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Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton (1608–1674). The first version, published in 1667, consisted of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse. A second edition followed in 1674, arranged into twelve books (in the manner of Virgil's Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification. It is considered by critics to be Milton's major work, and it helped solidify his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of his time. The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton's purpose, stated in Book I, is to "justify the ways of God to men". In his introduction to the Penguin edition of Paradise Lost, the Milton scholar John Leonard notes, "John Milton was nearly sixty when he published Paradise Lost in 1667. [The writer] John Aubrey (1626–97) tells us that the poem was begun in about 1658 and finished in about 1663. But parts were almost certainly written earlier, and its roots lie in Milton's earliest youth." Leonard speculates that the English Civil War interrupted Milton's earliest attempts to start his "epic [poem] that would encompass all space and time." Leonard also notes that Milton "did not at first plan to write a biblical epic." Since epics were typically written about heroic kings and queens (and with pagan gods), Milton originally envisioned his epic to be based on a legendary Saxon or British king like the legend of King Arthur. In the 1667 version of Paradise Lost, the poem was divided into ten books. However, in the 1672 edition, Paradise Lost contained twelve books. Having gone totally blind in 1652, Milton wrote Paradise Lost entirely through dictation with the help of amanuenses and friends.
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Copyright © 2017 by John Milton.
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First Edition: January 2017
Table of Contents
Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruitOf that forbidden tree whose mortal tasteBrought death into the World, and all our woe,With loss of Eden, till one greater ManRestore us, and regain the blissful seat,Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret topOf Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspireThat shepherd who first taught the chosen seedIn the beginning how the heavens and earthRose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hillDelight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowedFast by the oracle of God, I thenceInvoke thy aid to my adventurous song,That with no middle flight intends to soarAbove th' Aonian mount, while it pursuesThings unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost preferBefore all temples th' upright heart and pure,Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from the firstWast present, and, with mighty wings outspread,Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast Abyss,And mad'st it pregnant: what in me is darkIllumine, what is low raise and support;That, to the height 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 causeMoved our grand parents, in that happy state,Favoured of Heaven so highly, to fall offFrom their Creator, and transgress his willFor one restraint, lords of the World besides.Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?Th' infernal Serpent; he it was whose guile,Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceivedThe mother of mankind, what time his prideHad cast him out from Heaven, with all his hostOf rebel Angels, by whose aid, aspiringTo set himself in glory above his peers,He trusted to have equalled the Most High,If he opposed, and with ambitious aimAgainst the throne and monarchy of God,Raised impious war in Heaven and battle proud,With vain attempt. Him the Almighty PowerHurled headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky,With hideous ruin and combustion, downTo bottomless perdition, there to dwellIn adamantine chains and penal fire,Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms.Nine times the space that measures day and nightTo mortal men, he, with his horrid crew,Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf,Confounded, though immortal. But his doomReserved him to more wrath; for now the thoughtBoth of lost happiness and lasting painTorments 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 Angels ken, he viewsThe dismal situation waste and wild.A dungeon horrible, on all sides round,As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flamesNo light; but rather darkness visibleServed only to discover sights of woe,Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peaceAnd rest can never dwell, hope never comesThat comes to all, but torture without endStill urges, and a fiery deluge, fedWith ever-burning sulphur unconsumed.Such place Eternal Justice has preparedFor those rebellious; here their prison ordainedIn utter darkness, and their portion set,As far removed from God and light of HeavenAs from the centre thrice to th' utmost pole.Oh how unlike the place from whence they fell!There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelmedWith floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire,He soon discerns; and, weltering by his side,One next himself in power, and next in crime,Long after known in Palestine, and namedBeelzebub. To whom th' Arch-Enemy,And thence in Heaven called Satan, with bold wordsBreaking the horrid silence, thus began:--"If thou beest he--but O how fallen! how changedFrom him who, in the happy realms of lightClothed with transcendent brightness, didst outshineMyriads, though bright!