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1658–1665 THE VERSE

The measure is English heroic verse without rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin - rime being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame metre; graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse, than else they would have expressed them. Not without cause therefore some both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rime both in longer and shorter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings — a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rime so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming.




That Shepherd who first taught the chosen

seed In the beginning how the heavens and earth Rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that

flowed Fast by the oracle of God, I thence Invoke thy aid to my adventrous song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme. And chiefly Thou, O Spirit, that dost pre

fer Before all temples the upright heart and

pure, Instruct me, for Thou know'st; Thou from

the first Wast present, and, with mighty wings out

spread, Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast Abrss, 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,

Favoured of Heaven so highly, to fall off 30 | From their Creator, and transgress his will For one restraint, lords of the World be.

sides. | Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?

This 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 hastes into the midst of things; presenting Satan, with his Angels, now fallen into Hell - described here not in the Centre (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 afterwards 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 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. OF 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


fell !



The infernal Serpent; be it was whose | As far removed from God and light of guile,

Heaven Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived | As from the centre thrice to the utmost The mother of mankind, what time his

pole. pride

Oh how unlike the place from whence they Had cast him out from Heaven, with all bis host

There the companions of his fall, o'erOf rebel Angels, by whose aid, aspiring

whelmed To set himself in glory above his peers, With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous He trusted to have equalled the Most

fire, High,

He soon discerns; and, weltering by his If he opposed, and, with ambitious aim

side, Against the throne and monarchy of God, One next himself in power, and next in Raised impious war in Heaven and battle

crime, proud,

Long after known in Palestine, and named Witb vain attempt. Him the Almighty BEËLZEBUB. To whom the Arch-Enemy, Power

And thence in Heaven called SATAN, with Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal

bold words sky,

Breaking the horrid silence, thus began:With hideous ruin and combustion, down “ If thou beest he — but Oh how fallen! To bottomless perdition, there to dwell

how changed In adamantine cbains and penal fire,

From him ! — who, in the happy realms of Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.

light, Nine times the space that measures day Clothed with transcendent brightness, didst and night

outshine To mortal men, he, with his horrid crew, Myriads, though bright -- if he whom muLay vanquished, rowling in the fiery gulf,

tual league, Confounded, though immortal. But his United thoughts and counsels, equal hope doom

And hazard in the glorious enterprise, Reserved him to more wrath; for now the Joined with me once, now misery hath thought

joined Both of lost happiness and lasting pain In equal ruin; into what pit thou seest Torments him: round he throws his baleful From what highth fallen: so much the eyes,

stronger proved That witnessed huge affliction and dismay, He with his thunder: and till then who Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast

knew hate.

The force of those dire arms? Yet not for At once, as far as Angel's ken, he views

those, The dismal situation waste and wild. 60 | Nor what the potent Victor in his rage A dungeon horrible, on all sides round, Can else inflict, do I repent, or change, As one great furnace flamed; yet from Though changed in outward lustre, that those flames

fixed mind, No ligbt; but rather darkness visible And high disdain from sense of injured Served onely to discover sights of woe,

merit, Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where | That with the Mightiest raised me to conpeace

tend, And rest can never dwell, hope never comes And to the fierce contention brought That comes to all, but torture without end

along Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed

Innumerable force of Spirits armed, With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed. That durst dislike his reign, and, me preSuch place Eternal Justice had prepared

ferring, For those rebellious; here their prison or- His utmost power with adverse power opdained


posed In utter darkness, and their portion set, In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven,

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And shook his throne. What though the Here swallowed up in endless misery. field be lost?

