John Milton, Paradise Lost. Book Four (1674)

 

THE ARGUMENT.—Satan, now in prospect of Eden, and nigh the place where he must now attempt the bold enterprise which he undertook alone against God and Man, falls into many doubts with himself, and many passions—fear, envy, and despair; but at length confirms himself in evil; journeys on to Paradise, whose outward prospect and situation is described; overleaps the bounds; sits, in the shape of a Cormorant, on the Tree of Life, as highest in the Garden, to look about him. The Garden described; Satan’s first sight of Adam and Eve; his wonder at their excellent form and happy state, but with resolution to work their fall; overhears their discourse; thence gathers that the Tree of Knowledge was forbidden them to eat of under penalty of death, and thereon intends to found his temptation by seducing them to transgress; then leaves them a while, to know further of their state by some other means. Meanwhile Uriel, descending on a sunbeam, warns Gabriel, who had in charge the gate of Paradise, that some evil Spirit had escaped the Deep, and passed at noon by his Sphere, in the shape of a good Angel, down to Paradise, discovered after by his furious gestures in the Mount. Gabriel promises to find him ere morning. Night coming on, Adam and Eve discourse of going to their rest; their bower described; their evening worship. Gabriel, drawing forth his bands of night—watch to walk the rounds of Paradise, appoints two strong Angels to Adam’s bower, lest the evil Spirit should be there doing some harm to Adam or Eve sleeping: there they find him at the ear of Eve, tempting her in a dream, and bring him, though unwilling, to Gabriel; by whom questioned, he scornfully answers; prepares resistance; but, hindered by a sign from Heaven, flies out of Paradise.

 

           

O FOR that warning voice, which he who saw                            

The Apocalypse heard cry in Heaven aloud,                             

Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,                               

Came furious down to be revenged on men,                              

Woe to the inhabitants on Earth! that now,                                     5

While time was, our first parents had been warned                    

The coming of their secret Foe, and scaped,                             

Haply so scaped, his mortal snare! For now                              

Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down,                       

The tempter, ere the accuser, of mankind,                                          10

To wreak on innocent frail Man his loss                                    

Of that first battle, and his flight to Hell.                                     

Yet not rejoicing in his speed, though bold                                

Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,                             

Begins his dire attempt; which, nigh the birth                                       15

Now rowling, boils in his tumultuous breast,                              

And like a devilish engine back recoils                                      

Upon himself. Horror and doubt distract                                   

His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir                         

The hell within him; for within him Hell                                                20

He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell                          

One step, no more than from Himself, can fly                            

By change of place. Now conscience wakes despair                 

That slumbered; wakes the bitter memory                                 

Of what he was, what is, and what must be                                        25

Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue!                

Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view                      

Lay pleasant, his grieved look he fixes sad;                               

Sometimes towards Heaven and the full-blazing Sun,                 

Which now sat high in his meridian tower:                                          30

Then, much revolving, thus in sighs began:—                             

  “O thou that, with surpassing glory crowned,                           

Look’st from thy sole dominion like the god                              

Of this new World—at whose sight all the stars                         

Hide their diminished heads—to thee I call,                                        35

But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,                            

O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams,                                  

That bring to my remembrance from what state                         

I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere,                                

Till pride and worse ambition threw me down,                                   40

Warring in Heaven against Heaven’s matchless King!                

Ah, wherefore? He deserved no such return                              

From me, whom he created what I was                                    

In that bright eminence, and with his good                                 

Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.                                         45

What could be less than to afford him praise,                            

The easiest recompense, and pay him thanks,                            

How due? Yet all his good proved ill in me,                              

And wrought but malice. Lifted up so high,                                

I ’sdained subjection, and thought one step higher                              50

Would set me highest, and in a moment quit                              

The debt immense of endless gratitude,                                     

So burthensome, still paying, still to owe;                                  

Forgetful what from him I still received;                                     

And understood not that a grateful mind                                             55

By owing owes not, but still pays, at once                                 

Indebted and discharged—what burden then?                           

Oh, had his powerful destiny ordained                                      

Me some inferior Angel, I had stood                                         

Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised                                      60

Ambition. Yet why not? Some other Power                              

As great might have aspired, and me, though mean,                   

Drawn to his part. But other Powers as great                            

Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within                                   

Or from without to all temptations armed!                                          65

Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?                    

Thou hadst. Whom has thou then, or what, to accuse,               

But Heaven’s free love dealt equally to all?                               

Be then his love accursed, since, love or hate,                           

To me alike it deals eternal woe.                                                        70

Nay, cursed be thou; since against his thy will                            

Chose freely what it now so justly rues.                                     

Me miserable! which way shall I fly                                           

Infinite wrauth and infinite despair?                                            

Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;                                              75

And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep                                      

Still threatening to devour me opens wide,                                 

To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.                               

O, then, at last relent! Is there no place                                     

Left for repentence, none for pardon left?                                          80

None left but by submission; and that word                               

Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame                              

Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduced                             

With other promises and other vaunts                                       

Than to submit, boasting I could subdue                                             85

The Omnipotent. Aye me! they little know                                

How dearly I abide that boast so vain,                                      

Under what torments inwardly I groan.                                     

While they adore me on the throne of Hell,                                

With diadem and sceptre high advanced,                                           90

The lower still I fall, only supreme                                             

In misery: such joy ambition finds!                                             

But say I could repent, and could obtain,                                  

By act of grace, my former state; how soon                              

Would highth recal high thoughts, how soon unsay                              95

What feigned submission swore! Ease would recant                  

Vows made in pain, as violent and void                                     

(For never can true reconcilement grow                                    

Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep)                

Which would but lead me to a worse relapse                                     100

And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear                                

Short intermission, bought with double smart.                            

