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PARADISE LOST.

BOOK III.

THE ARGUMENT.

God sitting on his throne sees Satan flying towards this world, then newly created; shows him to the Son, who sat at his right hand; foretells the success of Satan in perverting mankind; clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created Man free, and able enough to have withstood his tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him seduced. The Son of God renders praises to his Father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards Man: but God again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards Man without the satisfaction of divine justice; Man hath offended the majesty of God, by aspiring to Godhead, and therefore, with all his progeny, devoted to death, must die, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for Man; the Father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all names in heaven and earth; commands all the angels to adore him; they obey, and, hymning to their harps in full quire, celebrate the Father and the Son. Meanwhile, Satan alights upon the bare convex of this world's outermost orb; where, wandering, he first finds a place, since called the Limbo of Vanity; what persons and things fly up thither; thence comes to the gate of Heaven, described ascending by stairs, and the waters above the firmament that flow about it; his passage thence to the orb of the sun, he finds there Uriel, the regent of that orb, but first changes himself into the shape of a meaner angel; and, pretending a zealous desire to behold the new creation, and Man whom God had placed here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed; alights first on Mount Niphates.

PARADISE LOST.

BOOK III

HAIL, holy Light! offspring of Heaven first-born;
Or, of the Eternal co-eternal beam,
May I express thee unblamed? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity; dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear'st thou rather, pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell? before the sun,
Before the heavens thou wert; and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest

The rising world of waters, dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,

Escaped the Stygian pool; though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn; while, in my flight,
Through utter and through middle darkness borne
With other notes, than to the Orphean lyre,
I sung of Chaos and eternal Night;

Taught, by the heavenly muse, to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Though hard and rare. Thee I revisit safe,

And feel thy sovereign vital lamp; but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander, where the muses haunt,
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song: but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit. Nor, sometimes, forget
Those other two, equall'd with me in fate,
So were I equall'd with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris, and blind Mæonides;
And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old,
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and, in shadiest covert hid,
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine:
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off; and, for the book of knowledge fair,
Presented with a universal blank

Of Nature's works, to me expunged and rased;
And wisdom at one entranee quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her

powers

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