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Heroic deen'd; chief mastery to dissect,
With long and tedious havock, fabled knights 30
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 and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and tournament; then marshall'd feast
Serv'd up in ball with sewers, and seneshals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroic Fame

40 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 45 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

50 "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 improv'd In meditated fraud and malice, bent

55 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, descry'd

60 His entrance, and forewarn'd' the cherubina That kept their watch; thence, full of anguish drivent, The space of ser'n continued nights be rode With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line He circled; four times cross'd the car of night 65 From pole to pole, travérsing each colúre; On th' eighth return'd, and on the coast; averse

From entrance or cherubic watch, by stealth
Found unsuspected way. There was a place,
Now not, tho' sin, not time, first wrought the changes
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, involv'd in rising mist, then sought

75 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 antaretic; and in length West from Orontes to the ocean barrd

80 At Darien; thence to the land where flows Ganges and Indus: thus the orb he roam'd With narrow search, and, with inspection deep, Consider'd every creature, which of all Most opportune might serve his wiles, and found 85 The serpent subtlest beast of all the field. Him, after long debate, irresolute Of thoughts revolv'd, his final sentence chose Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom To enter, and his dark suggestions hide

90 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 observ'd, Doubt might beget of diabolic power

95 Active within, beyond the sense of brute. Thus he resolv'd, 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 100 With second thoughts, reforming what was old ! For what God, after better, worse would build ? Terrestrial Heav'n, danc'd round by other Heav'ns That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps, Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,

20$ In thee concer pg all their

precious beams

of sacred influence! As God in Hearin
Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou,
Centring, receiv'et from all those orbs; in thee,
Not in themselves, all their known virtue' appears
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth 111
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 ought, sweet interchange 115
Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown'a
Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I see
Pleasures above 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 Heaven
To dwell, unless by mast'ring Heav'u's Sopreme; 125
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 destroyed, 130
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

138 Th'infernal pow'rs, in one day to have marrd What he, Almighty styl’d, six nights and days Continued making, and who knows how long Before had been contriving? though perhaps Not longer than since I, in one night, freed From servitude inglorious well nigh half Th'angelie name, and thinner left the throng Of his adorers: he, to be aveng'd, And to repair his numbers thus impaird, Whether such virtue spent of old now fqild 145

Mare angels to create, if they at least
Are his created, or, to spite us more,
Determin'd 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 pronounc'd; and, O indignity!
Subjected to his service angel wings,

155 And flaming ministers, to watch and tend Their earthly charge: of these the vigilance I dread; and, to elude, thus wrapt in mist Of midnight vapour, glide obscure, and pry In every bush and brake, where hap may find 160 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 high'est, am now constrain'd Into a beast, and, mix'd with bestial slime, 165 This essence to incarnate and imbrute, That to the height of deity aspir’d! But what will not ambition and revenge Descend to? who aspires must down as low As high he soar'd, obnoxious first or last

170 To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweety 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

175 or Heav'n, this man of clay, son of despite, Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker rais'd From dust: spite then with spite is best repaid."

So saying, through each thieket dank or dry, Like a black mist low creeping, be held on 180 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, HN head the midst, well stor'd with subtile wilęs:

Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,

185 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 inspird With act intelligential; but his sleep

190 Disturbid pot, waiting close th' approach of morn. Now, when as sacred light began to dawn In Eden on the humid flow'rs, that breath'd Their morning incense, when all things that breathe From th' earth's great altar send up silent praise 195 To the Creator, and his nostrils fill With grateful smell, forth came the human pair, And join'd their vocal worship to the quire Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs : 200 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 205 This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower, Our pleasant task enjoin'd; but, till more hands Aid us, the work under our labour grows, Luxurious by restraint; what we by day Lopovergrown, or prune, or prop, or bind, 210 One night or two with wanton growth derides, 'Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise, Or bear what to my mind first thoughts present : Let us divide our labours; thou where choice Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind 215 The woodbine round this arhour, or direct The clasping ivy where to climb; while 1, In yonder spring of roses intermix'd With myrtle, find what to redress till noon: For while so near each other thus all day Our task we choose, what wonder if so near Looks intervene and smiles, or object new Casual discourse draw on, which intermits

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