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John Milton. (1608–1674). Complete Poems.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


Paradise Lost: The Fourth Book

THE ARGUMENT.—Satan, now in prospect of Eden, and nigh the place where he must now attempt the bold enterprise which he undertook alone against God and Man, falls into many doubts with himself, and many passions—fear, envy, and despair; but at length confirms himself in evil; journeys on to Paradise, whose outward prospect and situation is described; overleaps the bounds; sits, in the shape of a Cormorant, on the Tree of Life, as highest in the Garden, to look about him. The Garden described; Satan’s first sight of Adam and Eve; his wonder at their excellent form and happy state, but with resolution to work their fall; overhears their discourse; thence gathers that the Tree of Knowledge was forbidden them to eat of under penalty of death, and thereon intends to found his temptation by seducing them to transgress; then leaves them a while, to know further of their state by some other means. Meanwhile Uriel, descending on a sunbeam, warns Gabriel, who had in charge the gate of Paradise, that some evil Spirit had escaped the Deep, and passed at noon by his Sphere, in the shape of a good Angel, down to Paradise, discovered after by his furious gestures in the Mount. Gabriel promises to find him ere morning. Night coming on, Adam and Eve discourse of going to their rest; their bower described; their evening worship. Gabriel, drawing forth his bands of night-watch to walk the rounds of Paradise, appoints two strong Angels to Adam’s bower, lest the evil Spirit should be there doing some harm to Adam or Eve sleeping: there they find him at the ear of Eve, tempting her in a dream, and bring him, though unwilling, to Gabriel; by whom questioned, he scornfully answers; prepares resistance; but, hindered by a sign from Heaven, flies out of Paradise.

O FOR that warning voice, which he who saw

The Apocalypse heard cry in Heaven aloud,

Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,

Came furious down to be revenged on men,

Woe to the inhabitants on Earth! that now,

While time was, our first parents had been warned

The coming of their secret Foe, and scaped,

Haply so scaped, his mortal snare! For now

Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down,

The tempter, ere the accuser, of mankind,

To wreak on innocent frail Man his loss

Of that first battle, and his flight to Hell.

Yet not rejoicing in his speed, though bold

Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,

Begins his dire attempt; which, nigh the birth

Now rowling, boils in his tumultuous breast,

And like a devilish engine back recoils

Upon himself. Horror and doubt distract

His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir

The hell within him; for within him Hell

He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell

One step, no more than from Himself, can fly

By change of place. Now conscience wakes despair

That slumbered; wakes the bitter memory

Of what he was, what is, and what must be

Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue!

Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view

Lay pleasant, his grieved look he fixes sad;

Sometimes towards Heaven and the full-blazing Sun,

Which now sat high in his meridian tower:

Then, much revolving, thus in sighs began:—

“O thou that, with surpassing glory crowned,

Look’st from thy sole dominion like the god

Of this new World—at whose sight all the stars

Hide their diminished heads—to thee I call,

But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,

O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams,

That bring to my remembrance from what state

I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere,

Till pride and worse ambition threw me down,

Warring in Heaven against Heaven’s matchless King!

Ah, wherefore? He deserved no such return

From me, whom he created what I was

In that bright eminence, and with his good

Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.

What could be less than to afford him praise,

The easiest recompense, and pay him thanks,

How due? Yet all his good proved ill in me,

And wrought but malice. Lifted up so high,

I ’sdained subjection, and thought one step higher

Would set me highest, and in a moment quit

The debt immense of endless gratitude,

So burthensome, still paying, still to owe;

Forgetful what from him I still received;

And understood not that a grateful mind

By owing owes not, but still pays, at once

Indebted and discharged—what burden then?

Oh, had his powerful destiny ordained

Me some inferior Angel, I had stood

Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised

Ambition. Yet why not? Some other Power

As great might have aspired, and me, though mean,

Drawn to his part. But other Powers as great

Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within

Or from without to all temptations armed!

Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?

Thou hadst. Whom has thou then, or what, to accuse,

But Heaven’s free love dealt equally to all?

Be then his love accursed, since, love or hate,

To me alike it deals eternal woe.

Nay, cursed be thou; since against his thy will

Chose freely what it now so justly rues.

Me miserable! which way shall I fly

Infinite wrauth and infinite despair?

Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;

And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep

Still threatening to devour me opens wide,

To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.

O, then, at last relent! Is there no place

Left for repentence, none for pardon left?

None left but by submission; and that word

Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame

Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduced

With other promises and other vaunts

Than to submit, boasting I could subdue

The Omnipotent. Aye me! they little know

How dearly I abide that boast so vain,

Under what torments inwardly I groan.

While they adore me on the throne of Hell,

With diadem and sceptre high advanced,

The lower still I fall, only supreme

In misery: such joy ambition finds!

