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No more of talk where God or Angel guest

With man, as with his friend, familiar us'd

To sit indulgent, and with him partake

Rural repast, permitting him the while

Venial discourse unblam'd: I now must change

Those notes to tragic; foul distrust, and breach

Disloyal on the part of man, revolt,

And disobedience; on the part of heav'n

Now alienated, distance and distaste,

Anger and just rebuke, and judgment given

That brought into this world of wo,

Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery,

Death's harbinger: sad task, yet argument

Not less but more heroic than the wrath

Of stern Achilles on his foe pursu'd

Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage

Of Turnus for Lavinia disespous'd,

Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long

Perplex'd the Greek and Cytherea's son •

If answerable style I can obtain

Of my celestial patroness, who deigns

Her nightly visitation unimplor'd,

And dictates to me slumb'ring, or inspires

Easy my unpremeditated verse:

Since first this subject for heroic song

Pleas'd me long choosing, and beginning late ;
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroic deem'd, chief mastery to dissect
With long and tedious havoc fabled knights
In battles feign'd; the better fortitude
Of patience and heroic martyrdom
Unsung; or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, emblazon'd shields,
Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds;
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and tournament; then marshall'd feast
Serv'd up in hall with sewers, and seneschals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroic name
To person, or to poem. Me of these
Nor skill'd nor studious, higher argument
Remains, sufficient of itself to raise
That name, unless an age too late, or cold
Climate, or years damp my intended wing
Depress'd, and much they may, if all be mine.
Not hers who brings it nightly to my ear.

The sun was sunk, and after him the star
Of Hesperus, whose office is to bring
Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter
'Twixt day and night, and now from end to end
Night's hemisphere had veil'd the horizon round
When Satan who late fled before the threats
Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd
In meditated fraud and malice, bent
On Man's destruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier on himself, fearless return'd.
By night he fled, and at midnight return'd.
From compassing the earth, cautious of days,
Since Uriel regent of the sun descryrd
His entrance, and forwarn'd the cherubim
That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven,
The space of sev'n continued nights he rode
With darkness, thrice the equinoctial line

He circled, four times cross'd the car of night:
From pole to pole, traversing each colure ,
On th' eighth return'd, and on the coast averse
From entrance of cherubic watch, by stealth
Found unsuspected way. There was a place,
Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the

Where Tigris at the foot of Paradise
Into a gulf shot under ground, till part
Rose up a fountain by the tree of life;
In with the river sunk, and with it rose
Satan, involv'd in rising mist, then sought
Where to lie hid; sea he had search'd and land
From Eden over Pontus, and the pool
Maeotis, up beyond the river Ob;
Downward as far antarctic; and in length
West from Orontes to the ocean barr'd
At Darien, thence to the land where flows
Ganges and Indus: thus the orb he roam'd •
With narrow search, and with inspection deep
Consider'd every creature, which of all
Most opportune might serve his wiles, and found
The serpent subtlest beast of all the field.
Him after long debate, irresolute
Of thoughts revolv'd, his final sentence chose
Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom
To enter, and his dark suggestions hide
From sharpest sight: for in the wily snake,
Whatever sleights none would suspicious mark,
As from his wit and native subtlety
Proceeding, which in other beasts observ'd,
Doubt might beget of diabolic power
Active within beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolv'd, but first from inward grief
His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd:
Oearth, how like to heav'n, if not preferr'd
More justly, seat worthier of gods, as built
With second thoughts, reforming what was old!
For what God after better worse would build?

Terrestrial heav'n, danced round by other heav'ns

That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,

Light above lights, for thee alone, as seems,

In thee concent'ring all their precious beams

Of sacred influence! As God in heav'n

Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou

Cent'ring receiv'st from all those orbs; in thee.

Not in themselves, all their known virtue appears

Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth

Of creatures animate with gradual life

Of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in man.

With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,

If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange

Of hill and valley, rivers, woods and plains,

Now land, now sea, and shores with forests crown'd

Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these

Find place or refuge; And the more I see

Pleasures about me, so much more I feel

Torment within me, as from the hateful siege

Of contraries; all good to me becomes

Bane, and in heav'n much worse would be my state

But neither here seek I, no, nor in heav'n

To dwell, unless by mast'ring heav'n's Supreme;

Nor hope to be myself less miserable

By what I seek, but others to make such

As I, though thereby worse to me redound:

For only in destroying I find ease

To my relentless thoughts; and him destroy'd,

Or won to what may work his utter loss,

For whom all this was made, all this will soon

Follow, as to him link'd in weal or wo,

In wo then; that destruction wide may range:

To me shall be the glory sole among

Th' infernal pow'rs, in one day to have marr'd

What th' Almighty styl'd, six nights and days

Continued making, and who knows how long

Before had been contriving, though perhaps

Not longer than since I in one night freed

From servitude inglorious well nigh half

Th' angelic name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers; he to be avenged,
And to repair his numbers thus impair'd,
Whether such virtue spent of old now liiil'd
More angels to create, if they at least
Are his created, or to spite us more,
Determin'd to advance into our room
A creature form'd of earth, and him endow,
Exalted from so base original,
With heav'nly spoils, our spoils, what he decreed
He effected; man he made, and for him built
Magnificent this world and earth his seat,
Him lord pronounc'd and, O, indignity!
Subjected to his service angel wings.
And flaming ministers to watch and tend
Their earthly charge: of these the vigilance
I dread, and to elude, thus wrapt in mist
Of midnight vapour glide obscure, and pry
In every bush and brake, where hap may find
The serpent sleeping in whose mazy folds
To hide me, and the dark intent I bring.
O foul descent! that I who erst contended
With gods to sit the highest, am now constrained
Into a beast, and mix'd with bestial slime
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the height of deity aspir'd;
But .vhat will not ambition and revenge
Descend to? who aspires must down as low
As high he soar'd, obnoxious first or last
To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet
Bitter ere long back on itself recoils;
Let it; I reck not, so it light well aim'd,
Since higher I fall short, on him who next
Provokes my envy, this new favourite
Of heav'n, this man of clay, son of despite,
Whom us the more to spite his Maker rais'd
From dust: spite then with spite is best repaid.
So saying, through each thicket dank or dry,
Like a black mist low creeping, he held on

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