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Beyond the earth's green Capel and verdant Isles 631
Hesperian sets, my signal to depart,
Be strong, live happy, and love! But, first of all,
Him, whom to love is to obey, and keep
His great command; take heed lest passion sway
Thy judgment to do aught which else free will
Would not admit: thine, and of all thy sons,
The weal or woe in thee is plac'd; beware!
I in thy persevering shall rejoice,
And all the Blest: Stand fast; to stand or fall 640
Free in thine own arbitrement it lies.
Perfect within, no outward aid require;
And all temptation to transgress repel.
So saying, he arose; whom Adam thus
Follow'd with benediction. Since to part,
Go, heavenly Guest, ethereal Messenger,
Sent from whose sovran goodness I adore 1
Gentle to me and affable hath been
Thy condescension, and shall be honour'd ever
With grateful memory: Thou to mankind 650
Be good and friendly still, and oft return
So parted they; the Angel up to Heaven
From the thick shade, and Adam to his bower.

* “Green Cape:” Cape de Werd.

BOOK IX.

THE ARGUMENT.

Satan, having compassed the earth, with meditated guile returns, as a mist,

by night into Paradise; enters into the serpent sleeping. Adam and Eve in the morning go forth to their labours, which Eve proposes to divide in several places, each labouring apart: Adam consents not, alleging the danger, lest that enemy of whom they were forewarned should attempt her, found alone: Eve, loath to be thought not circumspect or firm enough, urges her going apart, the rather desirous to make trial of her strength; Adam at last yields: the serpent finds her alone: his subtle approach, first gazing, then speaking; with much flattery extolling Eve above all other creatures. Eve, wondering to hear the serpent speak, asks how he attained to human speech, and such understanding, not till now ; the serpent answers, that by tasting of a certain tree in the garden he attained both to speech and reason, till then void of both : Eve requires him to bring her to that tree, and finds it to be the tree of knowledge forbidden: the serpent, now grown bolder, with many wiles and arguments, induces her at length to eat: she, pleased with the taste, deliberates a while whether to impart thereof to Adam or not; at last brings him of the fruit; relates what persuaded her to eat thereof: Adam, at first amazed, but perceiving her lost, resolves, through vehemence of love, to perish with her; and, extenuating the trespass, eats also of the fruit: the effects thereof in them both ; they seek to cover their nakedness; then fall to variance and accusation of one another.

No more of talk where God or Angel guest
With Man, as with his friend, familiar us’d
To sit indulgent, and with him partake
Rural repast; permitting him the while
Venial discourse unblam'd. I now must change
Those notes to tragick; foul distrust and breach
Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt,
And disobedience: on the part of Heaven
Now alienated, distance and distaste,
Anger and just rebuke, and judgement given,
That brought into this world a world of woe,

10

Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery, 12
Death's harbinger: Sad task! yet argument
Not less but more heroick than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespoused;
Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long

Perplex'd the Greek, and Cytherea's son;
If answerable style I can obtain 20
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplor’d,
And dictates to me slumbering; or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse:
Since first this subject for heroick song
Pleas'd me long choosing, and beginning late;
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroick deem'd; chief mastery to dissect
With long and tedious havoc, fabled knights 30
In battles feign'd: the better fortitude
Of patience and heroick martyrdom
Unsung; or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, imblazon'd shields,
Impresses quaint," caparisons and steeds,
Bases” and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and tournament; then marshall'd feast
Served up in hall with sewers and seneschals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroick name 40
To person or to poem. Me, of these
Nor skill'd nor studious, higher argument
Remains; sufficient of itself to raise

**Impresses quaint:’ devices on the shield.—” “Bases:’ mantles worn by knights.

That name, unless an age too late, or cold 44

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 50 '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, descried 60 His entrance, and forewarn'd the Cherubim That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven, The space of seven 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 the eighth return'd; and on the coast averse From entrance or Cherubic watch, by stealth Found unsuspected way. There was a place, Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the change, Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise, 71 | 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, involved in rising mist; then sought Where to lie hid: sea he had search'd, and land,

1 * Colure:” a circle at right angles with the poles of the world.

From Eden over Pontus and the pool
Maeotis, up beyond the river Ob ;1
Downward as far antarctick: 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 90
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 diabolick power
Active within, beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolved, but first from inward grief
His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd.
O Earth, how like to Heaven, if not preferr'd
More justly, seat worthier of gods, as built 100
With second thoughts, reforming what was old !
For what god, after better, worse would build?
Terrestrial Heaven, danced round by other Heavens
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,
In thee concentering all their precious beams
Of sacred influence As God in heaven
Is center, yet extends to all; so thou,

" 'Ob:” a river of Russia, near the north pole.—” “Orontes:” a river of Syria.-” “Darien: the isthmus joining North and South America together.

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