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PARADISE REGAINED.

BOOK I.

I WHO erewhile the happy Garden sung
By one man's disobedience lost, now sing
Recovered Paradise to all mankind,
By one man's firm obedience fully tried
Through all temptation, and the Tempter foiled
In all his wiles, defeated and repulsed,
And Eden raised in the waste Wilderness.

Thou Spirit, who led'st this glorious Eremite Into the desert, his victorious field

Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him

thence

ΙΟ

By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire, As thou art wont, my prompted song, else mute, And bear through height or depth of Nature's bounds,

With prosperous wing full summed, to tell of deeds

Above heroic, though in secret done,

And unrecorded left through many an age; Worthy to have not remained so long unsung.

Now had the great Proclaimer, with a voice More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried Repentance, and Heaven's kingdom nigh at hand

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To all baptized. To his great baptism flocked With awe the regions round, and with them came From Nazareth the Son of Joseph deemed

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To the flood Jordan- -came as then obscure,
Unmarked, unknown. But him the Baptist soon
Descried, divinely warned, and witness bore
As to his worthier, and would have resigned
To him his heavenly office. Nor was long
His witness unconfirmed; on him baptized
Heaven opened, and in likeness of a dove
The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice
From Heaven pronounced him his beloved Son.
That heard the Adversary, who, roving still
About the world, at that assembly famed
Would not be last, and, with the voice divine
Nigh thunder-struck, the exalted man to whom
Such high attest was given a while surveyed
With wonder; then, with envy fraught and rage,
Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air
To council summons all his mighty peers,
Within thick clouds and dark tenfold involved,
A gloomy consistory; and then amidst,
With looks aghast and sad, he thus bespake:
"O ancient Powers of Air and this wide

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World

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(For much more willingly I mention Air,
This our old conquest, than remember Hell,
Our hated habitation), well ye know
How many ages, as the years of men,
This Universe we have possessed, and ruled,
In manner at our will the affairs of Earth, 50
Since Adam and his facile consort Eve
Lost Paradise, deceived by me, though since
With dread attending when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve

Upon my head. Long the decrees of Heaven
Delay, for longest time to him is short;

And now, too soon for us, the circling hours This dreaded time have compassed, wherein we Must bide the stroke of that long-threatened wound

(At least, if so we can, and by the head 60 Broken be not intended all our power

To be infringed, our freedom and our being
In this fair empire won of Earth and Air)—
For this ill news I bring: The Woman's Seed,
Destined to this, is late of woman born.

His birth to our just fear gave no small cause; But his growth now to youth's full flower, displaying

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All virtue, grace and wisdom to achieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great Prophet, to proclaim
His coming, is sent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the consecrated stream
Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them so
Purified to receive him pure, or rather
To do him honour as their King. All come,
And he himself among them was baptized-
Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
The testimony of Heaven, that who he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt. I saw
The Prophet do him reverence; on him, rising
Out of the water, Heaven above the clouds 80
Unfold her crystal doors; thence on his head
A perfect dove descend (whate'er it meant);
And out of Heaven the sovran voice I heard,
This is my Son beloved,-in him am pleased.'
His mother, then is mortal, but his Sire
He who obtains the monarchy of Heaven;
And what will he not do to advance his Son?
His first-begot we know, and sore have felt, 89
When his fierce thunder drove us to the Deep;
Who this is we must learn, for Man he seems

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In all his lineaments, though in his face The glimpses of his Father's glory shine. Ye see our danger on the utmost edge Of hazard, which admits no long debate, But must with something sudden be opposed (Not force, but well-couched fraud, well-woven snares),

Ere in the head of nations he appear,

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Their king, their leader, and supreme on Earth.
I, when no other durst, sole undertook
The dismal expedition to find out

And ruin Adam, and the exploit performed
Successfully; a calmer voyage now

Will waft me; and the way found prosperous

once

Induces best to hope of like success.'

He ended, and his words impression left Of much amazement to the infernal crew, Distracted and surprised with deep dismay At these sad tidings. But no time was then For long indulgence to their fears or grief; 110 Unanimous they all commit the care And management of this main enterprise To him, their great Dictator, whose attempt At first against mankind so well had thrived In Adam's overthrow, and led their march From Hell's deep-vaulted den to dwell in light, Regents, and potentates, and kings, yea gods, Of many a pleasant realm and province wide. So to the coast of Jordan he directs His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles, Where he might likeliest find this new-declared, This man of men, attested Son of God, Temptation and all guile on him to try— So to subvert whom he suspected raised To end his reign on Earth so long enjoyed; But, contrary, unweeting he fulfilled

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The purposed counsel, pre-ordained and fixed, Of the Most High, who, in full frequence bright Of Angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake:

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'Gabriel, this day, by proof, thou shalt be

hold,

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Thou and all Angels conversant on Earth
With man or men's affairs, how I begin
To verify that solemn message late
On which I sent thee to the Virgin pure
In Galilee, that she should bear a son,
Great in renown, and called the Son of God.
Then told'st her, doubting how these things
could be

To her a virgin, that on her should come
The Holy Ghost, and the power of the Highest
O'ershadow her. This Man, born and now

upgrown,

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To show him worthy of his birth divine
And high prediction, henceforth I expose
To Satan; let him tempt, and now assay
His utmost subtlety, because he boasts
And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng
Of his apostasy. He might have learnt
Less overweening, since he failed in Job,
Whose constant perseverance overcame
Whate'er his cruel malice could invent.

He now shall know I can produce a man, 150
Of female seed, far abler to resist

All his solicitations, and at length

All his vast force, and drive him back to Hell-
Winning by conquest what the first man lost
By fallacy surprised. But first I mean
To exercise him in the Wilderness;

There he shall first lay down the rudiments
Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth
To conquer
Sin and Death, the two grand foes,
By humiliation and strong sufferance;

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