But what if He our Conqueror (whom I All is not lost - the unconquerable will,

now And study of revenge, immortal hate, | Of force believe almighty, since no less And courage never to submit or yield: Than such could have o'erpowered such And what is else not to be overcome. 109

force as ours) That glory never shall his wrath or might Have left us this our spirit and strength Extort from ine. To bow and sue for grace

entire, With suppliant knee, and deify his power Strongly to suffer and support our pains, Who, from the terror of this arm, so late That we may so suffice his vengeful ire, Doubted his empire — that were low in Or do him mightier service as his thralls deed;

By right of war, whate'er his business be, 150 That were an ignominy and shame beneath Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire, This downfall; since, by fate, the strength Or do his errands in the gloomy Deep ? of Gods,

What can it then avail though yet we feel And this empyreal substance, cannot fail; Strength undiminished, or eternal being Since, through experience of this great To undergo eternal punishment ?" event,

Whereto with speedy words the ArchIn arms not worse, in foresight much ad

Fiend replied: vanced,

« Fallen Cherub, to be weak is miserable, We may with more successful hope re Doing or suffering: but of this be sure — solve

120 To do aught good never will be our task, To wage by force or guile eternal war, But ever to do ill our sole delight, 160 Irreconcilable to our grand Foe,

As being the contrary to His high will Who now triumphs', and in the excess of Whom we resist. If then his providence joy

Out of our evil seek to bring forth good, Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Our labour must be to pervert that end, Heaven.”

And out of good still to find means of evil; So spake the apostate Angel, though in Which ofttimes may succeed so as perhaps pain,

Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep de His inmost counsels from their destined spair;

aim. And him thus answered soon his bold Com But see! the angry Victor hath recalled peer:

His ministers of vengeance and pursuit 170 “O Prince, O Chief of many throned Back to the gates of Heaven: the sulphuPowers

rous hail, That led the imbattled Seraphim to war Shot after us in storm, o'erblown hath laid Under thy conduct, and, in dreadful The fiery surge that from the precipice

130 Of Heaven received us falling; and the Fearless, endangered Heaven's perpetual thunder,

Winged with red lightning and impetuous And put to proof his bigh supremacy,

rage, Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases Too well I see and rue the dire event To bellow through the vast and boundless That, with sad overthrow and foul defeat,

Deep. Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty Let us not slip the occasion, whether scorn host

Or satiate fury yield it from our Foe. In horrible destruction laid thus low, Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and As far as Gods and Heavenly Essences

180 Can perish: for the mind and spirit re The seat of desolation, void of light,

Save what the glimmering of these livid Invincible, and vigour soon returns, 140

flames Though all our glory extinct, and happy Casts pale and dreadful ? Thither let us state









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From off the tossing of these fiery waves; In billows, leave i' the midst a horrid vale. There rest, if any rest can harbour there; Then with expanded wings he steers bis And, re-assembling our afflicted powers,

flight Consult how we may henceforth most of- | Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air, fend

That felt unusual weight; till on dry land Our Enemy, our own loss how repair, He lights — if it were land that ever burned How overcome this dire calamity,

With solid, as the lake with liquid fire, What reinforcement we may gain from And such appeared in hue as when the hope,

force If not what resolution from despair." Of subterranean wind transports a hill

Thus Satan, talking to his nearest Mate, Torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side With head uplift above the wave, and eyes Of thundering Ætna, whose combustible That sparkling blazed; his other parts be And fuelled entrails, thence conceiving fire, sides

Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds, Prone on the flood, extended long and And leave a singèd bottom all involved large,

With stench and smoke. Such resting found Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge

the sole As whom the fables name of monstrous size, Of unblest feet. Him followed his next Titanian or Earth-born, that warred on


Both glorying to have scaped the Stygian Briareos or Typhon, whom the den

flood By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast 200 As gods, and by their own recovered Leviathan, which God of all his works


240 Created hugest that swim the ocean-stream. Not by the sufferance of supernal power. Hin, haply slumbering on the Norway “Is this the region, this the soil, the foam,

clime." The pilot of some small night-foundered Said then the lost Archangel, “ this the seat skiff,

