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Can comprehend, incapable of more.

To whom the patriarch of mankind reply'd:

O favourable Spirit, propitious guest,

Well hast thou taught the way that might direct

129 505

Our knowledge, and the scale of nature set
From centre to circumference, whereon


In contemplation of created things,

By steps we may ascend to God. But say,

What meant that caution join'd, If ye be found
Obedient? Can we want obedience then

To him, or possibly his love desert,


Who form'd us from the dust, and placed us here
Full to the utmost measure of what bliss
Human desire can seek or apprehend?

To whom the Angel: Son of Heav'n and Earth,
Attend. That thou art happy, owe to God;
That thou continuest such, owe to thyself;
That is, to thy obedience: therein stand.
This was that caution giv'n thee; be advised.
God made thee perfect, not immutable;
And good he made thee; but, to persevere



He left it in thy pow'r; ordain'd thy will

By nature free, not over-ruled by fate
Inextricable, or strict necessity,

Our voluntary service he requires,
Not our necessitated: such with him

Can hearts, not free, be try'd whether they serve

Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how

Willing or no, who will but what they must

By destiny, and can no other choose?


Myself and all th' angelic host, that stand
In sight of God enthroned, our happy state
Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds :
On other surety none. Freely we serve,
Because we freely love, as in our will
'To love or not: in this we stand or fall:
And some are fall'n, to disobedience fall'n,



512. Every part of the vast system of the universe, is not only connected with the rest by a kind of natural necessity, but the connexion is apparent to the contemplative eye of reason, and hence having become acquainted with the lowest circumstance in it, the mind is carried gradually and easily on till it looks down from the highest point on the whole grand creation of the Almighty God.

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And so from Heav'n to deepest Hell. O fall,
From what high state of bliss into what woe!

To whom our great progenitor: Thy words
Attentive, and with more delighted ear,
Divine Instructor, I have heard, than when
Cherubic songs by night from neighb'ring hills
Aëreal music send: nor knew I not




To be both will and deed created free ;
Yet that we never shall forget to love
Our Maker, and obey him whose command
Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts
Assured me', and still assure: tho' what thou tell'st
Hath pass'd in Heav'n, some doubt within me move,
But more desire to hear, if thou consent,
The full relation, which must needs be strange,
Worthy of sacred silence to be heard;
And we have yet large day; for scarce the Sun
Hath finish'd half his journey', and scarce begins
His other half in the great zone of Heav'n.
Thus Adam made request: and Raphael,

After short pause, assenting, thus began:


High matter thou enjoin'st me', O prime of men, Sad task and hard; for how shall I relate To human sense th' invisible exploits


Of warring Spirits? How without remorse
The ruin of so many, glorious once

And perfect while they stood? How last unfold
The secrets of another world, perhaps
Not lawful to reveal? yet for thy good


This is dispensed; and what surmounts the reach
Of human sense, I shall delineate so,
By lik'ning spiritual to corp'ral forms,
As may express them best: though what if Earth
Be but the shadow' of Heav'n, and things therein 575
Each to' other like, more than on earth is thought?
As yet this world was not, and Chaos wild
Reign'd where these Heav'ns now roll, where Earth

now rests

Upon her centre poised; when on a day

(For time, though in eternity, apply'd

To motion, measures all things durable


551. In allusion to the command not to eat of the tree of know. ledge.

By present, past, and future, on such day



As Heav'n's great year brings forth, th' empyreal host
Of angels by imperial summons call'd,
Innumerable before th' Almighty's throne
Forth with from all the ends of Heav'n appear'd
Under their Hierarchs in order bright:
Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanced,
Standards and gonfalons 'twixt van and rear
Stream in the air, and for distinction serve
Of hierarchies, of orders, and degrees;
Or in their glitt'ring tissues bear emblazed
Holy memorials, acts of zeal and love
Recorded eminent. Thus when in orbs
Of circuit inexpressible they stood,
Orb within orb, the Father infinite,
By whom in bliss imbosom'd sat the Son,



Amidst as from a flaming mount, whose top
Brightness had made invisible, thus spake :
Hear, all ye Angels, progeny of light,
Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Pow'rs,
Hear my decree, which unrevoked shall stand:
This day I have begot whom I declare
My only Son; and on this holy hill
Him have anointed, whom ye now behold


At my right hand; your Head I him appoint;
And by myself have sworn, to him shall bow

All knees in Heav'n, and shall confess him Lord:
Under his great vicegerent reign abide
United as one individual soul,


For ever happy. Him who disobeys,

Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day

Cast out from God, and blessed vision, falls

Into' utter darkness, deep ingulph'd, his place
Ordain'd without redemption, without end.