But say I could repent, and could obtain,

By act of grace, my former state; how soon

Would highth recal high thoughts, how soon unsay

What feigned submission swore! Ease would recant

Vows made in pain, as violent and void

(For never can true reconcilement grow

Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep)

Which would but lead me to a worse relapse

And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear

Short intermission, bought with double smart.

This knows my Punisher; therefore as far

From granting he, as I from begging, peace.

All hope excluded thus, behold, instead

Of us, outcast, exiled, his new delight,

Mankind, created, and for him this World!

So farewell hope, and, with hope, farewell fear,

Farewell remorse! All good to me is lost;

Evil, be thou my Good: by thee at least

Divided empire with Heaven’s King I hold,

By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;

As Man ere long, and this new World, shall know.”

Thus while he spake, each passion dimmed his face,

Thrice changed with pale—ire, envy, and despair;

Which marred his borrowed visage, and betrayed

Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld:

For Heavenly minds from such distempers foul

Are ever clear. Whereof he soon aware

Each perturbation smoothed with outward calm,

Artificer of fraud; and was the first

That practised falsehood under saintly shew,

Deep malice to conceal, couched with revenge:

Yet not enough had practised to deceive

Uriel, once warned; whose eye pursued him down

The way he went, and on the Assyrian mount

Saw him disfigured, more than could befall

Spirit of happy sort: his gestures fierce

He marked and mad demeanour, then alone,

As he supposed, all unobserved, unseen.

So on he fares, and to the border comes

Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,

Now nearer, crowns with her enclosure green,

As with a rural mound, the champain head

Of a steep wilderness whose hairy sides

With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild.

Access denied; and overhead up-grew

Insuperable highth of loftiest shade,

Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm,

A sylvan scene, and, as the ranks ascend

Shade above shade, a woody theatre

Of stateliest view. Yet higher than their tops

The verdurous wall of Paradise up-sprung;

Which to our general Sire gave prospect large

Into his nether empire neighbouring round.

And higher than that wall a circling row

Of goodliest trees, loaden with fairest fruit,

Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue,

Appeared, with gay enamelled colours mixed;

On which the sun more glad impressed his beams

Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,

When God hath showered the earth; so lovely seemed

That lantskip. And of pure now purer air

Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires

Vernal delight and joy, able to drive

All sadness but despair. Now gentle gales,

Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense

Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole

Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail

Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past

Mozambic, off at sea north-east winds blow

Sabean odours from the spicy shore

Of Araby the Blest, with such delay

Well pleased they slack their course, and many a league

Cheered with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles;

So entertained those odorous sweets the Fiend

Who came their bane, though with them better pleased

Than Asmodeus with the fishy fume

That drove him, though enamoured, from the spouse

Of Tobit’s son, and with a vengeance sent

From Media post to Ægypt, there fast bound.

Now to the ascent of that steep savage hill

Satan had journeyed on, pensive and slow;

But further way found none; so thick entwined,

As one continued brake, the undergrowth

Of shrubs and tangling bushes had perplexed

All path of man or beast that passed that way.

One gate there only was, and that looked east

On the other side. Which when the Arch-Felon saw,

Due entrance he disdained, and, in contempt,

At one slight bound high overleaped all bound

Of hill or highest wall, and sheer within

Lights on his feet. As when a prowling wolf,

Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,

Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve,

In hurdled cotes amid the field secure,

Leaps o’er the fence with ease into the fold;

Or as a thief, bent to unhoard the cash

Of some rich burgher, whose substantial doors,

Cross-barred and bolted fast, fear no assault,

In at the window climbs, or o’er the tiles;

So climb this first grand Thief into God’s fold:

So since into his Church lewd hirelings climb.

Thence up he flew, and on the Tree of Life,

The middle tree and highest there that grew,

Sat like a Cormorant; yet not true life

Thereby regained, but sat devising death

To them who lived; nor on the virtue thought

Of that life-giving plant, but only used

For prospect what, well used, had been the pledge

Of immortality. So little knows

Any, but God alone, to value right

The good before him, but perverts best things

To worst abuse, or to their meanest use.

Beneath him, with new wonder, now he views,

To all delight of human sense exposed,

In narrow room Nature’s whole wealth; yea, more—

A Heaven on Earth: for blissful Paradise

Of God the garden was, by him in the east

Of Eden planted. Eden stretched her line

From Auran eastward to the royal towers

Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,

Or where the sons of Eden long before

Dwelt in Telassar. In this pleasant soil

His far more pleasant garden God ordained.

Out of the fertile ground he caused to grow

All trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;

And all amid them stood the Tree of Life,

High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit

Of vegetable gold; and next to life,

Our death, the Tree of Knowledge, grew fast by—

Knowledge of good, bought dear by knowing ill.

