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Visit'st my slumbers nightly, or when morn
Purples the east: still govern thou my song,
Urania, and fit audience find, though few.
But drive far off the bárbarous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race
Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard
In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears
To rapture, till the savage clamour drown'd
Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend
Her son. So fail not thou, who thee implores:
For thou art heav'nly, she an empty dream.
Say, goddess, what ensued when Raphaël,
The affable arch-angel, had forewarn'd
Adam, by dire example, to beware
Apostacy, by what befel in Heav'n

To those apostates, lest the like befal
In Paradise, to Adam or his race,
Charg'd not to touch the interdicted tree,
If they transgress, and slight that sole command,
So easily obey'd amid the choice

Of all tastes else to please their appetite,

Though wand'ring. He with his consorted Eve
The story heard attentive, and was fill'd

With admiration and deep muse, to hear

Of things so high and strange, things to their thought
So unimaginable as hate in Heaven,

And war, so near the peace of God in bliss
With such confusion: but the evil, soon
Driv'n back, redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung, impossible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repeal'd
The doubts that in his heart arose: and now
Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know
What nearer might concern him; how this world
Of Heav'n and Earth conspicuous first began;
When, and whereof created; for what cause;
What within Eden or without was done
Before his memory; as one whose drouth,
Yet scarce allay'd, still eyes the current stream,

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Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,
Proceeded thus to ask his heav'nly guest.

"Great things, and full of wonder in our ears, Far differing from this world, thou hast reveal'd, Divine interpreter ! by favour sent

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Down from the empyréan, to forewarn

Us timely' of what might else have been our loss,
Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach:
For which to th' infinitely Good we owe
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Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive, with solemn purpose to observe
Immutably his sov'reign will, the end

Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsaf'd 80
Gently for our instruction to impart

Things above earthly thought, which yet concern'd
Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seem'd,
Deign to descend now lower, and relate
What may no less perhaps avail us known;
How first began this Heav'n which we behold
Distant so high, with moving fires adorn'd
Innumerable; and this which yields or fills
All space, the ambient air wide interfus'd
Embracing round this florid earth; what cause
Mov'd the Creator, in his holy rest
Through all eternity, so late to build

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In Chaos, and, the work begun, how soon
Absolv'd, if unforbid thou may'st unfold
What we, not to explore the secrets, ask
Of his eternal empire, but the more
To magnify his works, the more we know.
And the great light of day yet wants to run
Much of his race though steep; suspense in Heav'n,
Held by thy voice, thy potent voice, he hears,
And longer will delay to hear thee tell
His generation, and the rising birth
Of nature from the unapparent deep:
Or if the star of evening and the moon

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Haste to thy audience, night with her will bring 105 Silence; and sleep, list'ning to thee, will watch;

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Or we can bid his absence, till thy song
End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine."
Thus Adam his illustrious guest besought:
And thus the godlike angel answer'd mild.

"This also thy request, with caution ask'd,
Obtain: though to recount almighty works
What words or tongue of seraph can suffice,
Or heart of man suffice to comprehend?
Yet what thou canst attain, which best may serve 115
To glorify the Maker, and infer

Thee also happier, shall not be withheld

Thy hearing; such commission from above
I have receiv'd, to answer thy desire
Of knowledge within bounds; beyond, abstain
To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope
Things not reveal'd, which th' invisible King,
Only omniscient, hath suppress'd in night,
To none communicable in Earth or Heav'n:
Enough is left besides to search and know.
But knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Her temp'rance over appetite, to know
In measure what the mind may well contain;
Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns
Wisdom to folly', as nourishment to wind.

"Know then, that, after Lucifer from Heav'n
(So call him, brighter once amidst the host
Of angels, than that star the stars among)
Fell with his flaming legions through the deep
Into his place, and the great Son return'd
Victorious with his saints, th' omnipotent
Eternal Father from his throne beheld

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Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake. "At least our envious foe hath fail'd, who thought

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All like himself rebellious, by whose aid
This inaccessible high strength, the seat

Of Deity supreme, us dispossess'd,

He trusted to have seiz'd, and into fraud

Drew many, whom their place knows here no more; Yet far the greater part have kept, I see,

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Their station; Heav'n, yet populous, retains
Number sufficient to possess her realms
Though wide, and this high temple to frequent
With ministeries due, and solemn rites:
But, lest his heart exalt him in the harm
Already done, to have dispeopled Heav'n,
My damage fondly deem'd, I can repair
That detriment, if such it be to lose
Self-lost, and in a moment will create
Another world, out of one man a race
Of men innumerable, there to dwell,
Not here, till, by degrees of merit rais'd,
They open to themselves at length the way
Up hither, under long obedience try'd,

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And Earth be chang'd to Heav'n, and Heav'n to Earth;
One kingdom- joy and union without end.
Meanwhile inhabit lax, ye pow'rs of Heav'n;
And thou my Word, begotten Son, by thee
This I perform; speak thou, and be it done!
My overshadowing spirit and might with thee
I send along; ride forth, and bid the deep
Within appointed bounds be Heav'n and Earth,
Boundless the deep, because I Am who fill
Infinitude, nor vacuous the space.
Though I, uncircumscrib'd myself, retire,
And put not forth my goodness, which is free
To act or not, necessity and chance
Approach not me, and what I will is fate.'

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"So spake th Almighty, and to what he spake His Word, the filial Godhead, gave effect. Immediate are the acts of God, more swift Than time or motion, but to human ears Cannot without procéss of speech be told, So told as earthly notion can receive. Great triumph and rejoicing was in Heav'n, When such was heard declar'd th' Almighty's will; Glory they sung to the most High, good will To future men, and in their dwellings peace; Glory to him, whose just avenging ire

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Had driven out th' ungodly from his sight
And th' habitations of the just; to him
Glory and praise, whose wisdom had ordain'd
Good out of evil to create; instead
Of spi'rits malign, a better race to bring
Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse
His good to worlds and ages infinite.

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"So sang the hierarchies: meanwhile the Son
On his great expedition now appear'd,
Girt with omnipotence, with radiance crown'd
Of majesty divine; sapience and love
Immense, and all his Father in him shone.
About his chariot numberless were pour'd
Cherub and seraph, potentates and thrones,
And virtues, winged spirits, and chariots wing'd
From th' armoury of God, where stand of old
Myriads between two brazen mountains lodg'd
Against a solemn day, harness'd at hand,
Celestial equipage; and now came forth
Spontaneous, for within them spirit liv'd,
Attendant on their Lord: Heav'n open'd wide
Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound
On golden hinges moving, to let forth
The King of Glory, in his pow'rful word
And spirit, coming to create new worlds.

On heav'nly ground they stood; and from the shore

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They view'd the vast immeasurable abyss
Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,

Up from the bottom turn'd by furious winds

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Far into Chaos, and the world unborn;

For Chaos heard his voice: him all his train
Follow'd in bright procession, to behold
Creation, and the wonders of his might.

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And surging waves, as mountains, to assault Heav'n's height, and with the centre mix the pole. "Silence, ye troubled waves, and thou deep, peace,'

Said then th' omnific Word,' your discord end!' 217

Nor stay'd, but, on the wings of cherubim
Uplifted, in paternal glory rode

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