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Or hear’st thou rather pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell ? Before the sun,
Before the Heav'ns thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I re-visit now with bolder wing,
Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness borne
With other notes than to th’ Orphéan lyre
I sung of Chaos and eternal Night,
Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Though hard and rare : thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sov'reign vital lamp; but thou
Revisit’st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song ; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flow'ry brooks beneath, 30
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equal'd with me in fate,
So were I equal'd with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides,
And Tiresas and Phineus prophets old:

Then feed on thoughts that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year 40
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev'n or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with an universal blank
Of nature's works to me expung’d and ras'd,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out. 50
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.

Now had th' almighty Father from above,
From the pure empyréan where he sits
High thron’d above all height, bent down his eye,
His own works and their works at once to view :
About him all the Sanctities of Heav'n

60 Stood thick as stars, and from his sight receiv'd Beatitude past utterance; on his right The radiant image of his glory sat, His only Son ; on earth he first beheld Our two first parents, yet the only two Of mankind, in the happy garden plac'd,

Reaving immortal fruits of joy and love,
Uninterrupted joy, unrival'd love.
In blissful solitude; he then survey'd
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there 70
Coasting the wall of Heav'n on this side Night
In the dun air sublime, and ready now
To stoop with wearied wings and willing feet
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd
Firm land embosom’d, without firmament,
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Him God beholding from his prospect high,
Wlierein past, present, future he beholds,
Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake.

Only begotten Son, seest thou what rage 80
Transports our Adversary > whom no bounds
Prescrib’d, no bars of Hell, nor all the chains
Heap'd on him there, nor yet the main abyss
Wide interrupt can hold; so bent he seems
On desperate revenge, that shall redound
Upon his own rebellious head. And now
Through all restraint broke loose he wings his way
Not far off Heav'n, in the precincts of light,
Directly tow'ards the new created world,
And Man there plac'd, with purpose to assay 90
If him by force he can destroys or worse,
By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert,
For Man will hearken to his glozing lies,
· And easily transgress the sole command,
Sole pledge of his obedience : So will fall,
He and his faithless progeny: Whose fault!

100

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Whose but his own ? Ingrate he had of me
All he could have; I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.
Such I created all th' ethereal Powers
And Spirits, both them who stood and them who fail'd;
Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have giv'n sincere
Of true allegiance, constant faith or love,
Where only what they needs must do appear’d,
Not what they would? what praise could they receive?
What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When will and reason (reason also' is choice)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd,
Made passive both, had serv'd necessity,
Not me! They therefore as to right belong'd,
So were created, nor can justly' accuse
Their maker, or their making, or their fate,
As if predestination over-rul'd
Their will, dispos'd by absolute decree
Or high foreknowledge; they themselves decreed
Their own revolt, not I; if I foreknew,
Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,
Which had no less prov'd certain unforeknown.
So without least impulse or shadow of fate,
Or ought by me immutably foreseen,
They trespass, authors to themselves in all
Both what they judge and what they choose ;
I form’d them free, and free they must remain,
Till they enthrall themselves; I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree

I20

for so

Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd
Their freedom, they themselves ordain'd their fall.
The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tenipted, self-deprav’d: Man fills, deceiv'd 130
By th' other first: Man therefore shall find grace,
The other none: in mercy' and justice both,
Through Heav'n and Earth, so shall my glory' ex.cel,
But

mercy first and last shall brightest shine.
Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fill'd
All Heav'ıı, and in the blessed Spi'rits elect
Sense of new joy ineffable diffus'd :
Beyond compare the Son of God was seen
Most glorious; in him all his Father shone
Substantially express'd; and in his face 140
Divine compassion visibly appear'd,
Love without end, and without measure grace,
Which uttering thus, he to his Father spake.

O Father, gracicus was that word which clos'd Thy sov’reign sentence, that man should find grace ; For which both Heav'n and Earth shall high extol Thy praises, with th' innumerable sound Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith tlıy throne Encompass'd shall resound thee ever blest. For should Man inally be lost, should Man, 150 Tly creature late so lov'd, thy youngest son, Fall cucumvented thus by fraud, though join'd With liis own folly? That be from thee far, That far be from thee, Father, who art judge Of all things made, and judgest only right, Orshall the Advers.?ry thus obtain

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