This knows my Punisher; therefore as far                                  

From granting he, as I from begging, peace.                              

All hope excluded thus, behold, instead                                              105

Of us, outcast, exiled, his new delight,                                       

Mankind, created, and for him this World!                                

So farewell hope, and, with hope, farewell fear,                        

Farewell remorse! All good to me is lost;                                  

Evil, be thou my Good: by thee at least                                              110

Divided empire with Heaven’s King I hold,                               

By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;                          

As Man ere long, and this new World, shall know.”                  

  Thus while he spake, each passion dimmed his face,                

Thrice changed with pale—ire, envy, and despair;                              115

Which marred his borrowed visage, and betrayed                     

Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld:                                             

For Heavenly minds from such distempers foul                          

Are ever clear. Whereof he soon aware                                    

Each perturbation smoothed with outward calm,                                120

Artificer of fraud; and was the first                                            

That practised falsehood under saintly shew,                             

Deep malice to conceal, couched with revenge:                         

Yet not enough had practised to deceive                                   

Uriel, once warned; whose eye pursued him down                             125

The way he went, and on the Assyrian mount                            

Saw him disfigured, more than could befall                                

Spirit of happy sort: his gestures fierce                                      

He marked and mad demeanour, then alone,                             

As he supposed, all unobserved, unseen.                                           130

  So on he fares, and to the border comes                                 

Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,                                           

Now nearer, crowns with her enclosure green,                          

As with a rural mound, the champain head                                

Of a steep wilderness whose hairy sides                                             135

With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild.                             

Access denied; and overhead up-grew                                     

Insuperable highth of loftiest shade,                                           

Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm,                            

A sylvan scene, and, as the ranks ascend                                           140

Shade above shade, a woody theatre                                        

Of stateliest view. Yet higher than their tops                              

The verdurous wall of Paradise up-sprung;                                

Which to our general Sire gave prospect large                           

Into his nether empire neighbouring round.                                         145

And higher than that wall a circling row                                     

Of goodliest trees, loaden with fairest fruit,                                

Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue,                                

Appeared, with gay enamelled colours mixed;                           

On which the sun more glad impressed his beams                               150

Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,                                 

When God hath showered the earth; so lovely seemed              

That lantskip. And of pure now purer air                                   

Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires                            

Vernal delight and joy, able to drive                                                   155

All sadness but despair. Now gentle gales,                                

Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense                                  

Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole                       

Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail                          

Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past                                     160

Mozambic, off at sea north-east winds blow                             

Sabean odours from the spicy shore                                         

Of Araby the Blest, with such delay                                          

Well pleased they slack their course, and many a league            

Cheered with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles;                               165

So entertained those odorous sweets the Fiend                         

Who came their bane, though with them better pleased              

Than Asmodeus with the fishy fume                                          

That drove him, though enamoured, from the spouse                 

Of Tobit’s son, and with a vengeance sent                                         170

From Media post to Ægypt, there fast bound.                           

  Now to the ascent of that steep savage hill                              

Satan had journeyed on, pensive and slow;                               

But further way found none; so thick entwined,                         

As one continued brake, the undergrowth                                          175

Of shrubs and tangling bushes had perplexed                            

All path of man or beast that passed that way.                           

One gate there only was, and that looked east                           

On the other side. Which when the Arch-Felon saw,                 

Due entrance he disdained, and, in contempt,                                     180

At one slight bound high overleaped all bound                           

Of hill or highest wall, and sheer within                                      

Lights on his feet. As when a prowling wolf,                              

Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,                      

Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve,                             185

In hurdled cotes amid the field secure,                                       

Leaps o’er the fence with ease into the fold;                              

Or as a thief, bent to unhoard the cash                                      

Of some rich burgher, whose substantial doors,                         

Cross-barred and bolted fast, fear no assault,                                    190

In at the window climbs, or o’er the tiles;                                  

So climb this first grand Thief into God’s fold:                           

So since into his Church lewd hirelings climb.                            

Thence up he flew, and on the Tree of Life,                               

The middle tree and highest there that grew,                                       195

Sat like a Cormorant; yet not true life                                        

Thereby regained, but sat devising death                                   

To them who lived; nor on the virtue thought                             

Of that life-giving plant, but only used                                        

For prospect what, well used, had been the pledge                            200

Of immortality. So little knows                                                  

Any, but God alone, to value right                                             

The good before him, but perverts best things                           

To worst abuse, or to their meanest use.                                   

Beneath him, with new wonder, now he views,                                   205

To all delight of human sense exposed,                                      

In narrow room Nature’s whole wealth; yea, more—                

A Heaven on Earth: for blissful Paradise                                    

Of God the garden was, by him in the east                                

Of Eden planted. Eden stretched her line                                            210

From Auran eastward to the royal towers                                 

Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,                                  

Or where the sons of Eden long before                                     

Dwelt in Telassar. In this pleasant soil                                       

His far more pleasant garden God ordained.                                      215

Out of the fertile ground he caused to grow                               

All trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;                           

And all amid them stood the Tree of Life,                                  

High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit                                      

Of vegetable gold; and next to life,                                                     220

Our death, the Tree of Knowledge, grew fast by—                   

Knowledge of good, bought dear by knowing ill.                       

