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BOOK IX.

THE ARGUMENT.

SATAN having encompassed the earth, with meditated guile returns, as

a mist, by night into Paradise; enters into the serpent sleeping. Adam and Eve in the morning go forth to their labours, which Eve proposes to divide in several places, each labouring apart: Adam consents not, alleging the danger, lest that enemy, of whom they were forewarned, should attempt her found alone: Eve, loth to be thought not circumspect or firm enough, urges her going apart, the rather desirous to make trial of her strength: Adam at last yields; the serpent finds her alone: his subtle approach, first gazing, then speaking; with much flattery extolling Eve above all other creatures. Eve, wondering to hear the serpent speak, asks how he attained to human speech, and such understanding, not till now: the serpent answers, that by tasting of a certain tree in the garden he attained both to speech and reason, till then void of both: Eve requires him to bring her to that tree, and finds it to be the tree of knowledge forbidden; the serpent, now grown bolder, with many wiles and arguments induces her at length to eat; she, pleased with the taste, deliberates awhile whether to impart thereof to Adam or not; at last brings him of the fruit; relates what persuaded her to eat thereof: Adam, at first amazed, but perceiving her lost, resolves, through vehemence of love, to perish with her; and, extenuating the trespass, eats also of the fruit: the effects thereof in them both; they seek to cover their nakedness; then fall to variance and accusation of one another.

No more of talk where God or angel guest
With man, as with his friend, familiar used
To sit indulgent, and with him partake
Rural repast; permitting him the while
Venial discourse unblamed. 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 pursued
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespoused;

1. Where God, &c. The sense is, where! 12. Misery bere means sickness, dis God, or rather the angel sent by him,ease, and all sorts of mortal pains. and acting as his proxy, used to sit familiarly with man as with his friend.

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Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long
Perplex'd the Greek, and Cytherea's son;
If answerable style I can obtain
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplored,
And dictates to me slumbering, or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse:
Since first this subject for heroic song
Pleased me, long choosing and beginning late;
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroic deem'd; chief mastery to dissect
With long and tedious havoc fabled knights,
In battles feign'd; the better fortitude
Of patience and heroic martyrdom
Unsung; or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, imblazon'd shields,
Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds,
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and tournament; then marshall'd feast
Served up in hall with sewers and seneshals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroic name
To 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
'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 improved
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

6.5

26. Long choosing. Milton early de-horseback: from the French bas; d bas, signed to write an epic poem on the “upon the ground." subject of King Arthur; but it was laid 37. The marshal placed the guests aside, though it was not till after the according to their rank, and saw that Restoration that he set about the pre they were properly served; the sewer sent work in earnest; so that he was (from the French asseoir, to sit down.) long choosing and beginning late.

marrhed in before the meats, and ar35. Impresses qunnt: emblems and ranged them on the table; the seneshal devices on the shield, allu ling to the was the household steward.-TODD. name or the fortune of the wearer.

41. Of these, for in these, Latinè. 36. Buses: the mantle which hung 45. Or years. Milton was nearly sixty down from the middle to about the years old when this poem was published knees or lower, worn by knights on

From compassing the earth; cautious of day,
Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descried
His entrance, and forewarn'd the cherubim
That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven,
The space of seven continued nights he rode
With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line
He circled; four times cross'd the car of night
From pole to pole, travérsing 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 change. 70
Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise,
Into a gulf shot underground; till part
Rose up a fountain by the tree of life:
In with the river sunk, and with it rose,
Satan, involved 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 antarctic; 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 revolved, 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 subtlety
Proceeding; which, in other beasts observed,
Doubt might beget of diabolic power
Active within, beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolved; but first from inward grief
His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd:

O earth, how like to heaven, if not preferr'd
More justly, seat worthier of gods, as built

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59. Compassing the earth. Job i. 7. 1 77. As we before had an astronomical,

63. Satan was three days compassing so here we have a geographical account the earth from east to west, and four of Satan's peregrinations.--NEWTON. days from north to south, but still kept 78. Oh, the Oby; Orontes, a river of always in the shade of night; and on Syria that empties into the gulf of Issun; the eighth day returned by stealth into Darien, the isthmus that seems to set Paradise --NEWTOX.

a bar to the Atlantic, preventing its 66. Each colure. The colures are two mingling with the waters of the Pacific great circles, intersecting each other at 86. Gen. iii. 1. right angles in the poles of the world, 89. Fillest imp: Fittest stock to graft and encompassing the earth from north his devilish fraud upon.--HUME. to soutb.

