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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
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,
Defaming 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 adult'rous love 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 serenade, 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 flowr'y 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 up hill 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 pow'r 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 fast, and hither bring.
So saying, on he led his radiant files, Dazzling the moon ; these to the bow'r 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 transformid,
Why sat'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
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, answ'ring scorn with scom
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 resemblest 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 reply'd 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 wán; who by his gait
And fierce demeanour seem the prince of hell,
Not likely to part hence without contest;
Stand firm, for in his looks 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 prescribd To thy transgressions, and disturb'd the charge Of others, who approve not to transgress
By thy example, but have pow'r 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
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 try'd; 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 reply'd :
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 prescribd;
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
Sev’nfold, 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
fame not all hell broke loose? is pain to them