Southward through Eden went a river large,                              

Nor changed his course, but through the shaggy hill                   

Passed underneath ingulfed; for God had thrown                                225

That mountain, as his garden-mould, high raised                        

Upon the rapid current, which, through veins                             

Of porous earth with kindly thirst updrawn,                               

Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill                                 

Watered the garden; thence united fell                                                230

Down the steep glade, and met the nether flood,                       

Which from his darksome passage now appears,                      

And now, divided into four main streams,                                  

Runs diverse, wandering many a famous realm                          

And country whereof here needs no account;                                     235

But rather to tell how, if Art could tell                                        

How, from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks,                    

Rowling on orient pearl and sands of gold,                                

With mazy error under pendant shades                                     

Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed                                               240

Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art                        

In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon                              

Poured forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain,                       

Both where the morning sun first warmly smote                         

The open field, and where the unpierced shade                                  245

Imbrowned the noontide bowers. Thus was this place,              

A happy rural seat of various view:                                           

Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm,             

Others whose fruit, burnished with golden rind,                         

Hung amiable—Hesperian fables true,                                               250

If true, here only—and of delicious taste.                                  

Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks                         

Grazing the tender herb, were interposed,                                 

Or palmy hillock; or the flowery lap                                          

Of some irriguous valley spread her store,                                          255

Flowers of all hue, and without thorn the rose.                           

Another side, umbrageous grots and caves                                

Of cool recess, o’er which the mantling vine                              

Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps                          

Luxuriant; meanwhile murmuring waters fall                                        260

Down the slope hills dispersed, or in a lake,                              

That to the fringèd bank with myrtle crowned                            

Her crystal mirror holds, unite their streams.                              

The birds their quire apply; airs, vernal airs,                               

Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune                                      265

The trembling leaves, while universal Pan,                                 

Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance,                            

Led on the eternal Spring. Not that fair field                              

Of Enna, where Proserpin gathering flowers,                             

Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis                                                270

Was gathered—which cost Ceres all that pain                           

To seek her through the world—nor that sweet grove               

Of Daphne, by Orontes and the inspired                                   

Castalian spring, might with this Paradise                                   

Of Eden strive; nor that Nyseian isle,                                                 275

Girt with the river Triton, where old Cham,                               

Whom Gentiles Ammon call and Libyan Jove,                           

Hid Amalthea, and her florid son,                                              

Young Bacchus, from his stepdame Rhea’s eye;                        

Nor, where Abassin kings their issue guard,                                       280

Mount Amara (though this by some supposed                           

True Paradise) under the Ethiop line                                          

By Nilus’ head, enclosed with shining rock,                               

A whole day’s journey high, but wide remote                            

From this Assyrian garden, where the Fiend                                       285

Saw undelighted all delight, all kind                                           

Of living creatures, new to sight and strange.                             

Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall,                                     

God—like erect, with native honour clad                                  

In naked majesty, seemed lords of all,                                                290

And worthy seemed; for in their looks divine                             

The image of their glorious Maker shon,                                    

Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure—                            

Severe, but in true filial freedom placed,                                    

Whence true authority in men: though both                                         295

Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed;                                  

For contemplation he and valour formed,                                  

For softness she and sweet attractive grace;                              

He for God only, she for God in him.                                        

His fair large front and eye sublime declared                                       300

Absolute rule; and Hyacinthin locks                                          

Round from his parted forelock manly hung                               

Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad:                        

She, as a veil down to the slender waist,                                   

Her unadornèd golden tresses wore                                                   305

Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved                                  

As the vine curls her tendrils—which implied                             

Subjection, but required with gentle sway,                                 

And by her yielded, by him best received—                              

Yielded, with coy submission, modest pride,                                      310

And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.                                        

Nor those mysterious parts were then concealed:                      

Then was not guilty shame. Dishonest shame                             

Of Nature’s works, honour dishonourable,                               

Sin-bred, how have ye troubled all mankind                                       315

With shews instead, mere shews of seeming pure                      

And banished from man’s life his happiest life,                           

Simplicity and spotless innocence!                                            

So passed they naked on, nor shunned the sight                        

Of God or Angel; for they thought no ill:                                             320

So hand in hand they passed, the loveliest pair                          

That ever since in love’s embraces met—                                 

Adam the goodliest man of men since born                               

His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve.                                 

Under a tuft of shade that on a green                                                  325

Stood whispering soft, by a fresh fountain—side.                      

They sat them down; and, after no more toil                              

Of their sweet gardening labour than sufficed                             

To recommend cool Zephyr, and make ease                             

More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite                                          330

More grateful, to their supper-fruits they fell—                          

Nectarine fruits, which the complaint boughs                             

Yielded them, sidelong as they sat recline                                  

On the soft downy bank damasked with flowers.                      

The savoury pulp they chew, and in the rind,                                      335

Still as they thirsted, scoop the brimming stream                        

Nor gentle purpose, nor endearing smiles                                  

Wanted, nor youthful dalliance, as beseems                               

Fair couple linked in happy nuptial league,                                 

Alone as they. About them frisking played                                          340

All beasts of the earth, since wild, and of all chase                     

In wood or wilderness, forest or den.                                        

Sporting the lion ramped, and in his paw                                   

Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,                           

Gambolled before them; the unwieldy elephant,                                  345

To make them mirth, used all his might, and wreathed                

His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly,                                   

Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine                                        

His breaded train, and of his fatal guile                                      

Gave proof unheeded. Others on the grass                                         350

Couched, and, now filled with pasture, gazing sat,                     

Or bedward ruminating; for the sun,                                          

Declined, was hastening now with prone career                         

To the Ocean Isles, and in the ascending scale                          

Of Heaven the stars that usher evening rose:                                       355

When Satan, still in gaze as first he stood,                                 

Scarce thus at length failed speech recovered sad:—                 

  “O Hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold?                        

