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For well I understand, in the prime end
Of nature, her th' inferior in the mind
And inward faculties, which most excel
In outward; also her resembling less


His image who made both, and less expressing

The character of that dominion giv'n


O'er other creatures; yet, when I approach

Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself, complete; so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say,
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best!
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded! Wisdom in discourse with her
Loses, discount'nanced, and like folly shews.
Authority and reason on her wait,


As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and to consummate all,


Greatness of Mind and Nobleness their seat
Build in her, loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelic placed!

To whom the Angel, with contracted brow:
Accuse not Nature; she hath done her part:
Do thou but thine, and be not diffident
Of wisdom; she deserts thee not, if thou


Dismiss not her, when most thou need'st her nigh, By attribúting overmuch to things



Less excellent, as thou thyself perceiv'st.
For what admir'st thou? what transports thee so?
An outside? Fair no doubt, and worthy well
Thy cherishing, thy honouring, and thy love;
Not thy subjection. Weigh with her thyself,
Then value. Oft-times nothing profits more
Than self-esteem, grounded on just and right
Well managed. Of that skill the more thou know'st,
The more she will acknowledge thee her head,
And to realities yield all her shows;
Made so adorn for thy delight the more,
So awful, that with honour thou may'st love
Thy mate, who sees when thou art seen least wise.


547. Absolute; complete, as used in the former instance, line 421. 568. Eph. v. 28, 29.

576. Adorn, for adorn'd, to avoid the inharmonious sound of the Latter with the word made.-It is thus used, as fledge for fledged, and comes from the Italian adjective adorno.

But if the sense of touch, whereby mank.nd
Is propagated, seem such dear delight
Beyond all other, think the same vouchsafed
To cattle and each beast; which would not be
To them made common and divulged, if aught
Therein enjoy'd were worthy to subdue
The soul of man, or passion in him move.
What higher in her society thou find'st
Attractive, human, rational, love still.
In loving thou dost well, in passion not,
Wherein true love consists not. Love refines
The thoughts, and heart enlarges; hath his seat
In reason, and is judicious; is the scale
By which to heav'nly love thou may'st ascend,
Not sunk in carnal pleasure: for which cause
Among the beasts no mate for thee was found.
To whom thus, half abash'd, Adam reply'd:
Neither her outside, form'd so fair, nor aught
In procreation, common to all kinds,
(Though higher of the genial bed by far,
And with mysterious reverence I deem)

So much delights me as those graceful acts,
Those thousand decencies, that daily flow
From all her words and actions, mix'd with love
And sweet compliance; which declare unfeign'd
Union of mind, or in us both one soul:
Harmony to behold in wedded pair,

More grateful than harmonious sound to th' ear.
Yet these subject not: I to thee disclose
What inward thence I feel, not therefore foil'd,
Who meet with various objects, from the sense

Variously representing; yet, still free,








Approve the best, and follow what I approve.
To love thou blam'st me not; for love thou say'st
Leads up to Heav'n; is both the way and guide.
Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask:
Love not the heav'nly Spirits? and how their love
Express they? by looks only'? or do they mix
Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch?

To whom the Angel, with a smile that glow'd
Celestial rosy red (love's proper hue),


589. It is supposed that Milton a judes in this passage to Plato's theory of divine love.

Answer'd: Let it suffice thee that thou know'st 620

Us happy'; and without love no happiness.
Whatever pure thou in the body' enjoy'st
(And pure thou wert created) we enjoy
In eminence, and obstacle find none

Of membrane, joint, or limb, exclusive bars.
Easier than air with air, if Spirits embrace,
Total they mix, union of pure with pure
Desiring; not restrain'd conveyance need,
As flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul.
But I can now no more; the parting sun



Beyond the earth's green cape and verdant isles
Hesperian sets, my signal to depart.

Be strong, live happy', and love, but first of all,
Him whom to love is to obey, and keep

His great command: take heed lest passion sway 635 Thy judgment to do aught which else free will

Would not admit; thine and of all thy sons

The weal or woe in thee is placed; beware.

I in thy persevering shall rejoice,

And all the Blest.

Stand fast; to stand or fall
Free in thine own arbitrement it lies.
Perfect within, no outward aid require;
And all temptation to transgress repel.

So saying, he arose; whom Adam thus
Follow'd with benediction: Since to part,
Go heav'nly Guest, ethereal Messenger,
Sent from whose sov'reign goodness! adore.
Gentle to me and affable hath been



Thy condescension, and shall be honour'd ever
With grateful memory; thou to mankind
Be good and friendly still, and oft return.


So parted they; the Angel up to Heav'n From the thick shade, and Adam to his bower.

634. 1 John v. 3.

645. Benediction; not signifying blessing, but farewell. 652. His bower, that is, his inmost bower or place of rest.



Satan, having compassed the earth with meditated guile, returns as a mist by night into Paradise, erters 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, alleging the danger, lest that enemy, of whom they were 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 ap proach, 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 understanding not till now: the Serpent answers, that by tasting of a certain tree in the garden he attained both to speech and rea.. son; till then void of both: Eve requires him to bring her to that tree, and finds it to be the tree of knowledge, forbidden: The Serpent, now grown bolder, with many wiles and arguments, in duces 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 of talk where God or Angel guest
With Man, as with his friend, familiar used
To sit indulgent, and with him partake
Rural repast, permitting him the while

Venial discourse, unblamed: 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 Heav'n

Now alienated, distance and distaste,

Anger and just rebuke, and judgment given,
That brought into this world a world of woe,
Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery,


1. Milton has arranged the divisions of his poem with great skill. The reader is by turns filled with awe and delight, astonishment and wonder: after having been terror-stricken at the sublime account of the fall of the angels, he is charmed and soothed by the description of Paradise, and the sweet discourse of philosophy, carried on between Raphael and Adam. A new order of feelings are now to be awakened, and pity, mingled with fear, possesses us through the whole book.

11. Nothing can be in worse taste than this and other such puns; but not a great poet is perhaps to be found, with a taste so pure, that it could resist altogether the corruptions of the popular one.

Death's harbinger. Sad task! yet argument
Not less but more heroic than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespoused,
Or Neptune's ire or Juno's, that so long
Perplex'd the Greek and Cytherea's son:
If answerable style I can obtain



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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

Served up in hall with sewers and seneschals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,

Not that which justly gives heroic name
To person or to poem. Me of these


Nor skill'd nor studious, higher argument

21. The picture of Milton, which here rises to the mind, is among the most beautiful of the visions to which the poem gives birth. Blind, deserted, but inspired, how like a character in the work does he seem to the imagination, while thus speaking of his communion with the heavenly muse.

26. He had, long before commencing Paradise Lost, or designing it even, determined to write an Epic on the subject of King Arthur's history.

28. Allusion is made in this passage to the principal Epics, the subjects of which are almost all drawn from the wars of one country or the other. The most ardent lover of the classic poeme cannot but feel Milton's objection to be correct; the only caution to be observed, is, not to mistake his dislike of their subjects for any depreciation of the sublime geniuses which composed them.

35. Impresses quaint; witty devices on the shields-Bases, or housings. Sewers, servants who placed the dishes on the table. -Seneschal, a principal servant, or steward.

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