Southward through Eden went a river large,

Nor changed his course, but through the shaggy hill

Passed underneath ingulfed; for God had thrown

That mountain, as his garden-mould, high raised

Upon the rapid current, which, through veins

Of porous earth with kindly thirst updrawn,

Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill

Watered the garden; thence united fell

Down the steep glade, and met the nether flood,

Which from his darksome passage now appears,

And now, divided into four main streams,

Runs diverse, wandering many a famous realm

And country whereof here needs no account;

But rather to tell how, if Art could tell

How, from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks,

Rowling on orient pearl and sands of gold,

With mazy error under pendant shades

Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed

Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art

In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon

Poured forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain,

Both where the morning sun first warmly smote

The open field, and where the unpierced shade

Imbrowned the noontide bowers. Thus was this place,

A happy rural seat of various view:

Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm,

Others whose fruit, burnished with golden rind,

Hung amiable—Hesperian fables true,

If true, here only—and of delicious taste.

Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks

Grazing the tender herb, were interposed,

Or palmy hillock; or the flowery lap

Of some irriguous valley spread her store,

Flowers of all hue, and without thorn the rose.

Another side, umbrageous grots and caves

Of cool recess, o’er which the mantling vine

Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps

Luxuriant; meanwhile murmuring waters fall

Down the slope hills dispersed, or in a lake,

That to the fringèd bank with myrtle crowned

Her crystal mirror holds, unite their streams.

The birds their quire apply; airs, vernal airs,

Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune

The trembling leaves, while universal Pan,

Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance,

Led on the eternal Spring. Not that fair field

Of Enna, where Proserpin gathering flowers,

Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis

Was gathered—which cost Ceres all that pain

To seek her through the world—nor that sweet grove

Of Daphne, by Orontes and the inspired

Castalian spring, might with this Paradise

Of Eden strive; nor that Nyseian isle,

Girt with the river Triton, where old Cham,

Whom Gentiles Ammon call and Libyan Jove,

Hid Amalthea, and her florid son,

Young Bacchus, from his stepdame Rhea’s eye;

Nor, where Abassin kings their issue guard,

Mount Amara (though this by some supposed

True Paradise) under the Ethiop line

By Nilus’ head, enclosed with shining rock,

A whole day’s journey high, but wide remote

From this Assyrian garden, where the Fiend

Saw undelighted all delight, all kind

Of living creatures, new to sight and strange.

Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall,

God-like erect, with native honour clad

In naked majesty, seemed lords of all,

And worthy seemed; for in their looks divine

The image of their glorious Maker shon,

Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure—

Severe, but in true filial freedom placed,

Whence true authority in men: though both

Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed;

For contemplation he and valour formed,

For softness she and sweet attractive grace;

He for God only, she for God in him.

His fair large front and eye sublime declared

Absolute rule; and Hyacinthin locks

Round from his parted forelock manly hung

Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad:

She, as a veil down to the slender waist,

Her unadornèd golden tresses wore

Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved

As the vine curls her tendrils—which implied

Subjection, but required with gentle sway,

And by her yielded, by him best received—

Yielded, with coy submission, modest pride,

And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.

Nor those mysterious parts were then concealed:

Then was not guilty shame. Dishonest shame

Of Nature’s works, honour dishonourable,

Sin-bred, how have ye troubled all mankind

With shews instead, mere shews of seeming pure

And banished from man’s life his happiest life,

Simplicity and spotless innocence!

So passed they naked on, nor shunned the sight

Of God or Angel; for they thought no ill:

So hand in hand they passed, the loveliest pair

That ever since in love’s embraces met—

Adam the goodliest man of men since born

His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve.

Under a tuft of shade that on a green

Stood whispering soft, by a fresh fountain-side.

They sat them down; and, after no more toil

Of their sweet gardening labour than sufficed

To recommend cool Zephyr, and make ease

More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite

More grateful, to their supper-fruits they fell—

Nectarine fruits, which the complaint boughs

Yielded them, sidelong as they sat recline

On the soft downy bank damasked with flowers.

The savoury pulp they chew, and in the rind,

Still as they thirsted, scoop the brimming stream

Nor gentle purpose, nor endearing smiles

Wanted, nor youthful dalliance, as beseems

Fair couple linked in happy nuptial league,

Alone as they. About them frisking played

All beasts of the earth, since wild, and of all chase

In wood or wilderness, forest or den.

Sporting the lion ramped, and in his paw

Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,

Gambolled before them; the unwieldy elephant,

To make them mirth, used all his might, and wreathed

His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly,

Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine

His breaded train, and of his fatal guile

Gave proof unheeded. Others on the grass

Couched, and, now filled with pasture, gazing sat,

Or bedward ruminating; for the sun,

Declined, was hastening now with prone career

To the Ocean Isles, and in the ascending scale

Of Heaven the stars that usher evening rose:

When Satan, still in gaze as first he stood,

Scarce thus at length failed speech recovered sad:—

“O Hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold?