Into our room of bliss thus high advanced                                  

Creatures of other mould—Earth-born perhaps,                                360

Not Spirits, yet to Heavenly Spirits bright                                  

Little inferior—whom my thoughts pursue                                 

With wonder, and could love; so lively shines                            

In them divine resemblance, and such grace                              

The hand that formed them on their shape hath poured.                      365

Ah! gentle pair, ye little think how nigh                                      

Your change approaches, when all these delights                       

Will vanish, and deliver ye to woe—                                         

More woe, the more your taste is now of joy:                           

Happy, but for so happy ill secured                                                    370

Long to continue, and this high seat, your Heaven,                     

Ill fenced for Heaven to keep out such a foe                              

As now is entered; yet no purposed foe                                    

To you, whom I could pity thus forlorn,                                     

Though I unpitied. League with you I seek,                                        375

And mutual amity, so strait, so close,                                        

That I with you must dwell, or you with me,                              

Henceforth. My dwelling, haply, may not please,                       

Like this fair Paradise, your sense; yet such                               

Accept your Marker’s work; he gave it me,                                       380

Which I as freely give. Hell shall unfold,                                    

To entertain you two, her widest gates,                                     

And send forth all her kings; there will be room,                        

Not like these narrow limits, to receive                                      

Your numerous offspring; if no better place,                                       385

Thank him who puts me, loath, to this revenge                           

On you, who wrong me not, for him who wronged.                   

And, should I at your harmless innocence                                  

Melt, as I do, yet public reason just—                                      

Honour and empire with revenge enlarged                                          390

By conquering this new World—compels me now                    

To do what else, though damned, I should abhor.”                    

  So spake the Fiend, and with necessity,                                  

The tyrant’s plea, excused his devilish deeds.                            

Then from his lofty stand on that high tree                                           395

Down he alights among the sportful herd                                   

Of those four-footed kinds, himself now one,                            

Now other, as their shape served best his end                           

Nearer to view his prey, and, unespied,                                    

To mark what of their state he more might learn                                 400

By word or action marked. About them round                          

A lion now he stalks with fiery glare;                                         

Then as a tiger, who by chance hath spied                                 

In some pourlieu two gentle fawns at play,                                

Straight crouches close; then rising, changes oft                                  405

His couchant watch, as one who chose his ground,                    

Whence rushing he might surest seize them both                        

Griped in each paw: when Adam, first of men.                          

To first of women, Eve, thus moving speech,                             

Turned him all ear to hear new utterance flow:—                                410

  “Sole partner and sole part of all these joys,                            

Dearer thyself than all, needs must the Power                            

That made us, and for us this ample World,                               

Be infinitely good, and of his good                                            

As liberal and free as infinite;                                                             415

That raised us from the dust, and placed us here                        

In all this happiness, who at this hand                                        

Have nothing merited, nor can perform                                     

Aught whereof he hath need; he who requires                           

From us no other service than to keep                                               420

This one, this easy charge—of all the trees                                

In Paradise that bear delicious fruit                                            

So various, not to taste that only Tree                                       

Of Knowledge, planted by the Tree of Life;                              

So near grows Death to Life, whate’er Death is—                             425

Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou know’st                 

God hath pronounced it Death to taste that Tree:                       

The only sign of our obedience left                                            

Among so many signs of power and rule                                   

Conferred upon us, and dominion given                                             430

Over all other creatures that possess                                         

Earth, Air, and Sea. Then let us not think hard                           

One easy prohibition, who enjoy                                               

Free leave so large to all things else, and choice                        

Unlimited of manifold delights;                                                           435

But let us ever praise him, and extol                                          

His bounty, following our delightful task,                                   

To prune these growing plants, and tend these flowers;              

Which, were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet.”                  

  To whom thus Eve replied:—“O thou for whom                               440

And from whom I was formed flesh of thy flesh,                        

And without whom am to no end, my guide                               

And head! what thou hast said is just and right.                         

For we to him, indeed, all praises owe,                                     

And daily thanks—I chiefly, who enjoy                                              445

So far the happier lot, enjoying thee                                          

Pre-eminent by so much odds, while thou                                 

Like consort to thyself canst nowhere find.                                

That day I oft remember, when from sleep                                

I first awaked, and found myself reposed,                                          450

Under a shade, on flowers, much wondering where                   

And what I was, whence thither brought, and how.                   

Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound                          

Of waters issued from a cave, and spread                                 

Into a liquid plain; then stood unmoved,                                             455

Pure as the expanse of Heaven. I thither went                           

With unexperienced thought, and laid me down                         

On the green bank, to look into the clear                                   

Smooth lake, that to me seemed another sky.                            

As I bent down to look, just opposite                                                460

A Shape within the watery gleam appeared,                              

Bending to look on me. I started back,                                     

It started back; but pleased I soon returned                              

Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks                       

Of sympathy and love. There I had fixed                                            465

Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,                          

Had not a voice thus warned me: ‘What thou seest,                   

What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;                           

With thee it came and goes: but follow me,                                

And I will bring thee where no shadow stays                                      470

Thy coming, and thy soft imbraces—he                                     

Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy                               

Inseparably thine; to him shalt bear                                           

Multitudes like thyself, and thence be called                              

Mother of human race.’ What could I do,                                          475

But follow straight, invisibly thus led?                                        

Till I espied thee, fair, indeed, and tall,                                      

Under a platan; yet methought less fair,                                     

Less winning soft, less amiably mild,                                          

That that smooth watery image. Back I turned;                                   480

Thou, following, cried’st aloud, ‘Return, fair Eve;                      

Whom fliest thou? Whom thou fliest, of him thou art,                 

His flesh, his bone, to give thee being I lent                                

Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,                                  

Substantial life, to have thee by my side                                              485

Henceforth an individual solace dear:                                        

Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim                                

My other half.’ With that thy gentle hand                                   

Seized mine: I yielded, and from that time see                            

How beauty is excelled by manly grace                                              490

And wisdom, which alone is truly fair.”                                      

  So spake our general mother, and, with eyes                           

Of conjugal attraction unreproved,                                            

And meek surrender, half-embracing leaned                              

On our first father; half her swelling breast                                          495

Naked met his, under the flowing gold                                      

Of her loose tresses hid. He, in delight                                      

Both of her beauty and submissive charms,                               

Smiled with superior love, as Jupiter                                         

On Juno smiles when he impregns the clouds                                      500

That shed May flowers, and pressed her matron lip                   

With kisses pure. Aside the Devil turned                                   

For envy; yet with jealous leer malign                                        

Eyed them askance, and to himself thus plained:—                    

  “Sight hateful, sight tormenting! Thus these two,                               505

Imparadised in one another’s arms,                                           

The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill                                       

Of bliss on bliss; while I to Hell am thrust,                                 

Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire,                            

Among our other torments not the least,                                             510

Still unfulfilled, with pain of longing pines!                                  

Yet let me not forget what I have gained                                   

From their own mouths. All is not theirs, it seems;                     

One fatal tree there stands, of Knowledge called,                      

Forbidden them to taste. Knowledge forbidden?                                515

Suspicious, reasonless! Why should their Lord                          

Envy them that? Can it be sin to know?                                     

Can it be death? And do they only stand                                   

By ignorance? Is that their happy state,                                     

The proof of their obedience and their faith?                                       520

O fair foundation laid whereon to build                                      

Their ruin! Hence I will excite their minds                                  

With more desire to know, and to reject                                   

Envious commands, invented with design                                  

To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt                               525

Equal with gods. Aspiring to be such,                                        

They taste and die: what likelier can ensue?                               

But first with narrow search I must walk round                          

This garden, and no corner leave unspied;                                 

A chance but chance may lead where I may meet                               530

Some wandering Spirit of Heaven, by fountain-side,                  

Or in thick shade retired, from him to draw                               

What further would be learned. Live while ye may,                    

Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return,                                             

Short pleasures; for long woes are to succeed!”                                 535

  So saying, his proud step he scornful turned,                           

But with sly circumspection, and began                                     

Through wood, through waste, o’er hill, o’er dale, his roam.      

Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heaven                          

With Earth and Ocean meets, the setting Sun                                     540

Slowly descended, and with right aspect                                   

Against the eastern gate of Paradise                                          

Levelled his evening rays. It was a rock                                    

Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds,                                          

Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent                                          545

Accessible from Earth, one entrance high;                                 

The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung                                     

Still as it rose, impossible to climb.                                            

Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,                                      

Chief of the angelic guards, awaiting night;                                          550

About him exercised heroic games                                            

The unarmed youth of Heaven; but nigh at hand                        

Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,                            

Hung high, with diamond flaming and with gold.                         

Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even                                        555

On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star                                      

In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fired                         

Impress the air, and shews the mariner                                      

From what point of his compass to beware                               

Impetuous winds, He thus began in haste:—                                       560

  “Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given                           

Charge and strict watch that to this happy place                        

No evil thing approach or enter in.                                            

This day at highth of noon came to my sphere                           

A Spirit, zealous, as he seemed, to know                                           565

More of the Almighty’s works, and chiefly Man,                       

God’s latest image. I described his way                                    

Bent all on speed, and marked his aerie gait,                             

But in the mount that lies from Eden north,                                

Where he first lighted, soon discerned his looks                                  570

Alien from Heaven, with passions foul obscured.                       

Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade                               

Lost sight of him. One of the banished crew,                             

I fear, hath ventured from the Deep, to raise                              

New troubles; him thy care must be to find.”                                      575

  To whom the wingèd Warrior thus returned:—                        

“Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight,                                        

Amid the Sun’s bright circle where thou sitt’st,                          

See far and wide. In at this gate none pass                                

The vigilance here placed, but such as come                                       580

Well known from Heaven; since meridian hour                          

No creature thence. If Spirit of other sort,                                 

So minded, have o’erleaped these earthly bounds                     

On purpose, hard thou know’st it to exclude                             

Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.                                               585

But, if within the circuit of these walks,                                      

In whatsoever shape, he lurk of whom                                      

Thou tell’st, by morrow dawning I shall know.”                         

  So promised he; and Uriel to his charge                                  

Returned on that bright beam, whose point now raised                       590

Bore him slope downward to the Sun, now fallen                      

Beneath the Azores; whether the Prime Orb,                             

Incredible how swift, had thither rowled                                    

Diurnal, or this less volúbil Earth                                               

By shorter flight to the east, had left him there                                     595

Arraying with reflected purple and gold                                     

The clouds that on his western throne attend.                            

  Now came still Evening on, and Twilight gray                          

Had in her sober livery all things clad;                                       

Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,                                           600

They to their grassy couch, these to their nests                          

Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale.                                

She all night longer her amorous descant sung:                           

Silence was pleased. Now glowed the firmament                      

With living Saphirs; Hesperus, that led                                               605

The starry host, rode brightest, till the Moon,                            

Rising in clouded majesty, at length                                           

Apparent queen, unveiled her peerless light,                              

And o’er the dark her silver mantle threw;                                 

When Adam thus to Eve:—“Fair consort, the hour                             610

Of night, and all things now retired to rest                                  

Mind us of like repose; since God hath set                                

Labour and rest, as day and night, to men                                 

Successive, and the timely dew of sleep,                                   

Now falling with soft slumberous weight, inclines                                615

Our eye-lids. Other creatures all day long                                 

Rove idle, unimployed, and less need rest;                                

Man hath his daily work of body or mind                                  

Appointed, which declares his dignity,                                       

And the regard of Heaven on all his ways;                                          620

While other animals unactive range,                                           

And of their doings God takes no account.                                

