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Heroic deem'd; chief mastery to dissect,
With long and tedious havock, fabled knights
In battles feign'd; the better fortitude
Of patience and heroic martyrdom
Unsung; or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, emblazon'd shields,
Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds;
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and tournament; then marshall'd feast
Serv'd up in hall with sewers, and seneshals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroic name
To person or to poem. Me of these
Nor skill'd nor studious, higher argument
Remains, sufficient of itself to raise
That name, unless an age too late, or cold
Climate, or years, damp my intended wing
Depress'd; and much they may, if all be mine,
Not hers, who brings it nightly to my ear.

The sun was sunk, and after him the star
Of Hesperus, whose office is to bring
Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter
"Twixt day and night, and now from end to end
Night's hemisphere had veil'd the horizon round:
When Satan, who late fled before the threats
Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd
In meditated fraud and malice, bent
On man's destruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier on himself, fearless return'd.
By night he fled, and at midnight return'd
From compassing the earth, cautious of day,
Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descry'd
His entrance, and forewarn'd the cherubim
That kept their watch; thence, full of anguish driven,
The space of sev'n continued nights he rode
With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line
He circled; four times cross'd the car of night
From pole to pole, traversing each colure;
On th' eighth return'd, and on the coast, averse

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From entrance or cherubic watch, by stealth
Found unsuspected way. There was a place,
Now not, tho' sin, not time, first wrought the change,
Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise,
Into a gulf shot under ground, till part
Rose up a fountain by the tree of life:
In with the river sunk, and with it rose
Satan, involv'd in rising mist, then sought
Where to lie hid; sea he had search'd, and land,
From Eden over Pontus, and the pool
Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob;
-Downward as far antarctic; and in length
West from Orontes to the ocean barr'd
At Darien; thence to the land where flows
Ganges and Indus: thus the orb he roam'd
With narrow search, and, with inspection deep,
Consider'd every creature, which of all
Most opportune might serve his wiles, and found
The serpent subtlest beast of all the field.
Him, after long debate, irresolute
Of thoughts revolv'd, his final sentence chose
Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom
To enter, and his dark suggestions hide
From sharpest sight: for in the wily snake,
Whatever sleights, none would suspicious mark,
As from his wit and native subtlety
Proceeding, which, in other beasts observ'd,
Doubt might beget of diabolic power
Active within, beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolv'd, but first, from inward grief,
His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd.

"O Earth, how like to Heav'n, if not preferr'd
More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as built
With second thoughts, reforming what was old!
For what God, after better, worse would build?
Terrestrial Heav'n, dane'd round by other Heav'ns
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,
In thee concent'ring all their precious beams

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Of sacred influence! As God in Heav'n
Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou,
Centring, receiv'st from all those orbs; in thee,
Not in themselves, all their known virtue' appears
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth
Of creatures animate with gradual life
of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in man.
With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,
If I could joy in ought, sweet interchange
Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I see
Pleasures above me, so much more I feel
Torment within me', as from the hateful siege
Of contraries; all good to me becomes
Bane, and in Heav'n much worse would be my state.
But neither here seek I, no nor in Heaven

To dwell, unless by mast'ring Heav'n's Supreme; 125
Nor hope to be myself less miserable

By what I seek, but others to make such

As L, though thereby worse to me redound:

For only in destroying I find ease

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To my relentless thoughts; and, him destroyed, 130
Or won to what may work his utter loss,

For whom all this was made, all this will soon
Follow, as to him link'd in weal or woe;

In woe then; that destruction wide may range:
To me shall be the glory sole among
Th' infernal pow'rs, in one day to have marr'd
What he, Almighty styl❜d, six nights and days
Continued making, and who knows how long
Before had been contriving? though perhaps
Not longer than since I, in one night, freed
From servitude inglorious well nigh half
Th' angelie name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers: he, to be aveng'd,
And to repair his numbers thus impair'd,
Whether such virtue spent of old now fail'd

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More angels to create, if they at least
Are his created, or, to spite us more,
Determin'd to advance into our room
A creature form'd of earth, and him endow,
Exalted from so base original,
With heav'nly spoils, our spoils: what he decreed
He' effected; man he made, and for him built
Magnificent this world, and earth his seat,
Him lord pronounc'd; and, O indignity!
Subjected to his service angel wings,
And flaming ministers, to watch and tend
Their earthly charge: of these the vigilance
I dread; and, to elude, thus wrapt in mist
Of midnight vapour, glide obscure, and pry
In every bush and brake, where hap may find
The serpent sleeping, in whose mazy folds
To hide me, and the dark intent I bring.
O foul descent! that I, who erst contended
With Gods to sit the high'est, am now constrain'd
Into a beast, and, mix'd with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the height of deity aspir'd!
But what will not ambition and revenge
Descend to? who aspires must down as low
As high he soar'd, obnoxious first or last
To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long, back on itself recoils:

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Let it; I reck not, so it light well aim'd,

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Since higher I fall short, on him who next
Provokes my envy,
this new favourite
Of Heav'n, this man of clay, son of despite,
Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker rais'd
From dust: spite then with spite is best repaid."
So saying, through each thicket dank or dry,
Like a black mist low creeping, he held on
His midnight search, where soonest he might find
The serpent: him fast sleeping soon he found
In labyrinth of many a round self-roll'd,
His head the midst, well stor'd with subtile wilęs:

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Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,
Nor nocent yet; but on the grassy herb
Fearless unfear'd he slept: in at his mouth
The devil enter'd; and his brutal sense,
In heart or head, possessing, soon inspir'd
With act intelligential; but his sleep
Disturb'd not, waiting close th' approach of morn.
Now, when as sacred light began to dawn
In Eden on the humid flow'rs, that breath'd

Their morning incense, when all things that breathe
From th' earth's great altar send up silent praise 195
To the Creator, and his nostrils fill

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With grateful smell, forth came the human pair,
And join'd their vocal worship to the quire
Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake
The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs:
Then commune how that day they best may ply
Their growing work: for much their work outgrew
The hands' dispatch of two gard'ning so wide,
And Eve first to her husband thus began.

The clasping ivy where to climb; while I,
In yonder spring of roses intermix'd
With myrtle, find what to redress till noon:
For while so near each other thus all day
Our task we choose, what wonder if so near
Looks intervene and smiles, or object new
Casual discourse draw on, which intermits

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"Adam, well may we labour still to dress
This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower,
Our pleasant task enjoin'd; but, till more hands
Aid us, the work under our labour grows,
Luxurious by restraint; what we by day
Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind,
One night or two with wanton growth derides,
Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise,
Or bear what to my mind first thoughts present:
Let us divide our labours; thou where choice
Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind 215
The woodbine round this arbour, or direct

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