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Served up in hall
, with sewers, & seneschals ; The skill of artifice, or office mean ; Not that which justly gives heroic name
40 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,
45 Depress'd; and much they may, if all be mine, Not her's, 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
50 "Twixt day and night; & now, from end to end, Night's hemisphere had veil'd the horizon round: When Satan, who late fed, before the threats Of Gabriel, out of Eden, now improved In meditated fraud and malice, bent
55 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 day, Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descried
60 His entrance, and forewarn'd the cherubim That kept their watch; thence, full of anguish driven, The
space of seven continued nights he rode With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line He circled, four times cross'd the car of night,
65 From pole to pole, traversing each colure; On the eighth return'd, and on the coast averse From entrance, or cherubic watclı, by stealth Found unsuspected way. There was a place, Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the change, 70 Where Tigris, a 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 involved in rising mist; then sought
75 Where to lie hid : sea he had search’d, & land, From Eden, over Pontus, and the pool Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob; Downward as far antarctic; and in length, West from Orontes to the ocean, barr'd
80 At Darien, thence, to the land where flows Ganges and Indus. Thus the orb he roam'd, With narrow search ; & 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 revolved, 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 observed,
Doubt might beget of diabolic power,
Active within, beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolved ; but first, from inward grief,
His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd.
“O Earth! how like to Heaven, 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 Heaven, danc'd round by other heavens,
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,
In thee concentring all their precious beams
Of sacred influence! As God in Heaven
Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou,
Centring, receivest 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, & shores with forest 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, & in Heaven much worse would be ny state.
But neither here seek I, no, nor in Heaven
To dwell, unless by mastering Heaven'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
The infernal powers, in one day to have marr’d,
What he, Almighty styled, 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
The 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 fail'd
More angels to create, if they at least
Are his created, or, to spite us more,
Determined to advance into our room
A creature form’d of earth, & him endow,
Exalted from so base original,
With heavenly spoils, our spoils. What he decreed,
He effected; Man he made, and for him built
Magnificent, this world, and earth his seat;
Him lord pronounced ; and, indignity!
Subjected to his service angel wings,
And flaming ministers, to watch and tend
Their earthy 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 constrain'd
Into a beast, and mix'd with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the height of deity aspired ;
But what 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 Heaven, this man of clay, son of despite ;
Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raised
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
His midnight search, where soonest he might find
The serpent: him, fast sleeping, soon he found,
In labyrinth of many a round, self-rollid,
His head the midst, well stor'd with subtle wiles ;
Nor yet in horrid shade, or dismal den,
Nor nocent yet, but on the grassy herb,
Fearless, unfear'd he slept. In at his mouth
The Devil enter'd, and his brutal sense,
In heart or head possessing, soon inspired
With act intelligential; but his sleep
Disturb'd not, waiting close the approach of morn.
Now when as sacred light began to dawn,
In Eden, on the humid fowers, that breathed
Their morning incense, when all things that breathe
From the earth's great altar send up silent praise
To the Creator and his nostrils fill
With grateful smell, forth came the human pair,
And join'd their vocal worship to the quire
Of creatures wanting voice : that done, partake
The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs :
Then commune how that day they best might ply
Their growing work : for much their work outgrew
The hands despatch of two, gardening so wide,
And Eve first, to her husband, thus began.
“ Adam, well may we labour still to dress
This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower,
Our pleasant task enjoined ; but till more hands
Aid us, the work under our labour grows
Luxurious by restraint; what we by day
Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind,
One night or two with wanton growth derides,
Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise,
Or hear, what to my mind first thoughts present :
Let us divide our labours; thou where choice
Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind
The woodbine round this arbour, or direct
The clasping ivy where to climb : while I,
In yonder spring of roses intermix'd
With myrtle, find what to redress till noon:
For while so
near each other thus all day
Our task we choose, what wonder, if so near,
Looks intervene and smiles, or object new,
Casual discourse draw on? which intermits
Our day's work, brought to little, though begun
Early ; and the hour of supper comes unearn’d.”
From all her words and actions, mix'd with love
And eweet compliance, which declare unfeign'd
Union of mind, or in us both one soul;
Harmony, to behold in wedded pair,
More grateful than harmonious sound to the ear.
Yet these subject not; I to thee disclose
What inward thence I feel, not therefore foil'd,
Who meet with various objects from the sense
Variously representing ; yet, still free,
Approve the best, and follow what I approve.
To love thou blamest me not; for love, thou say'st,
Leads up to Heaven, is both the way, and guide;
Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask.
Love not the heavenly Spirits, & how their love
Express they? by looks only, or do they mix
Irradiance, virtual, or immediate touch?"
To whom the Angel, with a smile, that glow'd
Celestial rosy red, love's proper hue,
Answered. « Let it suffice thee, that thou know'st
Us happy; and without love, no happiness.
Whatever pure thou, in the body, enjoy'st,
And pure thou wert created, we enjoy
In eminence, and obstacle find none,
Of membrane, joint, or limb, exclusive bars ;
Easier than air with air, if spirits embrace,
Total they mix, union of pure with pure
Desiring; nor restrain'd conveyance need,
As flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul.
But I can now no more, the parting sun,
Beyond the earth's green cape and verdant isles
Hesperian sets, my signal to depart.
Be strong, live happy, and love ; but first of all,
Him, whom to love is to obey, and keep
His great command ; take heed lest passion sway
Thy judgment to do aught which else free will
Would not admit: thine, and of all thy sons
The weal or wo in thee is placed : bewar?.
I in thy persevering shall rejoice,
And all the Blessed : stand fast; to stand, or fall,
Free, in thine own arbitrement it lies.
Perfect within, no outward aid require ;
And all temptation to transgress repel.'
So saying, he arose : whom Adam thus
Follow'd with benediction. “ Sioce to part,
Go heavenly guest, ethereal messenger,
Sent from whose sovereign goodness I adore.
Gentle to me, and affable, hath been