--if he whom mutual league,United thoughts and counsels, equal hopeAnd hazard in the glorious enterpriseJoined with me once, now misery hath joinedIn equal ruin; into what pit thou seestFrom what height fallen: so much the stronger provedHe with his thunder; and till then who knewThe force of those dire arms? Yet not for those,Nor what the potent Victor in his rageCan else inflict, do I repent, or change,Though changed in outward lustre, that fixed mind,And high disdain from sense of injured merit,That with the Mightiest raised me to contend,And to the fierce contentions brought alongInnumerable force of Spirits armed,That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring,His utmost power with adverse power opposedIn dubious battle on the plains of Heaven,And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?All is not lost--the unconquerable will,And study of revenge, immortal hate,And courage never to submit or yield:And what is else not to be overcome?That glory never shall his wrath or mightExtort from me. To bow and sue for graceWith suppliant knee, and deify his powerWho, from the terror of this arm, so lateDoubted his empire--that were low indeed;That were an ignominy and shame beneathThis downfall; since, by fate, the strength of Gods,And this empyreal sybstance, cannot fail;Since, through experience of this great event,In arms not worse, in foresight much advanced,We may with more successful hope resolveTo wage by force or guile eternal war,Irreconcilable to our grand Foe,Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joySole reigning holds the tyranny of Heaven."So spake th' apostate Angel, though in pain,Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair;And him thus answered soon his bold compeer:--"O Prince, O Chief of many throned PowersThat led th' embattled Seraphim to warUnder thy conduct, and, in dreadful deedsFearless, endangered Heaven's perpetual King,And put to proof his high supremacy,Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate,Too well I see and rue the dire eventThat, with sad overthrow and foul defeat,Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty hostIn horrible destruction laid thus low,As far as Gods and heavenly EssencesCan perish: for the mind and spirit remainsInvincible, and vigour soon returns,Though all our glory extinct, and happy stateHere swallowed up in endless misery.But what if he our Conqueror (whom I nowOf force believe almighty, since no lessThan such could have o'erpowered such force as ours)Have left us this our spirit and strength entire,Strongly to suffer and support our pains,That we may so suffice his vengeful ire,Or do him mightier service as his thrallsBy right of war, whate'er his business be,Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire,Or do his errands in the gloomy Deep?What can it the avail though yet we feelStrength undiminished, or eternal beingTo undergo eternal punishment?"Whereto with speedy words th' Arch-Fiend replied:--"Fallen Cherub, to be weak is miserable,Doing or suffering: but of this be sure--To do aught good never will be our task,But ever to do ill our sole delight,As being the contrary to his high willWhom we resist. If then his providenceOut of our evil seek to bring forth good,Our labour must be to pervert that end,And out of good still to find means of evil;Which ofttimes may succeed so as perhapsShall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturbHis inmost counsels from their destined aim.But see! the angry Victor hath recalledHis ministers of vengeance and pursuitBack to the gates of Heaven: the sulphurous hail,Shot after us in storm, o'erblown hath laidThe fiery surge that from the precipiceOf Heaven received us falling; and the thunder,Winged with red lightning and impetuous rage,Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases nowTo bellow through the vast and boundless Deep.Let us not slip th' occasion, whether scornOr satiate fury yield it from our Foe.Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,The seat of desolation, void of light,Save what the glimmering of these livid flamesCasts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tendFrom off the tossing of these fiery waves;There rest, if any rest can harbour there;And, re-assembling our afflicted powers,Consult how we may henceforth most offendOur enemy, our own loss how repair,How overcome this dire calamity,What reinforcement we may gain from hope,If not, what resolution from despair."Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate,With head uplift above the wave, and eyesThat sparkling blazed; his other parts besidesProne on the flood, extended long and large,Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as hugeAs whom the fables name of monstrous size,Titanian or Earth-born, that warred on Jove,Briareos or Typhon, whom the denBy ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beastLeviathan, which God of all his worksCreated hugest that swim th' ocean-stream.Him, haply slumbering on the Norway foam,The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff,Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,With fixed anchor in his scaly rind,Moors by his side under the lee, while nightInvests the sea, and wished morn delays.So stretched out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay,Chained on the burning lake; nor ever thenceHad risen, or heaved his head, but that the willAnd high permission of all-ruling HeavenLeft him at large to his own dark designs,That with reiterated crimes he mightHeap on himself damnation, while he soughtEvil to others, and enraged might seeHow all his malice served but to bring forthInfinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shewnOn Man by him seduced, but on himselfTreble confusion, wrath, and vengeance poured.Forthwith upright he rears from off the poolHis mighty stature; on each hand the flamesDriven backward slope their pointing spires, and,rolledIn billows, leave i' th' midst a horrid vale.Then with expanded wings he steers his flightAloft, incumbent on the dusky air,That felt unusual weight; till on dry landHe lights--if it were land that ever burnedWith solid, as the lake with liquid fire,And such appeared in hue as when the forceOf subterranean wind transprots a hillTorn from Pelorus, or the shattered sideOf thundering Etna, whose combustibleAnd fuelled entrails, thence conceiving fire,Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds,And leave a singed bottom all involvedWith stench and smoke. Such resting found the soleOf unblest feet. Him followed his next mate;Both glorying to have scaped the Stygian floodAs gods, and by their own recovered strength,Not by the sufferance of supernal Power."Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,"Said then the lost Archangel, "this the seatThat we must change for Heaven?--this mournful gloomFor that celestial light? Be it so, since heWho now is sovereign can dispose and bidWhat shall be right: farthest from him is bestWhom reason hath equalled, force hath made supremeAbove his equals. Farewell, happy fields,Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail,Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell,Receive thy new possessor--one who bringsA mind not to be changed by place or time.The mind is its own place, and in itselfCan make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.What matter where, if I be still the same,And what I should be, all but less than heWhom thunder hath made greater? Here at leastWe shall be free; th' Almighty hath not builtHere for his envy, will not drive us hence:Here we may reigh secure; and, in my choice,To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,Th' associates and co-partners of our loss,Lie thus astonished on th' oblivious pool,And call them not to share with us their partIn this unhappy mansion, or once moreWith rallied arms to try what may be yetRegained in Heaven, or what more lost in Hell?"So Satan spake; and him BeelzebubThus answered:--"Leader of those armies brightWhich, but th' Omnipotent, none could have foiled!If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledgeOf hope in fears and dangers--heard so oftIn worst extremes, and on the perilous edgeOf battle, when it raged, in all assaultsTheir surest signal--they will soon resumeNew courage and revive, though now they lieGrovelling and prostrate on yon lake of fire,As we erewhile, astounded and amazed;No wonder, fallen such a pernicious height!"He scare had ceased when the superior FiendWas moving toward the shore; his ponderous shield,Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round,Behind him cast. The broad circumferenceHung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orbThrough optic glass the Tuscan artist viewsAt evening, from the top of Fesole,Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.His spear--to equal which the tallest pineHewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mastOf some great ammiral, were but a wand--He walked with, to support uneasy stepsOver the burning marl, not like those stepsOn Heaven's azure; and the torrid climeSmote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire.Nathless he so endured, till on the beachOf that inflamed sea he stood, and calledHis legions--Angel Forms, who lay entrancedThick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooksIn Vallombrosa, where th' Etrurian shadesHigh over-arched embower; or scattered sedgeAfloat, when with fierce winds Orion armedHath vexed the Red-Sea coast, whose waves o'erthrewBusiris and his Memphian chivalry,While with perfidious hatred they pursuedThe sojourners of Goshen, who beheldFrom the safe shore their floating carcasesAnd broken chariot-wheels. So thick bestrown,Abject and lost, lay these, covering the flood,Under amazement of their hideous change.He called so loud that all the hollow deepOf Hell resounded:--"Princes, Potentates,Warriors, the Flower of Heaven--once yours; now lost,If such astonishment as this can seizeEternal Spirits! Or have ye chosen this placeAfter the toil of battle to reposeYour wearied virtue, for the ease you findTo slumber here, as in the vales of Heaven?Or in this abject posture have ye swornTo adore the Conqueror, who now beholdsCherub and Seraph rolling in the floodWith scattered arms and ensigns, till anonHis swift pursuers from Heaven-gates discernTh' advantage, and, descending, tread us downThus drooping, or with linked thunderboltsTransfix us to the bottom of this gulf?Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen!"They heard, and were abashed, and up they sprungUpon the wing, as when men wont to watchOn duty, sleeping found by whom they dread,Rouse and bestir themselves ere well awake.Nor did they not perceive the evil plightIn which they were, or the fierce pains not feel;Yet to their General's voice they soon obeyedInnumerable. As when the potent rodOf Amram's son, in Egypt's evil day,Waved round the coast, up-called a pitchy cloudOf locusts, warping on the eastern wind,That o'er the realm of impious Pharaoh hungLike Night, and darkened all the land of Nile;So numberless were those bad Angels seenHovering on wing under the cope of Hell,'Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires;Till, as a signal given, th' uplifted spearOf their great Sultan waving to directTheir course, in even balance down they lightOn the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain:A multitude like which the populous NorthPoured never from her frozen loins to passRhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sonsCame like a deluge on the South, and spreadBeneath Gibraltar to the Libyan sands.Forthwith, form every squadron and each band,The heads and leaders thither haste where stoodTheir great Commander--godlike Shapes, and FormsExcelling human; princely Dignities;And Powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones,Though on their names in Heavenly records nowBe no memorial, blotted out and rasedBy their rebellion