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And more endangered, than when Argo passed

Through Bosphorus betwixt the justling rocks:

Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunned

Charybdis, and by the other whirlpool steered. 1020

So he with difficulty and labour hard

Moved on, with difficulty and labour he;

But he once past, soon after, when man fell,—

Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain

Following his track, (such was the will of Heaven,)

Paved after him a broad and beaten way

Over the dark abyss, whose boiling gulf

Tamely endured a bridge of wondrous length,

From Hell continued, reaching the utmost orb

Of this frail world; by which the spirits perverse, 1030

With easy intercourse, pass to and fro

To tempt and punish mortals, except whom

God and good angels guard by special grace.

But now at last the sacred influence

Of light appears, and from the walls of Heaven

Shoots far into the bosom of dim Night

A glimmering dawn: here Nature first begins

Her farthest verge, and Chaos to retire

As from her outmost works, a broken foe,

With tumult less, and with less hostile din; 1040

That Satan, with less toil, and now with ease,

Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light,

And, like a weather-beaten vessel, holds

Gladly the port, though shrouds and tackle torn;

Or in the emptier waste, resembling air,

Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold

Far off the empyreal Heaven, extended wide

In circuit,—undetermined square or round,—

With opal towers and battlements adorned

Of living sapphire, once his native seat! 1050

And fast by, hanging in a golden chain,

This pendant World, in bigness as a star

Of smallest magnitude close by the moon.

Thither, full fraught with mischievous revenge,

Accursed, and in a cursed hour, he hies.

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THE ARGUMENT.

God, sitting on his throne, sees Satan flying towards this world, then newly created; shows him to the Son, who sat at his right hand; foretells the success of Satan in perverting mankind; clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created man free, and able enough to have withstood his tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him seduced. The Son of God renders praises to his Father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards man; but God again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards man without the satisfaction of divine justice; man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead, and therefore, with all his progeny, devoted to death, must die, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for man: the Father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all names in heaven and earth; commands all the angels to adore him. They obey, and, hymning to their harps in full quire, celebrate the Father and the Son. Meanwhile Satan alights upon the bare convex of this world's outermost orb; where, wandering, he first finds a place, since called the Limbo of Vanity; what persons and things fly up thither: thence comes to the gate of Heaven, described ascending by stairs, and the waters above the firmament that flow about it: his passage thence to the orb of the Sun; he finds there Uriel, the regent of that orb; but first changes himself into the shape of a meaner angel; and, pretending a zealous desire to behold the new creation, and man whom God had placed here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed; alights first on Mount Niphates.

Hail, holy Light! offspring of Heaven first-born!

Or of the Eternal co-eternal beam

May I express thee unblamed? since God is light,

And never but in unapproached light

Dwelt from eternity; dwelt (hen in thee,

Bright effluence of bright essence increate!

Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream,

Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the Sun, —

Before the Heavens thou wert; and at the voice

Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest io

The rising world of waters dark and deep,

Won from the void and formless infinite.

Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,

Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detained

In that obscure sojourn; while, in my flight,

Through utter and through middle darkness borne,

With other notes than to the Orphean lyre,

I sung of Chaos and eternal Night;

Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down

The dark descent, and up to reascend, 20

Though hard and rare: thee I revisit safe,

And feel thy sovran 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 quenched their orbs,

Or dim suffusion veiled. 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 flowery brooks beneath, 30

That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow,

Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget

Those other two equalled with me in fate,

So were I equalled with them in renown,

Blind Thamyris, and blind Maeonides,

And Tiresias, 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 even or morn,

Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,

Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;

But cloud instead, and ever-dunng dark

Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men

Cut off! and, for the book of knowledge fair,

Presented with a universal blank

Of Nature's works, to me expunged and rased,

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 the Almighty Father from above,
From the pure empyrean where he sits
High throned above all height, bent down his eye,
His own works, and their works, at once to view.
About him all the Sanctities of Heaven 60

Stood thick as stars, and from his sight received
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 placed,
Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love—
Uninterrupted joy, unrivalled love—
In blissful solitude. He then surveyed
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there 70

Coasting the wall of Heaven 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 seemed
Firm land imbosomed without firmament,
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Him God beholding from his prospect high,
Wherein 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
"Prescribed, no bars of Hell, nor all the chains
"Heaped on him there, nor yet the main abyss
"Wide interrupt, can hold; so bent he seems
"On desperate revenge, that shall redound
C

"Upon his own rebellious head. And now,

"Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way

"Not far off Heaven, in the precints of light,

"Directly towards the new-created world,

"And man there placed; with purpose to assay 90

"If him by force he can destroy, 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?

"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 the ethereal Powers 100

"And spirits, both them who stood, and them who failed:

"Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.

"Not free, what proof could they have given sincere

"Of true allegiance, constant faith, or love,

"Where only what they needs must do appeared,

"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 despoiled,

"Made passive both,—had served necessity, no

"Not me? They therefore, as to right belonged,

"So were created; nor can justly accuse

"Their Maker, or their making, or their fate;

"As if predestination over-ruled

"Their will, disposed 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 proved certain unforeknown.

"So, without least impulse, or shadow of fate, 120

"Or aught by me immutably foreseen,

"They trespass, authors to themselves in all,

"Both what they judge and what they choose; for so

"I formed them free, and free they must remain,

"Till they enthral themselves : I else must change

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