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Of all tastes else to please their appetite,
Though wand'ring. He with his consorted Eve
The story heard attentive, and was fillid 51
With admiration and deep muse, to hear
Of thingsso highandstrange,things to their thought
So unimaginable as hate in Heav'n,
And war so near the peace of God in bliss 55
With such confusion : but the evil soon
Driv’n back, redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung, impossible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repeal'd
The doubts that in his heart arose: and now 60
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

65
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, 70 Far difføring 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 :

75 For which to th' infinitely Good we owe Immortal thanks, and his admonishment VOL. I.

E E

Receive with solemn purpose, to observe
Immutably his sov’reign will, the end
Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsaf'd
Gently for our instruction, to impart

81
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: 85
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 go
Mov’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 95
Of his eternal empire, but the more
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 ev’ning and the moon Haste to thy audience, night with her will bring Silence, and sleep list’ning to thee will watch; 106

IOI

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 God-like Angel answer'd mild: 110
This also thy request with caution ask'd
Obtain; though to recount almighty works,
What words or tongue of Seraph can suffice,
Or heart of man suffice to comprehend ?
Yet what thou can'st attain, which best may serve
To glorify the Maker, and infer

116 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 121 Things not reveald, which th’invisible King, Only omniscient, hath suppress’d in night; To none communicable in Earth or Heav'n. Enough is left besides to search and know. 125 But knowledge is as food, and needs no less Her temp’rance 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. 130

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 Into his place, and the great Son return'd 135 Victorious with his saints, th' Omnipotent

Eternal Father from his throne beheld
Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake:

At least our envious foe hath faild, who thought
All like himself rebellious; by whose aid 140
This innaccessible high strength, the seat
Of Deity supreme, us dispossess’d,
He trusted to have seiz’d, and into fraud
Drew many, whom their place knows here no

more; Yet far the greater part have kept, I see, 145 Their station ; Heav'n yet populous retains Number sufficient to possess her realms Though wide, and this high temple to frequent With ministeries due and solemn rites : But lest his heart exalt him in the harm 150 Already done, to have dispeopl’d Heav'n, My damage fondly deem'd, I can repair That detriment, if such it be to lose Self-lost, and in a moment will create Another world; out of one man a race 155 Of men innumerable, there to dwell, Not here, till by degrees of merit rais’d, They open to themselves at length the way Up hither, under long obedience try’d, And earth be chang'd to Heav'n, and Heav'n to Earth,

160 One kingdom, joy and union without end. Mean while inhabit lax, ye Pow'rs of Heav'n; And thou, my Word, begotten Son, by thee This I perform ; speak thou, and be it done,

166

My overshadowing Sp'rit and might with thee
I send along; ride forth, and bid the deep
Within appointed bounds be Heav'n and Earth,
Boundless the deep, because I am who fill
Infinitude, nor vacuous the space.
Though I uncircumscrib’d myself retire, 170
And put not forth my goodness which is free
To act or not, necessity and chance
Approach not me; and what I will is fate.

So spake th' Almighty, and to what he spake, His Word, the filial Godhead, gave effect.

175 Immediate are the acts of God, more swift Than time or motion; but to human ears Cannot without process of speech be told; So told as earthly notion can receive. Great triumph and rejoicing was in Heav'n, 180 When such was heard declar'd th’Almighty's will. Glory they sung to the Most High, good-will To future men, and in their dwellings peace: Glory to him, whose just avenging ire Had driven out th'ungodly from his sight 185 And th' habitations of the just: to him Glory and praise, whose wisdom had ordain'd Good out of evil to create, instead Of Sp'rits malign, a better race to bring Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse 190 His good to worlds and ages

infinite. So sang the Hierarchies : Mean while the Son On his great expedition now appear’d, Girt with omnipotence, with radiance crown'd

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