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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
my celestial patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplord,
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, ü. 178. ed. 1826.
"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 marshald feast
up in hall with sewers, and seneshals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroic name
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
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. Todd. 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, • 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 fountain by the Tree of Life:
In with the river sunk, and with it rose
Satan involv'd in rising mist, then sought
Where to lie hid ; sea he had search'd and land
From Eden over Pontus, and the pool
Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob,
Downward as far 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 resolvid, but first from inward grief
His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd.
O earth, how like to heaven, if not preferr'd
75 mist) Hom. Il. i. 359, av68v prolañs dlos, hör' buxhn, 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. VOL. I.
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
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