To—morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east                         

With first approach of light, we must be risen,                           

And at our pleasant labour, to reform                                                 625

Yon flowery arbours, yonder alleys green,                                

Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown,                            

That mock our scant manuring, and require                               

More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth.                     

Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums,                                 630

That lie bestrown, unsightly and unsmooth,                                

Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease.                            

Meanwhile, as Nature wills, Night bids us rest.”                        

  To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorned:—                

“My author and disposer, what thou bidd’st                                       635

Unargued I obey. So God ordains:                                           

God is thy law, thou mine: to know no more                              

Is woman’s happiest knowledge, and her praise.                       

With thee conversing, I forget all time,                                       

All seasons, and their change; all please alike.                                    640

Sweet is the breath of Morn, her rising sweet,                           

With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the Sun,                           

When first on this delightful land he spreads                               

His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,                      

Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertil Earth                                        645

After soft showers; and sweet the coming on                             

Of grateful Evening mild; then silent Night,                                 

With this her solemn bird, and this fair Moon,                            

And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train:                         

But neither breath of Morn, when she ascends                                   650

With charm of earliest birds; nor rising Sun                                

On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower,                            

Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after showers;                       

Nor grateful Evening mild; nor silent Night,                                

With her solemn bird; nor walk by moon,                                           655

Or glittering star-light, without thee is sweet.                              

But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom                    

This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?”                     

  To whom our general ancestor replied:—                                

“Daughter of God and Man, accomplished Eve,                                 660

Those have their course to finish round the Earth                       

By morrow evening, and from land to land                                

In order, though to nations yet unborn,                                      

Ministering light prepared, they set and rise;                              

Lest total Darkness should by night regain                                          665

Her old possession, and extinguish life                                       

In nature and all things; which these soft fires                             

Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat                                     

Of various influence foment and warm,                                      

Temper or nourish, or in part shed down                                            670

Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow                                    

On Earth, made hereby apter to receive                                    

Perfection from the Sun’s more potent ray.                               

These then, though unbeheld in deep of night,                            

Shine not in vain. Nor think, though men were none,                           675

That Heaven would want spectators, God want praise.             

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the Earth                              

Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep:                    

All these with ceaseless praise his works behold                        

Both day and night. How often, from the steep                                   680

Of echoing hill or thicket, have we heard                                   

Celestial voices to the midnight air,                                            

Sole, or responsive each to other’s note,                                   

Singing their great Creator! Oft in bands                                   

While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk,                               685

With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds                               

In full harmonic number joined, their songs                                

Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven.”                      

  Thus talking, hand in hand along they passed                           

On to their blissful bower. It was a place                                            690

Chosen by the sovran Planter, when he framed                         

All things to Man’s delightful use. The roof                                

Of thickest covert was inwoven shade,                                     

Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew                                   

Of firm and fragrant leaf; on either side                                               695

Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub,                                 

Fenced up the verdant wall; each beauteous flower,                  

Iris all hues, roses, and gessamin,                                              

Reared high their flourished heads between, and wrought          

Mosaic; under foot the violet,                                                            700

Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay                                         

Broidered the ground, more coloured than with stone                

Of costliest emblem. Other creature here,                                 

Beast, bird, insect, or worm, durst enter none;                          

Such was their awe of Man. In shadier bower                                    705

More sacred and sequestered, though but feigned,                    

Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor Nymph                                   

For Faunus haunted. Here, in close recess,                               

With flowers, garlands, and sweet—smelling hearbs                  

Espousèd Eve decked first her nuptial bed,                                        710

And heavenly choirs the hymenæan sung,                                  

What day the genial Angel to our Sire                                       

Brought her, in naked beauty more adorned,                             

More lovely, than Pandora, whom the gods                              

Endowed with all their gifts; and, O! too like                                      715

In sad event, when, to the unwiser son                                      

Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared                             

Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged                               

On him who had stole Jove’s authentic fire.                               

  Thus at their shady lodge arrived, both stood,                                  720

Both turned, and under open sky adored                                  

The God that made both Sky, Air, Earth, and Heaven,              

Which they beheld, the Moon’s resplendent globe,                    

And starry Pole:—“Thou also madest the Night,                       

Maker Omnipotent; and thou the Day,                                               725

Which we, in our appointed work imployed,                             

Have finished, happy in our mutual help                                     

And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss                                

Ordained by thee; and this delicious place,                                

For us too large, where thy abundance wants                                     730

Partakers, and uncropt falls to the ground.                                

But thou hast promised from us two a race                                

To fill the Earth, who shall with us extol                                     

Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake,                               

And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep.”                                    735

  This said unanimous, and other rites                                        

Observing none, but adoration pure,                                         

Which God likes best, into their inmost bower                           

Handed they went, and, eased the putting-off                            

These troublesome disguises which we wear,                                     740

Straight side by side were laid; nor turned, I ween,                    

Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites                              

Mysterious of connubial love refused:                                        

Whatever hypocrites austerely talk                                            

Of purity, and place, and innocence,                                                  745

Defaming as impure what God declares                                    

Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.                        

Our Maker bids increase; who bids abstain                               

But our destroyer, foe to God and Man?                                  

Hail, wedded Love, mysterious law, true source                                 750

Of human offspring, sole propriety                                            

In Paradise of all things common else!                                       

By thee adulterous lust was driven from men                             

Among the bestial herds to raunge; by thee,                              

Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,                                            755

Relations dear, and all the charities                                            

Of father, son, and brother, first were known.                           

