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John%20milton

John Milton

POEMAS
SEGUIDORES
8

III

Qual in colle aspro, al imbrunir di sera
L’avezza giovinetta pastorella
Va bagnando l’herbetta strana e bella
Che mal si spande a disusata spera
Fuor di sua natia alma primavera,
Cosi Amor meco insu la lingua snella
Desta il fior novo di strania favella,
Mentre io di te, vezzosamente altera,
Canto, dal mio buon popol non inteso
E’l bel Tamigi cangio col bel Arno
Amor lo volse, ed io a l’altrui peso
Seppi ch’ Amor cosa mai volse indarno.
Deh!  foss’ il mio cuor lento e’l duro seno
A chi pianta dal ciel si buon terreno.

Cyriack, whose grandsire on the royal bench
Of British Themis, with no mean applause,
Pronounced, and in his volumes taught, our laws,
Which others at their bar so often wrench,
To-day deep thoughts resolve with me to drench
In mirth that after no repenting draws;
Let Euclid rest, and Archimedes pause,
And what the Swede intend, and what the French.
To measure life learn thou betimes, and know
Toward solid good what leads the nearest way;
For other things mild Heaven a time ordains,
And disapproves that care, though wise in show,
That with superfluous burden loads the day,
And, when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains.

I

O Nightingale, that on yon bloomy Spray
Warbl’st at eeve, when all the Woods are still,
Thou with fresh hope the Lovers heart dost fill,
While the jolly hours lead on propitious May,
Thy liquid notes that close the eye of Day,
First heard before the shallow Cuccoo’s bill
Portend success in love; O if Jove’s will
Have linkt that amorous power to thy soft lay,
Now timely sing, ere the rude Bird of Hate
Foretell my hopeles doom in som Grove ny:
As thou from yeer to yeer hast sung too late
For my relief; yet hadst no reason why,
Whether the Muse, or Love call thee his mate,
Both them I serve, and of their train am I.

