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Suitable grace diffused, so well he feign’d;
Under a coronet his flowing hair
In curls on either cheek play'd ; wings he wore
Of many a colour'd plume sprinkled with gold ;
His habit fit for speed succinct, and held
Before his decent steps a silver wand.
He drew not nigh unheard ; the angel bright,
E’er he drew nigh, his radiant visage turn'd,
Admonish'd by his ear, and straight was known
The archangel Uriel, one of the seven,
Who in God's presence nearest to his throne
Stand ready at command, and are his eyes
That run through all the heavens, or down to the earth
Bear his swift errands over moist and dry,
O'er sea and land : him Satan thus accosts :
Uriel, for thou of those seven spirits that stand
In sight of God's high throne, gloriously bright,
The first art wont his great authentic will
Interpreter through highest heaven to bring,
Where all his sons thy embassy attend ;
And here art likeliest by supreme decree
Like honour to obtain, and as his eye
To visit oft this new creation round;
Unspeakable desire to see, and know
All these his wondrous works, but chiefly man,
His chief delight and favour, him for whom
All these his works so wondrous he ordain'd,
Hath brought me from the choirs of cherubim
Alone thus wandering. Brightest seraph, tell
In which of all these shining orbs hath man
His fixed seat, or fixed seat hath none,
But all these shining orbs his choice to dwell ;
That I may find him, and, with secret gaze
Or open admiration, him behold,
On whom the great Creator hath bestow'd
Worlds, and on whom hath all these graces pour'd ;
That both in him and all things, as is meet,
The universal Maker we may praise,
Who justly hath driven out his rebel foes
To deepest hell, and, to repair that loss,
Created this new happy race of men
To serve him better : wise are all his ways.
So spake the false dissembler unperceived ;
For neither man nor angel can discern
Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone,
By his permissive will, through heaven and carth ;
And oft, though wisdom wake, suspicion sleeps
At wisdom's gate, and to simplicity
Resigns her charge, while goodness thinks no ill
Where no ill seems; which now for once beguiled
Uriel, though regent of the sun, and held
The sharpest-sighted spirit of all in heaven :
Who to the fraudulent impostor foul
In his uprightness answer thus return'd:
Fair angel, thy desire, which tends to know
The works of God, thereby to glorify
The great Work-Master, leads to no excess
That reaches blame, but rather merits praise
The more it seems excess, that led thee hither
From thy empyreal mansion thus alone,
To witness with thine eyes what some perhaps,
Contented with report, hear only in heaven :
For wonderful indeed are all his works,
Pleasant to know, and worthiest to be all
Had in remembrance always with delight :
But what created mind can comprehend
Their number, or the wisdom infinite
That brought them forth, but hid their causes deep?
I saw, when at his word the formless mass,
This world's material mould, came to a heap :
Confusion heard his voice, and wild uproar
Stood ruled, stood vast infinitude confined ;
Till at his second bidding darkness fled,
Light shone, and order from disorder sprung.
Swift to their several quarters hasted then
The cumbrous elements, earth, flood, air, fire,
And this ethereal quintessence of heaven
Flew upward, spirited with various forms,
That rollid orbicular, and turn'd to stars
Numberless, as thou seest, and how they move ;
Each had his place appointed, each his course,
The rest in circuit walls this universe.
Look downward on that globe, whose hither side
With light from hence, though but reflected, shines ;
That place is earth, the seat of man, that light
His day, which else as the other hemisphere
Night would invade, but there the neighbouring moon,
So call that opposite fair star, her aid
Timely interposes, and her monthly round
Still ending, still renewing, through mid heaven,
With borrow'd light her countenance triform
Hence fills and empties to enlighten the earth,
And in her pale dominion checks the night.
That spot to which I point is Paradise,
Adam's abode, those lofty shades his bower :
Thy way thou canst not miss, me mine requires.
Thus said, he turn'd, and Satan bowing low,
As to superior spirits is wont in heaven,
Where honour due and reverence none neglects,
Took leave, and toward the coast of earth beneath,
Down from the ecliptic, sped with hoped success,
Throws his steep flight in many an aëry wheel,
Nor stay'd, till on Niphates' top he lights.