from the Books of Life.Nor had they yet among the sons of EveGot them new names, till, wandering o'er the earth,Through God's high sufferance for the trial of man,By falsities and lies the greatest partOf mankind they corrupted to forsakeGod their Creator, and th' invisibleGlory of him that made them to transformOft to the image of a brute, adornedWith gay religions full of pomp and gold,And devils to adore for deities:Then were they known to men by various names,And various idols through the heathen world.Say, Muse, their names then known, who first, who last,Roused from the slumber on that fiery couch,At their great Emperor's call, as next in worthCame singly where he stood on the bare strand,While the promiscuous crowd stood yet aloof?The chief were those who, from the pit of HellRoaming to seek their prey on Earth, durst fixTheir seats, long after, next the seat of God,Their altars by his altar, gods adoredAmong the nations round, and durst abideJehovah thundering out of Sion, thronedBetween the Cherubim; yea, often placedWithin his sanctuary itself their shrines,Abominations; and with cursed thingsHis holy rites and solemn feasts profaned,And with their darkness durst affront his light.First, Moloch, horrid king, besmeared with bloodOf human sacrifice, and parents' tears;Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,Their children's cries unheard that passed through fireTo his grim idol. Him the AmmoniteWorshiped in Rabba and her watery plain,In Argob and in Basan, to the streamOf utmost Arnon. Nor content with suchAudacious neighbourhood, the wisest heartOf Solomon he led by fraoud to buildHis temple right against the temple of GodOn that opprobrious hill, and made his groveThe pleasant valley of Hinnom, Tophet thenceAnd black Gehenna called, the type of Hell.Next Chemos, th' obscene dread of Moab's sons,From Aroar to Nebo and the wildOf southmost Abarim; in HesebonAnd Horonaim, Seon's real, beyondThe flowery dale of Sibma clad with vines,And Eleale to th' Asphaltic Pool:Peor his other name, when he enticedIsrael in Sittim, on their march from Nile,To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe.Yet thence his lustful orgies he enlargedEven to that hill of scandal, by the groveOf Moloch homicide, lust hard by hate,Till good Josiah drove them thence to Hell.With these came they who, from the bordering floodOf old Euphrates to the brook that partsEgypt from Syrian ground, had general namesOf Baalim and Ashtaroth--those male,These feminine. For Spirits, when they please,Can either sex assume, or both; so softAnd uncompounded is their essence pure,Not tried or manacled with joint or limb,Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones,Like cumbrous flesh; but, in what shape they choose,Dilated or condensed, bright or obscure,Can execute their airy purposes,And works of love or enmity fulfil.For those the race of Israel oft forsookTheir Living Strength, and unfrequented leftHis righteous altar, bowing lowly downTo bestial gods; for which their heads as lowBowed down in battle, sunk before the spearOf despicable foes. With these in troopCame Astoreth, whom the Phoenicians calledAstarte, queen of heaven, with crescent horns;To whose bright image nigntly by the moonSidonian virgins paid their vows and songs;In Sion also not unsung, where stoodHer temple on th' offensive mountain, builtBy that uxorious king whose heart, though large,Beguiled by fair idolatresses, fellTo idols foul. Thammuz came next behind,Whose annual wound in Lebanon alluredThe Syrian damsels to lament his fateIn amorous ditties all a summer's day,While smooth Adonis from his native rockRan purple to the sea, supposed with bloodOf Thammuz yearly wounded: the love-taleInfected Sion's daughters with like heat,Whose wanton passions in the sacred prochEzekiel saw, when, by the vision led,His eye surveyed the dark idolatriesOf alienated Judah. Next came oneWho mourned in earnest, when the captive arkMaimed his brute image, head and hands lopt off,In his own temple, on the grunsel-edge,Where he fell flat and shamed his worshippers:Dagon his name, sea-monster,upward manAnd downward fish; yet had his temple highReared in Azotus, dreaded through the coastOf Palestine, in Gath and Ascalon,And Accaron and Gaza's frontier bounds.Him followed Rimmon, whose delightful seatWas fair Damascus, on the fertile banksOf Abbana and Pharphar, lucid streams.He also against the house of God was bold:A leper once he lost, and gained a king--Ahaz, his sottish conqueror, whom he drewGod's altar to disparage and displaceFor one of Syrian mode, whereon to burnHis odious offerings, and adore the godsWhom he had vanquished. After these appearedA crew who, under names of old renown--Osiris, Isis, Orus, and their train--With monstrous shapes and sorceries abusedFanatic Egypt and her priests to seekTheir wandering gods disguised in brutish formsRather than human. Nor did Israel scapeTh' infection, when their borrowed gold composedThe calf in Oreb; and the rebel kingDoubled that sin in Bethel and in Dan,Likening his Maker to the grazed ox--Jehovah, who, in one night, when he passedFrom Egypt marching, equalled with one strokeBoth her first-born and all her bleating gods.Belial came last; than whom a Spirit more lewdFell not from Heaven, or more gross to loveVice for itself. To him no temple stoodOr altar smoked; yet who more oft than heIn temples and at altars, when the priestTurns atheist, as did Eli's sons, who filledWith lust and violence the house of God?In courts and palaces he also reigns,And in luxurious cities, where the noiseOf riot ascends above their loftiest towers,And injury and outrage; and, when nightDarkens the streets, then wander forth the sonsOf Belial, flown with insolence and wine.Witness the streets of Sodom, and that nightIn Gibeah, when the hospitable doorExposed a matron, to avoid worse