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PARADISE LOST

IN TWELVE BOOKS.

PARADISE LOST.

BOOK I.

THE ARGUMENT.

This first book proposes, first in brief, the whole subject, man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise, wherein he was placed. Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who, revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of heaven with all his crew into the great deep. Which action passed over, the Poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into hell, described here, not in the centre, for heaven and earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed, but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest called Chaos: Here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning lake, thunderstruck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him: they confer of their miserable fall. Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded; they rise; their numbers, array of battel, their chief leaders named, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining heaven, but tells them lastly of a new world and new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy or report in heaven: for that Angels were long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to a full council. What his associates thence attempt. Pandæmonium, the palace of Satan, rises, suddenly built out of the deep: the infernal Peers there sit in council.

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OF 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
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 heavens and earth
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
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 th' upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread 20
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;

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y. Ariosto Orl. Fur. c. i. st. 2. Orlando Innam. di Boiardo, rifac. da Berni, lib. ii. C. xxx. st. 1.

· Com' avvien, che ne in prosa è detta, o in rima
Cosa, che non sia stata detta prima.' Bowle, Pearce.
19 Instruct] Theoc. Id. xxii. 116.

είπε θεά. συ γαρ οίσθα. Νewton.

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That to the height of this great argument
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,
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?
Th’ infernal serpent; he it was, whose guile,
Stirr'd

up
with

envy and revenge, deceiv'd
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from heav'n, with all his host
Of rebel angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
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 heav'n and battel proud,
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurld headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky, 45
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and night

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33 Who] v. Hom. Il. i. 8. Hume.

48 adamantine] v. Spenser. Together link'd in adamantine chains.' See Todd's Note.

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