Into our room of bliss thus high advanced

Creatures of other mould—Earth-born perhaps,

Not Spirits, yet to Heavenly Spirits bright

Little inferior—whom my thoughts pursue

With wonder, and could love; so lively shines

In them divine resemblance, and such grace

The hand that formed them on their shape hath poured.

Ah! gentle pair, ye little think how nigh

Your change approaches, when all these delights

Will vanish, and deliver ye to woe—

More woe, the more your taste is now of joy:

Happy, but for so happy ill secured

Long to continue, and this high seat, your Heaven,

Ill fenced for Heaven to keep out such a foe

As now is entered; yet no purposed foe

To you, whom I could pity thus forlorn,

Though I unpitied. League with you I seek,

And mutual amity, so strait, so close,

That I with you must dwell, or you with me,

Henceforth. My dwelling, haply, may not please,

Like this fair Paradise, your sense; yet such

Accept your Marker’s work; he gave it me,

Which I as freely give. Hell shall unfold,

To entertain you two, her widest gates,

And send forth all her kings; there will be room,

Not like these narrow limits, to receive

Your numerous offspring; if no better place,

Thank him who puts me, loath, to this revenge

On you, who wrong me not, for him who wronged.

And, should I at your harmless innocence

Melt, as I do, yet public reason just—

Honour and empire with revenge enlarged

By conquering this new World—compels me now

To do what else, though damned, I should abhor.”

So spake the Fiend, and with necessity,

The tyrant’s plea, excused his devilish deeds.

Then from his lofty stand on that high tree

Down he alights among the sportful herd

Of those four-footed kinds, himself now one,

Now other, as their shape served best his end

Nearer to view his prey, and, unespied,

To mark what of their state he more might learn

By word or action marked. About them round

A lion now he stalks with fiery glare;

Then as a tiger, who by chance hath spied

In some pourlieu two gentle fawns at play,

Straight crouches close; then rising, changes oft

His couchant watch, as one who chose his ground,

Whence rushing he might surest seize them both

Griped in each paw: when Adam, first of men.

To first of women, Eve, thus moving speech,

Turned him all ear to hear new utterance flow:—

“Sole partner and sole part of all these joys,

Dearer thyself than all, needs must the Power

That made us, and for us this ample World,

Be infinitely good, and of his good

As liberal and free as infinite;

That raised us from the dust, and placed us here

In all this happiness, who at this hand

Have nothing merited, nor can perform

Aught whereof he hath need; he who requires

From us no other service than to keep

This one, this easy charge—of all the trees

In Paradise that bear delicious fruit

So various, not to taste that only Tree

Of Knowledge, planted by the Tree of Life;

So near grows Death to Life, whate’er Death is—

Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou know’st

God hath pronounced it Death to taste that Tree:

The only sign of our obedience left

Among so many signs of power and rule

Conferred upon us, and dominion given

Over all other creatures that possess

Earth, Air, and Sea. Then let us not think hard

One easy prohibition, who enjoy

Free leave so large to all things else, and choice

Unlimited of manifold delights;

But let us ever praise him, and extol

His bounty, following our delightful task,

To prune these growing plants, and tend these flowers;

Which, were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet.”

To whom thus Eve replied:—“O thou for whom

And from whom I was formed flesh of thy flesh,

And without whom am to no end, my guide

And head! what thou hast said is just and right.

For we to him, indeed, all praises owe,

And daily thanks—I chiefly, who enjoy

So far the happier lot, enjoying thee

Pre-eminent by so much odds, while thou

Like consort to thyself canst nowhere find.

That day I oft remember, when from sleep

I first awaked, and found myself reposed,

Under a shade, on flowers, much wondering where

And what I was, whence thither brought, and how.

Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound

Of waters issued from a cave, and spread

Into a liquid plain; then stood unmoved,

Pure as the expanse of Heaven. I thither went

With unexperienced thought, and laid me down

On the green bank, to look into the clear

Smooth lake, that to me seemed another sky.

As I bent down to look, just opposite

A Shape within the watery gleam appeared,

Bending to look on me. I started back,

It started back; but pleased I soon returned

Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks

Of sympathy and love. There I had fixed

Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,

Had not a voice thus warned me: ‘What thou seest,

What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;

With thee it came and goes: but follow me,

And I will bring thee where no shadow stays

Thy coming, and thy soft imbraces—he

Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy

Inseparably thine; to him shalt bear

Multitudes like thyself, and thence be called

Mother of human race.’ What could I do,

But follow straight, invisibly thus led?

Till I espied thee, fair, indeed, and tall,

Under a platan; yet methought less fair,

Less winning soft, less amiably mild,

That that smooth watery image. Back I turned;

Thou, following, cried’st aloud, ‘Return, fair Eve;

Whom fliest thou? Whom thou fliest, of him thou art,

His flesh, his bone, to give thee being I lent

Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,

Substantial life, to have thee by my side

Henceforth an individual solace dear:

Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim

My other half.’ With that thy gentle hand

Seized mine: I yielded, and from that time see

How beauty is excelled by manly grace

And wisdom, which alone is truly fair.”

