their Creator, and th’ invisible
Glory of him that made them to transform
Oft to the image of a brute, adorn’d
With gay religions full of pomp and gold,
And devils to adore for deities:
Then were they known to men by various names,
And various idols through the heathen world.

Say, Muse, their names then known, who first, who last,
Rous’d from the slumber on that fiery couch,
At their great Emperor’s call, as next in worth
Came singly where he stood on the bare strand,
While the promiscuous crowd stood yet aloof.

The chief were those who, from the pit of Hell
Roaming to seek their prey on earth, durst fix
Their seats, long after, next the seat of God,
Their altars by his altar, Gods ador’d
Among the nations round, and durst abide
Jehovah thund’ring out of Sion, thron’d
Between the Cherubim; yea, often plac’d
Within his sanctuary itself their shrines,
Abominations; and with cursed things
His holy rites and solemn feasts profan’d,
And with their darkness durst affront his light.
First Moloch, horrid king, besmear’d with blood
Of human sacrifice and parents’ tears—
Though for the noise of drums and timbrels loud
Their children’s cries unheard, that pass’d through fire
To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite
Worshipp’d in Rabba and her wat’ry plain,
In Argob and in Basan, to the stream
Of utmost Arnon. Nor content with such
Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart
Of Solomon he led by fraud to build
His temple right against the temple of God
On that opprobrious hill, and made his grove
The pleasant valley of Hinnom, Tophet thence
And black Gehenna call’d, the type of Hell.
Next Chemos, th’ obscene dread of Moab’s sons,
From Aroer to Nebo, and the wild
Of southmost Abarim, in Hesebon
And Horonaim, Seon’s realm, beyond
The flow’ry dale of Sibma clad with vines,
And Elealè to th’ Asphaltic pool:
Peor his other name, when he entic’d
Israel in Sittim, on their march from Nile,
To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe;
Yet thence his lustful orgies he enlarg’d
Even to that hill of scandal, by the grove
Of Moloch homicide, lust hard by hate;
Till good Josiah drove them thence to Hell.
With these came they who, from the bord’ring flood
Of old Euphrates to the brook that parts
Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names
Of Baälim and Ashtaroth—those male,
These feminine. (For spirits when they please
Can either sex assume, or both; so soft
And uncompounded is their essence pure,
Not tied or manacl’d with joint or limb,
Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones,
Like cumbrous flesh; but, in what shape they choose,
Dilated or condens’d, bright or obscure,
Can execute their aery purposes,
And works of love or enmity fulfil.)
For those the race of Israel oft forsook
Their living strength, and unfrequented left
His righteous altar, bowing lowly down
To bestial Gods; for which their heads, as low
Bow’d down in battle, sunk before the spear
Of despicable foes. With these in troop
Came Astoreth, whom the Phoenicians call’d
Astarte, Queen of Heav’n, with crescent horns;
To whose bright image nightly by the moon
Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs;
In Sion also not unsung, where stood
Her temple on th’ offensive mountain, built
By that uxorious king whose heart, though large,
Beguil’d by fair idolatresses, fell
To idols foul. Thammuz came next behind,
Whose annual wound in Lebanon allur’d
The Syrian damsels to lament his fate
In amorous ditties all a summer’s day,
While smooth Adonis from his native rock
Ran purple to the sea, suppos’d with blood
Of Thammuz yearly wounded: the love—tale
Infected Sion’s daughters with like heat,
Whose wanton passions in the sacred porch
Ezekiel saw, when by the vision led
His eye survey’d the dark idolatries
Of alienated Judah. Next came one
Who mourn’d in earnest, when the captive ark
Maim’d his brute image, head and hands lopp’d off
In his own temple, on the grunsel—edge,
Where he fell flat and sham’d his worshippers:
Dagon his name, sea monster, upward man
And downward fish, yet had his temple high
Rear’d in Azotus, dreaded through the coast
Of Palestine, in Gath and Ascalon,
And Accaron and Gaza’s frontier bounds.
Him follow’d Rimmon, whose delightful seat
Was fair Damascus on the fertile banks
Of Abbana and Pharphar, lucid streams;
He also against the house of God was bold:
A leper once he lost and gain’d a king,
Ahaz, his sottish conqueror, whom he drew
God’s altar to disparage and displace
For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn
His odious off’rings, and adore the Gods
Whom he had vanquish’d. After these appear’d
A crew who, under names of old renown,
Osiris, Isis, Orus, and their train,
With monstrous shapes and sorceries abus’d
Fanatic Egypt and her priests to seek
Their wand’ring Gods disguis’d in brutish forms
Rather than human. Nor did Israel scape
Th’ infection when their borrow’d gold compos’d
The calf in Oreb, and the rebel king
Doubl’d that sin in Bethel and in Dan,
Lik’ning his Maker to the grazed ox—
Jehovah, who, in one night, when he pass’d
From Egypt marching, equall’d with one stroke
Both her first born and all her bleating Gods.
Belial came last, than whom a spirit more lewd
Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for itself; to him no temple stood
Or altar smok’d, yet who more oft than he
In temples and at altars, when the priest
Turns atheist as did Eli’s sons, who fill’d
With lust and violence the house of God?
In courts and palaces he also reigns,
And in luxurious cities, where the noise
Of riot ascends above their loftiest tow’rs,
And injury and outrage; and, when night
Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons
Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine:
Witness the streets of Sodom, and that night
In Gibeah, when the hospitable door
Expos’d a matron to avoid worse rape.

