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Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespous’d;
Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long
Perplex'd the Greek, and Cytherea's son ;
If answerable style I can obtain
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplor’d,
And dictates to me slumbering ; or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse :
Since first this subject for heroick song
Pleas'd me long choosing, and beginning late ;
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroick deem'd ; chief mastery to dissect
With long and tedious havock fabled knights
In battles feign’d; the better fortitude
Of patience and heroick martyrdom
Unsung; or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, imblazon'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 hall with sewers and seneshals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroick name
To person, or to poem. Me, of these
Nor skill'd nor studious, higher argument
Remains; sufficient of itself to raise

That name, unlcss an age too late, or cold
Climate, or years, damp my intended wing
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
'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 Gabriël out of Eden, now improv
In meditated fraud and malice, bent
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, descried
His entrance, and forewarn’d the Cherubim
That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven,
The space of seven continued nights he rode
With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line
He circled; four times cross'd the car of night
From pole to pole, travérsing each colúre;
On the eighth return'd; and, on the coast averse
From entrance or Cherubick watch, by stealth
Found unsuspected way. There was a place,
Now not, though Sin, not time, first wrought the

change, VOL. II,

T

up

Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise,
Into a gulph shot under ground, till part
Rose a fountain by the tree of life :
In with the river sunk, and with it rose
Satan, involv’d in rising mist: then sought
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 antarctick; and in length,
West from Orontes to the ocean barr'd
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
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
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 observd,
Doubt might beget of diabolick power
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 Heaven, if not preferr'd 2 More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as built

With second thoughts, reforming what was old!
For what God, after better, worse would build ?
Terrestrial Heaven, danc'd round by other Heavens,
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as scems,
In thee concentring all their precious beams
Of sacred influence ! As God in Heaven
Is center, yet extends to all; so thou,
Centring, receiv'st from all those orbs : in thee,
Not in themselves, all their known virtue appears
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth
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 aught, sweet interchange
Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves! But I in none of these
Find place or refuge ; and the more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me, as from the hateful siege
Of contraries : all good to me becomes
Bane, and in Heaven much worse would be my state.
But neither here seek I, no nor in Heaven
To dwell, unless by mastering Heaven's Supreme;
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,
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
The infernal Powers, in one day to have marr'd
What he, Almighty styľd, 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 balf
The angelick name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers : He, to be aveng'd,
And to repair his numbers thus impair’d,
Whether such virtue spent of old now fail'd
More 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 heavenly 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!

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