So spake th' Omnipotent: and with his words All seem'd well pleased; all seem'd, but were not all. That day, as other solemn days, they spent

583. Milton is believed to have had Plato's idea in this expression, the latter making the great year to be the revolution of all the spheres. See also Job i. 6. 1 Kings xxii. 19.

589. A gonfalon, a streamer or banner.

598. Exodus xix.

600. This, as the former speech, is mostly derived from Scrip ture. See Ps. ii. 6, 7. Gen. xxii. 16. Phil. ii. 10, 11.

In song and dance about the sacred hill;
Mystical dance, which yonder starry sphere
Of planets and of fix'd, in all her wheels
Resembles nearest, mazes intricate,
Eccentric, intervolved, yet régular


Then most, when most irregular they seem;
And in their motions harmony divine

Listens delighted. Ev'ning now approach'd


So smooths her charming tones, that God's own ear

(For we have also' our ev'ning and our morn,

We ours for change delectable, not need)

Forth with from dance to sweet repast they turn 630
Desirous; all in circles as they stood,
Tables are set, and on a sudden piled

With angels' food, and rubied nectar flows

In pearl, in diamond, and massy gold,

Fruit of delicious vines, the growth of Heav'n. 635 On flow'rs reposed, and with fresh flow'rets crown'd, They eat, they drink, and in communion sweet Quaff immortality and joy, secure


Of surfeit, where full measure only bounds
Excess, before th' All-bounteous King, who show'r'd
With copious hand, rejoicing in their joy.
Now when ambrosial night with clouds exhaled
From that high mount of God, whence light and shade
Spring both, the face of brightest Heav'n had chang'd
To grateful twilight (for night comes not there
In darker veil) and roseate dews disposed
All but th' unsleeping eyes of God to rest:
Wide over all the plain, and wider far

Than all this globous earth in plain outspread


(Such are the courts of God) th' angelic throng, 650
Dispersed in bands and files, their camp extend
By living streams among the trees of life,
Pavilions numberless, and sudden rear'd,
Celestial tabernacles, where they slept

Fann'd with cool winds; save those who in their course
Melodious hymns about the sov'reign throne


625. It was the opinion of the Pythagorean philosophers, that a most exquisite music was produced by the motion of the spheres, some allusion to it is made in Job xxxviii. 37.

633. Rubied nectar; borrowed from Homer. 637. And with refection sweel, in the first edition. 647. Ps. cxxI. 4.

842. Ambrosial, an Homeric epithet.


Alternate all night long: but not so waked
Satan; so call him now, his former name
Is heard no more in Heav'n; he of the first,
If not the first Arch-Angel, great in pow'r,
In favour, and pre-eminence, yet fraught
With envy 'gainst the Son of God, that day
Honour'd by his great Father, and proclaim'd
Messiah King anointed, could not bear
Through pride that sight, and thought himself im-

Deep malice thence conceiving, and disdain,
Soon as midnight brought on the dusky hour
Friendliest to sleep and silence, he resolved
With all his legions to dislodge, and leave
Unworshipp'd, unobey'd the throne supreme
Contemptuous, and his next subordinate
Awak'ning, thus to him in secret spake :





Sleep'st thou, companion dear? What sleep can Thy eye-lids? and remember'st what decree Of yesterday, so late hath pass'd the lips Of Heav'n's Almighty! Thou to me thy thoughts Wast wont, I mine to thee was wont to' impart; Both waking we were one; how then can now Thy sleep dissent? New laws thou seest imposed; New laws from him who reigns, new minds may raise In us who serve, new counsels to debate


What doubtful may ensue: more in this place
To utter is not safe. Assemble thou

Of all those myriads which we lead the chief;
Tell them that by command, ere yet dim night 685
Her shadowy cloud withdraws, I am to haste,
And all who under me their banners wave,
Homeward with flying march where we possess
The quarters of the north; there to prepare
Fit entertainment to receive our King
The great Messiah, and his new commands;
Who speedily through all the hierarchies
Intends to pass triumphant, and give laws.
So spake the false Arch-Angel, and infused

657. Alternate is a verb.

671. Beelzebub is here meant, who is always represented
next in rank to Satan.


689. Sannazarius, de partu Virginis, iii. 40. Isaiah xiv. 12, 13. Jer. i. 14. vi. 1.

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