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Twixt day and night, and now from end to end
Night's hemisphere had veil'd the horizon round:
When Satan who late fled before the threats
Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd
In meditated fraud and malice, bent
On man's destruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier on himself, fearless return'd.
By night he fled, and at midnight return'd
From compassing the earth, cautious of day,
Since Uriel regent of the sun descry'd
His entrance, and forewarn'd the cherubim
That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven,
The space of seven continu'd nights he rode
With darkness, thrice the equinoctial line
He circled, four times cross'd the car of night
From pole to pole, traversing each colure;
On the eighth return'd, and on the coast averse
From entrance or cherubic watch by stealth
Found unsuspected way. There was a place,
Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the
Where Tigris at the foot of paradise
Into a gulf shot under ground, till part
Rose up a fountain by the Tree of Life:
In with the river sunk, and with it rose
59 compassing] Sylv. Du Bartas, p. 896, of Satan,
'I come, said he, from walking in, and out,
And compassing the earthlie ball about.' Todd.
66 colure] See Lisle's Du Bartas, p. 155,
'The second is, and call'd the nigh equall colure.'
Satan involv'd in rising mist, then sought
Where to lie hid; sea he had search'd and land
From Eden over Pontus, and the pool
Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob,
Downward as far Antarctick; and in length
West from Orontes to the ocean barr'd
At Darien; thence to the land where flows
Ganges and Indus: thus the orb he roam'd
With narrow search; and with inspection deep
Consider'd every creature, which of all
Most opportune might serve his wiles, and found
The serpent subtlest beast of all the field.
Him after long debate, irresolute
Of thoughts revolv'd, his final sentence chose
Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom
To enter, and his dark suggestions hide
From sharpest sight: for in the wily snake
Whatever sleights none would suspicious mark,
As from his wit and native subtilty
Proceeding, which in other beasts observ'd
Doubt might beget of diabolic power
Active within beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolv'd, but first from inward grief
His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd.
O earth, how like to heaven, if not preferr'd
75 mist] Hom. Il. i. 359, ἀνέδυ πολιῆς ἁλος, ἠΰτ ̓ ὀμιχλή, and Hymn
Mercur. v. 141. Newton.
80 Orontes] Euphrates. Bentl. MS.
99 earth] Consult Heylin's note on this passage; who considers that there is an inconsistency between this speech of Satan and b. iii. 566.
More justly, seat worthier of gods, as built
With second thoughts, reforming what was old!
For what God, after better, worse would build?
Terrestrial heaven, danc'd round by other heavens
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,
In thee concentring all their precious beams
Of sacred influence. As GOD in heaven
Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou
Centring receiv'st from all those orbs: in thee,
Not in themselves, all their known virtue appears 110
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth
Of creatures animate with gradual life
Of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in man.
With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,
If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange
Of hill and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me, as from the hateful siege
Of contraries; all good to me becomes
Bane, and in heaven much worse would be my state.
But neither here seek I, no nor in heaven
To dwell, unless by mast'ring heaven's Supreme;
Nor hope to be myself less miserable
By what I seek, but others to make such
As I, though thereby worse to me redound:
For only in destroying I find ease
To my relentless thoughts; and him destroy'd, 130
Or won to what may work his utter loss,
For whom all this was made, all this will soon
Follow, as to him link'd in weal or woe;
In woe then; that destruction wide may range.
To me shall be the glory sole among
The infernal powers, in one day to have marr'd
What he, Almighty styl'd, six nights and days
Continu'd making, and who knows how long
Before had been contriving, though perhaps
Not longer than since I in one night freed
From servitude inglorious well nigh half
Th' angelic name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers. He to be aveng'd,
And to repair his numbers thus impair'd,
Whether such virtue spent of old now fail'd
More angels to create, if they at least
Are his created, or to spite us more,
Determin'd to advance into our room
A creature form'd of earth, and him endow,
Exalted from so base original,
With heavenly spoils, our spoils : what he decreed
He effected; man he made, and for him built
Magnificent this world, and earth his seat,
Him lord pronounc'd, and, O indignity!
Subjected to his service angel wings,
And flaming ministers, to watch and tend
130 him] Milton sometimes uses the oblique case for the case absolute: so b. vii. 142, 'us dispossessed:' Sams. Ag. 463, 'me overthrown' and see Jortin's note, 312.
Their earthy charge. Of these the vigilance
I dread, and to elude, thus wrapp'd in mist
Of midnight vapour, glide obscure, and pry
In every bush and brake, where hap may find
The serpent sleeping, in whose mazy folds
To hide me, and the dark intent I bring.
O foul descent! that I, who erst contended
With gods to sit the highest, am now constrain'd
Into a beast, and mix'd with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the highth of deity aspir'd;
But what will not ambition and revenge
Descend to? who aspires must down as low
As high he soar'd, obnoxious first or last
To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long back on itself recoils :
Let it; I reck not, so it light well aim'd,
Since higher I fall short, on him who next
Provokes my envy, this new favourite
Of heaven, this man of clay, son of despite,
Whom us the more to spite his maker rais'd
From dust spite then with spite is best repaid.
So saying, through each thicket dank or dry,
Like a black mist low creeping, he held on
His midnight search, where soonest he might find
The serpent: him fast sleeping soon he found,
In labyrinth of many a round self-roll'd,
157 charge] v. 1 Corinth. 15. Bentl. MS.
178 spite] Esch. Prom. 944.
Οὕτως ὑβρίζειν τους ὑβρίζοντας χρεών. Richardson.