Far be it that I should write thee sin or blame,                           

Or think thee unbefitting holiest place,                                       

Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,                                               760

Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced,                       

Present, or past, as saints and patriarchs used.                          

Here Love his golden shafts imploys, here lights                        

His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings,                         

Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile                                   765

Of harlots—loveless, joyless, unindeared,                                 

Casual fruition; nor in court amours,                                          

Mixed dance, or wanton mask, or midnight bal,                        

Or serenate, which the starved lover sings                                 

To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.                                        770

These, lulled by nightingales, imbracing slept,                             

And on their naked limbs the flowery roof                                 

Showered roses, which the morn repaired. Sleep on,                

Blest pair! and, O! yet happiest, if ye seek                                

No happier state, and know to know no more!                                  775

  Now had Night measured with her shadowy cone                   

Half-way up-hill this vast sublunar vault,                                    

And from their ivory port the Cherubim                                     

Forth issuing, at the accustomed hour, stood armed                   

To their night-watches in warlike parade;                                           780

When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake:—                      

  “Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south                      

With strictest watch; these other wheel the north:                       

Our circuit meets full west.” As flame they part,                         

Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear.                                      785

From these, two strong and subtle Spirits he called                    

That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge:—                

  “Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed                                 

Search through this Garden; leave unsearched no nook;            

But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge,                                790

Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm.                                 

This evening from the Sun’s decline arrived                               

Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen                                        

Hitherward bent (who could have thought?), escaped                

The bars of Hell, on errand bad, no doubt:                                         795

Such, where ye find, seize fast, and hither bring.”                       

  So saying, on he led his radiant files,                                       

Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct                             

In search of whom they sought. Him there they found                

Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,                                           800

Assaying by his devilish art to reach                                          

The organs of her fancy, and with them forge                            

Illusions as he list, phantasms and dreams;                                 

Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint                                          

The animal spirits, that from pure blood arise                                      805

Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise,                     

At least distempered, discontented thoughts,                             

Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,                                  

Blown up with high conceits ingendering pride.                          

Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear                                                  810

Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure                             

Touch of celestial temper, but returns                                        

Of force to its own likeness. Up he starts,                                 

Discovered and surprised. As, when a spark                             

Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid                                             815

Fit for the tun, some magazine to store                                      

Against a rumoured war, the smutty grain,                                 

With sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air;                              

So started up, in his own shape, the Fiend.                                

Back stept those two fair Angels, half amazed                                    820

So sudden to behold the griesly King;                                       

Yet thus, unmoved with fear, accost him soon:—                      

  “Which of those rebel Spirits adjudged to Hell                        

Com’st thou, escaped thy prison? and, transformed,                 

Why satt’st thou like an enemy in wait,                                               825

Here watching at the head of these that sleep?”                         

  “Know ye not, then,” said Satan, filled with scorn,                   

“Know ye not me? Ye knew me once no mate                          

For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar!                           

Not to know me argues yourselves unknown,                                    830

The lowest of your throng; or, if ye know,                                 

Why ask ye, and superfluous begin                                           

Your message, like to end as much in vain?”                             

  To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn:—            

“Think not, revolted Spirit, thy shape the same,                                  835

Or undiminished brightness, to be known                                  

As when thou stood’st in Heaven upright and pure.                   

That glory then, when thou no more wast good,                        

Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now                           

Thy sin and place of doom obscure and foul.                                      840

But come; for thou, be sure, shalt give account                          

To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep                            

This place inviolable, and these from harm.”                              

  So spake the Cherub; and his grave rebuke,                           

Severe in youthful beauty, added grace                                              845

Invincible. Abashed the Devil stood,                                         

And felt how awful goodness is, and saw                                  

Virtue in her shape how lovely—saw, and pined                       

His loss; but chiefly to find here observed                                  

His lustre visibly impaired; yet seemed                                               850

Undaunted. “If I must contend,” said he,                                   

“Best with the best—the sender, not the sent;                            

Or all at once: more glory will be won,                                      

Or less be lost.” “Thy fear,” said Zephon bold,                          

“Will save us trial what the least can do                                              855

Single against thee wicked, and thence weak.”                          

  The Fiend replied not, overcome with rage;                             

But, like a proud steed reined, went haughty on,                        

Chaumping his iron curb. To strive or fly                                   

He held it vain; awe from above had quelled                                      860

His heart, not else dismayed. Now drew they nigh                     

The western point, where those half—rounding guards              

Just met, and, closing, stood in squadron joined,                       

Awaiting next command. To whom their chief,                          

Gabriel, from the front thus called aloud:—                                        865

  “O friends, I hear the tread of nimble feet                                

Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern                           

Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade;                                      

And with them comes a third, of regal port,                               

But faded splendour wan, who by his gait                                          870

And fierce demeanour seems the Prince of Hell—                     

Not likely to part hence without contest’.                                  

Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours.”                                 

  He scarce had ended, when those two approached,                

And brief related whom they brought, where found,                           875

How busied, in what form and posture couched.                       

To whom, with stern regard, thus Gabriel spake:—                   

“Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescribed                

To thy transgressions, and disturbed the charge                         

Of others, who approve not to transgress                                           880

By thy example, but have power and right                                 

To question thy bold entrance on this place;                              

Imployed, it seems to violate sleep, and those                           

Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss?”                       

  To whom thus Satan, with contemptuous brow:—                            885

“Gabriel, thou hadst in Heaven the esteem of wise;                    

And such I held thee; but this question asked                            

Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain?                      

Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,                 

Though thither doomed? Thou wouldst thyself, no doubt,                   890

And boldly venture to whatever place                                       

Farthest from pain, where thou mightst hope to change              

Torment with ease, and soonest recompense                             

Dole with delight; which in this place I sought:                           

To thee no reason, who know’st only good,                                       895

But evil hast not tried. And wilt object                                       

His will who bound us? Let him surer bar                                  

His iron gates, if he intends our stay                                          

In that dark durance. Thus much what was asked:                     

The rest is true; they found me where they say;                                   900

But that implies not violence or harm.”                                      

  Thus he in scorn. The warlike Angel moved,                           

Disdainfully half smiling, thus replied:—                                     

“O loss of one in Heaven to judge of wise,                                

Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew,                                              905

And now returns him from his prison scaped,                            

Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise                              

Or not who ask what boldness brought him hither                     

Unlicensed from his bounds in Hell prescribed!                         

So wise he judges it to fly from pain                                                   910

However, and to scape his punishment!                                    

So judge thou still, presumptuous, till the wrauth,                       

Which thou incurr’st by flying, meet thy flight                             

Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to Hell,                     

Which taught thee yet no better that no pain                                       915

Can equal anger infinite provoked.                                            

But wherefore thou alone? Wherefore with thee                        

Came not all Hell broke loose? Is pain to them                          

Less pain, less to be fled? or thou than they                               

Less hardy to endure? Courageous chief,                                           920

The first in flight from pain, hadst thou alleged                            

To thy deserted host this cause of flight,                                    

Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive.”                                 

  To which the Fiend thus answered, frowning stern:—              

“Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain,                                       925

Insulting Angel! well thou know’st I stood                                 

Thy fiercest, when in battle to thy aid                                        

The blasting volleyed thunder made all speed                            

And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.                                

But still thy words at random, as before,                                            930

Argue thy inexperience what behoves,                                      

From hard assays and ill successes past,                                   

A faithful leader—not to hazard all                                            

Through ways of danger by himself untried.                               

I, therefore, I alone, first undertook                                                    935

To wing the desolate Abyss, and spy                                        

This new-created World, whereof in Hell                                  

Fame is not silent, here in hope to find                                       

Better abode, and my afflicted Powers                                      

To settle here on Earth, or in mid Air;                                                940

Though for possession put to try once more                              

What thou and thy gay legions dare against;                              

Whose easier business where to serve their Lord                      

High up in Heaven, with songs to hymn his throne,                     

And practiced distances to cringe, not fight.”                                      945

  To whom the Warrior-Angel soon replied:—                          

“To say and straight unsay, pretending first                                

Wise to fly pain, professing next to spy,                                    

Argues no leader, but a liar traced,                                           

Satan; and couldst thou ‘faithful’ add? O name,                                  950

O sacred name of faithfulness profaned!                                    

Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew?                                  

Army of fiends, fit body to fit head!                                           

Was this your discipline and faith ingaged,                                 

Your military obedience, to dissolve                                                   955

Allegiance to the acknowledged Power Supreme?                    

And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem                       

Patron of liberty, who more than thou                                       

Once fawned, and cringed, and servilely adored                        

Heaven’s awful Monarch? wherefore, but in hope                              960

To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?                                    

But mark what I areed thee now: Avaunt!                                 

Fly thither whence thou fledd’st. If from this hour                      

Within these hallowed limits thou appear,                                  

Back to the Infernal Pit I drag thee chained,                                       965

And seal thee so as henceforth not to scorn                               

The facile gates of Hell too slightly barred.”                               

  So threatened he; but Satan to no threats                                

Gave heed, but waxing more in rage, replied:—                        

  “Then, when I am thy captive, talk of chains,                                    970

Proud limitary Cherub! but ere then                                          

Far heavier load thyself expect to feel                                       

From my prevailing arm, though Heaven’s King                        

Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy Compeers,                       

Used to the yoke, draw’st his triumphant wheels                                975

In progress through the road of Heaven star—paved.”              

  While thus he spake, the angelic squadron bright                     

Turned fiery red, sharpening in mooned horns                           

Their phalanx and began to hem him round                                

With ported spears, as thick as when a field                                       980

Of Ceres ripe for harvest waving bends                                    

Her bearded grove of ears which way the wind                         

Sways them; the careful ploughman doubting stands                  

Lest on the threshing-floor his hopeful sheaves                          

Prove chaff. On the other side, Satan, alarmed,                                  985

Collecting all his might, dilated stood,                                        

Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved:                                            

His stature reached the sky, and on his crest                             

Sat Horror plumed; nor wanted in his grasp                              

What seemed both spear and shield. Now dreadful deeds                  990

Might have ensued; nor only Paradise,                                      

In this commotion, but the starry cope                                       

Of Heaven perhaps, or all the Elements                                     

At least, had gone to wrack, disturbed and torn                        

With violence of this conflict, had not soon                                         995

The Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,                                    

Hung forth in Heaven his golden scales, yet seen                       

Betwixt Astræa and the Scorpion sign,                                      

Wherein all things created first he weighed,                               

The pendulous round Earth with balanced air                                     1000

In counterpoise, now ponders all events,                                   

Battles and realms. In these he put two weights,                        

The sequel each of parting and of fight:                                      

The latter quick up flew, and kicked the beam;                          

Which Gabriel spying thus bespake the Fiend:                                    1005

  “Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know’st mine,               

Neither our own, but given; what folly then                                

To boast what arms can do! since thine no more                       

Than Heaven permits, nor mine, though doubled now                

To trample thee as mire. For proof look up,                                       1010

And read thy lot in yon celestial sign,                                         

Where thou art weighed, and shown how light, how weak         

If thou resist.” The Fiend looked up, and knew                         

His mounted scale aloft: nor more; but fled                                

Murmuring; and with him fled the shades of Night.                              1015