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iv which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoided by the learned Ancients, both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rhyme so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps wulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem, from the troublesome and modern bondage of rhyming
BOOK THE FIRST.
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 drawing 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 hastens into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now falling 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, thunderstruck 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 fall, Şatan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same man. ner 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 lastiy 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 opi. nion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of tbis 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
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
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 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 him out from Heav'n with all his host
60 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
80 Beëlzebub. To whom th' Arch-Enémy, 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, 85 Cloth'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 enterprise Join'd with me once, now misery hath join'd In cqual ruin : into what pit thou seest From what height fall'n, so much the stronger provid 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
95 Can else inflict, do I repent or change,