Imatges de pÓgina



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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
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, heavenly° 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 Siono hill

Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed
Fast by the oracle of God, I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
That with no middle° flight intends to soar
Above the Aonian° mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.


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And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for thou knowest. Thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread,
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;
That to the highth of this great argument,
I may assert eternal providence,

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,
Raised impious war in heaven and battle proud,
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,

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,
Confounded, though immortal; but his doom
Reserved him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain

Torments him.

Round he throws his baleful eyes,

That witnessed° huge affliction and dismay,

Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate.
At once, as far as angel's ken," he views

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


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