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So unimaginable as hate in Heaven,

And war so near the peace of God in bliss
With such confusion; but the evil, soon
Driven back, redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung, impossible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam soon re-
pealed

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The doubts that in his heart arose; and now
Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know
What nearer might concern him, how this
world

Of heaven and earth conspicuous first began,
When and whereof created, for what cause,
What within Eden or without was done
Before his memory,- -as one, whose drouth
Yet scarce allayed, still eyes the current
stream

Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,

Proceeded thus to ask his heavenly guest:

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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;

For which to the infinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive with solemn purpose to observe
Immutably his sovran will, the end

Of what we are. But, since thou hast vouch

safed

Gently for our instruction to impart

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Things above earthly thought, which yet concerned

Our knowing, as to highest Wisdom seemed,
Deign to descend now lower, and relate

What may no less perhaps avail us known;
How first began this heaven, which we behold
Distant so high, with moving fires adorned
Innumerable, and this which yields or fills
All space, the ambient air wide interfused,
Embracing round this florid earth; what cause
Moved the Creator in his holy rest
Through all eternity, so late to build
In Chaos, and, the work begun, how soon
Absolved; if unforbid thou may'st unfold
What we not to explore the secrets ask
Of his eternal empire, but the more

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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

heaven,

ΙΟΙ

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 evening and the moon
Haste to thy audience, Night with her will
bring

Silence, and Sleep listening to thee will watch;
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 godlike Angel answered mild: 110

"This also thy request, with caution asked, Obtain; though to recount almighty works What words or tongue of Seraph can suffice, Or heart of man suffice to comprehend?

Yet what thou canst attain, which best may

serve

To glorify the Maker, and infer

Thee also happier, shall not be withheld
Thy hearing; such commission from above
I have received, to answer thy desire

Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain
To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope 121
Things not revealed, which the invisible King,
Only omniscient, hath suppressed in night,
To none communicable in earth or Heaven.
Enough is left besides to search and know.
But Knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Her temperance 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 Heaven
(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 returned Victorious with his Saints, the Omnipotent Eternal Father from his throne beheld · Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake:

66 6

'At least our envious foe hath failed, who thought

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All like himself rebellious, by whose aid
This inaccessible high strength, the seat
Of Deity supreme, us dispossessed,
He trusted to have seized, and into fraud
Drew many, whom their place knows here no

more.

Yet far the greater part have kept, I see, Their station; Heaven, yet populous, retains Number sufficient to possess her realms

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Though wide, and this high temple to frequent
With ministeries due and solemn rites.
But, lest his heart exalt him in the harm
Already done, to have dispeopled Heaven-
My damage fondly deemed, 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
Of men innumerable there to dwell,
Not here, till, by degrees of merit raised,
They open to themselves at length the way
Up hither, under long obedience tried,

And Earth be changed to Heaven, and Heaven

to Earth,

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One kingdom, joy and union without end.
Meanwhile, inhabit lax, ye Powers of Heaven!
And thou, my word, begotten Son, by thee
This I perform; speak thou, and be it done!
My overshadowing Spirit and might with thee
I send along; ride forth, and bid the deep
Within appointed bounds be heaven and earth;
Boundless the deep, because I am who fill
Infinitude; nor vacuous the space.
Though I uncircumscribed myself retire,
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 the Almighty, and to what he
spake,

His Word, the Filial Godhead, gave effect.
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.

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180

"Great triumph and rejoicing was in Heaven When such was heard declared the Almighty's will.

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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 the ungodly from his sight
And the habitations of the just; to Him
Glory and praise, whose wisdom had ordained
Good out of evil to create-instead

Of Spirits malign, a better race to bring
Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse 190
His good to worlds and ages infinite!

66

So sang the Hierarchies. Meanwhile the
Son

On his great expedition now appeared,
Girt with omnipotence, with radiance crowned
Of majesty divine, sapience and love
Immense, and all his Father in him shone.
About his chariot numberless were poured
Cherub and Seraph, Potentates and Thrones,
And Virtues, wingèd Spirits, and chariots
winged

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From the armoury of God, where stand of old Myriads, between two brazen mountains lodged Against a solemn day, harnessed at hand, Celestial equipage; and now came forth Spontaneous, for within them Spirit lived Attendant on their Lord. Heaven opened

wide

Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound
On golden hinges moving, to let forth
The King of Glory, in his powerful Word
And Spirit coming to create new worlds.
On heavenly ground they stood, and from the

shore

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They viewed the vast immeasurable abyss
Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,
Up from the bottom turned by furious winds,
And surging waves, as mountains, to assault

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