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Raphael, at the request of Adam, relates how and wherefore this world was first created: that God, after the expelling of Satan and his Angels out of Heaven, declared his pleasure to create another world and other creatures to dwell therein; sends his Son with glory and attendance of Angels to perform the work of creation in six days: the Angels celebrate with hymns the performance thereof, and his reascension into Heaven.

DESCEND from Heav'n, Urania, by that name
If rightly thou art call'd, whose voice divine
Following, above th' Olympian hill I soar,
Above the flight of Pegaséan wing.
The meaning, not the name I call; for thou
Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top
Of old Olympus dwell'st, but heav'nly born:
Before the hills appear'd, or fountain flow'd,
Thou with eternal Wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of th' Almighty Father, pleased
With thy celestial song. Up led by thee
Into the Heav'n of Heav'ns I have presumed,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy temp'ring. With like safety guided down,
Return me to my native element;

Lest from this flying steed, unrein'd (as once
Bellerophon, though from a lower clime),
Dismounted, on th' Aleian field I fall
Erroneous there to wander and forlorn.

Half yet remains unsung, but narrower bound
Within the visible diurnal sphere;

Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,
More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchanged






To hoarse or mute, though fall'n on evil days,
On evil days though fall'n, and evil tongues;
In darkness, and with dangers compass'd round,
And solitude; yet not alone, while thou
Visit'st my slumbers nightly, or when morn
Purples the east: still govern thou my song,
Urania, and fit audience find, though few;
But drive far off the barb'rous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race
Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard
In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears
To rapture, till the savage clamour drown'd
Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend
Her son.
So fail not thou, who thee implores;
For thou art heav'nly, she an empty dream.

Say, Goddess, what ensued when Raphaël,
The affable Arch-Angel, had forewarn'd
Adam, by dire example, to beware
Apostasy, by what befel in Heav'n
To those apostates, lest the like befal
In Paradise to Adam or his race,

Charged not to touch the interdicted tree,

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If they transgress, and slight that sole command,

Of all tastes else to please their appetite,

So easily obey'd amid the choice

Though wand'ring. He with his consorted Eve
The story heard attentive, and was fill'd
With admiration and deep muse, to hear

Of things so high and strange, things to their thought
So unimaginable as hate in Heav'n,

And war so near the peace of God in bliss

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With such confusion: but the evil soon

Driv'n back, redounded as a flood on those

From whom it sprung, impossible to mix

With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repeal'd

The doubts that in his heart arose: and now


Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know

What nearer might concern him; how this world
Of Heav'n and Earth conspicuous, first began;
When, and whereof created; for what cause
What within Eden or without was done
Before his memory, as one whose drouth
Yet scarce allay'd, still eyes the current stream,
Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,
Proceeded thus to ask his heav'nly guest:

Great things, and full of wonder in our ears,
Far diff'ring from this world, thou hast reveal'd,
Divine interpreter, by favour sent

Down from the empyréan, to forewarn

Us timely of what might else have been our loss,

Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach:
For which to th' infinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive with solemn purpose, to observe
Immutably his sov'reign will, the end




Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsafed
Gently for our instruction to impart


Things above earthly thought, which yet concern'd

Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seem'd,

Deign to descend now lower, and relate
What may no less perhaps avail us known:
How first began this Heav'n which we behold
Distant so high, with moving fires adorn'd
Innumerable, and this which yields or fills


space, the ambient air wide interfused
Embracing round this florid Earth; what cause
Moved the Creator in his holy rest
Through all eternity so late to build
In Chaos, and the work begun, how soon
Absolved, if unforbid thou may'st unfold
What we, not to explore the secrets, ask
Of his eternal empire, but the more
To magnify his works, the more we know.
And the great light of day yet wants to run

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Much of his race, though steep; suspense in Heav'n,

Held by thy voice, thy potent voice, he hears,
And longer will delay to hear thee tell


His generation, and the rising birth
Of nature from the unapparent deep;

Or if the star of ev'ning and the moon

Haste to thy audience, night with her will bring
Silence, and sleep list'ning to thee will watch;
Or we can bid his absence, till thy song
End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine.
Thus Adam his illustrious guest besought;
And thus the God-like Angel answer'd mild:
This also thy request with caution ask'd
Obtain; though to recount almighty works,
What words or tongue of Seraph can suffice,



Or heart of man suffice to comprehend?

Yet what thou canst attain, which best may serve


To glorify the Maker, and infer

Thee also happier, shall not be withheld

Thy hearing; such commission from above

I have received, to answer thy desire

Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain
To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope
Things not reveal'd, which th' invisible King,
Only omniscient, hath suppress'd in night;
To none communicable in Earth or Heav'n:
Enough is left besides to search and know:
But knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Her temp'rance over appetite, to know
In measure what the mind may well contain;
Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns
Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind.

Know then, that after Lucifer from Heav'n
(So call him, brighter once amidst the host
Of Angels than that star the stars among)
Fell with his flaming legions through the deep




Into his place, and the great Son return'd
Victorious with his saints, th' Omnipotent
Eternal Father from his throne beheld


Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake:

At least our envious foe hath fail'd, who thought

All like himself rebellious: by whose aid


This inaccesible high strength, the seat
Of Deity supreme, us dispossess'd,
He trusted to have seized, and into fraud
Drew many,
Yet far the greater part have kept, I see,
Their station; Heav'n yet populous retains
Number sufficient to possess her realms

whom their place knows here no more;


Though wide, and this high temple to frequent
With ministeries due and solemn rites:


But lest his heart exalt him in the harm
Already done, to have dispeopled Heav'n,
My damage fondly deem'd, I can repair
That detriment, if such it be to lose
Self-lost, and in a moment will create
Another world; out of one man a race
Of men innumerable, there to dwell,
Not here, till by degrees of merit raised,
They open to themselves at length the way
Up hither, under long obedience try'd,



And Earth be changed to Heav'n, and Heav'n to Earth, 160
One kingdom, joy and union without end.
Mean while inhabit lax, ye Pow'rs of Heav'n;
And thou, my Word, begotten Son, by thee
This I perform; speak thou and be it done.
My overshadowing Spirit and might with thee
I send along; ride forth, and bid the deep
Within appointed bounds be Heav'n and Earth,
Boundless the deep, because I am who fill
Infinitude, nor vacuous the space.
Though I uncircumscribed myself retire


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