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AlŁ, holy Light! offspring of Heav'n firft-born!

Or of th' Eternal coeternal beam !
May I express thee' unblam'd ? fince God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity; dwelt then in thee,

Bright effluence of bright eflence increate.
Or hear'lt thou rather pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell ? Before the fun,
Before the heav'ns, thou wert, and at the voice.
Of God, as with a mantle didit invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn ; while in my flight 15
Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes than to th’Orphéan lyre,
I sung of Chaos, and eternal Night,
Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture dawn,
The dark defcent, and up to reafcend,

20 Though hard and rare. Thee I revilit safe, And feel thy sov’reiga vital lamp; but thou Revisit's not these eyes, that roll in vain To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn; So thick a drop ferene hath quench'd their orbs, 25.

Or. 30


Or dim fuffusion veil'd. Yet not the more : Cease I to wander, where the Muses haunt

Clear spring, or shady grove, or funny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flow'ry brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equall'd with me in fate,
So were I equall'd with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris, and blind Mæonides,
And Tirefias, and Phineus, prophets old :
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with tbe year 40
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev'n of morn,
Or fight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark

Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with an universal blank
Of nature's works, to me expung'd and raz'd,
And wisdom at one entrance quite fhut out. -50
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mil from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may fee and tell
Of things invisible to mortal fight.

55 Now had th'almighty Father from above, From the pure empyréan where he Gts High thron’d above all height, bent down his eye, His own works and their works at once to view : About him all the fanctities of heaven

60. Stood thick as stars, and from his fight receiv'd


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Beatitude past utterance : on his right
The radiant image of his glory sat,
His only Son. On earth he first beheld
Our two first parents, yet the only two

Of mankind, in the happy garden plac'd,
Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love
Uninterrupted joy, unrivall'd love,
In blissful folitude. He then survey'd
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there 70
Coasting the wall of heav'n on this side Night
In the dun air sublime, and ready now
To stoop, with wearied wings and willing feet
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd
Firm land imbosom’d, without firmament; *7$
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Him God beholding from his prospect high,
Wherein past, present, future, he beholds,
Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake.

Only begotten Son, feest thou what rage Transports our adverfary? whom no bounds Prescrib'd, no bars of hell, nor all the chains Heap'd on him there, nor yet the main abyss Wide interrupt can hold; fo bent he seems On desperate revenge, that shall redound Upon his own rebellious head. And now, Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way Not far off heav'n, in the precincts of light, Directly towards the new-created world, And man there placid, with purpofe to essay If him by force he can destroy, or worse, By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert; For man will hearken to his glofling lies, And easily transgress the fole command, Sole pledge of his obedience : so will fall,

95 He and his faithless progeny. Whose fault : Whose but his own ?. Ingrate, he had of me





All he could have: I made him juft and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.
Such I created all th' ethereal powers

And spi'rits, both them who stood, and them who faild:
Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have giv'n fincere
Of true allegiance, constant faith or love,
Where only what they needs must do appear'd, 105
Not what they would? what praise could they receive:
What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When will and reason (reason alfo' is choice,)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoild,
Made passive both, had ferv'd neceffity,

110 Not me? They therefore, as to right belong'd, So were created, nor can justly' accuse Their Maker, or their making, or their fate, As if predestination over-ruld Their will, dispos'd by absolute decree

115 Or high foreknowledge. They themselves decreed Their own revolt, not I: if I foreknew, Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault, Which had no less prov'd certain unforeknown. So without least impulse or shadow of fate, 120 Or ought by me immutably foreseen, They trespass, authors to themselves in all, Both what they judge and what they chuse ; for fo I form’d them free, and free they must remain, Till they inthrall themselves; I elfe must change 125 Their nature, and revoke the high decree Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd Their freedom; they themselves ordain'd their fall. The first sort by their own suggestion fell, Self-tempted, self-deprav'd: man falls, deceiv'd 130 By th' other first: man therefore shall find

grace, The other none: in mercy' and justice both, Through heaven and earth, so fhall my glory'excel;



But mercy first and last shall brightest shine.

Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fillid All heaven, and in the blessed fpi'rits elect 136 Sense of new joy ineffable diffus’d: Beyond compare the Son of God was seen Molt glorious ; in him all his Father thone Substantially express'd ; and in his face

140 Divine compassion visibly appear'd, Love without end, and without measure grace ; Which uttering thus be to his Father fpake.

O Father, gracious was that word which clos'd Thy fov'reign fentence, that man should find grace ; For which both heav'n and earth shall high extol 146 Thy praises, with th'innumerable found Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne Incompass'd sball resound thee ever bless'd. For should man finally be lost, thould man 150 Thy creature late so lov'd, thy youngest fon, Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though join'd With his own folly ? that be from thee far, That far be from thee, Father, who art judge Of all things made, and judgest only right. 155 Or shall the adversary thus obtain His end, and frustrate thine ? fhall he fulfil His malice, and thy goodness bring to nought, Or proud return, though to his heavier doom, Yet with revenge accomplish'd, and to hell 160 Draw after him the whole race of mankind, By him corrupted ? or wilt thou thyself Abolish thy creation, and unmake For him, what for thy glory thou hast made ? So should thy goodness and thy greatness both 165 Be question’d and blafphem'd without defence.

To whom the great Creator thus reply'd. O Son, in whom my soul hath chief delight, Son of my bosom, Son who art alone


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