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The first Book proposes, first in brief, the wholo subject, Man's dis
obedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was placed: Then touches the prime cause of bis Fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the Serpent; who, revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of Angels, was, by the com inand of God, driven out of Heaven, with all his crew, into the great deep. Which action passed over, the Poem hastens into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now falling into Hell, described here, not in the centre (for Heaven and Earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed,) but in a place of utter darkness fitliest called Chaos :- Here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning lake, thunderstruck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him; They confer of their miserable fall; Satan awakens als his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded. They rise; their numbers; array of battle; their chief leaders named, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining Heaven, but tells them lastly of a new world and new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy or report in Heaven; for, that Angels were long before this visible 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 associates thence attempt. Pandemonium, the palace of Satan, rises, suddenly built out of the deep: The infornal peer there sit in council.
OF Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues
15 Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme. And chiefly Thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer Before all temples the upright heart and pure, Instruct me, for Thou know'st ; Thou from the first Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread 20 Dovelike sat'st brooding on the vast abyss, And madest it pregnant: What in me is dark, Illumine ; what is low, raise and support; That to the height of this great argument I may assert Eternal Providence,
25 And justify the ways of God to men.
Say first, for Heaven hides nothing from thy view, Nor the deep tract of Hell; say first, what cause Moved our grand Parents, in that happy state, Favour'd of Heaven so highly, to fall off
30 From their Creator, and transgress his will For one restraint,, lords of the world besides ? Who first seduced them to that foul revolt? The infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile, Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceived 35 The mother of mankind, what time his pride Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host Of rebel Angels; by whose aid, aspiring To set himself in glory above his peers, He trusted to have equal'd the Most High, 40 If he opposed; and, with ambitious aim Against the throne and monarchy of God, Raised impious war in Heaven, and battle proud, With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power Hurl'd headlong flaming from the ethereal sky, 45 With hideous ruin and combustion, down To bottomless perdition; there to dwell In adamantine chains and penal fire, Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms. Nine times the space that measures day and night 50 To mortal men, ho with his horrid crew Lay vanquish'd, rolling in the fiory gulf,
Confounded, though immortal: But his doom
If thou be he; but o, how fallen! how changod
In equal ruin! Into what pit thou seest,
106 And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield, And what is else not to be overcome ; That glory never shall his wrath or might 110 Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace With suppliant knee, and deify his power, Who from the terror of this arm so late Doubted his empire; that were low indeed, That were an ignominy, and shame beneath 115 This downfal: since, by fate, the strength of Gods And this empyreal substance cannot fail ; Since through experience of this great event In arms not worse, in foresight much advanced, We may with more successful hope resolve 120 To wage, by force or guile, eternal war Irreconcilable to our grand Foe, Who now triumphs, and, in the excess of joy Sole reigning, holds the tyranny of Heaven.
So spake the apostate Angel, though in pain, 125 Vaunting aloud, but rack'd with deep despair : And him thus answer'd soon his bold compeer. O Prince, o Chief of many throned Powers, answer