Undoubtedly he will relent, and turn
From his displeasure; in whose look serene,
When angry most he seemed and most severe,
What else but favour, grace, and mercy, shone?
So spake our father penitent; nor Eve
Felt less remorse: they, forthwith to the place
Repairing where he judged them, prostrate fell
Before him reverent; and both confessed
Humbly their faults, and pardon begged; with tears
Watering the ground, and with their sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeigned, and humiliation meek.
Thus they, in lowliest plight, repentant stood
Praying; for from the mercy-seat above
Prevenient grace descending had removed
The stony from their hearts, and made new flesh
Regenerate grow instead; that sighs now breathed
Unutterable; which the Spirit of prayer
Inspired, and winged for Heaven with speedier flight
Than loudest oratory:  Yet their port
Not of mean suitors; nor important less
Seemed their petition, than when the ancient pair
In fables old, less ancient yet than these,
Deucalion and chaste Pyrrha, to restore
The race of mankind drowned, before the shrine
Of Themis stood devout.  To Heaven their prayers
Flew up, nor missed the way, by envious winds
Blown vagabond or frustrate: in they passed
Dimensionless through heavenly doors; then clad
With incense, where the golden altar fumed,
By their great intercessour, came in sight
Before the Father’s throne: them the glad Son
Presenting, thus to intercede began.
See$ Father, what first-fruits on earth are sprung
From thy implanted grace in Man; these sighs
And prayers, which in this golden censer mixed
With incense, I thy priest before thee bring;
Fruits of more pleasing savour, from thy seed
Sown with contrition in his heart, than those
Which, his own hand manuring, all the trees
Of Paradise could have produced, ere fallen
From innocence.  Now therefore, bend thine ear
To supplication; hear his sighs, though mute;
Unskilful with what words to pray, let me
Interpret for him; me, his advocate
And propitiation; all his works on me,
Good, or not good, ingraft; my merit those
Shall perfect, and for these my death shall pay.
Accept me; and, in me, from these receive
The smell of peace toward mankind: let him live
Before thee reconciled, at least his days
Numbered, though sad; till death, his doom, (which I
To mitigate thus plead, not to reverse,)
To better life shall yield him: where with me
All my redeemed may dwell in joy and bliss;
Made one with me, as I with thee am one.
To whom the Father, without cloud, serene.
All thy request for Man, accepted Son,
Obtain; all thy request was my decree:
But, longer in that Paradise to dwell,
The law I gave to Nature him forbids:
Those pure immortal elements, that know,
No gross, no unharmonious mixture foul,
Eject him, tainted now; and purge him off,
As a distemper, gross, to air as gross,
And mortal food; as may dispose him best
For dissolution wrought by sin, that first
Distempered all things, and of incorrupt
Corrupted.  I, at first, with two fair gifts
Created him endowed; with happiness,
And immortality: that fondly lost,
This other served but to eternize woe;
Till I provided death: so death becomes
His final remedy; and, after life,
Tried in sharp tribulation, and refined
By faith and faithful works, to second life,
Waked in the renovation of the just,
Resigns him up with Heaven and Earth renewed.
But let us call to synod all the Blest,
Through Heaven’s wide bounds: from them I will not hide
My judgements; how with mankind I proceed,
As how with peccant Angels late they saw,
And in their state, though firm, stood more confirmed.
He ended, and the Son gave signal high
To the bright minister that watched; he blew
His trumpet, heard in Oreb since perhaps
When God descended, and perhaps once more
To sound at general doom.  The angelick blast
Filled all the regions: from their blisful bowers
Of amarantine shade, fountain or spring,
By the waters of life, where’er they sat
In fellowships of joy, the sons of light
Hasted, resorting to the summons high;
And took their seats; till from his throne supreme
The Almighty thus pronounced his sovran will.
O Sons, like one of us Man is become
To know both good and evil, since his taste
Of that defended fruit; but let him boast
His knowledge of good lost, and evil got;
Happier! had it sufficed him to have known
Good by itself, and evil not at all.
He sorrows now, repents, and prays contrite,
My motions in him; longer than they move,
His heart I know, how variable and vain,
Self-left.  Lest therefore his now bolder hand
Reach also of the tree of life, and eat,
And live for ever, dream at least to live
For ever, to remove him I decree,
And send him from the garden forth to till
The ground whence he was taken, fitter soil.
Michael, this my behest have thou in charge;
Take to thee from among the Cherubim
Thy choice of flaming warriours, lest the Fiend,
Or in behalf of Man, or to invade
Vacant possession, some new trouble raise:
Haste thee, and from the Paradise of God
Without remorse drive out the sinful pair;
From hallowed ground the unholy; and denounce
To them, and to their progeny, from thence
Perpetual banishment.  Yet, lest they faint
At the sad sentence rigorously urged,
(For I behold them softened, and with tears
Bewailing their excess,) all terrour hide.
If patiently thy bidding they obey,
Dismiss them not disconsolate; reveal
To Adam what shall come in future days,
As I shall thee enlighten; intermix
My covenant in the Woman’s seed renewed;
So send them forth, though sorrowing, yet in peace:
And on the east side of the garden place,
Where entrance up from Eden easiest climbs,
Cherubick watch; and of a sword the flame
Wide-waving; all approach far off to fright,
And guard all passage to the tree of life:
Lest Paradise a receptacle prove
To Spirits foul, and all my trees their prey;
With whose stolen fruit Man once more to delude.
He ceased; and the arch-angelick Power prepared
For swift descent; with him the cohort bright
Of watchful Cherubim: four faces each
Had, like a double Janus; all their shape
Spangled with eyes more numerous than those
Of Argus, and more wakeful than to drouse,
Charmed with Arcadian pipe, the pastoral reed
Of Hermes, or his opiate rod.  Mean while,
To re-salute the world with sacred light,
Leucothea waked; and with fresh dews imbalmed
The earth; when Adam and first matron Eve
Had ended now their orisons, and found
Strength added from above; new hope to spring
Out of despair; joy, but with fear yet linked;
Which thus to Eve his welcome words renewed.
Eve, easily my faith admit, that all
The good which we enjoy from Heaven descends;
But, that from us aught should ascend to Heaven
So prevalent as to concern the mind
Of God high-blest, or to incline his will,
