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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 given,
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 slumbering, 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

11 world] Atterbury proposed reading

'That brought into this world (a world of woe),'

but such is not Milton's manner.

11 a world of woe] See Davison's Poetical Rhapsody, ii. 178. ed.


'a private hell, a very world of woe.'

Wars, hitherto the only argument

Heroic deem'd, chief mastery 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 marshal'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 hers 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

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41 of these] The construction adopted by Milton occurs in Harrington's Ariosto, c. iv. st. 42.

'As holy men of humane manners skill'd.'


45 years] Grief, want, wars, clime, or say, years. Bentl. MS. 50 arbiter] Sydney, in his Arcadia, calls the sun, about the time

of the Equinox,

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An indifferent arbiter between the night and the day.'


Twixt day and night, and now from end to end
Night's hemisphere had veil'd the horizon round:
When Satan who late fled before the threats
Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd
In meditated fraud and malice, bent



On man's destruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier on himself, fearless return'd.
By night he fled, and at midnight return'd
From compassing the earth, cautious of day,
Since Uriel regent of the sun descry'd
His entrance, and forewarn'd the cherubim
That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven,
The space of seven continu'd nights he rode
With darkness, thrice the equinoctial line
He circled, four times cross'd the car of night
From pole to pole, traversing each colure;
On the 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


Where Tigris at the foot of paradise
Into a gulf shot under ground, till part
Rose up a fountain by the Tree of Life:
In with the river sunk, and with it rose

59 compassing] Sylv. Du Bartas, p. 896, of Satan,
'I come, said he, from walking in, and out,
And compassing the earthlie ball about.' Todd.

66 colure] See Lisle's Du Bartas, p. 155,

"The second is, and call'd the nigh equall colure.'



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 Antarctick; 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 suggestions hide
From sharpest sight: for in the wily snake
Whatever sleights none would suspicious mark,
As from his wit and native subtilty
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.

O earth, how like to heaven, if not preferr'd

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75 mist] Hom. I. i. 359, ἀνέδυ πολιῆς ἁλος, ηΰτ' ὀμιχλή, and Hymn Mercur. v. 141. Newton.

80 Orontes] Euphrates. Bentl. MS.

99 earth] Consult Heylin's note on this passage; who considers that there is an inconsistency between this speech of Satan and b. iii. 566.

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More justly, seat worthier of gods, as built
With second thoughts, reforming what was old!
For what God, after better, worse would build ?
Terrestrial heaven, danc'd round by other heavens
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,
In thee concentring all their precious beams
Of sacred influence. As GOD in heaven
Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou



Centring receiv'st from all those orbs: in thee,
Not in themselves, all their known virtue appears 110
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth

Of creatures animate with gradual life

Of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in man. With what delight could I have walk'd thee round, If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange

Of hill and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,


Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these

Find place or refuge; and the more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me, as from the hateful siege

Of contraries; all good to me becomes


Bane, and in heaven much worse would be my state. But neither here seek I, no nor in heaven

To dwell, unless by mast'ring heaven's Supreme;
Nor hope to be myself less miserable

By what I seek, but others to make such
As I, though thereby worse to me redound:
For only in destroying I find ease


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