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And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light:
There let the pealing organ blow
To the full-voiced quire below,
In service high, and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all heaven before mine eyes.
And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage,
The hairy gown and mossy cell,
Where I may sit and rightly spell
Of every star that heaven doth shew
And every herb that sips the dew;
Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.
These pleasures, Melancholy, give,
And I with thee will choose to live.
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 bill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook, that flow'd
Fast by the oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples the 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 highth of this great argument
I may assert eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to men.
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,
Favour'd 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 ?
The infernal serpent : he it was, whose guile,
Stirr'd 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 equall'd 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
Hurld headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and night
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquish'd 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
Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witness'd huge affliction and dismay,
Mix'd 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
* Quiri sospiri, pianti, ed alti guai
Risonaran &c. Livina Commedia Inferno III. Compare Odyss ia, xi., and Ænis, vi.
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 had prepared
For those rebellious; here their prison ordain'd
In utter darkness; and their portion set
As far removed from God and light of heaven,
As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole.
O, how unlike the place from whence they fell !
THE ARCHFIEND IN TARTARUS.
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 warr'd on Jove,
Briareos, or Typhon, whom the den
By ancient Tarsus held ; or that sea-beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim the ocean stream:
Him, haply, slumbering on the Norway foam,
The pilot of some small night-founder'd 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 stretch'd out huge in length the arch-fiend lay
Chai the burning lake.
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 equall'd, 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 We shall be free; the Almighty hath not built Here for his envy; will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure; and in my choice To reign is worth ambition, though in hell: Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.*
BELIAL came last, than whom a spirit more lewd
Fell not from heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for itself: to him no temple stood
Or altar smoked; yet who more oft than he
* Compare the reply of Prometheus to Hermes in the Prometheus of Æschylus : and the Prometheus Unbound of Shelley.