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BOOK THE NINTH.

THE ARGUMENT.

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latan having compassed the Earth, with meditated guile returns as a mist by

night into Paradise, enters into the serpent sleeping. Adam and Eve in the morning go forth to their labours, which Eve proposes to divide in several places, each labouring apart : Adam consents not, alledging the danger, lest that enemy, of whom they are forewarned, should attempt her found alone: Eve, loath to be thought not circumspect or firm enough, urges her going apart, the rather desirous to make trial of her strength ; Adam at last yields: The Serpent finds her alone; his subtle approach, first gazing, then speaking, with much flattery extolling Eve above all other creatures. Eve, wondering to hear the Serpent speak, asks how he attained to human speech and such under. standing not till now; the Serpent answers, that by tasting of a certain tree in the garden he attained both to speech and reason, till then void of both: Eve requires him to bring her to that tree, and finds it to be the tree of know. ledge forbidden : The Serpent now grown bolder, with many wiles and arguments induces her at length to eat; she, pleased with the taste, deliberates a while whether to impart thereof to Adam or not, at last brings him of the fruit, relates what persuaded her to eat thereof: Adam at first amazed, but perceiving her lost, resolves through vehemence of love to perish with her ; and extenuating the trespass eats also of the fruit : The effects thereof in them both; they seek to cover their nakedness; then fall to variance and accusation of one another.

No more

more of talk where God or Angel guest
With Man, as with his friend, familiar us'd
To sit indulgent, and with him partake
Rural repast, permitting him the while
Venial discourse unblam'd : I now must change
Those notes to tragic; foul distrust, and breach
Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt,
And disobedience; on the part of Heaven
Now alienated, distance and distaste,

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Anger and just rebuke, and judgment given,
That brought into this world a world of woe,
Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery
Death's harbinger : Sad task, yet argument
Not less but more heroic than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursu'd
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespous’d,
Or Neptune's ire or Juno's, that so long
Perplex'd the Greek and Cytherea's Son;
If answerable style I can obtain
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplor’d,
And dictates to me slumb'ring, or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse :
Since first this subject for heroic song
Pleas'd me long choosing, and beginning late;
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroic deem'd, chief mast’ry to dissect
With long and tedious havoc fabled knights
In battles feign'd; the better fortitude
Of patience and heroic martyrdom
Unsung; or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, emblazon'd shields,
Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds;
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and tournament; then marshal'd feast
Serv'd up in hall with sewers, and seneshals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,

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Not that which justly gives heroic name

40 To person or to poem. Me of these Nor skill'd nor studious, higher argument Remains, sufficient of itself to raise That name, unless an age too late, or cold Climate, or years damp my intended wing

45 Depress’d, and much they may, if all be mine, Not her's who brings it nightly to my ear.

The sun was sunk, and after him the star
Of Hesperus, whose office is to bring
Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter
"Twixt day and night, and now from end to end
Night's hemisphere had veil'd th' horizon round:
When Satan who late fled before the threats
Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd
In meditated fraud and malice, bent

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On Man's destruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier on himself, fearless return'd.
By night he fled, and at midnight return'd
From compassing the earth, cautious of day,
Since Uriel regent of the sun descry'd

бо His entrance, and forewarn'd the Cherubim That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven, The

space of sev’n continued nights he rode With darkness, thrice the equinoctial line He circled, four times cross'd the car of night 65 From pole to pole, travérsing each colúre; On th' eighth return'd, and on the coast averse From entrance or Cherubic watch, by stealth Found unsuspected way. There was a place,

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Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the change,

70 Where Tigris at the foot of Paradise Into a gulf shot under ground, till part Rose up a fountain by the tree of life; In with the river sunk, and with it rose Satan involv'd in rising mist, then sought

75 Where to lie hid ; sea he had search'd and land From Eden over Pontus, and the pool Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob; Downward as far antarctic; and in length West from Orontes to the ocean barr'd At Darien, thence to the land where flows Ganges and Indus: thus the orb he roam'd With narrow search, and with inspection deep Consider'd every creature, which of all Most opportune might serve his wiles, and found 85 The serpent subtlest beast of all the field. Him after long debate, irresolute Of thoughts revolv'd, his final sentence chose Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom To enter, and his dark suggestions hide From sharpest sight: for in the wily snake, Whatever sleights none would suspicious mark, As from his wit and native subtlety Proceeding, which in other beasts observ'd Doubt might beget of diabolic power

95 Active within beyond the sense of brute. Thus he reşolv'd, but first from inward grief His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd.

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III

O EARTH, how like to Heay'n, if not preferr'd
More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as built
With second thoughts, reforming what was old !
For what God after better worse would build ?
Terrestrial Heav'n, danc'd round by other Heavens
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems
In thee concentring all their recious beams
Of sacred influence! As God in Heaven
Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou
Centring receiv’st from all those orbs; in thee,
Not in themselves, all their known virtue' appears
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth
Of creatures animate with gradual life
Of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in Man.
With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,
If I could joy in ought, sweet interchange

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Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
Now land, now sca, and shores with forests crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me', as from the hateful siege
Of contraries; all good to me becomes
Bane, and in Heav'n much worse would be my state.
But neither here seek I, no nor in Heav'n
To dwell, unless by mast'ring Heav'n's supreme ; 125
Nor hope to be myself less miserable
By what I seek, but others to make such
As I, though thereby worse to me redound;

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