rape.These were the prime in order and in might:The rest were long to tell; though far renownedTh' Ionian gods--of Javan's issue heldGods, yet confessed later than Heaven and Earth,Their boasted parents;--Titan, Heaven's first-born,With his enormous brood, and birthright seizedBy younger Saturn: he from mightier Jove,His own and Rhea's son, like measure found;So Jove usurping reigned. These, first in CreteAnd Ida known, thence on the snowy topOf cold Olympus ruled the middle air,Their highest heaven; or on the Delphian cliff,Or in Dodona, and through all the boundsOf Doric land; or who with Saturn oldFled over Adria to th' Hesperian fields,And o'er the Celtic roamed the utmost Isles.All these and more came flocking; but with looksDowncast and damp; yet such wherein appearedObscure some glimpse of joy to have found their ChiefNot in despair, to have found themselves not lostIn loss itself; which on his countenance castLike doubtful hue. But he, his wonted prideSoon recollecting, with high words, that boreSemblance of worth, not substance, gently raisedTheir fainting courage, and dispelled their fears.Then straight commands that, at the warlike soundOf trumpets loud and clarions, be uprearedHis mighty standard. That proud honour claimedAzazel as his right, a Cherub tall:Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurledTh' imperial ensign; which, full high advanced,Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind,With gems and golden lustre rich emblazed,Seraphic arms and trophies; all the whileSonorous metal blowing martial sounds:At which the universal host up-sentA shout that tore Hell's concave, and beyondFrighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.All in a moment through the gloom were seenTen thousand banners rise into the air,With orient colours waving: with them roseA forest huge of spears; and thronging helmsAppeared, and serried shields in thick arrayOf depth immeasurable. Anon they moveIn perfect phalanx to the Dorian moodOf flutes and soft recorders--such as raisedTo height of noblest temper heroes oldArming to battle, and instead of rageDeliberate valour breathed, firm, and unmovedWith dread of death to flight or foul retreat;Nor wanting power to mitigate and swageWith solemn touches troubled thoughts, and chaseAnguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and painFrom mortal or immortal minds. Thus they,Breathing united force with fixed thought,Moved on in silence to soft pipes that charmedTheir painful steps o'er the burnt soil. And nowAdvanced in view they stand--a horrid frontOf dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guiseOf warriors old, with ordered spear and shield,Awaiting what command their mighty ChiefHad to impose. He through the armed filesDarts his experienced eye, and soon traverseThe whole battalion views--their order due,Their visages and stature as of gods;Their number last he sums. And now his heartDistends with pride, and, hardening in his strength,Glories: for never, since created Man,Met such embodied force as, named with these,Could merit more than that small infantryWarred on by cranes--though all the giant broodOf Phlegra with th' heroic race were joinedThat fought at Thebes and Ilium, on each sideMixed with auxiliar gods; and what resoundsIn fable or romance of Uther's son,Begirt with British and Armoric knights;And all who since, baptized or infidel,Jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban,Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond,Or whom Biserta sent from Afric shoreWhen Charlemain with all his peerage fellBy Fontarabbia. Thus far these beyondCompare of mortal prowess, yet observedTheir dread Commander. He, above the restIn shape and gesture proudly eminent,Stood like a tower. His form had yet not lostAll her original brightness, nor appearedLess than Archangel ruined, and th' excessOf glory obscured: as when the sun new-risenLooks through the horizontal misty airShorn of his beams, or, from behind the moon,In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight shedsOn half the nations, and with fear of changePerplexes monarchs. Darkened so, yet shoneAbove them all th' Archangel: but his faceDeep scars of thunder had intrenched, and careSat on his faded cheek, but under browsOf dauntless courage, and considerate prideWaiting revenge. Cruel his eye, but castSigns of remorse and passion, to beholdThe fellows of his crime, the followers rather(Far other once beheld in bliss), condemnedFor ever now to have their lot in pain--Millions of Spirits for his fault amercedOf Heaven, and from eteranl splendours flungFor his revolt--yet faithful how they stood,Their glory withered; as, when heaven's fireHath scathed the forest oaks or mountain pines,With singed top their stately growth, though bare,Stands on the blasted heath. He now preparedTo speak; whereat their doubled ranks they bendFrom wing to wing, and half enclose him roundWith all his peers: attention held them mute.Thrice he assayed, and thrice, in spite of scorn,Tears, such as Angels weep, burst forth: at lastWords interwove with sighs found out their way:--"O myriads of immortal Spirits! O PowersMatchless, but with th' Almighth!--and that strifeWas not inglorious, though th' event was dire,As this place testifies, and this dire change,Hateful to utter. But what power of mind,Forseeing or presaging, from the depthOf knowledge past or present, could have fearedHow such united force of gods, how suchAs stood like these, could ever know repulse?For who can yet believe, though after loss,That all these puissant legions, whose exileHath emptied Heaven, shall fail to re-ascend,Self-raised, and repossess their native seat?For me, be witness all the host of Heaven,If counsels different, or danger shunnedBy me, have lost our hopes. But he who reignsMonarch in Heaven till then as one secureSat on his throne, upheld by old repute,Consent or custom, and his regal statePut forth at full, but still his strength concealed--Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall.Henceforth his might we know, and know our own,So as not either to provoke, or dreadNew war provoked: our better part remainsTo work in close design, by fraud or guile,What force effected not; that he no lessAt length from us may find, who overcomesBy force hath overcome but half his foe.Space may produce new Worlds; whereof so rifeThere went a fame in Heaven that he ere longIntended to create, and therein plantA generation whom his choice regardShould favour equal to the Sons of Heaven.Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhapsOur first eruption--thither, or elsewhere;For this infernal pit shall never holdCelestial Spirits in bondage, nor th' AbyssLong under darkness cover. But these thoughtsFull counsel must mature. Peace is despaired;For who can think submission? War, then, warOpen or understood, must be resolved."He spake; and, to confirm his words, outflewMillions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighsOf mighty Cherubim; the sudden blazeFar round illumined Hell. Highly they ragedAgainst the Highest, and fierce with grasped armsClashed on their sounding shields the din of war,Hurling defiance toward the vault of Heaven.There stood a hill not far, whose grisly topBelched fire and rolling smoke; the rest entireShone with a glossy scurf--undoubted signThat in his womb was hid metallic ore,The work of sulphur. Thither, winged with speed,A numerous brigade hastened: as when bandsOf pioneers, with spade and pickaxe armed,Forerun the royal camp, to trench a field,Or cast a rampart. Mammon led them on--Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fellFrom Heaven; for even in Heaven his looks and thoughtsWere always downward bent, admiring moreThe riches of heaven's pavement, trodden gold,Than aught divine or holy else enjoyedIn vision beatific. By him firstMen also, and by his suggestion taught,Ransacked the centre, and with impious handsRifled the bowels of their mother EarthFor treasures better hid. Soon had his crewOpened into the hill a spacious wound,And digged out ribs of gold. Let none admireThat riches grow in Hell; that soil may bestDeserve the precious bane. And here let thoseWho boast in mortal things, and wondering tellOf Babel, and the works of Memphian kings,Learn how their greatest monuments of fameAnd strength, and art, are easily outdoneBy Spirits reprobate, and in an hourWhat in an age they, with incessant toilAnd hands innumerable, scarce perform.Nigh on the plain, in many cells prepared,That underneath had veins of liquid fireSluiced from the lake, a second multitudeWith wondrous art founded the massy ore,Severing each kind, and scummed the bullion-dross.A third as soon had formed within the groundA various mould, and from the boiling cellsBy strange conveyance filled each hollow nook;As in an organ, from one blast of wind,To many a row of pipes the sound-board breathes.Anon out of the earth a fabric hugeRose like an exhalation, with the soundOf dulcet symphonies and voices sweet--Built like a temple, where pilasters roundWere set, and Doric pillars overlaidWith golden architrave; nor did there wantCornice or frieze, with bossy sculptures graven;The roof was fretted gold. Not BabylonNor great Alcairo such magnificenceEqualled in all their glories, to enshrineBelus or Serapis their gods, or seatTheir kings, when Egypt with Assyria stroveIn wealth and luxury. Th' ascending pileStood fixed her stately height, and straight the doors,Opening their brazen folds, discover, wideWithin, her ample spaces o'er the smoothAnd level pavement: from the arched roof,Pendent by subtle magic, many a rowOf starry lamps and blazing cressets, fedWith naptha and asphaltus, yielded lightAs from a sky. The hasty multitudeAdmiring entered; and the work some praise,And some the architect. His hand was knownIn Heaven by many a towered structure high,Where sceptred Angels held their residence,And sat as Princes, whom the supreme KingExalted to such power, and gave to rule,Each in his Hierarchy, the Orders bright.Nor was his name unheard or unadoredIn ancient Greece; and in Ausonian landMen called him Mulciber; and how he fellFrom Heaven they fabled, thrown by angry JoveSheer o'er the crystal battlements: from mornTo noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,A summer's day, and with the setting sunDropt from the zenith, like a falling star,On Lemnos, th' Aegaean isle. Thus they relate,Erring; for he with this rebellious routFell long before; nor aught aviled him nowTo have built in Heaven high towers; nor did he scapeBy all his engines, but was headlong sent,With his industrious crew, to build in Hell.Meanwhile the winged Heralds, by commandOf sovereign power, with awful ceremonyAnd trumpet's sound, throughout the host proclaimA solemn council forthwith to be heldAt Pandemonium, the high capitalOf Satan and his peers. Their summons calledFrom every band and squared regimentBy place or choice the worthiest: they anonWith hundreds and with thousands trooping cameAttended. All access was thronged; the gatesAnd porches wide, but chief the spacious hall(Though like a covered field, where champions boldWont ride in armed, and at the Soldan's chairDefied the best of Paynim chivalryTo mortal combat, or career with lance),Thick swarmed, both on the ground and in the air,Brushed with the hiss of rustling wings. As beesIn spring-time, when the Sun with Taurus rides.Pour forth their populous youth about the hiveIn clusters; they among fresh dews and flowersFly to and fro, or on the smoothed plank,The suburb of their straw-built citadel,New rubbed with balm, expatiate, and conferTheir state-affairs: so thick the airy crowdSwarmed and were straitened; till, the signal given,Behold a wonder! They