So spake our general mother, and, with eyes

Of conjugal attraction unreproved,

And meek surrender, half-embracing leaned

On our first father; half her swelling breast

Naked met his, under the flowing gold

Of her loose tresses hid. He, in delight

Both of her beauty and submissive charms,

Smiled with superior love, as Jupiter

On Juno smiles when he impregns the clouds

That shed May flowers, and pressed her matron lip

With kisses pure. Aside the Devil turned

For envy; yet with jealous leer malign

Eyed them askance, and to himself thus plained:—

“Sight hateful, sight tormenting! Thus these two,

Imparadised in one another’s arms,

The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill

Of bliss on bliss; while I to Hell am thrust,

Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire,

Among our other torments not the least,

Still unfulfilled, with pain of longing pines!

Yet let me not forget what I have gained

From their own mouths. All is not theirs, it seems;

One fatal tree there stands, of Knowledge called,

Forbidden them to taste. Knowledge forbidden?

Suspicious, reasonless! Why should their Lord

Envy them that? Can it be sin to know?

Can it be death? And do they only stand

By ignorance? Is that their happy state,

The proof of their obedience and their faith?

O fair foundation laid whereon to build

Their ruin! Hence I will excite their minds

With more desire to know, and to reject

Envious commands, invented with design

To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt

Equal with gods. Aspiring to be such,

They taste and die: what likelier can ensue?

But first with narrow search I must walk round

This garden, and no corner leave unspied;

A chance but chance may lead where I may meet

Some wandering Spirit of Heaven, by fountain-side,

Or in thick shade retired, from him to draw

What further would be learned. Live while ye may,

Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return,

Short pleasures; for long woes are to succeed!”

So saying, his proud step he scornful turned,

But with sly circumspection, and began

Through wood, through waste, o’er hill, o’er dale, his roam.

Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heaven

With Earth and Ocean meets, the setting Sun

Slowly descended, and with right aspect

Against the eastern gate of Paradise

Levelled his evening rays. It was a rock

Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds,

Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent

Accessible from Earth, one entrance high;

The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung

Still as it rose, impossible to climb.

Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,

Chief of the angelic guards, awaiting night;

About him exercised heroic games

The unarmed youth of Heaven; but nigh at hand

Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,

Hung high, with diamond flaming and with gold.

Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even

On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star

In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fired

Impress the air, and shews the mariner

From what point of his compass to beware

Impetuous winds, He thus began in haste:—

“Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given

Charge and strict watch that to this happy place

No evil thing approach or enter in.

This day at highth of noon came to my sphere

A Spirit, zealous, as he seemed, to know

More of the Almighty’s works, and chiefly Man,

God’s latest image. I described his way

Bent all on speed, and marked his aerie gait,

But in the mount that lies from Eden north,

Where he first lighted, soon discerned his looks

Alien from Heaven, with passions foul obscured.

Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade

Lost sight of him. One of the banished crew,

I fear, hath ventured from the Deep, to raise

New troubles; him thy care must be to find.”

To whom the wingèd Warrior thus returned:—

“Uriel, no wonder if thy perfet sight,

Amid the Sun’s bright circle where thou sitt’st,

See far and wide. In at this gate none pass

The vigilance here placed, but such as come

Well known from Heaven; since meridian hour

No creature thence. If Spirit of other sort,

So minded, have o’erleaped these earthly bounds

On purpose, hard thou know’st it to exclude

Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.

But, if within the circuit of these walks,

In whatsoever shape, he lurk of whom

Thou tell’st, by morrow dawning I shall know.”

So promised he; and Uriel to his charge

Returned on that bright beam, whose point now raised

Bore him slope downward to the Sun, now fallen

Beneath the Azores; whether the Prime Orb,

Incredible how swift, had thither rowled

Diurnal, or this less volúbil Earth

By shorter flight to the east, had left him there

Arraying with reflected purple and gold

The clouds that on his western throne attend.

Now came still Evening on, and Twilight gray

Had in her sober livery all things clad;

Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,

They to their grassy couch, these to their nests

Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale.

She all night longer her amorous descant sung:

Silence was pleased. Now glowed the firmament

With living Saphirs; Hesperus, that led

The starry host, rode brightest, till the Moon,

Rising in clouded majesty, at length

Apparent queen, unveiled her peerless light,

And o’er the dark her silver mantle threw;

When Adam thus to Eve:—“Fair consort, the hour

Of night, and all things now retired to rest

Mind us of like repose; since God hath set

Labour and rest, as day and night, to men

Successive, and the timely dew of sleep,

Now falling with soft slumberous weight, inclines

Our eye-lids. Other creatures all day long

Rove idle, unimployed, and less need rest;

Man hath his daily work of body or mind

Appointed, which declares his dignity,

And the regard of Heaven on all his ways;

While other animals unactive range,

And of their doings God takes no account.