Hard to belief may seem; yet this will prayer
Or one short sigh of human breath, upborne
Even to the seat of God.  For since I sought
By prayer the offended Deity to appease;
Kneeled, and before him humbled all my heart;
Methought I saw him placable and mild,
Bending his ear; persuasion in me grew
That I was heard with favour; peace returned
Home to my breast, and to my memory
His promise, that thy seed shall bruise our foe;
Which, then not minded in dismay, yet now
Assures me that the bitterness of death
Is past, and we shall live.  Whence hail to thee,
Eve rightly called, mother of all mankind,
Mother of all things living, since by thee
Man is to live; and all things live for Man.
To whom thus Eve with sad demeanour meek.
Ill-worthy I such title should belong
To me transgressour; who, for thee ordained
A help, became thy snare; to me reproach
Rather belongs, distrust, and all dispraise:
But infinite in pardon was my Judge,
That I, who first brought death on all, am graced
The source of life; next favourable thou,
Who highly thus to entitle me vouchsaf’st,
Far other name deserving.  But the field
To labour calls us, now with sweat imposed,
Though after sleepless night; for see!the morn,
All unconcerned with our unrest, begins
Her rosy progress smiling: let us forth;
I never from thy side henceforth to stray,
Where’er our day’s work lies, though now enjoined
Laborious, till day droop; while here we dwell,
What can be toilsome in these pleasant walks?
Here let us live, though in fallen state, content.
So spake, so wished much humbled Eve; but Fate
Subscribed not:  Nature first gave signs, impressed
On bird, beast, air; air suddenly eclipsed,
After short blush of morn; nigh in her sight
The bird of Jove, stooped from his aery tour,
Two birds of gayest plume before him drove;
Down from a hill the beast that reigns in woods,
First hunter then, pursued a gentle brace,
Goodliest of all the forest, hart and hind;
Direct to the eastern gate was bent their flight.
Adam observed, and with his eye the chase
Pursuing, not unmoved, to Eve thus spake.
O Eve, some further change awaits us nigh,
Which Heaven, by these mute signs in Nature, shows
Forerunners of his purpose; or to warn
Us, haply too secure, of our discharge
From penalty, because from death released
Some days: how long, and what till then our life,
Who knows? or more than this, that we are dust,
And thither must return, and be no more?
Why else this double object in our sight
Of flight pursued in the air, and o’er the ground,
One way the self-same hour? why in the east
Darkness ere day’s mid-course, and morning-light
More orient in yon western cloud, that draws
O’er the blue firmament a radiant white,
And slow descends with something heavenly fraught?
He erred not; for by this the heavenly bands
Down from a sky of jasper lighted now
In Paradise, and on a hill made halt;
A glorious apparition, had not doubt
And carnal fear that day dimmed Adam’s eye.
Not that more glorious, when the Angels met
Jacob in Mahanaim, where he saw
The field pavilioned with his guardians bright;
Nor that, which on the flaming mount appeared
In Dothan, covered with a camp of fire,
Against the Syrian king, who to surprise
One man, assassin-like, had levied war,
War unproclaimed.  The princely Hierarch
In their bright stand there left his Powers, to seise
Possession of the garden; he alone,
To find where Adam sheltered, took his way,
Not unperceived of Adam; who to Eve,
While the great visitant approached, thus spake.
Eve$ now expect great tidings, which perhaps
Of us will soon determine, or impose
New laws to be observed; for I descry,
From yonder blazing cloud that veils the hill,
One of the heavenly host; and, by his gait,
None of the meanest; some great Potentate
Or of the Thrones above; such majesty
Invests him coming! yet not terrible,
That I should fear; nor sociably mild,
As Raphael, that I should much confide;
But solemn and sublime; whom not to offend,
With reverence I must meet, and thou retire.
He ended: and the Arch-Angel soon drew nigh,
Not in his shape celestial, but as man
Clad to meet man; over his lucid arms
A military vest of purple flowed,
Livelier than Meliboean, or the grain
Of Sarra, worn by kings and heroes old
In time of truce; Iris had dipt the woof;
His starry helm unbuckled showed him prime
In manhood where youth ended; by his side,
As in a glistering zodiack, hung the sword,
Satan’s dire dread; and in his hand the spear.
Adam bowed low; he, kingly, from his state
Inclined not, but his coming thus declared.
Adam, Heaven’s high behest no preface needs:
Sufficient that thy prayers are heard; and Death,
Then due by sentence when thou didst transgress,
Defeated of his seisure many days
Given thee of grace; wherein thou mayest repent,
And one bad act with many deeds well done
Mayest cover:  Well may then thy Lord, appeased,
Redeem thee quite from Death’s rapacious claim;
But longer in this Paradise to dwell
Permits not: to remove thee I am come,
And send thee from the garden forth to till
The ground whence thou wast taken, fitter soil.
He added not; for Adam at the news
Heart-struck with chilling gripe of sorrow stood,
That all his senses bound; Eve, who unseen
Yet all had heard, with audible lament
Discovered soon the place of her retire.
O unexpected stroke, worse than of Death!
Must I thus leave thee$ Paradise? thus leave
Thee, native soil! these happy walks and shades,
Fit haunt of Gods? where I had hope to spend,
Quiet though sad, the respite of that day
That must be mortal to us both.  O flowers,
That never will in other climate grow,
My early visitation, and my last
 ;t even, which I bred up with tender hand
From the first opening bud, and gave ye names!
Who now shall rear ye to the sun, or rank
Your tribes, and water from the ambrosial fount?
Thee lastly, nuptial bower! by me adorned
With what to sight or smell was sweet! from thee
How shall I part, and whither wander down
Into a lower world; to this obscure
And wild? how shall we breathe in other air
Less pure, accustomed to immortal fruits?
Whom thus the Angel interrupted mild.
Lament not, Eve, but patiently resign
What justly thou hast lost, nor set thy heart,
Thus over-fond, on that which is not thine:
Thy going is not lonely; with thee goes
Thy husband; whom to follow thou art bound;
Where he abides, think there thy native soil.
Adam, by this from the cold sudden damp
Recovering, and his scattered spirits returned,
To Michael thus his humble words addressed.
Celestial, whether among the Thrones, or named
Of them the highest; for such of shape may seem
Prince above princes! gently hast thou told
Thy message, which might else in telling wound,
And in performing end us; what besides