but now who seemedIn bigness to surpass Earth's giant sons,Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow roomThrong numberless--like that pygmean raceBeyond the Indian mount; or faery elves,Whose midnight revels, by a forest-sideOr fountain, some belated peasant sees,Or dreams he sees, while overhead the MoonSits arbitress, and nearer to the EarthWheels her pale course: they, on their mirth and danceIntent, with jocund music charm his ear;At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds.Thus incorporeal Spirits to smallest formsReduced their shapes immense, and were at large,Though without number still, amidst the hallOf that infernal court. But far within,And in their own dimensions like themselves,The great Seraphic Lords and CherubimIn close recess and secret conclave sat,A thousand demi-gods on golden seats,Frequent and full. After short silence then,And summons read, the great consult began.
High on a throne of royal state, which farOutshone the wealth or Ormus and of Ind,Or where the gorgeous East with richest handShowers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,Satan exalted sat, by merit raisedTo that bad eminence; and, from despairThus high uplifted beyond hope, aspiresBeyond thus high, insatiate to pursueVain war with Heaven; and, by success untaught,His proud imaginations thus displayed:--"Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heaven!--For, since no deep within her gulf can holdImmortal vigour, though oppressed and fallen,I give not Heaven for lost: from this descentCelestial Virtues rising will appearMore glorious and more dread than from no fall,And trust themselves to fear no second fate!--Me though just right, and the fixed laws of Heaven,Did first create your leader--next, free choiceWith what besides in council or in fightHath been achieved of merit--yet this loss,Thus far at least recovered, hath much moreEstablished in a safe, unenvied throne,Yielded with full consent. The happier stateIn Heaven, which follows dignity, might drawEnvy from each inferior; but who hereWill envy whom the highest place exposesForemost to stand against the Thunderer's aimYour bulwark, and condemns to greatest shareOf endless pain? Where there is, then, no goodFor which to strive, no strife can grow up thereFrom faction: for none sure will claim in HellPrecedence; none whose portion is so smallOf present pain that with ambitious mindWill covet more! With this advantage, then,To union, and firm faith, and firm accord,More than can be in Heaven, we now returnTo claim our just inheritance of old,Surer to prosper than prosperityCould have assured us; and by what best way,Whether of open war or covert guile,We now debate. Who can advise may speak."He ceased; and next him Moloch, sceptred king,Stood up--the strongest and the fiercest SpiritThat fought in Heaven, now fiercer by despair.His trust was with th' Eternal to be deemedEqual in strength, and rather than be lessCared not to be at all; with that care lostWent all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse,He recked not, and these words thereafter spake:--"My sentence is for open war. Of wiles,More unexpert, I boast not: them let thoseContrive who need, or when they need; not now.For, while they sit contriving, shall the rest--Millions that stand in arms, and longing waitThe signal to ascend--sit lingering here,Heaven's fugitives, and for their dwelling-placeAccept this dark opprobrious den of shame,The prison of his ryranny who reignsBy our delay? No! let us rather choose,Armed with Hell-flames and fury, all at onceO'er Heaven's high towers to force resistless way,Turning our tortures into horrid armsAgainst the Torturer; when, to meet the noiseOf his almighty engine, he shall hearInfernal thunder, and, for lightning, seeBlack fire and horror shot with equal rageAmong his Angels, and his throne itselfMixed with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire,His own invented torments. But perhapsThe way seems difficult, and steep to scaleWith upright wing against a higher foe!Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drenchOf that forgetful lake benumb not still,That in our porper motion we ascendUp to our native seat; descent and fallTo us is adverse. Who but felt of late,When the fierce foe hung on our broken rearInsulting, and pursued us through the Deep,With what compulsion and laborious flightWe sunk thus low? Th' ascent is easy, then;Th' event is feared! Should we again provokeOur stronger, some worse way his wrath may findTo our destruction, if there be in HellFear to be worse destroyed! What can be worseThan to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemnedIn this abhorred deep to utter woe!Where pain of unextinguishable fireMust exercise us without hope of endThe vassals of his anger, when the scourgeInexorably, and the torturing hour,Calls us to penance? More destroyed than thus,We should be quite abolished, and expire.What fear we then? what doubt we to incenseHis utmost ire? which, to the height enraged,Will either quite consume us, and reduceTo nothing this essential--happier farThan miserable to have eternal being!