To-morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east

With first approach of light, we must be risen,

And at our pleasant labour, to reform

Yon flowery arbours, yonder alleys green,

Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown,

That mock our scant manuring, and require

More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth.

Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums,

That lie bestrown, unsightly and unsmooth,

Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease.

Meanwhile, as Nature wills, Night bids us rest.”

To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorned:—

“My author and disposer, what thou bidd’st

Unargued I obey. So God ordains:

God is thy law, thou mine: to know no more

Is woman’s happiest knowledge, and her praise.

With thee conversing, I forget all time,

All seasons, and their change; all please alike.

Sweet is the breath of Morn, her rising sweet,

With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the Sun,

When first on this delightful land he spreads

His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,

Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertil Earth

After soft showers; and sweet the coming on

Of grateful Evening mild; then silent Night,

With this her solemn bird, and this fair Moon,

And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train:

But neither breath of Morn, when she ascends

With charm of earliest birds; nor rising Sun

On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower,

Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after showers;

Nor grateful Evening mild; nor silent Night,

With her solemn bird; nor walk by moon,

Or glittering star-light, without thee is sweet.

But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom

This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?”

To whom our general ancestor replied:—

“Daughter of God and Man, accomplished Eve,

Those have their course to finish round the Earth

By morrow evening, and from land to land

In order, though to nations yet unborn,

Ministering light prepared, they set and rise;

Lest total Darkness should by night regain

Her old possession, and extinguish life

In nature and all things; which these soft fires

Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat

Of various influence foment and warm,

Temper or nourish, or in part shed down

Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow

On Earth, made hereby apter to receive

Perfection from the Sun’s more potent ray.

These then, though unbeheld in deep of night,

Shine not in vain. Nor think, though men were none,

That Heaven would want spectators, God want praise.

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the Earth

Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep:

All these with ceaseless praise his works behold

Both day and night. How often, from the steep

Of echoing hill or thicket, have we heard

Celestial voices to the midnight air,

Sole, or responsive each to other’s note,

Singing their great Creator! Oft in bands

While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk,

With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds

In full harmonic number joined, their songs

Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven.”

Thus talking, hand in hand along they passed

On to their blissful bower. It was a place

Chosen by the sovran Planter, when he framed

All things to Man’s delightful use. The roof

Of thickest covert was inwoven shade,

Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew

Of firm and fragrant leaf; on either side

Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub,

Fenced up the verdant wall; each beauteous flower,

Iris all hues, roses, and gessamin,

Reared high their flourished heads between, and wrought

Mosaic; under foot the violet,

Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay

Broidered the ground, more coloured than with stone

Of costliest emblem. Other creature here,

Beast, bird, insect, or worm, durst enter none;

Such was their awe of Man. In shadier bower

More sacred and sequestered, though but feigned,

Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor Nymph

For Faunus haunted. Here, in close recess,

With flowers, garlands, and sweet-smelling hearbs

Espousèd Eve decked first her nuptial bed,

And heavenly choirs the hymenæan sung,

What day the genial Angel to our Sire

Brought her, in naked beauty more adorned,

More lovely, than Pandora, whom the gods

Endowed with all their gifts; and, O! too like

In sad event, when, to the unwiser son

Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared

Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged

On him who had stole Jove’s authentic fire.

Thus at their shady lodge arrived, both stood,

Both turned, and under open sky adored

The God that made both Sky, Air, Earth, and Heaven,

Which they beheld, the Moon’s resplendent globe,

And starry Pole:—“Thou also madest the Night,

Maker Omnipotent; and thou the Day,

Which we, in our appointed work imployed,

Have finished, happy in our mutual help

And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss

Ordained by thee; and this delicious place,

For us too large, where thy abundance wants

Partakers, and uncropt falls to the ground.

But thou hast promised from us two a race

To fill the Earth, who shall with us extol

Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake,

And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep.”

This said unanimous, and other rites

Observing none, but adoration pure,

Which God likes best, into their inmost bower

Handed they went, and, eased the putting-off

These troublesome disguises which we wear,

Straight side by side were laid; nor turned, I ween,

Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites

Mysterious of connubial love refused:

Whatever hypocrites austerely talk

Of purity, and place, and innocence,

Defaming as impure what God declares

Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.

Our Maker bids increase; who bids abstain

But our destroyer, foe to God and Man?

Hail, wedded Love, mysterious law, true source

Of human offspring, sole propriety

In Paradise of all things common else!

By thee adulterous lust was driven from men

Among the bestial herds to raunge; by thee,

Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,

Relations dear, and all the charities

Of father, son, and brother, first were known.