These were the prime in order and in might.
The rest were long to tell. Though far renown’d,
Th’ Ionian Gods, of Javan’s issue held
Gods, yet confess’d later than Heav’n and Earth,
Their boasted parents: Titan, Heav’n’s first born,
With his enormous brood, and birthright seiz’d
By younger Saturn: he from mightier Jove,
His own and Rhea’s son, like measure found:
So Jove usurping reign’d. These, first in Crete
And Ida known, thence on the snowy top
Of cold Olympus rul’d the middle air,
Their highest heav’n; or on the Delphian cliff,
Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds
Of Doric land; or who with Saturn old
Fled over Adria to th’ Hesperian fields,
And o’er the Celtic roam’d the utmost isles.

All these and more came flocking; but with looks
Downcast and damp, yet such wherein appear’d
Obscure some glimpse of joy to have found their Chief
Not in despair, to have found themselves not lost
In loss itself; which on his count’nance cast
Like doubtful hue. But he his wonted pride
Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore
Semblance of worth, not substance, gently rais’d
Their fainting courage, and dispell’d their fears;
Then straight commands that, at the warlike sound
Of trumpets loud and clarions, be uprear’d
His mighty standard. That proud honour claim’d
Azazel as his right, a Cherub tall,
Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurl’d
Th’ imperial ensign, which full high advanc’d
Shone like a meteor, streaming to the wind
With gems and golden lustre rich emblaz’d,
Seraphic arms and trophies; all the while
Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds:
At which the universal host up—sent
A shout that tore Hell’s concave, and beyond
Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.
All in a moment through the gloom were seen
Ten thousand banners rise into the air,
With orient colours waving; with them rose
A forest huge of spears, and thronging helms
Appear’d, and serried shields in thick array
Of depth immeasurable. Anon they move
In perfect phalanx to the Dorian mood
Of flutes and soft recorders—such as rais’d
To highth of noblest temper heroes old
Arming to battle, and instead of rage
Deliberate valour breath’d, firm and unmov’d
With dread of death to flight or foul retreat;
Nor wanting power to mitigate and swage
With solemn touches troubl’d thoughts, and chase
Anguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and pain
From mortal or immortal minds. Thus they,
Breathing united force with fixed thought,
Mov’d on in silence to soft pipes that charm’d
Their painful steps o’er the burnt soil; and now
Advanc’d in view they stand, a horrid front
Of dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guise
Of warriors old with order’d spear and shield,
Awaiting what command their mighty Chief
Had to impose. He through the armed files
Darts his experienc’d eye and soon traverse
The whole battalion views, their order due,
Their visages and stature as of Gods;
Their number last he sums. And now his heart
Distends with pride and, hard’ning in his strength,
Glories: for never, since created man,
Met such embodied force as, nam’d with these,
Could merit more than that small infantry
Warr’d on by cranes—though all the giant brood
Of Phlegra with th’ heroic race were join’d
That fought at Thebes and Ilium, on each side
Mix’d with auxiliar Gods, and what resounds
In fable or romance of Uther’s son
Begirt with British and Armoric knights,
And all who since, baptiz’d or infidel,
Jousted in Aspramont or Montalban,
Damasco or Marocco or Trebisond,
Or whom Biserta sent from Afric shore
When Charlemain with all his peerage fell
By Fontarabbia. Thus far these beyond
Compare of mortal prowess, yet observ’d
Their dread Commander. He, above the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tow’r; his form had yet not lost
All her original brightness, nor appear’d
Less than Archangel ruin’d, and th’ excess
Of glory obscur’d: as when the sun new—ris’n
Looks through the horizontal misty air
Shorn of his beams, or from behind the moon
In dim eclipse disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs. Dark’n’d so, yet shone
Above them all th’ Archangel; but his face
Deep scars of thunder had intrench’d, and care
Sat on his faded cheek, but under brows
Of dauntless courage, and considerate pride
Waiting revenge; cruel his eye, but cast
Signs of remorse and passion to behold
The fellows of his crime, the followers rather
(Far other once beheld in bliss), condemn’d
For ever now to have their lot in pain—
Millions of spirits for his fault amerc’d
Of Heav’n, and from eternal splendours flung
For his revolt—yet faithful how they stood,
Their glory wither’d: as, when Heaven’s fire
Hath scath’d the forest oaks, or mountain pines,
With singed top their stately growth, though bare,
Stands on the blasted heath. He now prepar’d
To speak; whereat their doubl’d ranks they bend
From wing to wing, and half enclose him round
With all his peers: attention held them mute.
Thrice he assay’d, and thrice, in spite of scorn,
Tears such as Angels weep burst forth; at last
Words interwove with sighs found out their way:

“O myriads of immortal Spirits, O Powers,
Matchless but with th’ Almighty!—and that strife
Was not inglorious, though th’ event was dire,
As this place testifies, and this dire change
Hateful to utter. But what power of mind,
Foreseeing or presaging from the depth
Of knowledge past or present, could have fear’d
How such united force of Gods, how such
As stood like these, could ever know repulse?
For who can yet believe, though after loss,
That all these puissant legions, whose exile
Hath emptied Heav’n, shall fail to re—ascend
Self—rais’d, and repossess their native seat?
For me, be witness all the host of Heav’n,
If counsels different, or danger shunn’d
By me, have lost our hopes. But he who reigns
Monarch in Heav’n till then as one secure
Sat on his throne, upheld by old repute,
Consent, or custom, and his regal state
Put forth at full, but still his strength conceal’d;
Which tempted our attempt and wrought our fall.
Henceforth his might we know, and know our own,
So as not either to provoke or dread
New war provok’d; our better part remains
To work, in close design, by fraud or guile
What force effected not: that he no less
At length from us may find, who overcomes
By force hath overcome but half his foe.
Space may produce new worlds; whereof so rife
There went a fame in Heav’n that he ere long
Intended to create, and therein plant
A generation whom his choice regard
Should favour equal to the Sons of Heaven.
Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps
Our first eruption, thither or elsewhere;
For this infernal pit shall never hold
Celestial Spirits in bondage, nor th’ Abyss
Long under darkness cover. But these thoughts
Full counsel must mature. Peace is despair’d,
For who can think submission? War then, war
Open or understood, must be resolv’d.”

He spake; and, to confirm his words, out—flew
Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs
Of mighty Cherubim; the sudden blaze
Far round illumin’d Hell. Highly they rag’d
Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms
Clash’d on their sounding shields the din of war,
Hurling defiance toward the vault of heav’n.