With second thoughts, reforming what was old !
For what God, after better, worse would build ?
Terrestrial heaven, danced 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
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth
Of creatures animate with gradual life,
Of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in man.
With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,

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Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,

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130

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 mastering 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
To my relentless thoughts; and, him destroy'd,
Or won to what may work his utter loss,
For whom all this was made; all this will soon
Follow, as to him link'd in weal or woe:
In woe then; that destruction wide may range.
To me shall be the glory sole among
The infernal powers, in one day to have marr'd
What he, Almighty styled, six nights and days
Continued making; and who knows how long ,
Before had been contriving? though perhaps
Not longer than since I, in one night, freed
From servitude inglorious well nigh half
The angelic name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers: he, to be avenged,
And to repair his numbers thus impair'd,
Whether such virtue spent of old now fail'd
More angels to create, if they at least
Are his created; or, to spite us more,

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:13. Of groueth, &c. The three kinds | places used the objective absolute instead of life, vegetable, animal, and rational, I of the nominative. of all of which man partakes.

1 146. If they at least, &c.; thus doubt 119. Place: Abiding-place.

| ing whether the angels were crented by 130. Him. Milton has in two or three God.

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Determined to advance into our room
A creature form’d of earth; and him endow,
Exalted from so base original,
With heavenly spoils, our spoils: what he decreed,
He effected; man he made, and for him built
Magnificent this world, and earth his seat,
Him lord pronounced; and, O indignity!
Subjected to his service angel-wings,
And flaming ministers to watch and tend
Their earthy charge: of these the vigilance
I dread; and, to elude, thus wrapp'd in mist
Of midnight vapour glide obscure; and pry
In every bush and brake, where hap may find
The serpent sleeping; in whose mazy folds
To hide me, and the dark intent I bring.
O foul descent! that I, who erst contended
With gods to sit the highest, am now constrain'd
Into a beast; and, mix'd with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the highth of deity aspired!
But what will not ambition and revenge
Descend to? Who aspires, must down as low
As high he soar'd; obnoxious, first or last,
To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long, back on itself recoils:
Let it; I reck not, so it light well aim'd,
Since higher I fall short, on him who next
Provokes my envy, this new favourite
Of Heaven, this man of clay, son of despite; .
Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raised
From dust: spite then with spite is best repaid.

So saying, through each thicket dank or dry,
Like a black mist low-creeping, he held on
His midnight search, where soonest he might find
The serpent: him fast sleeping soon he found
In labyrinth of many a round self-roll’d,
His head the midst, well stored with subtle wiles:
Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,
Nor nocent yet; but, on the grassy herb,
Fearless unfear'd he slept: in at his mouth
The devil enter'd; and his brutal sense,
In heart or head, possessing, soon inspired
With act intelligential; but his sleep
Disturb'd not, waiting close the approach of morn.

Now, when as sacred light began to dawn

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156 and 157. See Ps. civ. 4 and xci. starts of recollection upon the meanness 11, and Heb. i. 14.

and folly of what he was going to under 173. No speech in the whole work is, take, as plainly show the remains of the in my opinion, worked up with greater archangel and the ruins of a superior judgment, or better suited to the charac-nature.-THYER. ter of the speaker, than this of Satan's. 192. Sacred light. This is the morning There is all tbe horror and malignity of the ninth day, as far as we can reckon of a fiend-like spirit expressed; and yet the time in this poem ;-the last of man's this is so artfully tempered with Satan's | innocence and happiness.-NEWTON.

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