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The subject of the Poem proposed. Man's disobedience and subsequent loss of Paradise. The cause of his Fall is Satan, who, by revolting from God, and seducing to his side legions of Angels, is driven from Heaven with all his crew into the great deep. The Poem now presents Satan and his Angels on the burning lake, thunderstruck and astounded. He awakens his legions; they rise;-their numbers, battle-array, and leaders, whom the poet identifies with the Pagan deities. Satan addresses them, and comforts them with the hope of yet regaining Heaven; but tells them of an ancient prophecy of a New World, and a new being to be created. To discover the truth of this prophecy, he calls a council; Pandemonium, Satan's palace, suddenly rises from the deep. Here the infernal spirits hold a council.

Or Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal1 taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,

With loss of Eden, till one greater Man2

Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, heavenly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb3, or of Sinai, didst inspire

That shepherd 4, who first taught the chosen seed

1 Not subject to, but producing, death.

2 By "one greater Man" is meant Christ, who was to restore fallen man, and redeem him from the consequence of his disobedience.


3 Oreb or Horeb, one of the eminences of Sinai; a mountain-range of Arabia Petræa, at the N. end of the Red Sea.

4 Moses. See Exod. iii. 1.

In the beginning, how the Heavens and Earth
Rose out of Chaos1: or if Sion hill 2
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed
Fast by the oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
And chiefly Thou, O Spirit5, that dost prefer
Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for thou knowest; 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 height of this great argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to men.

Say first, for Heaven hides nothing from thy view,
Nor the deep tract of Hell; say first, what cause
Moved our grand Parents, in that happy state,
Favoured of Heaven so highly, to fall off
From their Creator, and transgress His will
For one restraint, lords of the world besides?
Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?
The infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived
The Mother of Mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out of Heaven, with all his host
Of rebel angels; by whose aid, aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equalled the Most High,
If he opposed; and, with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God,
Raised impious war in Heaven, and battle proud,
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power

1 Chaos, a Greek word, signifying a vast void, or confused mass of


2 A mountain on the S. side of Jerusalem.

3" The oracle of God"- the temple of Jerusalem.

4 Aonia, an ancient name of Boo

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tia, a province of Greece, specially favoured by the Muses.

5 The Spirit of God.

6 Principal, or chief, as in grand juror, Grand Seignor, &c.

7" What time," a Latin idiom for when.

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