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THIS First Book proposes, first in brief, the whole subject, Man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was placed: then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of Heaven, with all his crew, into the great Deep. Which action passed over, the poem hastens into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into Hell, described here, not in the Centre, (for heaven and earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed,) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest called Chaos: here Satan, with his Angels lying on the burning lake, thunder-struck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him; they confer of their miserable fall. Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded; they rise, their numbers, array of battle, their chief leaders named, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech, comforts them with hopes yet of regaining Heaven, but tells them lastly of a new world and new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy or report in Heaven; for that Angels were long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of
this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to a full council. What his associates thence attempt. Pandemonium the palace of Satan rises, suddenly built out of the Deep; the infernal Peers there sit in council.
7F Man's first disobedience and the fruit Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal
Brought death into the World and all our
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed
And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer Before all temples the upright heart and pure, Instruct me, for thou knowest; thou from the first Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread, 20 Dovelike satest brooding on the vast Abyss, And madest 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,
Nine times the space that measures day and night
Torments him. Round he throws his baleful eyes,
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
If thou beest he, - but oh how fallen! how
From him, who, in the happy realms of light,
Joined with me once, now misery hath joined 90