That we must change for Heaven ? — this Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,

mournful gloom With fixed anchor in his scaly rind,

For that celestial light ? Be it so, since Moors by his side under the lee, while night Invests the sea, and wished morn delays. Who now is sovran can dispose and bid So stretched out huge in length the Arch- What shall be right: fardest from Him is Fiend lay,

best, Chained on the burning lake; nor ever Whom reason hath equalled, force hath thence


made supreme Had risen, or heaved his head, but that the Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields, will

Where joy for ever dwells ! Hail, horrors ! And high permission of all-ruling Heaven


250 Left him at large to his own dark designs, Infernal World! and thou, profoundest That with reiterated crimes he might

Hell, Heap on himself damnation, while he sought | Receive thy new possessor — one who Evil to others, and enraged might see

brings How all his malice served but to bring A mind not to be changed by place or time. forth

The mind is its own place, and in itself Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shewn Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of On Man by bim seduced, but on himself

Heaven. Treble confusion, • wrath, and vengeance What matter where, if I be still the same, poured.

220 And what I sbould be, all but less than he Forthwith upright he rears from off the Whom thunder hath made greater ? Here

at least His mighty stature; on each hand the | We shall be free; the Almighty hath not flames

built Driven backward slope their pointing spires, Here for his envy, will not drive us and, rowled







Here we may reign secure; and, in my | His legions - Angel Forms, who lay enchoice,


301 To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell : | Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the Better to reign in Hell than serve in

brooks Heaven.

In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades But wherefore let we then our faithful High over-arched imbower; or scattered

friends, The associates and co-partners of our loss, | Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion armed Lie thus astonished on the oblivious pool, Hath vexed the Red-Sea coast, whose waves And call them not to share with us their

o'erthrew part

Busiris and his Memphian chivalry, In this unhappy mansion, or once more While with perfidious hatred they pursued With rallied arms to try what may be yet | The sojourners of Goshen, who bebeld Regained in Heaven, or what more lost in From the safe shore their floating carHell ?”


cases So Satan spake; and him Beëlzebub And broken chariot-wheels. So thick beThus answered:- “Leader of those armies

strown, bright

Abject and lost, lay these, covering the Which, but the Omnipotent, none could

flood, have foiled !

Under amazement of their hideous change. If once they hear that voice, their liveliest He called so loud that all the hollow deep pledge

Of Hell resounded:—“Princes, Potentates, Of hope in fears and dangers — heard so Warriors, the Flower of Heaven — once oft

yours; now lost, In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge If such astonishment as this can seize Of battle, when it raged, in all assaults Eternal Spirits! Or have ye chosen this

Their surest signal — they will soon resume place
New courage and revive, though now they After the toil of battle to repose

Your wearied virtue, for the ease you find Grovelling and prostrate on yon lake of To slumber here, as in the vales of Heaven?

280 Or in this abject posture have ye sworn As we erewhile, astounded and amazed; To adore the Conqueror, who now beholds No wonder, fallen such a pernicious highth!” Cherub and Seraph rowling in the flood He scarce had ceased when the superior With scattered arms and ensigns, till anon Fiend

His swift pursuers from Heaven-gates disWas moving toward the shore; his ponder

cern ous shield,

The advantage, and, descending, tread us Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round,

down Behind him cast. The broad circumfer Thus drooping, or with linked thunderbolts ence

Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf ? Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen !” 330 orb

They heard, and were abashed, and up Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views

they sprung At evening, from the top of Fesolè,

Upon the wing, as when men wont to watch, Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands, 290 On duty sleeping found by whom they Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.

dread, His spear — to equal which the tallest pine Rouse and bestir themselves ere well Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast

awake. Of some great Ammiral, were but a wand — Nor did they not perceive the evil plight He walked with, to support uneasy steps

In which they were, or the tierce pains not Over the burning marle, not like those steps

feel; On Heaven's azure; and the torrid clime | Yet to their General's voice they soon Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire.

obeyed Nathless be so endured, till on the beach Innumerable. As when the potent rod Of that inflamèd sea he stood, and called | Of Amram's son, in Egypt's evil day,


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