Of sorrow, and dejection, and despair,
Our frailty can sustain, thy tidings bring,
Departure from this happy place, our sweet
Recess, and only consolation left
Familiar to our eyes! all places else
Inhospitable appear, and desolate;
Nor knowing us, nor known:  And, if by prayer
Incessant I could hope to change the will
Of Him who all things can, I would not cease
To weary him with my assiduous cries:
But prayer against his absolute decree
No more avails than breath against the wind,
Blown stifling back on him that breathes it forth:
Therefore to his great bidding I submit.
This most afflicts me, that, departing hence,
As from his face I shall be hid, deprived
His blessed countenance:  Here I could frequent
With worship place by place where he vouchsafed
Presence Divine; and to my sons relate,
‘On this mount he appeared; under this tree
’Stood visible; among these pines his voice
‘I heard; here with him at this fountain talked:
So many grateful altars I would rear
Of grassy turf, and pile up every stone
Of lustre from the brook, in memory,
Or monument to ages; and theron
Offer sweet-smelling gums, and fruits, and flowers:
In yonder nether world where shall I seek
His bright appearances, or foot-step trace?
For though I fled him angry, yet recalled
To life prolonged and promised race, I now
Gladly behold though but his utmost skirts
Of glory; and far off his steps adore.
To whom thus Michael with regard benign.
Adam, thou knowest Heaven his, and all the Earth;
Not this rock only; his Omnipresence fills
Land, sea, and air, and every kind that lives,
Fomented by his virtual power and warmed:
All the earth he gave thee to possess and rule,
No despicable gift; surmise not then
His presence to these narrow bounds confined
Of Paradise, or Eden: this had been
Perhaps thy capital seat, from whence had spread
All generations; and had hither come
From all the ends of the earth, to celebrate
And reverence thee, their great progenitor.
But this pre-eminence thou hast lost, brought down
To dwell on even ground now with thy sons:
Yet doubt not but in valley, and in plain,
God is, as here; and will be found alike
Present; and of his presence many a sign
Still following thee, still compassing thee round
With goodness and paternal love, his face
Express, and of his steps the track divine.
Which that thou mayest believe, and be confirmed
Ere thou from hence depart; know, I am sent
To show thee what shall come in future days
To thee, and to thy offspring: good with bad
Expect to hear; supernal grace contending
With sinfulness of men; thereby to learn
True patience, and to temper joy with fear
And pious sorrow; equally inured
By moderation either state to bear,
Prosperous or adverse: so shalt thou lead
Safest thy life, and best prepared endure
Thy mortal passage when it comes.—Ascend
This hill; let Eve (for I have drenched her eyes)
Here sleep below; while thou to foresight wakest;
As once thou sleptst, while she to life was formed.
To whom thus Adam gratefully replied.
Ascend, I follow thee, safe Guide, the path
Thou leadest me; and to the hand of Heaven submit,
However chastening; to the evil turn
My obvious breast; arming to overcome
By suffering, and earn rest from labour won,
If so I may attain.—So both ascend
In the visions of God.  It was a hill,
Of Paradise the highest; from whose top
The hemisphere of earth, in clearest ken,
Stretched out to the amplest reach of prospect lay.
Not higher that hill, nor wider looking round,
Whereon, for different cause, the Tempter set
Our second Adam, in the wilderness;
To show him all Earth’s kingdoms, and their glory.
His eye might there command wherever stood
City of old or modern fame, the seat
Of mightiest empire, from the destined walls
Of Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Can,
And Samarchand by Oxus, Temir’s throne,
To Paquin of Sinaean kings; and thence
To Agra and Lahor of great Mogul,
Down to the golden Chersonese; or where
The Persian in Ecbatan sat, or since
In Hispahan; or where the Russian Ksar
In Mosco; or the Sultan in Bizance,
Turchestan-born; nor could his eye not ken
The empire of Negus to his utmost port
Ercoco, and the less maritim kings
Mombaza, and Quiloa, and Melind,
And Sofala, thought Ophir, to the realm
Of Congo, and Angola farthest south;
Or thence from Niger flood to Atlas mount
The kingdoms of Almansor, Fez and Sus,
Morocco, and Algiers, and Tremisen;
On Europe thence, and where Rome was to sway
The world: in spirit perhaps he also saw
Rich Mexico, the seat of Montezume,
And Cusco in Peru, the richer seat
Of Atabalipa; and yet unspoiled
Guiana, whose great city Geryon’s sons
Call El Dorado.  But to nobler sights
Michael from Adam’s eyes the film removed,
Which that false fruit that promised clearer sight
Had bred; then purged with euphrasy and rue
The visual nerve, for he had much to see;
And from the well of life three drops instilled.
So deep the power of these ingredients pierced,
Even to the inmost seat of mental sight,
That Adam, now enforced to close his eyes,
Sunk down, and all his spirits became entranced;
But him the gentle Angel by the hand
Soon raised, and his attention thus recalled.
Adam, now ope thine eyes; and first behold
The effects, which thy original crime hath wrought
In some to spring from thee; who never touched
The excepted tree; nor with the snake conspired;
Nor sinned thy sin; yet from that sin derive
Corruption, to bring forth more violent deeds.
His eyes he opened, and beheld a field,
Part arable and tilth, whereon were sheaves
New reaped; the other part sheep-walks and folds;
I’ the midst an altar as the land-mark stood,
Rustick, of grassy sord; thither anon
A sweaty reaper from his tillage brought
First fruits, the green ear, and the yellow sheaf,
Unculled, as came to hand; a shepherd next,
More meek, came with the firstlings of his flock,
Choicest and best; then, sacrificing, laid
The inwards and their fat, with incense strowed,
On the cleft wood, and all due rights performed:
His offering soon propitious fire from Heaven
Consumed with nimble glance, and grateful steam;
The other’s not, for his was not sincere;
Whereat he inly raged, and, as they talked,
Smote him into the midriff with a stone
That beat out life; he fell;and, deadly pale,
Groaned out his soul with gushing blood effused.
Much at that sight was Adam in his heart
Dismayed, and thus in haste to the Angel cried.
O Teacher, some great mischief hath befallen
To that meek man, who well had sacrificed;
Is piety thus and pure devotion paid?
To whom Michael thus, he also moved, replied.
These two are brethren, Adam, and to come
Out of thy loins; the unjust the just hath slain,
For envy that his brother’s offering found
From Heaven acceptance; but the bloody fact