THE ARGUMENT. Satan, now in prospect of Eden, and nigh the place where he must now attempt
the bold enterprise which he undertook alone against God and man, falls into many doubts with himself, and many passions, fear, envy, and despair; but at length confirms himself in evil, journeys on to Paradise, whose outward prospect and situation is described, overleaps the bounds, sits in the shape of a cormorant on the tree of life, as the highest in the garden, to look about him. The garden described ; Satan's first sight of Adam and Eve; his wonder at their excellent form and happy state, but with resolution to work their fall; overhears their discourse, thence gathers that the tree of knowledge was forbidden them to eat of, under penalty of death ; and thereon intends to found his temptation, by seducing them to transgress; then leaves them awhile to know further of their state by some other means. Meanwhile, Uriel, descending on a sunbeam, warns Gabriel, who had in charge the gate of Paradise, that some evil spirit had escaped the deep, and passed at noon by his sphere in the shape of a good angel down to Paradise, discovered afterwards by his furious gestures in the mount. Gabriel promises to find him ere morning.. Night coming on, Adam and Eve discourse of going to their rest: their bower described ; their evening worship. Gabriel, drawing forth his bands of night-watch to walk the round of Paradise, appoints two strong angels to Adam's bower, lest the evil spirit should be there doing some harm to Adam or Eve sleeping; there they find him at the ear of Eve, tempting her in a dream, and bring him, though unwilling, to Gabriel ; by whom questioned, he scornfully answers, prepares resistance, but, hindered by a sign from heaven, flies out of Paradise.
Oy, for that warning voice, which he, who saw
The apocalypse, heard cry in heaven aloud,
Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,
Came furious down to be revenged on men,
Woe to the inhabitants on earth! that now,
While time was, our first parents had been warn’d
The coming of their secret foe, and ’scaped,
Haply so 'scaped, his mortal snare ; for now
Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down,
The tempter ere the accuser of mankind,
To wreak on innocent frail man his loss
Of that first battle, and his flight to hell :
Yet not rejoicing in his speed, though bold,
Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,
Begins his dire attempt, which, nigh the birth
Now rolling, boils in his tumultuous breast,
And, like a devilish engine, back recoils
Upon himself; horror and doubt distract
His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir
The hell within him, for within him hell
He brings, and round about him, nor from hell
One step, no more than from himself, can fly
By change of place: now conscience wakes despair
That slumber'd, wakes the bitter memory.
Of what he was, what is, and what must be
Worse ; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue.
Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view
Lay pleasant, his grieved look he fixes sad ;
Sometimes towards heaven, and the full-blazing sun,
Which now sat high in his meridian tower :
Then, much revolving, thus in sighs began :
O thou that, with surpassing glory crown'd,
Look'st from thy sole dominion, like the god
Of this new world, at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminish'd heads, to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,
O sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere;
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down,
Warring in heaven against heaven's matchless King :
Ah, wherefore? he deserved no such return
From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.
What could be less than to afford him praise,
The easiest recompence, and pay him thanks?
How due ! yet all his good proved ill in me,
And wrought but malice ; lifted up so high
I’sdain’d subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burdensome, still paying, still to owe;
Forgetful what from him I still received,
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharged ; what burden then?
Oh, had his powerful destiny ordain'd
Me some inferior angel, I had stood
Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised
Ambition. Yet why not? some other power
As great might have aspired, and me though mean
Drawn to his part; but other powers as great
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within
Or from without, to all temptations arm’d.
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand ?
Thou hadst : whom hast thou then or what to accuse,
But Heaven's free love dealt equally to all ?
Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay, cursed be thou ; since against his thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable ! which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair ?
Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell ;
And in the lowest deep a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide ;
To which the hell I suffer seems a heaven.
Oh, then, at last relent ; is there no place
Lest for repentance, none for pardon left?
None left but by submission ; and that word
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the spirits beneath, whom I seduced
With other promises and other vaunts
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
The Omnipotent. Ay me! they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan;
While they adore me on the throne of hell,
With diadem and sceptre high advanced,
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery ; such joy ambition finds.
say I could repent, and could obtain
By act of grace my former state ; how soon
Would height recall high thoughts, how soon unsay
What feign'd submission swore : ease would recant
Vows made in pain, as violent and void.
For never can true reconcilement grow
Where wounds deadly hate have pierced so deep;
Which would but lead me to a worse relapse
And heavier fall : so should I purchase dear
Short intermission bought with double smart.
This knows my Punisher ; therefore as far
From granting he, as I from begging peace :
All hope excluded thus, behold instead
Of us outcast, exiled, his new delight,
Mankind, created, and for him this world.
So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear,
Farewell remorse : all good to me is lost;
Evil, be thou my good : by thee at least
Divided empire with heaven's King I hold,
By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;
As man ere long and this new world shall know.
Thus while he spake, each passion dimm'd his face, Thrice changed with pale, ire, envy, and despair, Which marr'd his borrow'd visage, and betray'd Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld : For heavenly minds from such distempers foul Are ever clear. Whereof he soon aware Each perturbation smooth'd with outward calm, Artificer of fraud ; and was the first That practised falsehood under saintly show, Deep malice to conceal, couch'd with revenge. Yet not enough had practised to deceive Uriel once warn'd; whose eye pursued him down The way he went, and on the Assyrian mount Saw him disfigured, more than could befall Spirit of happy sort : his gestures fierce He mark’d, and mad demeanour, then alone, As he supposed, all unobserved, unseen. So on he fares, and to the border comes