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Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed,
In the beginning how the heav'ns and earth
Rose out of chaos: or, if Sion hill

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Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flow'd
Fast by the oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th’ Aonian mount, while it pursues 15
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
And chiefly Thou, O Sp’rit, that dost prefer
Before all temples th’ upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for thou knowst: thou from the first
Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread, 20
Dove-like satst brooding on the vast abyss,
And mad'st it pregnant: what in me is dark,
Illumine: what is low, raise and support;
That to the height of this great argument
I may assert eternal Providence,

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

30 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 Of rebel angels; by whose aid, aspiring To set himself in glory above his peers, He trusted to have equall'd the Most High, 40 If he oppos’d; and, with ambitious aim Against the throne and monarchy of God, Raised impious war in heav'n, and battle proud,

With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Pow'r
Hurl'd headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky, 45
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition; there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and night 50
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquish’d, rolling in the fiery gulf,
Confounded, though immortal: but his doom
Reserv'd him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain

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Torments him: round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witness'd huge affliction and dismay,
Mix'd with obdúrate pride and steadfast hate:
At once, as far as angels' ken, he views
The dismal situation waste and wild;

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 65 And rest can never dwell; hope never comes, That comes to all; but torture without end Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed With ever-burning sulphur unconsum’d: Such place Eternal Justice had prepar'd

70 For those rebellious; here the pris'n ordain'd In utter darkness, and their portion set As far remov'd from God and light of heav'n, As from the centre thrice to th' utmost pole. O, how unlike the place from whence they fell! 75 There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelm'd With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire, He soon discerns; and weltring by his side One next himself in pow'r, and next in crime, Long after known in Palestine, and nam'd 80

Beëlzebub. To whom th' arch-enemy,
And thence in heav'n callid Satan, with bold words
Breaking the horrid silence, thus began:

“If thou be’st 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 90
In equal ruin; into what pit thou seest,
From what height fall’n; so much the stronger prov'd
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, Though chang'd in outward lustre, that fix'd mind, And high disdain from sense of injur'd merit, That with the Mightiest rais’d me to contend, And to the fierce contention brought along 100 Innumerable force of spirits arm’d, That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring, His utmost pow'r with adverse pow'r oppos'd In dubious battle on the plains of heav'n, And shook his throne. What though the field be lost? All is not lost; th' unconquerable will

106 And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield, And what is else not to be overcome, That glory never shall his wrath or might 110 Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace With suppliant knee, and deify his power, Who, from the terror of this arm, so late Doubted his empire ; that were low indeed, That were an iguominy and shame, beneath 115 This downfall; since by fate, the strength of gods, And this empyreal substance cannot fail;

Since through experience of this great event
In arms not worse, in foresight much advanc'd,
We may with more successful hope resolve 120
To wage, by force or guile, eternal war,
Irreconcileable, to our grand foe,
Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joy,
Sole reigning, holds the tyranny of heav'n.”

So spake th' apostate angel, though in pain, 125
Vaunting aloud, but rack'd with deep despair;
And him thus answer'd soon his bold compeer:

“ O prince, O chief of many-throned pow'rs, That led th' embattled seraphim to war Under thy conduct, and in dreadful deeds 130 Fearless, endanger'd heav'n's perpetual King, And put to proof his high supremacy, Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate; Too well I see, and rue the dire event, That with sad overthrow, and foul defeat, 135 Hath lost us heav'n, and all this mighty host In horrible destruction laid thus low, As far as gods and heav'nly essences Can perish: for the mind and sp’rit remain Invincible, and vigour soon returns,

140 Though all our glory extinct, and happy state Here swallow'd up in endless misery. But what if he our Conqu’ror (whom I now Of force believe almighty, since no less Than such could have oʻerpower'd such force as ours) Have left us this our sp’rit and strength entire, 146 Strongly to suffer and support our pains, That we may so suffice his vengeful ire, Or do him mightier service as his thralls By right of war, whate’er his business be, 150 Here in the heart of hell to work in fire, Or do his errands in the gloomy deep? What can it then avail, though yet we feel Strength undiminish'd, or eternal being

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To undergo eternal punishment ?

155 Whereto with speedy words th' arch-fiend repli’d:

“ Fall'n cherub, to be weak is miserable,
Doing or suff'ring: but of this be sure,
To do aught good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,

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As being the contrary to his high will
Whom we resist. If then his providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labour must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil; 165
Which oft-times may succeed, so as perhaps
Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost counsels from their destin'd aim.
But see! the angry Victor hath recall'd
His ministers of vengeance and pursuit
Back to the gates of heav'n: the sulph’rous hail,
Shot after us in storm, o'erblown, hath laid
The fiery surge, that from the precipice
Of heav'n receiv'd us falling; and the thunder,
Wing'd with red lightning and impetuous rage, 175
Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now
To bellow through the vast and boundless deep.
Let us not slip th’ occasion, whether scorn
Or satiate fury yield it from our foe.
Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild, 180
The seat of desolation, void of light,
Save what the glimm'ring of these livid flames
Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend
From off the tossing of these fiery waves ;
There rest, if any rest can harbour there; 185
And, reassembling our afflicted powers,
Consult how we may henceforth most offend
Our enemy; our own loss how repair;
How overcome this dire calamity;
What reinforcement we may gain from hope ; 190
If not, what resolution from despair."

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