Will be avenged; and the other’s faith, approved,
Lose no reward; though here thou see him die,
Rolling in dust and gore.  To which our sire.
Alas! both for the deed, and for the cause!
But have I now seen Death?  Is this the way
I must return to native dust?  O sight
Of terrour, foul and ugly to behold,
Horrid to think, how horrible to feel!
To whom thus Michael.  Death thou hast seen
In his first shape on Man; but many shapes
Of Death, and many are the ways that lead
To his grim cave, all dismal; yet to sense
More terrible at the entrance, than within.
Some, as thou sawest, by violent stroke shall die;
By fire, flood, famine, by intemperance more
In meats and drinks, which on the earth shall bring
Diseases dire, of which a monstrous crew
Before thee shall appear; that thou mayest know
What misery the inabstinence of Eve
Shall bring on Men.  Immediately a place
Before his eyes appeared, sad, noisome, dark;
A lazar-house it seemed; wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseased; all maladies
Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms
Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds,
Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs,
Intestine stone and ulcer, colick-pangs,
Demoniack phrenzy, moaping melancholy,
And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy,
Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence,
Dropsies, and asthmas, and joint-racking rheums.
Dire was the tossing, deep the groans; Despair
Tended the sick busiest from couch to couch;
And over them triumphant Death his dart
Shook, but delayed to strike, though oft invoked
With vows, as their chief good, and final hope.
Sight so deform what heart of rock could long
Dry-eyed behold?  Adam could not, but wept,
Though not of woman born; compassion quelled
His best of man, and gave him up to tears
A space, till firmer thoughts restrained excess;
And, scarce recovering words, his plaint renewed.
O miserable mankind, to what fall
Degraded, to what wretched state reserved!
Better end here unborn.  Why is life given
To be thus wrested from us? rather, why
Obtruded on us thus? who, if we knew
What we receive, would either no accept
Life offered, or soon beg to lay it down;
Glad to be so dismissed in peace.  Can thus
The image of God in Man, created once
So goodly and erect, though faulty since,
To such unsightly sufferings be debased
Under inhuman pains?  Why should not Man,
Retaining still divine similitude
In part, from such deformities be free,
And, for his Maker’s image sake, exempt?
Their Maker’s image, answered Michael, then
Forsook them, when themselves they vilified
To serve ungoverned Appetite; and took
His image whom they served, a brutish vice,
Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve.
Therefore so abject is their punishment,
Disfiguring not God’s likeness, but their own;
Or if his likeness, by themselves defaced;
While they pervert pure Nature’s healthful rules
To loathsome sickness; worthily, since they
God’s image did not reverence in themselves.
I yield it just, said Adam, and submit.
But is there yet no other way, besides
These painful passages, how we may come
To death, and mix with our connatural dust?
There is, said Michael, if thou well observe
The rule of Not too much; by temperance taught,
In what thou eatest and drinkest; seeking from thence
Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight,
Till many years over thy head return:
So mayest thou live; till, like ripe fruit, thou drop
Into thy mother’s lap; or be with ease
Gathered, nor harshly plucked; for death mature:
This is Old Age; but then, thou must outlive
Thy youth, thy strength, thy beauty; which will change
To withered, weak, and gray; thy senses then,
Obtuse, all taste of pleasure must forego,
To what thou hast; and, for the air of youth,
Hopeful and cheerful, in thy blood will reign
A melancholy damp of cold and dry
To weigh thy spirits down, and last consume
The balm of life.  To whom our ancestor.
Henceforth I fly not death, nor would prolong
Life much; bent rather, how I may be quit,
Fairest and easiest, of this cumbrous charge;
Which I must keep till my appointed day
Of rendering up, and patiently attend
My dissolution.  Michael replied.
Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou livest
Live well; how long, or short, permit to Heaven:
And now prepare thee for another sight.
He looked, and saw a spacious plain, whereon
Were tents of various hue; by some, were herds
Of cattle grazing; others, whence the sound
Of instruments, that made melodious chime,
Was heard, of harp and organ; and, who moved
Their stops and chords, was seen; his volant touch,
Instinct through all proportions, low and high,
Fled and pursued transverse the resonant fugue.
In other part stood one who, at the forge
Labouring, two massy clods of iron and brass
Had melted, (whether found where casual fire
Had wasted woods on mountain or in vale,
Down to the veins of earth; thence gliding hot
To some cave’s mouth; or whether washed by stream
From underground;) the liquid ore he drained
Into fit moulds prepared; from which he formed
First his own tools; then, what might else be wrought
Fusil or graven in metal.  After these,
But on the hither side, a different sort
From the high neighbouring hills, which was their seat,
Down to the plain descended; by their guise
Just men they seemed, and all their study bent
To worship God aright, and know his works
Not hid; nor those things last, which might preserve
Freedom and peace to Men; they on the plain
Long had not walked, when from the tents, behold!
A bevy of fair women, richly gay
In gems and wanton dress; to the harp they sung
Soft amorous ditties, and in dance came on:
The men, though grave, eyed them; and let their eyes
Rove without rein; till, in the amorous net
Fast caught, they liked; and each his liking chose;
And now of love they treat, till the evening-star,
Love’s harbinger, appeared; then, all in heat
They light the nuptial torch, and bid invoke
Hymen, then first to marriage rites invoked:
With feast and musick all the tents resound.
Such happy interview, and fair event
Of love and youth not lost, songs, garlands, flowers,
And charming symphonies, attached the heart
Of Adam, soon inclined to admit delight,
The bent of nature; which he thus expressed.
True opener of mine eyes, prime Angel blest;
Much better seems this vision, and more hope
Of peaceful days portends, than those two past;
Those were of hate and death, or pain much worse;
Here Nature seems fulfilled in all her ends.
To whom thus Michael.  Judge not what is best
By pleasure, though to nature seeming meet;
Created, as thou art, to nobler end
Holy and pure, conformity divine.
Those tents thou sawest so pleasant, were the tents
