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This first book propofes, firft in brief, the whole fubject, man's difobedience, and the lafs thereupon of Paradife wherein he was placed. Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the ferpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his fide many legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of heaven with all his crew into the great deep. Which action pafs'd over, the Poem haftes into the midft of things, prefenting Satan with bis Angels now fallen into hell, describ'd here, not in the centre (for heav'n and earth may be fuppos'd as yet not made, certainly not yet accurs'd) but in a
place of utter darkness, fitlieft call'd Chaos: Here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning lake, thunder-ftruck and aftonish'd, after a certain space recovers, as from confufion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him: they confer of their miferable fall. Satan awakens all his legions, who lay 'till then in the fame manner confounded: they rife; their numbers, array of battel, their chief leaders nam'd, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan, and the countries adjoining. To thefe Satan directs his fpeech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining heaven: but tells them laftly of a new world, and new kind of creature to be created; according to an antient prophecy or report in heaven: for that Angels were long before this vifible creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to a full council. What his affociates thence attempt. Pandemonium, the palace of Satan, rifes, fuddenly built out of the deep: the infernal peers there fit in council.
F Man's firft difobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whofe mortal tafte
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With lofs of Eden, till one Greater Man
Reftore us, and regain the blissful feat,
Sing heav'nly Mufe! that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didft inspire
That shepherd, who first taught the chofen feed,
In the beginning how the heav'ns, and earth,
Rofe out of Chaos. Or if Sion hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flow'd
Faft by the oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous fong:
That with no middle flight intends to foar
Above th' Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in profe or rhyme.
And chiefly thou, O Spirit! that dost prefer
Before all temples th' upright heart and pure,
Inftruct me, for thou know'st: thou from the first
Waft prefent, and with mighty wings out-fpread, 20
Dove-like fat'st brooding on the vaft Abyss,
And mad'ft it pregnant: what in me is dark,
Illumine! what is low, raise and support!
That to the height of this great argument
I may affert eternal Providence,
And justifie the ways of God to men.
Say firft, (for heav'n hides nothing from thy view, Nor the deep tract of hell) fay firft what cause Mov'd our grand Parents, in that happy state
Favour'd of heav'n fo highly, to fall off
From their Creator, and tranfgrefs His will
For one restraint, lords of the world befides?
Who firft feduc'd them to that foul revolt?
Th'infernal ferpent! he it was, whose guile,
Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceiv'd
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had caft him out from heav'n, with all his hoft
Of rebel Angels: by whose aid aspiring
To fet himself in glory above his Peers,
He trusted to have equall'd the Most High,
If He oppos'd: and with ambitious aim,
Against the throne, and monarchy of God,
Rais'd impious war in heav'n, and battel proud,
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Pow'r
Hurl'd headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky, 45
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomlefs perdition: there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durft defy th' Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and night 50
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquish'd, rolling in the fiery gulf,
Confounded though immortal! But his doom
Mix'd with obdurate pride, and ftedfaft hate.
At once, as far as angels ken, he views
Referv'd him to more wrath: for now the thought
Both of loft happiness, and lasting pain,
Torments him. Round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witness'd huge affliction and dismay,
The difmal fituation waste and wild :
A dungeon horrible, on all fides round,
As one great furnace, flam'd: yet from thofe flames
No light, but rather darkness visible,
Serv'd only to difcover fights of woe,
Regions of forrow! doleful fhades! where peace 65
And reft can never dwell! hope never comes,
That comes to all: but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning fulphur unconfum'd!
Such place eternal juftice had prepar'd
For those rebellious; here their prifon ordain'd,
In utter darkness; and their portion fet
As far remov'd from God, and light of heav'n,
As from the centre thrice to th' utmoft Pole.
O how unlike the place from whence they fell! 75
There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelm'd
With floods and whirlwinds of tempeftuous fire,
He foon difcerns: and welt'ring by his fide
One next himself in power, and next in crime,
Long after known in Palatine, and nam'd
Beelzebub: To whom th' arch-enemy,
(And thence in heav'n call'd Satan) with bold words
Breaking the horrid filence thus began.
If thou beeft He-- But O how fall'n! how chang'd
From him, who in the happy realms of light 85
Cloath'd with transcendent brightness, didft out-fhine
Myriads tho' bright! If He, whom mutual league,
United thoughts and counsels, equal hope,
And hazard in the glorious enterprize,`