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Or 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
5 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
10 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
15 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 the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for Thou knowest: Thou from the first
20 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

25 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,
30 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?

The infernal Serpent. He it was, whose guile,
35 Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceiv'd
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host
Of rebel angels; by whose aid, aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
40 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 heaven, and battle proud,
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
45 Hurl'd headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition; there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,


Who durst defy the 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

55 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 obdúrate pride, and steadfast hate:
At once, as far as angels ken, he views

60 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!

65 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!
70 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 heaven,
As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole.
75 O, 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 pow'r, and next in crime,
80 Long after known in Palestine, and nam'd

Beelzebub. To whom th' arch-enemy,

And thence in heav'n call'd Satan,-with bold words. Breaking the horrid silence, thus began:

"If thou be'st he,-but O, how fall'n! how chang'd 85 "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 height 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,

95"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; 100 "And to the fierce contention brought along "Innumerable force of spirits arm'd,

"That durst dislike his reign; and, me preferring,
"His utmost pow'r with adverse pow'r oppos'd
"In dubious battle on the plains of heav'n,

105 "And shook his throne. What though the field be lost? "All is not lost; th' unconquerable will,

"And study of revenge, immortal hate, "And courage never to submit or yield, "And what is else not to be overcome,110 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! 115 "That were an ignominy, and shame beneath "This downfal! 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,120 "We may, with more successful hope, resolve "To wage by force or guile eternal war, "Irreconcileable to our grand foe,


"Who now triumphs, and in the excess of joy
"Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heaven."
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 the embattled seraphim to war
130"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 heaven; 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 140"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

145 "Than such could have o'erpower'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
150"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

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Strength undiminish'd, or eternal being,

155"To undergo eternal punishment?"


Whereto with speedy words th' arch-fiend replied:

"Fall'n Cherub! to be weak is miserable,

"Doing, or suff'ring; 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, 165 "And out of good still to find means of evil; "Which oft-times 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 170"His ministers of vengeance and pursuit "Back to the gates of heav'n: the sulph'rous hail, "Shot after us in storm, o'erblown hath laid "The fiery surge, that from the precipice

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