Of wickedness, wherein shall dwell his race
Who slew his brother; studious they appear
Of arts that polish life, inventers rare;
Unmindful of their Maker, though his Spirit
Taught them; but they his gifts acknowledged none.
Yet they a beauteous offspring shall beget;
For that fair female troop thou sawest, that seemed
Of Goddesses, so blithe, so smooth, so gay,
Yet empty of all good wherein consists
Woman’s domestick honour and chief praise;
Bred only and completed to the taste
Of lustful appetence, to sing, to dance,
To dress, and troll the tongue, and roll the eye:
To these that sober race of men, whose lives
Religious titled them the sons of God,
Shall yield up all their virtue, all their fame
Ignobly, to the trains and to the smiles
Of these fair atheists; and now swim in joy,
Erelong to swim at large; and laugh, for which
The world erelong a world of tears must weep.
To whom thus Adam, of short joy bereft.
O pity and shame, that they, who to live well
Entered so fair, should turn aside to tread
Paths indirect, or in the mid way faint!
But still I see the tenour of Man’s woe
Holds on the same, from Woman to begin.
From Man’s effeminate slackness it begins,
Said the Angel, who should better hold his place
By wisdom, and superiour gifts received.
But now prepare thee for another scene.
He looked, and saw wide territory spread
Before him, towns, and rural works between;
Cities of men with lofty gates and towers,
Concourse in arms, fierce faces threatening war,
Giants of mighty bone and bold emprise;
Part wield their arms, part curb the foaming steed,
Single or in array of battle ranged
Both horse and foot, nor idly mustering stood;
One way a band select from forage drives
A herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine,
From a fat meadow ground; or fleecy flock,
Ewes and their bleating lambs over the plain,
Their booty; scarce with life the shepherds fly,
But call in aid, which makes a bloody fray;
With cruel tournament the squadrons join;
Where cattle pastured late, now scattered lies
With carcasses and arms the ensanguined field,
Deserted:  Others to a city strong
Lay siege, encamped; by battery, scale, and mine,
Assaulting; others from the wall defend
With dart and javelin, stones, and sulphurous fire;
On each hand slaughter, and gigantick deeds.
In other part the sceptered heralds call
To council, in the city-gates; anon
Gray-headed men and grave, with warriours mixed,
Assemble, and harangues are heard; but soon,
In factious opposition; till at last,
Of middle age one rising, eminent
In wise deport, spake much of right and wrong,
Of justice, or religion, truth, and peace,
And judgement from above: him old and young
Exploded, and had seized with violent hands,
Had not a cloud descending snatched him thence
Unseen amid the throng: so violence
Proceeded, and oppression, and sword-law,
Through all the plain, and refuge none was found.
Adam was all in tears, and to his guide
Lamenting turned full sad; O!what are these,
Death’s ministers, not men? who thus deal death
Inhumanly to men, and multiply
Ten thousandfold the sin of him who slew
His brother: for of whom such massacre
Make they, but of their brethren; men of men
But who was that just man, whom had not Heaven
Rescued, had in his righteousness been lost?
To whom thus Michael.  These are the product
Of those ill-mated marriages thou sawest;
Where good with bad were matched, who of themselves
Abhor to join; and, by imprudence mixed,
Produce prodigious births of body or mind.
Such were these giants, men of high renown;
For in those days might only shall be admired,
And valour and heroick virtue called;
To overcome in battle, and subdue
Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite
Man-slaughter, shall be held the highest pitch
Of human glory; and for glory done
Of triumph, to be styled great conquerours
Patrons of mankind, Gods, and sons of Gods;
Destroyers rightlier called, and plagues of men.
Thus fame shall be achieved, renown on earth;
And what most merits fame, in silence hid.
But he, the seventh from thee, whom thou beheldst
The only righteous in a world preverse,
And therefore hated, therefore so beset
With foes, for daring single to be just,
And utter odious truth, that God would come
To judge them with his Saints; him the Most High
Rapt in a balmy cloud with winged steeds
Did, as thou sawest, receive, to walk with God
High in salvation and the climes of bliss,
Exempt from death; to show thee what reward
Awaits the good; the rest what punishment;
Which now direct thine eyes and soon behold.
He looked, and saw the face of things quite changed;
The brazen throat of war had ceased to roar;
All now was turned to jollity and game,
To luxury and riot, feast and dance;
Marrying or prostituting, as befel,
Rape or adultery, where passing fair
Allured them; thence from cups to civil broils.
At length a reverend sire among them came,
And of their doings great dislike declared,
And testified against their ways; he oft
Frequented their assemblies, whereso met,
Triumphs or festivals; and to them preached
Conversion and repentance, as to souls
In prison, under judgements imminent:
But all in vain: which when he saw, he ceased
Contending, and removed his tents far off;
Then, from the mountain hewing timber tall,
Began to build a vessel of huge bulk;
Measured by cubit, length, and breadth, and highth;
Smeared round with pitch; and in the side a door
Contrived; and of provisions laid in large,
For man and beast: when lo, a wonder strange!
Of every beast, and bird, and insect small,
Came sevens, and pairs; and entered in as taught
Their order: last the sire and his three sons,
With their four wives; and God made fast the door.
Mean while the south-wind rose, and, with black wings
Wide-hovering, all the clouds together drove
From under Heaven; the hills to their supply
Vapour, and exhalation dusk and moist,
Sent up amain; and now the thickened sky
Like a dark cieling stood; down rushed the rain
Impetuous; and continued, till the earth
No more was seen: the floating vessel swum
Uplifted, and secure with beaked prow
Rode tilting o’er the waves; all dwellings else
Flood overwhelmed, and them with all their pomp
Deep under water rolled; sea covered sea,
Sea without shore; and in their palaces,
Where luxury late reigned, sea-monsters whelped
And stabled; of mankind, so numerous late,
All left, in one small bottom swum imbarked.
How didst thou grieve then, Adam, to behold
The end of all thy offspring, end so sad,
Depopulation!  Thee another flood,
Of tears and sorrow a flood, thee also drowned,
And sunk thee as thy sons; till, gently reared
By the Angel, on thy feet thou stoodest at last,
Though comfortless; as when a father mourns
