Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
V. Selections from “Paradise Lost”
The Poet’s Theme
John Milton (1608–1674)
 
From “Paradise Lost,” Book I.

OF man’s first disobedience and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us and regain the blissful seat,        5
Sing, heavenly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed,
In the beginning how the heavens and earth
Rose out of Chaos; or if Sion hill        10
Delight thee more, and Siloa’s brook that flowed
Fast by the oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues        15
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
 
  And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for thou know’st; thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread        20
Dove-like sat’st 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.
 
 
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