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Satan, baving compassed 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, wbicb 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 ber, found alone : Eve, lotb to be thought not circum- spect or firm enough, urges ber going apart, the ra

ther desirous to make trial of her strength : Adam at last yields : The Serpent finds ber alone; bis subtle approach, first gazing, then speaking, with much flattery extolling Eve above all other creatures. Eve, wondering to bear the Serpent speak, asks bow be attained to buman speech and such understanding not till now : the Serpent answers, that by tasting of a certain tree in the garden be 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 ber at length to eat; she, pleased with the taste, deliberates a while whether to impart there of to Adam or not, at last brings bim of the fruit, rea lates what persuaded ber to eat thereof : Adam, at first amazed, but perceiving her lost, resolves, through vebemence of love, to perish with ber; and extenuating the trespass, eats also of the fruit : The effects thereof in them both; they seek to cover their naked

then fall to variance and accusation of one another.


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O more of talk where God or Angel guest

With Man, as with his friend, familiar us'd
To sit indulgent, and with him partake
Rural repast, permitting him the while
Venial discourse, unblam'd: I now must change 5
Those notes to tragic; foul distrust, and breach
Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt,
And disobedience : on the part of Heav'n
Now alienated, distance and distaste,
Anger and just rebuke, and judgment giv'n, 10
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

Of my

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Perplex'd the Greek and Cytherea's son:
If answerable stile I can obtain

celestial patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplor'd,
And dictates to me slumb'ring, 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
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroic deem'd, chief mast'ry to dissect
With long and tedious havoc fabld knights 30
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; 35
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and tournament; then marshal'd feast
Serv'd up in hall with sewers and seneschals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroic name

40 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 45
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

50 'Twixt day and night, and now from end to end Night's hemisphere had veil’d th’ horizon round, When Satan, who late fled before the threats Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd In meditated fraud and malice, bent

55 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 60 His entrance, and forewarn'd the Cherubim That kept their watch': thence full of anguish


of sev'n continu'd nights he rode With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line He circled; four times cross'd the car of night 65 From pole to pole, traversing each colure; On th' 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 under ground, till part Rose up a fountain by the tree of life: Li with the river sunk, and with it rose Satan involv'd in rising mist, then sought 75 Where to lie hid. Sea he had search'd and land

The space

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