His children, all in view destroyed at once;
And scarce to the Angel utter’dst thus thy plaint.
O visions ill foreseen!  Better had I
Lived ignorant of future! so had borne
My part of evil only, each day’s lot
Enough to bear; those now, that were dispensed
The burden of many ages, on me light
At once, by my foreknowledge gaining birth
Abortive, to torment me ere their being,
With thought that they must be.  Let no man seek
Henceforth to be foretold, what shall befall
Him or his children; evil he may be sure,
Which neither his foreknowing can prevent;
And he the future evil shall no less
In apprehension than in substance feel,
Grievous to bear: but that care now is past,
Man is not whom to warn: those few escaped
Famine and anguish will at last consume,
Wandering that watery desart:  I had hope,
When violence was ceased, and war on earth,
All would have then gone well; peace would have crowned
With length of happy days the race of Man;
But I was far deceived; for now I see
Peace to corrupt no less than war to waste.
How comes it thus? unfold, celestial Guide,
And whether here the race of Man will end.
To whom thus Michael.  Those, whom last thou sawest
In triumph and luxurious wealth, are they
First seen in acts of prowess eminent
And great exploits, but of true virtue void;
Who, having spilt much blood, and done much wast
Subduing nations, and achieved thereby
Fame in the world, high titles, and rich prey;
Shall change their course to pleasure, ease, and sloth,
Surfeit, and lust; till wantonness and pride
Raise out of friendship hostile deeds in peace.
The conquered also, and enslaved by war,
Shall, with their freedom lost, all virtue lose
And fear of God; from whom their piety feigned
In sharp contest of battle found no aid
Against invaders; therefore, cooled in zeal,
Thenceforth shall practice how to live secure,
Worldly or dissolute, on what their lords
Shall leave them to enjoy; for the earth shall bear
More than enough, that temperance may be tried:
So all shall turn degenerate, all depraved;
Justice and temperance, truth and faith, forgot;
One man except, the only son of light
In a dark age, against example good,
Against allurement, custom, and a world
Offended: fearless of reproach and scorn,
The grand-child, with twelve sons encreased, departs
From Canaan, to a land hereafter called
Egypt, divided by the river Nile;
See where it flows, disgorging at seven mouths
Into the sea:  To sojourn in that land
He comes, invited by a younger son
In time of dearth; a son, whose worthy deeds
Raise him to be the second in that realm
Of Pharaoh:  There he dies, and leaves his race
Growing into a nation, and now grown
Suspected to a sequent king, who seeks
To stop their overgrowth, as inmate guests
Or violence, he of their wicked ways
Shall them admonish; and before them set
The paths of righteousness, how much more safe
And full of peace; denouncing wrath to come
On their impenitence; and shall return
Of them derided, but of God observed
The one just man alive; by his command
Shall build a wonderous ark, as thou beheldst,
To save himself, and houshold, from amidst
A world devote to universal wrack.
No sooner he, with them of man and beast
Select for life, shall in the ark be lodged,
And sheltered round; but all the cataracts
Of Heaven set open on the Earth shall pour
Rain, day and night; all fountains of the deep,
Broke up, shall heave the ocean to usurp
Beyond all bounds; till inundation rise
Above the highest hills:  Then shall this mount
Of Paradise by might of waves be moved
Out of his place, pushed by the horned flood,
With all his verdure spoiled, and trees adrift,
Down the great river to the opening gulf,
And there take root an island salt and bare,
The haunt of seals, and orcs, and sea-mews’ clang:
To teach thee that God attributes to place
No sanctity, if none be thither brought
By men who there frequent, or therein dwell.
And now, what further shall ensue, behold.
He looked, and saw the ark hull on the flood,
Which now abated; for the clouds were fled,
Driven by a keen north-wind, that, blowing dry,
Wrinkled the face of deluge, as decayed;
And the clear sun on his wide watery glass
Gazed hot, and of the fresh wave largely drew,
As after thirst; which made their flowing shrink
From standing lake to tripping ebb, that stole
With soft foot towards the deep; who now had stopt
His sluces, as the Heaven his windows shut.
The ark no more now floats, but seems on ground,
Fast on the top of some high mountain fixed.
And now the tops of hills, as rocks, appear;
With clamour thence the rapid currents drive,
Towards the retreating sea, their furious tide.
Forthwith from out the ark a raven flies,
And after him, the surer messenger,
A dove sent forth once and again to spy
Green tree or ground, whereon his foot may light:
The second time returning, in his bill
An olive-leaf he brings, pacifick sign:
Anon dry ground appears, and from his ark
The ancient sire descends, with all his train;
Then with uplifted hands, and eyes devout,
Grateful to Heaven, over his head beholds
A dewy cloud, and in the cloud a bow
Conspicuous with three lifted colours gay,
Betokening peace from God, and covenant new.
Whereat the heart of Adam, erst so sad,
Greatly rejoiced; and thus his joy broke forth.
O thou, who future things canst represent
As present, heavenly Instructer!  I revive
At this last sight; assured that Man shall live,
With all the creatures, and their seed preserve.
Far less I now lament for one whole world
Of wicked sons destroyed, than I rejoice
For one man found so perfect, and so just,
That God vouchsafes to raise another world
From him, and all his anger to forget.
But say, what mean those coloured streaks in Heaven
Distended, as the brow of God appeased?
Or serve they, as a flowery verge, to bind
The fluid skirts of that same watery cloud,
Lest it again dissolve, and shower the earth?
To whom the Arch-Angel.  Dextrously thou aimest;
So willingly doth God remit his ire,
Though late repenting him of Man depraved;
Grieved at his heart, when looking down he saw
The whole earth filled with violence, and all flesh
Corrupting each their way; yet, those removed,
Such grace shall one just man find in his sight,
That he relents, not to blot out mankind;
And makes a covenant never to destroy
The earth again by flood; nor let the sea
Surpass his bounds; nor rain to drown the world,
With man therein or beast; but, when he brings
Over the earth a cloud, will therein set
His triple-coloured bow, whereon to look,
And call to mind his covenant: Day and night,
Seed-time and harvest, heat and hoary frost,
Shall hold their course; till fire purge all things new,
Both Heaven and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell.

