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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 draw. ing 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 bastens 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, thunder-struck 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 i 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
5 Sing, heav'nly 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 Heav'ns and Earth Rose out of Chaos; or if Sion hill
10 Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook, that flow'd Fast by the oracle of God; I thence Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above th’ Aonian mount, while it pursues
15 Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme. And chiefly Thou, o Spi'rit, that dost prefer Before all temples th' upright heart and pure, Instruct
for Thou know'st;/Thou from the first Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread, 20 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 height of this great argument
I may assert eternal Providence,
25 And justify the ways of God to men.
Say first, for Heav'n hides nothing from thy view, Nor the deep tract of Hell; say first, what cause Mov'd our grand parents, in that happy state, Favour'd of Heav'n so highly, to fall off
30 From their Creator, and transgress his will For one restraint, lords of the world besides? Who first seduc'd them to that foul revolt? Th’infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile, Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceiv'd 35 The mother of mankind, what time his pride Had cast bim out from Heav'n, with all his host Of rebel angels; by whose aid, aspiring To set himself in glory' above bis peers, He trusted to have equall'd the most High,
40. If he oppos'd; and, with ambitious aim Against the throne and monarchy of God, Rais'd impious war in Heav'n, and battle proud, With vain attempt. Him the almighty Power Hurl'd headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky, 45 With hideous ruin and combustion, down To bottomless perdition, there to dwell In adamantine chains and penal fire, Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms. Nine times the space that measures day and night 50 To mortal men, he with his horrid crew Lay vanquish'd, rolling in the fiery gulf, Confounded, though immortal : but his doom Reserv'd him to more wrath; for now the thought Both of lost happiness, and lasting pain,
55 Torments him round he throws his baleful eyes, That witness'd huge affliction and dismay, Mix'd with obdurate pride and stedfast hate: At once, as far as angels ken, he views The dismal situation waste and wild;
60 A dungeon horrible on all sides round, As one great furnace flam'd; yet from those dames No light, but rathe kness visible