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I may assert eternal Providence,
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 heaven so highly, to fall off
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
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from heaven, with all his host
Of rebel angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equall'd the Most High,
If he oppos'd; and with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God
Rais'd impious war in heaven and battle proud,
With vain attempt. Him the almighty Power
Hurl'd headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
33 Who] v. Hom. Il. i. 8. Hume.
48 adamantine] v. Spenser. chains.' See Todd's Note.
Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and night 50
'Together link'd in adamantine
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
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;
A dungeon horrible, on all sides round
As one great furnace, flam'd; yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv'd only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes,
That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsum'd.
Such place eternal justice had prepar'd
For those rebellious; here their prison ordain'd
In utter darkness, and their portion set
As far remov'd from God and light of heaven,
As from the centre thrice to th' utmost pole.
O how unlike the place from whence they fell!
63 darkness visible] v. Senecæ Ep. 57. de Crypt. Neapol. Nihil illis faucibus obscurius; quæ nobis præstant, ut non per tenebras videamus, sed ut ipsas.' Bentl. MS.
66 hope] Compare Jer. Taylor's Contemplations, p. 211, and see Todd's Note, p. 18.
There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelm'd
With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire,
He soon discerns, and welt'ring by his side
One next himself in power, and next in crime,
Long after known in Palestine, and nam'd
Beelzebub: To whom th' arch-enemy,
And thence in heav'n call'd Satan, with bold words
Breaking the horrid silence, thus began.
If thou beest he-But O how fall'n! how chang'd
From him, who in the happy realms of light,
Cloath'd with transcendent brightness, didst outshine
Myriads, though bright! If he, whom mutual league,
United thoughts and counsels, equal hope
And hazard in the glorious enterprize,
Join'd with me once, now misery hath join'd
In equal ruin into what pit thou seest
From what height fall'n, so much the stronger prov'd
He with his thunder; and till then who knew
The force of those dire arms? yet not for those,
Nor what the potent victor in his rage
Can else inflict, do I repent, or change,
Though chang'd in outward lustre, that fix'd mind
And high disdain from sense of injur'd merit,
That with the Mightiest rais'd me to contend,
And to the fierce contention brought along
Innumerable force of spirits arm'd,
85 Isaiah, xiv. 12. Virg. Æn. ii. 274.
'Hei mihi! qualis erat! quantum mutatus ab illo! Newton. 98 high] Spens. F. Queen. b. i. c. i. s. 19. grief, and high disdain.'
That durst dislike his reign; and, me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power oppos'd
In dubious battle on the plains of heaven,
And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; th' 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 might
Extort from me: to bow and sue for
With suppliant knee, and deify his power,
Who from the terror of this arm so late
Doubted his empire, that were low indeed,
That were an ignominy and shame beneath
This downfal; since by fate the strength of gods
And this empyreal substance cannot fail ;
Since through experience of this great event,
In arms not worse, in foresight much advanc'd,
We may with more successful hope resolve
To wage by force or guile eternal war,
Irreconcileable to our grand foe,
Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the tyranny of heaven.
So spake th' apostate angel, though in pain,
Vaunting aloud, but rack'd with deep despair:
And him thus answer'd soon his bold compeer.
O Prince, O chief of many throned Powers, That led th' imbattell'd seraphim to war Under thy conduct, and, in dreadful deeds.
Fearless, endanger'd 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 event,
That with sad overthrow and foul defeat
Hath lost us heaven, and all this mighty host
In horrible destruction laid thus low,
As far as gods and heavenly essences
Can perish for the mind and spirit remains
Invincible, and vigour soon returns,
Though all our glory extinct, and happy state
Here swallow'd up in endless misery. 60
But what if he our conqueror, (whom I now
Of force believe almighty, since no less
Than such could have o'erpower'd 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 thralls
By right of war, whate'er his business be,
140 Invincible] v. Eschyli Prometheus, ver. 1060.
̓́Ες τε κέλαινον
131 perpetual] Consult Newton's note on the word 'perpetual. 139 mind and spirit] So Satan in the Adamus Exsul of Grotius, p. 32, ed. Lauder.
Τάρταρον ἄρδην ῥίψειε δέμας
Τοὐμὸν, ἀνάγκης στερῥαῖς δίναις.