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John Milton


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.

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.

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,
Today 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.

XII. On the same.

I did but prompt the age to quit their cloggs
By the known rules of antient libertie,
When strait a barbarous noise environs me
Of Owles and Cuckoes, Asses, Apes and Doggs.
As when those Hinds that were transform’d to Froggs
Raild at Latona’s twin-born progenie
Which after held the Sun and Moon in fee.
But this is got by casting Pearl to Hoggs;
That bawle for freedom in their senceless mood,
And still revolt when truth would set them free.
Licence they mean when they cry libertie;
For who loves that, must first be wise and good;
But from that mark how far they roave we see
For all this wast of wealth, and loss of blood.

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.

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.”

HENCE, loathed Melancholy,
............Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born
In Stygian cave forlorn
............'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights
Find out some uncouth cell,
............Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous wings,
And the night-raven sings;
............There, under ebon shades and low-browed rocks,
As ragged as thy locks,
............In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.
But come, thou Goddess fair and free,
In heaven yclept Euphrosyne,
And by men heart-easing Mirth;
Whom lovely Venus, at a birth,
With two sister Graces more,
To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore:
Or whether (as some sager sing)
The frolic wind that breathes the spring,
Zephyr, with Aurora pIaying,
As he met her once a-Maying,
There, on beds of violets blue,
And fresh-blown roses washed in dew,
Filled her with thee,. a daughter fair,
So buxom, blithe, and debonair.
Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
Jest, and youthful Jollity,
Quips and cranks and wanton wiles,
Nods and becks and wreathed smiles
Such as hang on Hebe’s cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek;
Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it, as you go,
On the light fantastic toe;
And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty;
And, if I give thee honour due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crew,
To live with her, and live with thee,
In unreproved pleasures free:
To hear the lark begin his flight,
And, singing, startle the dull night,
From his watch-tower in the skies,
Till the dappled dawn doth rise;
Then to come, in spite of sorrow,
And at my window bid good-morrow,
Through the sweet-briar or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine;
While the cock, with lively din,
Scatters the rear of darkness thin,
And to the stack, or the barn-door,
Stoutly struts his dames before:
Oft listening how the hounds and horn
Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn,
From the side of some hoar hill,
Through the high wood echoing shrill:
Sometime walking, not unseen,
By hedgerow elms, on hillocks green,
Right against the eastern gate
Where the great Sun begins his state,
Robed in flames and amber light,
The clouds in thousand liveries dight;
While the ploughman, near at hand,
Whistles o’er the furrowed land,
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his scythe,
And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Whilst the landskip round it measures:
Russet lawns, and fallows grey,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray;
Mountains on whose barren breast
The labouring clouds do often rest;
Meadows trim, with daisies pied;
Shallow brooks, and rivers wide;
Towers and battlements it sees
Bosomed high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The cynosure of neighbouring eyes.
Hard by a cottage chimney smokes
From betwixt two aged oaks,
Where Corydon and Thyrsis met
Are at their savoury dinner set
Of herbs and other country messes,
Which the neat-handed Phyllis dresses;
And then in haste her bower she leaves,
With Thestylis to bind the sheaves;
Or, if the earlier season lead,
To the tanned haycock in the mead.
Sometimes, with secure delight,
The upland hamlets will invite,
When the merry bells ring round,
And the jocund rebecks sound
To many a youth and many a maid
Dancing in the chequered shade,
And young and old come forth to play
On a sunshine holiday,
Till the livelong daylight fail:
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
With stories told of many a feat,
How Faery Mab the junkets eat.
She was pinched and pulled, she said;
And he, by Friar’s lantern led,
Tells how the drudging goblin sweat
To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn
That ten day-labourers could not end;
Then lies him down, the lubber fiend,
And, stretched out all the chimney’s length,
Basks at the fire his hairy strength,
And crop-full out of doors he flings,
Ere the first cock his matin rings.
Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
By whispering winds soon lulled asleep.
Towered cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
Rain influence, and judge the prize
Of wit or arms, while both contend
To win her grace whom all commend.
There let Hymen oft appear
In saffron robe, with taper clear,
And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
With mask and antique pageantry;
Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream.
Then to the well-trod stage anon,
If Jonson’s learned sock be on,
Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy’s child,
Warble his native wood-notes wild.
And ever, against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian airs,
Married to immortal verse,
Such as the meeting soul may pierce,
In notes with many a winding bout
Of linked sweetness long drawn out
With wanton heed and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony;
That Orpheus’ self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heaped Elysian flowers, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto to have quite set free
His half-regained Eurydice.
These delights if thou canst give,
Mirth, with thee I mean to live.


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.

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.

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
       Stol’n on his wing my three—and—twentieth year!
       My hasting days fly on with full career,
       But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth
       That I to manhood am arriv’d so near;
       And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
       That some more timely—happy spirits endu’th.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
       It shall be still in strictest measure ev’n
       To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav’n:
       All is, if I have grace to use it so
       As ever in my great Task—Master’s eye.

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.

The Latin speeches ended, the English thus began
     Hail native language, that by sinews weak
    Didst move my first endeavouring tongue to speak,
    And mad’st imperfect words with childish trips,
    Half unpronounc’d, slide through my infant lips,
    Driving dumb Silence from the portal door,
    Where he had mutely sate two years before:
    Here I salute thee and thy pardon ask,
    That now I use thee in my latter task:
    Small loss it is that thence can come unto thee,
   I know my tongue but little grace can do thee:
   Thou needst not be ambitious to be first,
   Believe me I have thither pack’d the worst:
   And, if it happen as I did forecast,
   The daintest dishes shall be serv’d up last.
   I pray thee then deny me not thy aid
   For this same small neglect that I have made:
   But haste thee straight to do me once a pleasure,
   And from thy wardrobe bring thy chiefest treasure;
   Not those new-fangled toys, and trimming slight
   Which takes our late fantastics with delight,
   But cull those richest robes, and gay’st attire
   Which deepest spirits, and choicest wits desire.
   I have some naked thoughts that rove about
   And loudly knock to have their passage out;
   And weary of their place do only stay
   Till thou hast deck’d them in thy best array;
   That so they may without suspect or fears
   Fly swiftly to this fair assembly’s ears.
   Yet I had rather, if I were to choose,
   Thy service in some graver subject use,
   Such as may make thee search thy coffers round,
   Before thou clothe my fancy in fit sound:
   Such where the deep transported mind may soar
   Above the wheeling poles, and at heav’n’s door
   Look in, and see each blissful deity
   How he before the thunderous throne doth lie,
   Listening to what unshorn Apollo sings
   To th’touch of golden wires, while Hebe brings
   Immortal nectar to her kingly sire;
   Then passing through the spheres of watchful fire,
   And misty regions of wide air next under,
   And hills of snow and lofts of piled thunder,
   May tell at length how green-ey’d Neptune raves,
   In heav’n’s defiance mustering all his waves;
   Then sing of secret things that came to pass
   When beldam Nature in her cradle was;
   And last of kings and queens and heroes old,
   Such as the wise Demodocus once told
   In solemn songs at king Alcinous’ feast,
   While sad Ulysses’ soul and all the rest
   Are held with his melodious harmony
   In willing chains and sweet captivity.