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Paradise Lost

John Milton

This eBook is designed and published by Planet PDF. For more free

eBooks visit our Web site at http://www.planetpdf.com.

Paradise Lost

Book I

Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit

Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste

Brought death into the World, and all our woe,

With loss of Eden, till one greater Man

Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,

Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top

Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire

That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed In the beginning how the heavens and earth Rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill Delight thee more, and Siloa’s brook that flowed Fast by the oracle of God, I thence Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above th’ Aonian mount, while it pursues Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.

And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer Before all temples th’ upright heart and pure, Instruct me, for thou know’st; thou from the first Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread, Dove-like sat’st brooding on the vast Abyss, And mad’st 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, And justify the ways of God to men.

2 of 374 eBook brought to you by Paradise Lost Create, view, and edit PDF. Download the free trial version.

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, Favoured of Heaven so highly, to fall off From their Creator, and transgress his will For one restraint, lords of the World besides.

Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?

Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was whose guile, Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived 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 equalled the Most High, 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 Hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky, With hideous ruin and combustion, down To bottomless perdition, there to dwell In adamantine chains and penal fire, Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.

Nine times the space that measures day and night To mortal men, he, with his horrid crew, Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf, Confounded, though immortal. But his doom Reserved him to more wrath; for now the thought Both of lost happiness and lasting pain 3 of 374 Paradise Lost Torments him: round he throws his baleful eyes, That witnessed huge affliction and dismay, Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate.

At once, as far as Angels ken, he views The dismal situation waste and wild.

A dungeon horrible, on all sides round, As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames No light; but rather darkness visible Served only to discover sights of woe, Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace And rest can never dwell, hope never comes That comes to all, but torture without end Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed.

Such place Eternal Justice has prepared For those rebellious; here their prison ordained In utter darkness, and their portion set, As far removed from God and light of Heaven As from the centre thrice to th’ utmost pole.

Oh how unlike the place from whence they fell!

There the companions of his fall, o’erwhelmed With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire, He soon discerns; and, weltering by his side, One next himself in power, and next in crime, Long after known in Palestine, and named Beelzebub. To whom th’ Arch-Enemy, And thence in Heaven called Satan, with bold words Breaking the horrid silence, thus began:— ‘If thou beest he—but O how fallen! how changed

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From him who, in the happy realms of light Clothed with transcendent brightness, didst outshine Myriads, though bright!—if he whom mutual league, United thoughts and counsels, equal hope And hazard in the glorious enterprise Joined with me once, now misery hath joined In equal ruin; into what pit thou seest From what height fallen: so much the stronger proved He with his thunder; and till then who knew The force of those dire arms? Yet not for those, Nor what the potent Victor in his rage Can else inflict, do I repent, or change, Though changed in outward lustre, that fixed mind, And high disdain from sense of injured merit, That with the Mightiest raised me to contend, And to the fierce contentions brought along Innumerable force of Spirits armed, That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring, His utmost power with adverse power opposed In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven, And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?

All is not lost—the unconquerable will, 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 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

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Doubted his empire—that were low indeed;

That were an ignominy and shame beneath This downfall; since, by fate, the strength of Gods, And this empyreal sybstance, cannot fail;

Since, through experience of this great event, In arms not worse, in foresight much advanced, We may with more successful hope resolve To wage by force or guile eternal war, Irreconcilable to our grand Foe, Who now triumphs, and in th’ excess of joy Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heaven.’ So spake th’ apostate Angel, though in pain, Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair;

And him thus answered soon his bold compeer:— ‘O Prince, O Chief of many throned Powers That led th’ embattled Seraphim to war Under thy conduct, and, in dreadful deeds Fearless, endangered Heaven’s perpetual King, And put to proof his high supremacy, Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate, Too well I see and rue the dire event That, with sad overthrow and foul defeat, Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty host In horrible destruction laid thus low, As far as Gods and heavenly Essences Can perish: for the mind and spirit remains Invincible, and vigour soon returns, Though all our glory extinct, and happy state Here swallowed up in endless misery.

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But what if he our Conqueror (whom I now Of force believe almighty, since no less Than such could have o’erpowered such force as ours) Have left us this our spirit and strength entire, Strongly to suffer and support our pains, That we may so suffice his vengeful ire, Or do him mightier service as his thralls By right of war, whate’er his business be, Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire, Or do his errands in the gloomy Deep?

What can it the avail though yet we feel Strength undiminished, or eternal being To undergo eternal punishment?’ Whereto with speedy words th’ Arch-Fiend replied:— ‘Fallen Cherub, to be weak is miserable, Doing or suffering: but of this be sure— To do aught good never will be our task, But ever to do ill our sole delight, As being the contrary to his high will Whom we resist. If then his providence Out of our evil seek to bring forth good, Our labour must be to pervert that end, And out of good still to find means of evil;

Which ofttimes may succeed so as perhaps Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb His inmost counsels from their destined aim.

