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النشر الإلكتروني

PARADISE LOST.

BOOK IX.

THE ARGUMENT.

Satan having compassed the earth, with meditated guile returns as a mist by night into Paradise, and 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 Jabouring apart. Adam consents not, alleging the danger, lest that enemy, of whom they were forewarned, should attempt her found alone. Eve loth to be thought not circumspect or firm enough, urges her going apart, the rather desirous to make trial of lier strength; Adam at last yields. The serpent finds her alone; his subtle approach, first gazing, then speaking, with much Rattery 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 hiin 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 per: suaded her to eat thereof. Adam, at first amazed, but perceiv. ing 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 tragic; 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 judgment given,
That brought into this world a world of woe,
Sin, and her shadow Death, and Misery
Death's harbinger. Sad task! yet argument

Not less, but more heroic than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursu'd
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespous'd;
Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long
Perplex'd the Greek, and Cytherea's son ;
If answerable style I can obtain
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplor’d,
And dictates to me slumb'ring, or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse :
Since first this subject for heroic song
Pleas'd me, long choosing, and beginning late;
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroic deem'd, chief mast'ry to dissect
With long and tedious havoc, 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 marshalld feast
Serv'd up in hall with sewers, and seneschals;
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
Depressid: 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 liemisphere had veil'd th' horizon round: When Saian, who late fled before the threats of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd

In meditated fruud and malice, bent
On man's destruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier op himself, fearless relumu.
By night be tied, and at midnight return'd
From compassing the caril, cautious of day
Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descried
His entrance, and forewarn’d ine cherubim
That kept their watch; thence, full of anguish driven
Tlie space of seven continued nights he rode
With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line
Ile circled, four times cross’d the car of night
From pole to pole, traversing each colure;
On th' eighih return'd, and on the coast, averse
From entrance or cherubic walch, by stealth
Found unsuspected way.

There was a place,
Now not, thougb sin, not lime, first wrought the
Where Tigris at the foot of Paradise [change,
Into a gulf shot under ground, till part
Rose up a fountain by the tree of life:
Iu with the river sunk, and with it rose
Satan, involy'd in rising inist, 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 fluws
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 bis 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 pourd :

“ O earth, how like to heaven, 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 ?
Terrestial heaven, danc'd round by other heavens
That shive, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,
In thee concen’ıring all their precious beams
Of sacred influence! As God in heaven
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 shore with forest crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves ! But I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me', as from the hateful siege
Of contraries : all good to me becomes
Bane, and in heaven much worse would be my state,
But neither here seek I, no, nor in heaven,
"To dwell, unless by mast'ring heaven's Supreme;
Nor hope to be myself less miserable
By what I seek, but others to make such
As I, though thereby worse to me redound.
For only in destroying I find ease
To my relentless thoughts ; and him destroy'd,
Or won to what inay 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 powers, in one day to have marr'd

Provokes my cury, this new fav'rite

What he Almighty styld, 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 servitade inglorious well nigh half
Th’angelic name, and thinner left the throng
Of bis adorers : he to be aveng'd,
And to repair his numbers thus impair'd,
Whether such virtue spent of old now fail'd
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 heavenly spoils, our spoils. What he decreed
He'effected; man he made, and for him built
Magnificent this world, and earth his seat,
Him lord pronouncd, and, O indignity!
Subjected to his service angel wings,
And Alarning 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 highrest, 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.
Let it: I reck not, so it light well aim'd,
Since higher I fall short, on him who next

Of heave it, this man of clay, son of despite,
Whr,

- us the more to spite his Maker rais'd

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