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THE 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 hastens into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his angels now fallen into Hell, described here, not in the center (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 battle; their chief leaders named according to the idols known afterward 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 a 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. Pandemonium, the palace of Satan, rises, suddenly built out of the deep: the infernal peers there sit in council.
Or man's first disobedience, and the fruit
That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed
And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
And justify the ways of God to men.
Say first for heaven hides nothing from thy view, Nor the deep tract of hell -say first, what cause Moved our grand parents in that happy state, Favored of heaven so highly, to fall off From their Creator, and transgress his will For one restraint, lords of the world besides. Who first seduced them to that foul revolt? The infernal Serpent; he it was whose guile, Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived The mother of mankind, what time his pride Had cast him out from heaven, with all his host Of rebel angels; by whose aid, aspiring To set himself in glory above his peers, He trusted to have equaled the Most High, If he opposed; and, with ambitious aim,
Against the throne and monarchy of God,
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and night 50 To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf,
Round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witnessed° huge affliction and dismay,
Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate.
The dismal situation waste and wild:
A dungeon horrible, on all sides round
As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames No light; but rather darkness visible
Served only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell; hope° never comes