When Faith and Love, which parted from thee never,
Had ripened thy just soul to dwell with God,
Meekly thou didst resign this earthly load
Of death, called life, which us from life doth sever.
Thy works, and alms, and all thy good endeavour,
Stayed not behind, nor in the grave were trod;
But, as Faith pointed with her golden rod,
Followed thee up to joy and bliss for ever.
Love led them on; and Faith, who knew them best
Thy handmaids, clad them o’er with purple beams
And azure wings, that up they flew so drest,
And speak the truth of thee on glorious themes
Before the Judge; who henceforth bid thee rest,
And drink thy fill of pure immortal streams.

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.

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.

When I consider how my light is spent,
   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
   And that one Talent which is death to hide
   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
   My true account, lest he returning chide;
   “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
   They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Captain, or colonel, or knight in arms,
Whose chance on these defenceless doors may seize,
If deed of honour did thee ever please,
Guard them, and him within protect from harms.
He can requite thee, for he knows the charms
That call fame on such gentle acts as these,
And he can spread thy name o’er lands and seas,
Whatever clime the sun’s bright circle warms.
Lift not thy spear against the Muse’s bower;
The great Emathian conqueror bid spare
The house of Pindarus, when temple and tower
Went to the ground; and the repeated air
Of sad Electra’s Poet had the power
To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare.

XVI

When I consider how my light is spent,
E’re half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide,
Lodg’d with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, least he returning chide,
Doth God exact day-labour, light deny’d,
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly.  Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’re Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and waite.

O Nightingale! that on yon bloomy spray
Warblest at eve, when all the woods are still,
Thou with fresh hope the lover’s heart dost fill,
While the jolly hours lead on propitious May.
Thy liquid notes that close the eye of day,
First heard before the shallow cuckoo’s bill,
Portend success in love; O, if Jove’s will
Have linked that amorous power to thy soft lay,
Now timely sing, ere the rude bird of hate
Foretell my hopeless doom in some grove nigh;
As thou from year to year hast sung too late
For my relief, yet hadst no reason why:
Whether the Muse, or Love, call thee his mate,
Both them I serve, and of their train am I.

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.