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Satan, 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, alleging the danger, lest that enemy, of whom they were forewarned, should attempt her found alone. Eve, loth to be thought not circumspect or fim 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 Serpeut 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 reason, 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 holder, 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 to 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 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,

Anger and just rebuke, and judgment giv'n,
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





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Heroic deem'd, chief mast'ry to dissect,

With long and tedious havock, 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 marshall'd feast

Serv'd up in hall with sewers, and seneshals;
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
Remains, sufficient of itself to raise


That name, unless an age too late, or cold

Climate, or years, damp my intended wing
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

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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


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From pole to pole, traversing each colure;

On th' eighth return'd, and on the coast, averse
From entrance or Cherubic watch, by stealth
Found unsuspected way. There was a place,

Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the change, 70
Where Tigris at the foot of Paradise

Into a gulph 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

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
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 suggestion 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
Active within, beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolv'd; but first, from inward grief,
His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd.
"Earth, how like to Heav'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?




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