There stood a hill not far, whose grisly top
Belch’d fire and rolling smoke; the rest entire
Shone with a glossy scurf, undoubted sign
That in his womb was hid metallic ore,
The work of sulphur. Thither, wing’d with speed,
A num’rous brigad hasten’d; as when bands
Of pioneers with spade and pickaxe arm’d,
Forerun the royal camp, to trench a field,
Or cast a rampart. Mammon led them on,
Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell
From Heav’n; for ev’n in Heav’n his looks and thoughts
Were always downward bent, admiring more
The riches of Heav’n’s pavement, trodd’n gold,
Than aught divine or holy else enjoy’d
In vision beatific; by him first
Men also, and by his suggestion taught,
Ransack’d the centre, and with impious hands
Rifl’d the bowels of their mother Earth
For treasures better hid. Soon had his crew
Op’n’d into the hill a spacious wound
And digg’d out ribs of gold. Let none admire
That riches grow in Hell: that soil may best
Deserve the precious bane. And here let those
Who boast in mortal things, and wond’ring tell
Of Babel, and the works of Memphian kings,
Learn how their greatest monuments of fame,
And strength, and art, are easily outdone
By Spirits reprobate, and in an hour
What in an age they, with incessant toil
And hands innumerable, scarce perform.
Nigh on the plain, in many cells prepar’d,
That underneath had veins of liquid fire
Sluic’d from the lake, a second multitude
With wondrous art founded the massy ore,
Severing each kind, and scumm’d the bullion—dross.
A third as soon had form’d within the ground
A various mould, and from the boiling cells
By strange conveyance fill’d each hollow nook,
As in an organ from one blast of wind
To many a row of pipes the sound—board breathes.
Anon out of the earth a fabric huge
Rose like an exhalation, with the sound
Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet,
Built like a temple, where pilasters round
Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid
With golden architrave; nor did there want
Cornice or frieze, with bossy sculptures grav’n;
The roof was fretted gold. Not Babylon,
Nor great Alcairo, such magnificence
Equall’d in all their glories, to enshrine
Belus or Serapis their Gods, or seat
Their kings, when Egypt with Assyria strove
In wealth and luxury. Th’ ascending pile
Stood fix’d her stately highth; and straight the doors,
Op’ning their brazen folds, discover wide
Within her ample spaces o’er the smooth
And level pavement; from the arched roof,
Pendant by subtle magic, many a row
Of starry lamps and blazing cressets, fed
With naphtha and asphaltus, yielded light
As from a sky. The hasty multitude
Admiring enter’d, and the work some praise
And some the architect. His hand was known
In Heav’n by many a tower’d structure high,
Where sceptred Angels held their residence,
And sat as Princes, whom the supreme King
Exalted to such power, and gave to rule,
Each in his hierarchy, the Orders bright.
Nor was his name unheard or unador’d
In ancient Greece, and in Ausonian land
Men called him Mulciber; and how he fell
From Heav’n they fabl’d, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o’er the crystal battlements: from morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer’s day, and with the setting sun
Dropt from the zenith, like a falling star,
On Lemnos, th’ Ægæan isle. Thus they relate,
Erring; for he with this rebellious rout
Fell long before; nor aught avail’d him now
To have built in Heav’n high tow’rs; nor did he scape
By all his engines, but was headlong sent
With his industrious crew to build in Hell.

Meanwhile the winged haralds, by command
Of sovran power, with awful ceremony
And trumpets’ sound, throughout the host proclaim
A solemn council forthwith to be held
At Pandemonium, the high capital
Of Satan and his peers. Their summons call’d
From every band and squared regiment
By place or choice the worthiest; they anon
With hundreds and with thousands trooping came
Attended: all access was throng’d; the gates
And porches wide, but chief the spacious hall
(Though like a cover’d field, where champions bold
Wont ride in arm’d, and at the Soldan’s chair
Defied the best of Paynim chivalry
To mortal combat or career with lance)
Thick swarm’d, both on the ground and in the air,
Brush’d with the hiss of rustling wings. As bees
In spring—time, when the sun with Taurus rides,
Pour forth their populous youth about the hive
In clusters; they among fresh dews and flowers
Fly to and fro, or on the smoothed plank,
The suburb of their straw—built citadel,
New rubb’d with balm, expatiate and confer
Their state—affairs: so thick the aery crowd
Swarm’d and were strait’n’d; till, the signal giv’n,—
Behold a wonder!—they but now who seem’d
In bigness to surpass Earth’s Giant sons
Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room
Throng numberless, like that Pygmean race
Beyond the Indian mount, or faery elves,
Whose midnight revels, by a forest—side
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,
Or dreams he sees, while overhead the Moon
Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth
Wheels her pale course; they, on their mirth and dance
Intent, with jocund music charm his ear;
At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds.
Thus incorporeal Spirits to smallest forms
Reduc’d their shapes immense, and were at large,
Though without number still, amidst the hall
Of that infernal court. But far within,
And in their own dimensions like themselves,
The great Seraphic lords and Cherubim
In close recess and secret conclave sat,
A thousand demi—gods on golden seats,
Frequent and full. After short silence then,
And summons read, the great consult began.