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PARADISE LOST.

BOOK VII.

THE ARGUMENT.

Raphael at the request of Adam relates how and wherefore this world was first created ; that God, after the expelling of Satan and his angels out of Heaven, declared his pleasure to create another world and other creatures to dwell therein; sends his Son with glory and attendance of angels to perform the work of creation in six days; the angels celebrate with hymns the performance thereof and his re-ascension into Heaven.

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DESCEND from Heav'n, Urania, by that name
If rightly thou art call’d, whose voice divine
Following, above th’Olympian hill I soar,
Above the flight of Pegasean wing.
The meaning, not the name I call: for thou
Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top
Of old Olympus dwell'st, but Heav'nly born,
Before the hills appear'd, or fountain flow'd,
Thou with eternal Wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of th’ Almighty Father, pleas'd
With thy celestial song. Up led by thee
Into the Heav'n of Heav'ns I have presum’d,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy tempring ; with like safety guided down,
Return me to my native element :
Lest from this flying steed unrein'd (as once
Bellerophon, though from a lower clime)
Dismounted, on th'Aleian field I fall,
Erroneous there to wander and forlorn.

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Half yet remains unsung, but narrower bound
Within the visible diurnal sphere ;
Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,
More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchang'd
To hoarse or mute, though fall’n on evil days,
On evil days though fall'n, and evil tongues;
In darkness, and with dangers compast round,
And solitude; yet not alone, while thou
Visit'st my slumber nightly, or when morn
Purples the east: still govern thou my song,
Urania, and fit audience find, though few.
But drive far off the barbarous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race
Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard
In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears
To rapture, till the savage clamour drown'd
Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend
Her son. So fail not thou, who thee implores:
For thou art Heav'nly, she an empty dream.

Say goddess, what ensu'd when Raphael,
The affable archangel, had forewarn'd
Adam by dire example to beware
Apostasy, by what befel in Heaven
To those apostates, lest the like befall
In Paradise to Adam or his race,
Charg'd not to touch the interdicted tree,
If they transgress, and slight that sole command,
So easily obey'd amid the choice
Of all tastes else to please their appetite,
Though wandring. He with his consorted Eve
The story heard attentive, and was fills
With admiration, and deep muse to hear
Of things so high and strange, things to their thought
So unimaginable as hate in Heav'n,
And war so near the peace of God in bliss
With such confusion: but the evil soon
Driv'n back redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung, impossible to mix

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With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repeald
The doubts that in his heart arose: and now
Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know
What nearer might concern him, how this World
Of heav'n and Earth conspicuous first began,
When, and whereof created, for what cause,
What within Eden or without was done
Before his memory, as one whose drought
Yet scarce allay'd still eyes the current stream,
Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,
Proceeded thus to ask his Heav'nly guest.

'Great things, and full of wonder in our ears,
Far differing from this world, thou hast reveald,
Divine interpreter, by favour sent
Down from the empyrean to forewarn
Us timely of what might else have been our loss,
Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach:
For which to the Infinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive with solemn purpose to observe
Immutably his sovran will, the end
Of what we are. But since thou hast voutsaf't
Gently for our instruction to impart
Things above Earthly thought, which yet concern'd
Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seem'd,
Deign to descend now lower, and relate
What may no less perhaps avail us known,
How first began this heav'n which we behold
Distant so high, with moving fires adorn'd
Innumerable, and this which yields or fills
All space, the ambient air wide interfus'd
Embracing round this florid Earth, what cause
Moy'd the Creator in his holy rest
Through all eternity so late to build
In Chaos, and the work begun, how soon
Absolv'd ; if unforbid thou may'st unfold,
What we not to explore the secrets ask
Of his eternal empire, but the more

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To magnify his works, the more we know.
And the great Light of day yet wants to run

Much of his race though steep; suspense in heav'n

Held by thy voice, thy potent voice he hears,

And longer will delay to hear thee tell

His generation, and the rising birth

Of Nature from the unapparent Deep:

Or if the star of evening and the moon

Haste to thy audience, Night with her will bring

Silence, and Sleep listning to thee will watch,
Or we can bid his absence, till thy song
End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine.'

Thus Adam his illustrious guest besought :
And thus the godlike angel answer'd mild.

This also thy request with caution askt

Obtain: though to recount Almighty works

What words or tongue of seraph can suffice,

Or heart of man suffice to comprehend ?

Yet what thou canst attain, which best may serve

To glorify the Maker, and infer

Thee also happier, shall not be withheld

Thy hearing, such commission from above

I have receiv'd, to answer thy desire

Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain

To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope

Things not reveal'd, which th' invisible King,

Only Omniscient, hath supprest in night,

To none communicable in Earth or Heaven:

Enough is left besides to search and know.

But knowledge is as food, and needs no less

Her temperance over appetite, to know

In measure what the mind may well contain;

Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns

Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind.

"Know then, that after Lucifer from Heav'n

(So call him, brighter once amidst the host
Of angels, than that star the stars among)
Fell with his flaming legions through the Deep

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