--Or, if our substance be indeed divine,And cannot cease to be, we are at worstOn this side nothing; and by proof we feelOur power sufficient to disturb his Heaven,And with perpetual inroads to alarm,Though inaccessible, his fatal throne:Which, if not victory, is yet revenge."He ended frowning, and his look denouncedDesperate revenge, and battle dangerousTo less than gods. On th' other side up roseBelial, in act more graceful and humane.A fairer person lost not Heaven; he seemedFor dignity composed, and high exploit.But all was false and hollow; though his tongueDropped manna, and could make the worse appearThe better reason, to perplex and dashMaturest counsels: for his thoughts were low--To vice industrious, but to nobler deedsTimorous and slothful. Yet he pleased the ear,And with persuasive accent thus began:--"I should be much for open war, O Peers,As not behind in hate, if what was urgedMain reason to persuade immediate warDid not dissuade me most, and seem to castOminous conjecture on the whole success;When he who most excels in fact of arms,In what he counsels and in what excelsMistrustful, grounds his courage on despairAnd utter dissolution, as the scopeOf all his aim, after some dire revenge.First, what revenge? The towers of Heaven are filledWith armed watch, that render all accessImpregnable: oft on the bodering DeepEncamp their legions, or with obscure wingScout far and wide into the realm of Night,Scorning surprise. Or, could we break our wayBy force, and at our heels all Hell should riseWith blackest insurrection to confoundHeaven's purest light, yet our great Enemy,All incorruptible, would on his throneSit unpolluted, and th' ethereal mould,Incapable of stain, would soon expelHer mischief, and purge off the baser fire,Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hopeIs flat despair: we must exasperateTh' Almighty Victor to spend all his rage;And that must end us; that must be our cure--To be no more. Sad cure! for who would lose,Though full of pain, this intellectual being,Those thoughts that wander through eternity,To perish rather, swallowed up and lostIn the wide womb of uncreated Night,Devoid of sense and motion? And who knows,Let this be good, whether our angry FoeCan give it, or will ever? How he canIs doubtful; that he never will is sure.Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,Belike through impotence or unaware,To give his enemies their wish, and endThem in his anger whom his anger savesTo punish endless? 'Wherefore cease we, then?'Say they who counsel war; 'we are decreed,Reserved, and destined to eternal woe;Whatever doing, what can we suffer more,What can we suffer worse?' Is this, then, worst--Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms?What when we fled amain, pursued and struckWith Heaven's afflicting thunder, and besoughtThe Deep to shelter us? This Hell then seemedA refuge from those wounds. Or when we layChained on the burning lake? That sure was worse.What if the breath that kindled those grim fires,Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold rage,And plunge us in the flames; or from aboveShould intermitted vengeance arm againHis red right hand to plague us? What if allHer stores were opened, and this firmamentOf Hell should spout her cataracts of fire,Impendent horrors, threatening hideous fallOne day upon our heads; while we perhaps,Designing or exhorting glorious war,Caught in a fiery tempest, shall be hurled,Each on his rock transfixed, the sport and preyOr racking whirlwinds, or for ever sunkUnder yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains,There to converse with everlasting groans,Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved,Ages of hopeless end? This would be worse.War, therefore, open or concealed, alikeMy voice dissuades; for what can force or guileWith him, or who deceive his mind, whose eyeViews all things at one view? He from Heaven's heightAll these our motions vain sees and derides,Not more almighty to resist our mightThan wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.Shall we, then, live thus vile--the race of HeavenThus trampled, thus expelled, to suffer hereChains and these torments? Better these than worse,By my advice; since fate inevitableSubdues us, and omnipotent decree,The Victor's will. To suffer, as to do,Our strength is equal; nor the law unjustThat so ordains. This was at first resolved,If we were wise, against so great a foeContending, and so doubtful what might fall.I laugh when those who at the spear are boldAnd venturous, if that fail them, shrink, and fearWhat yet they know must follow--to endureExile, or igominy, or bonds, or pain,The sentence of their Conqueror. This is nowOur doom; which if we can sustain and bear,Our Supreme Foe in time may much remitHis anger, and perhaps, thus far removed,Not mind us not offending, satisfiedWith what is punished; whence these raging firesWill slacken, if his breath stir not their flames.Our purer essence then will overcomeTheir noxious vapour; or, inured, not feel;Or, changed at length, and to the place conformedIn temper and in nature, will receiveFamiliar the fierce heat; and, void of pain,This horror will grow mild, this darkness light;Besides what hope the never-ending flightOf future days may bring, what chance, what changeWorth waiting--since our present lot appearsFor happy though but ill, for ill not worst,If we procure not to ourselves more woe."Thus Belial, with words clothed in reason's garb,Counselled ignoble ease and peaceful sloth,Not peace; and after him thus Mammon spake:--"Either to disenthrone the King of HeavenWe war, if war be best, or to regainOur own right lost. Him to unthrone we thenMay hope, when everlasting Fate shall yieldTo fickle Chance, and Chaos judge the strife.The former, vain to hope, argues as vainThe latter; for what place can be for usWithin Heaven's bound, unless Heaven's Lord supremeWe overpower? Suppose he should relentAnd publish grace to all, on promise madeOf new subjection; with what eyes could weStand in his presence humble, and receiveStrict laws imposed, to celebrate his throneWith warbled hymns, and to his Godhead singForced hallelujahs, while he lordly sitsOur envied sovereign, and his altar breathesAmbrosial odours and ambrosial flowers,Our servile offerings? This must be our taskIn Heaven, this our delight. How wearisomeEternity so spent in worship paidTo whom we hate! Let us not then pursue,By force impossible, by leave obtainedUnacceptable, though in Heaven, our stateOf splendid vassalage; but rather seek
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