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If answerable style I can obtain
Of' my celestial patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplored,
And dictates to me slumb'ring, or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse:
Since first this subject for heroic song
Pleased me, long choosing and beginning late;'
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroic deem'd, chief mast’ry to dissect
With long and tedious havock 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 3 and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and urnament; then marshall’d feast
Served up in hall with sewers, and seneshals;
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 improved

1 Milton is supposed to have begun his great poem in his forty-eighth year, and finished it in his fifty-seventh. It was

published in 1667, when the Poet was ir
his sixtieth year,

2 Devices on sbields.
3 The mantles worn by knights.

1

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 day,
Since Uriel regent of the sun descried
His entrance, and forewarn'd the Cherubim
That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driv'n,
L'he

space of seven 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 the eighth return'd, and on the coast averse
From entrance or Cherubic watch by stealth
Found unsuspected way. There was a place,
Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the change,
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 involved in rising mist, then sought
Where to lie hid: sea he had search'd, and land
From Eden over Pontus, and the pool
Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob;'
Downward as far Antarctic; and in length
West from Orontese to the ocean barr'd
At Darien ;5 thence to the land where flows
Ganges and Indus: thus the orb he roan'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 revolved, his final sentence chose
Fit vessel, fittest.inp.of fraud, in whom

I The colures are two great imaginary circles encompassing the globe froin north to south. Saian moved thus to krep in the shades of night.-From NEWTON.

The Euxino, or Dlack Sca.

3 Oby, a river of Siberia, r.ear the juic
4 A river of Syria.

The Isthmus of Panama.
6 India.
7 Gen, iii, 1.

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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 pow'r
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 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 light, for thee alone, as seems,
In thee concentring all their precious beams
Of sacred influence. · As God in heav'n
Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou
Centring 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 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, 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 woe;
In woe 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 I
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 failid
More angels to create, if they at least
Are His created, or to spite uş more,
Determined 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 pronounced, and, O indignity!
Subjected to his service angel wings,
And flaming ministers, to watch and tend
Their carthy charge. Of these the vigilance
I dread, and to elude, thus wrapp'd 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 highth of deity aspired;

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| Psalm civ. 4.

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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 heav'n, 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-roll’d,
His head the midst, well stored with subtle wiles :
Not 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 th' approach of morn.

Now, when as sacred light began to dawn
In Eden on the humid flow'rs, that breathed
Their morning incense, when all things that breathe
From th' 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 choir -
Of creatures wanting voice; that done partake
The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs :
Then commune, how that day they best may ply
Their growing work; for much their work outgrew
The hands' dispatch of two, gard'ning 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 flow'r,
Our pleasant task enjoin'd; but till more hands

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