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Above the Aönian 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 know'st, Thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread
Dovelike sat'st brooding on the vast abyss,
And malest it pregnant: What in me is dark,
Illanine; what is low, raise and support;
That in the height of this great argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,

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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, Favour'd 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, Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceived 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, He trusted to have equal'd 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 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 50

To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquish'd, rolling in the fiery gulf,

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Confounded, though immortal: But his doom
Reserved him to more wrath; for now the thought
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 obdurate pride and steadfast hate
At once, as far as Angels ken, he views
The dismal situation waste and wild:

A dungeon horrible on all sides round

As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames No light; but rather darkness visible

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Served only to discover sights of woe,

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 unconsumed
Such place Eternal Justice had prepared
For those rebellious; here their prison ordain'd
In utter darkness, and their portion set
As far removed from God and light of Heaven
As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole.
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 weltering by his side
One next himself in power, and next in crime,
Long after known in Palestine, and named
Beelzebub. To whom the Archenemy,

And thence in Heaven call'd Satan, with bold words
Breaking the horrid silence, thus began.

If thou be he; but O, how fallen! how changed From him, who, in the happy realms of light, Clothed 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

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In equal ruin! Into what pit thou seest,

From what height fallen; so much the stronger proved He with his thunder and till then who knew

The force of those dire arms? Yet not for those,
Nor what the potent victor in his rage
Can else inflict, do I repent or change,

Though changed in outward lustre, that fix'd mind,
And high disdain from sense of injured merit,
That with the Mightiest raised me to contend,
And to the fierce contention brought along
Innumerable force of Spirits arm'd,
That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power opposed
In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven,

And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?

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All is not lost; the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield,
And what is else not to be overcome;
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,
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 advanced,
We may with more successful none resolve
To wage, by force or guile, eternal war
Irreconcilable to our grand Foe,
Who now triumphs, and, in the excess of joy
Sole reigning, holds the tyranny of Heaven.

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So spake the 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,

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That led the embattled Seraphim to war
Under thy conduct, and in dreadful deeds
Fearless endanger'd Heaven'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,

Whereto with speedy words the Archfiend replied.
Fallen cherub! to be weak is miserable,

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As far as Gods and heavenly essences
Can perish for the mind and spirit remains
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

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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
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
Strength undiminish'd, or eternal being,
To undergo eternal punishment?

Doing or suffering: 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,
And out of good etill to find means of evil;
Which ofttimes may succeed so as perhaps

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Shull grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost counsels from their destined aim.
But see! the angry victor hath recall'd

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His ministers of vengeance and pursuit
Back to the gates of Heaven: the sulphurous hail,
Shot after us in storm, o'erblown, hath laid
The fiery surge, that from the precipice
Of Heaven received us falling; and the thunder,
Wing'd with red lightning and impetuous rage,
Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now
To bellow through the vast and boundless deep
Let us not slip the occasion, whether scorn,
Or satiate fury, yield it from our Foe.

Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
The seat of desolation, void of light,
Save what the glimmering of these livid flames
Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend
From off the tossing of these fiery waves;
There rest, if any rest can harbour there;
And, reassembling our afflicted Powers,
Consult how we may henceforth most offend
Our Enemy; our own loss how repair
How overcome this dire calamity;
What reinforcement we may gain from hope;
If not, what resolution from despair.

Thus Satan talking to his nearest mate
With head uplift above the wave, and eyes
That sparkling blazed; his other parts besides
Prone on the flood, extended long and large,
Lay floating many a rood; in bulk as huge
As whom the fables name of monstrous size,
Titanian, or Earth-born, that war'd on Jove
Briareos or Typhon, whom the den
By ancient Tarsus held; or that seabeast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim the ocean stream.
Him, haply, slumbering on the Norway foam
The pilot of some small night-founder'd skiff

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