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Satan, having compassed the Earth, with meditated guile returns as a mist by night into Paradise; enters into the Serpent sleeping. Adam and Eve in the morning go forth to their labours, which Eve proposes to divide in several places, each labouring apart: Adam consents not, alleging the danger lest that enemy of whom they were forewarned should attempt her found alone. Eve, loth to be thought not circumspect or firm enough, urges her going apart, the rather desirous to make trial of her strength; Adam at last yields. The Serpent finds her alone: his subtle approach, first gazing, then speaking, with much flattery extolling Eve above all other creatures. Eve, wondering to hear the Serpent speak, asks how he attained to human speech and such understanding not till now; the Serpent answers that by tasting of a certain tree in the Garden he attained both to speech and reason, till then void of both. Eve requires him to bring her to that tree, and finds it to be the Tree of Knowledge forbidden: the Serpent, now grown bolder, with many wiles and arguments induces her at length to eat. She, pleased with the taste, deliberates a while whether to impart thereof to Adam or not; at last brings him of the fruit; relates what persuaded her to eat thereof. Adam, at first amazed, but perceiving her lost, resolves, through vehemence of love, to perish with her, and, extenuating the trespass, eats also of the fruit. The effects thereof in them both; they seek to cover their nakedness; then fall to variance and accusation of one another.

No With Mata, as with his friend, familiar used

O more of talk where God or Angel Guest

To sit indulgent, and with him partake
Rural repast, permitting him the while

Venial discourse unblamed. I now must change
Those notes to tragic-foul distrust, and breach
Disloyal, on the part of man, revolt
And disobedience; on the part of Heaven,
Now alienated, distance and distaste,
Anger and just rebuke, and judgment given,
That brought into this World a world of woe,
Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery,
Death's harbinger. Sad task! yet argument
Not less but more heroic than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespoused;
Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long


Perplexed the Greek, and Cytherea's son:
If answerable style I can obtain

Of my celestial Patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplored,

And dictates to me slumbering, or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse,

Since first this subject for heroic song

Pleased me, long choosing and beginning late,
Not sedulous by nature to indite


Wars, hitherto the only argument

Heroic deemed, chief mastery to dissect

With long and tedious havoc fabled knights


In battles feigned (the better fortitude
Of patience and heroic martyrdom
Unsung), or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, emblazoned shields,
Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds,
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights

At joust and tournament; then marshalled feast
Served up in hall with sewers and seneshals :
The skill of artifice or office mean;

Not that which justly gives heroic name
To person or to poem! Me, of these
Nor skilled 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
Depressed; 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 veiled the horizon round,
When Satan, who late fled before the threats
Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improved
In meditated fraud and malice, bent
On Man's destruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier on himself, fearless returned.
By night he fled, and at midnight returned
From compassing the Earth-cautious of day
Since Uriel, Regent of the Sun, descried
His entrance, and forewarned 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 crossed the car of Night

From pole to pole, traversing each colure

On the eighth returned, and on the coast averse
From entrance or cherubic watch by stealth
Found unsuspected way. There was a place

(Now not, though Sin, not Time, first wrought the change) 70
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, involved in rising mist; then sought

Where to lie hid. Sea he had searched and land
From Eden over Pontus, and the Pool
Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob;

Downward as far antarctic; and, in length,
West from Orontes to the ocean barred

At Darien, thence to the land where flows
Ganges and Indus. Thus the orb he roamed
With narrow search, and with inspection deep
Considered 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 revolved, 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 observed,
Doubt might beget of diabolic power
Active within beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolved, but first from inward grief
His bursting passion into plaints thus poured:-

"O Earth, how like to Heaven, if not preferred
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, danced round by other Heavens,
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,
In thee concentring all their precious beams
Of sacred influence! As God in Heaven




Is centre, 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

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Of growth, sense, reason, all summed up in Man.
With what delight could I have walked 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 crowned,
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 linked 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 marred
What he, Almighty styled, 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

The Angelic Name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers. He, to be avenged,

And to repair his numbers thus impaired—

Whether such virtue, spent of old, now failed
More Angels to create (if they at least
Are his created), or to spite us more—
Determined to advance into our room




A creature formed 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 pronounced, and, O indignity!
Subjected to his service Angel-wings
And flaming ministers, to watch and tend
Their earthy 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
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 highest, am now constrained
Into a beast, and, mixed with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the highth of deity aspired!
But what will not ambition and revenge


Descend to? Who aspires must down as low

As high he soared, obnoxious, first or last,


To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,

Bitter ere long back on itself recoils.

Let it; I reck not, so it light well aimed,

Since higher I fall short, on him who next
Provokes my envy, this new favourite

Of Heaven, this Man of Clay, son of despite,
Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raised
From dust spite then with spite is best repaid."
So saying, through each thicket, dank or dry,
Like a black mist low-creeping, he held on


His midnight search, where soonest he might find
The Serpent. Him fast sleeping soon he found,
In labyrinth of many a round self-rolled,

His head the midst, well stored with subtle wiles:
Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,

Nor nocent yet, but on the grassy herb,

Fearless, unfeared, he slept. In at his mouth
The Devil entered, and his brutal sense,

In heart or head, possessing soon inspired

With act intelligential; but his sleep


Disturbed not, waiting close the approach of morn.
Now, whenas sacred light began to dawn

In Eden on the humid flowers, that breathed
Their morning incense, when all things that breathe
From the Earth's great altar send up silent praise
To the Creator, and his nostrils fill
With grateful smell, forth came the human pair,
And joined their vocal worship to the quire
Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake
The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs;
Then commune how that day they best may ply
Their growing work-for much their work outgrew
The hands' dispatch of two gardening so wide:
And Eve first to her husband thus began:-


Adam, well may we labour still to dress
This Garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower,


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