But see! the angry Victor hath recalled His ministers of vengeance and pursuit Back to the gates of Heaven: the sulphurous hail,

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Shot after us in storm, o’erblown hath laid The fiery surge that from the precipice Of Heaven received us falling; and the thunder, Winged with red lightning and impetuous rage, Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now To bellow through the vast and boundless Deep.

Let us not slip th’ occasion, whether scorn Or satiate fury yield it from our Foe.

Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild, The seat of desolation, void of light, Save what the glimmering of these livid flames Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend From off the tossing of these fiery waves;

There rest, if any rest can harbour there;

And, re-assembling our afflicted powers, Consult how we may henceforth most offend Our enemy, our own loss how repair, How overcome this dire calamity, What reinforcement we may gain from hope, If not, what resolution from despair.’ Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate, With head uplift above the wave, and eyes That sparkling blazed; his other parts besides Prone on the flood, extended long and large, Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge As whom the fables name of monstrous size, Titanian or Earth-born, that warred on Jove, Briareos or Typhon, whom the den By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast

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Leviathan, which God of all his works Created hugest that swim th’ ocean-stream.

Him, haply slumbering on the Norway foam, The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff, Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell, With fixed anchor in his scaly rind, Moors by his side under the lee, while night Invests the sea, and wished morn delays.

So stretched out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay, Chained on the burning lake; nor ever thence Had risen, or heaved his head, but that the will And high permission of all-ruling Heaven Left him at large to his own dark designs, That with reiterated crimes he might Heap on himself damnation, while he sought Evil to others, and enraged might see How all his malice served but to bring forth Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shewn On Man by him seduced, but on himself Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance poured.

Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool His mighty stature; on each hand the flames Driven backward slope their pointing spires, and,rolled In billows, leave i’ th’ midst a horrid vale.

Then with expanded wings he steers his flight Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air, That felt unusual weight; till on dry land He lights—if it were land that ever burned With solid, as the lake with liquid fire,

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And such appeared in hue as when the force Of subterranean wind transprots a hill Torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side Of thundering Etna, whose combustible And fuelled entrails, thence conceiving fire, Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds, And leave a singed bottom all involved With stench and smoke. Such resting found the sole Of unblest feet. Him followed his next mate;

Both glorying to have scaped the Stygian flood As gods, and by their own recovered strength, Not by the sufferance of supernal Power.

‘Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,’ Said then the lost Archangel, ‘this the seat That we must change for Heaven?—this mournful gloom For that celestial light? Be it so, since he Who now is sovereign can dispose and bid What shall be right: farthest from him is best Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields, Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail, Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell, Receive thy new possessor—one who brings A mind not to be changed by place or time.

The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.

What matter where, if I be still the same, And what I should be, all but less than he Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least

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We shall be free; th’ Almighty hath not built

Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:

Here we may reigh secure; and, in my choice,

To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:

Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.

But wherefore let we then our faithful friends, Th’ associates and co-partners of our loss, Lie thus astonished on th’ oblivious pool, And call them not to share with us their part In this unhappy mansion, or once more With rallied arms to try what may be yet Regained in Heaven, or what more lost in Hell?’ So Satan spake; and him Beelzebub Thus answered:—‘Leader of those armies bright Which, but th’ Omnipotent, none could have foiled!

If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge Of hope in fears and dangers—heard so oft In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge Of battle, when it raged, in all assaults Their surest signal—they will soon resume New courage and revive, though now they lie Grovelling and prostrate on yon lake of fire, As we erewhile, astounded and amazed;

No wonder, fallen such a pernicious height!’ He scare had ceased when the superior Fiend Was moving toward the shore; his ponderous shield, Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round, Behind him cast. The broad circumference Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb

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Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views At evening, from the top of Fesole, Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands, Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.

His spear—to equal which the tallest pine Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast Of some great ammiral, were but a wand— He walked with, to support uneasy steps Over the burning marl, not like those steps On Heaven’s azure; and the torrid clime Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire.

Nathless he so endured, till on the beach Of that inflamed sea he stood, and called His legions—Angel Forms, who lay entranced Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks In Vallombrosa, where th’ Etrurian shades High over-arched embower; or scattered sedge Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion armed Hath vexed the Red-Sea coast, whose waves o’erthrew Busiris and his Memphian chivalry, While with perfidious hatred they pursued The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld From the safe shore their floating carcases And broken chariot-wheels. So thick bestrown, Abject and lost, lay these, covering the flood, Under amazement of their hideous change.

He called so loud that all the hollow deep Of Hell resounded:—‘Princes, Potentates, Warriors, the Flower of Heaven—once yours; now lost,

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