Far be it that I should write thee sin or blame,

Or think thee unbefitting holiest place,

Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,

Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced,

Present, or past, as saints and patriarchs used.

Here Love his golden shafts imploys, here lights

His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings,

Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile

Of harlots—loveless, joyless, unindeared,

Casual fruition; nor in court amours,

Mixed dance, or wanton mask, or midnight bal,

Or serenate, which the starved lover sings

To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.

These, lulled by nightingales, imbracing slept,

And on their naked limbs the flowery roof

Showered roses, which the morn repaired. Sleep on,

Blest pair! and, O! yet happiest, if ye seek

No happier state, and know to know no more!

Now had Night measured with her shadowy cone

Half-way up-hill this vast sublunar vault,

And from their ivory port the Cherubim

Forth issuing, at the accustomed hour, stood armed

To their night-watches in warlike parade;

When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake:—

“Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south

With strictest watch; these other wheel the north:

Our circuit meets full west.” As flame they part,

Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear.

From these, two strong and subtle Spirits he called

That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge:—

“Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed

Search through this Garden; leave unsearched no nook;

But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge,

Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm.

This evening from the Sun’s decline arrived

Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen

Hitherward bent (who could have thought?), escaped

The bars of Hell, on errand bad, no doubt:

Such, where ye find, seize fast, and hither bring.”

So saying, on he led his radiant files,

Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct

In search of whom they sought. Him there they found

Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,

Assaying by his devilish art to reach

The organs of her fancy, and with them forge

Illusions as he list, phantasms and dreams;

Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint

The animal spirits, that from pure blood arise

Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise,

At least distempered, discontented thoughts,

Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,

Blown up with high conceits ingendering pride.

Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear

Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure

Touch of celestial temper, but returns

Of force to its own likeness. Up he starts,

Discovered and surprised. As, when a spark

Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid

Fit for the tun, some magazine to store

Against a rumoured war, the smutty grain,

With sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air;

So started up, in his own shape, the Fiend.

Back stept those two fair Angels, half amazed

So sudden to behold the griesly King;

Yet thus, unmoved with fear, accost him soon:—

“Which of those rebel Spirits adjudged to Hell

Com’st thou, escaped thy prison? and, transformed,

Why satt’st thou like an enemy in wait,

Here watching at the head of these that sleep?”

“Know ye not, then,” said Satan, filled with scorn,

“Know ye not me? Ye knew me once no mate

For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar!

Not to know me argues yourselves unknown,

The lowest of your throng; or, if ye know,

Why ask ye, and superfluous begin

Your message, like to end as much in vain?”

To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn:—

“Think not, revolted Spirit, thy shape the same,

Or undiminished brightness, to be known

As when thou stood’st in Heaven upright and pure.

That glory then, when thou no more wast good,

Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now

Thy sin and place of doom obscure and foul.

But come; for thou, be sure, shalt give account

To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep

This place inviolable, and these from harm.”

So spake the Cherub; and his grave rebuke,

Severe in youthful beauty, added grace

Invincible. Abashed the Devil stood,

And felt how awful goodness is, and saw

Virtue in her shape how lovely—saw, and pined

His loss; but chiefly to find here observed

His lustre visibly impaired; yet seemed

Undaunted. “If I must contend,” said he,

“Best with the best—the sender, not the sent;

Or all at once: more glory will be won,

Or less be lost.” “Thy fear,” said Zephon bold,

“Will save us trial what the least can do

Single against thee wicked, and thence weak.”

The Fiend replied not, overcome with rage;

But, like a proud steed reined, went haughty on,

Chaumping his iron curb. To strive or fly

He held it vain; awe from above had quelled

His heart, not else dismayed. Now drew they nigh

The western point, where those half-rounding guards

Just met, and, closing, stood in squadron joined,

Awaiting next command. To whom their chief,

Gabriel, from the front thus called aloud:—

“O friends, I hear the tread of nimble feet

Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern

Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade;

And with them comes a third, of regal port,

But faded splendour wan, who by his gait

And fierce demeanour seems the Prince of Hell—

Not likely to part hence without contest’.

Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours.”

He scarce had ended, when those two approached,

And brief related whom they brought, where found,

How busied, in what form and posture couched.

To whom, with stern regard, thus Gabriel spake:—

“Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescribed

To thy transgressions, and disturbed the charge

Of others, who approve not to transgress

By thy example, but have power and right

To question thy bold entrance on this place;

Imployed, it seems to violate sleep, and those

Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss?”

To whom thus Satan, with contemptuous brow:—

“Gabriel, thou hadst in Heaven the esteem of wise;

And such I held thee; but this question asked

Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain?

Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,

Though thither doomed? Thou wouldst thyself, no doubt,

And boldly venture to whatever place

Farthest from pain, where thou mightst hope to change

Torment with ease, and soonest recompense

Dole with delight; which in this place I sought:

To thee no reason, who know’st only good,

But evil hast not tried. And wilt object

His will who bound us? Let him surer bar

His iron gates, if he intends our stay

In that dark durance. Thus much what was asked:

The rest is true; they found me where they say;

But that implies not violence or harm.”

Thus he in scorn. The warlike Angel moved,

Disdainfully half smiling, thus replied:—

“O loss of one in Heaven to judge of wise,

Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew,

And now returns him from his prison scaped,

Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise

Or not who ask what boldness brought him hither

Unlicensed from his bounds in Hell prescribed!

So wise he judges it to fly from pain

However, and to scape his punishment!

So judge thou still, presumptuous, till the wrauth,

Which thou incurr’st by flying, meet thy flight

Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to Hell,

Which taught thee yet no better that no pain

Can equal anger infinite provoked.

But wherefore thou alone? Wherefore with thee

Came not all Hell broke loose? Is pain to them

Less pain, less to be fled? or thou than they

Less hardy to endure? Courageous chief,

The first in flight from pain, hadst thou alleged

To thy deserted host this cause of flight,

Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive.”

To which the Fiend thus answered, frowning stern:—

“Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain,

Insulting Angel! well thou know’st I stood

Thy fiercest, when in battle to thy aid

The blasting volleyed thunder made all speed

And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.

But still thy words at random, as before,

Argue thy inexperience what behoves,

From hard assays and ill successes past,

A faithful leader—not to hazard all

Through ways of danger by himself untried.

I, therefore, I alone, first undertook

To wing the desolate Abyss, and spy

This new-created World, whereof in Hell

Fame is not silent, here in hope to find

Better abode, and my afflicted Powers

To settle here on Earth, or in mid Air;

Though for possession put to try once more

What thou and thy gay legions dare against;

Whose easier business where to serve their Lord

High up in Heaven, with songs to hymn his throne,

And practiced distances to cringe, not fight.”

To whom the Warrior-Angel soon replied:—

“To say and straight unsay, pretending first

Wise to fly pain, professing next to spy,

Argues no leader, but a liar traced,

Satan; and couldst thou ‘faithful’ add? O name,

O sacred name of faithfulness profaned!

Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew?

Army of fiends, fit body to fit head!

Was this your discipline and faith ingaged,

Your military obedience, to dissolve

Allegiance to the acknowledged Power Supreme?

And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem

Patron of liberty, who more than thou

Once fawned, and cringed, and servilely adored

Heaven’s awful Monarch? wherefore, but in hope

To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?

But mark what I areed thee now: Avaunt!

Fly thither whence thou fledd’st. If from this hour

Within these hallowed limits thou appear,

Back to the Infernal Pit I drag thee chained,

And seal thee so as henceforth not to scorn

The facile gates of Hell too slightly barred.”

So threatened he; but Satan to no threats

Gave heed, but waxing more in rage, replied:—

“Then, when I am thy captive, talk of chains,

Proud limitary Cherub! but ere then

Far heavier load thyself expect to feel

From my prevailing arm, though Heaven’s King

Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy Compeers,

Used to the yoke, draw’st his triumphant wheels

In progress through the road of Heaven star-paved.”

While thus he spake, the angelic squadron bright

Turned fiery red, sharpening in mooned horns

Their phalanx and began to hem him round

With ported spears, as thick as when a field

Of Ceres ripe for harvest waving bends

Her bearded grove of ears which way the wind

Sways them; the careful ploughman doubting stands

Lest on the threshing-floor his hopeful sheaves

Prove chaff. On the other side, Satan, alarmed,

Collecting all his might, dilated stood,

Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved:

His stature reached the sky, and on his crest

Sat Horror plumed; nor wanted in his grasp

What seemed both spear and shield. Now dreadful deeds

Might have ensued; nor only Paradise,

In this commotion, but the starry cope

Of Heaven perhaps, or all the Elements

At least, had gone to wrack, disturbed and torn

With violence of this conflict, had not soon

The Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,

Hung forth in Heaven his golden scales, yet seen

Betwixt Astræa and the Scorpion sign,

Wherein all things created first he weighed,

The pendulous round Earth with balanced air

In counterpoise, now ponders all events,

Battles and realms. In these he put two weights,

The sequel each of parting and of fight:

The latter quick up flew, and kicked the beam;

Which Gabriel spying thus bespake the Fiend:

“Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know’st mine,

Neither our own, but given; what folly then

To boast what arms can do! since thine no more

Than Heaven permits, nor mine, though doubled now

To trample thee as mire. For proof look up,

And read thy lot in yon celestial sign,

Where thou art weighed, and shown how light, how weak

If thou resist.” The Fiend looked up, and knew

His mounted scale aloft: nor more; but fled

Murmuring; and with him fled the shades of Night.