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Death's harbinger. Sad task! yet argument
Not lefs, but more heroic than the wrath
Of ftern ACHILLES on his foe perfu'd
Thrice fugitive about TROY wall or rage
Of TURNUS for LAVINIA dis-efpous'd.
Or NEPTUNE's ire, or JUNO's, that fo long
Perplex'd the GREEK, and CYTHEREA'S fon:
If answerable ftyle I can obtain
Of my cœleftial patronefs, who deigns
Her nightly vifitation unimplor'd,
And dictates to me flumbring; or infpires
Eafie my unpremeditated verse:
Since first this fubject for Heroic fong
Pleas'd me, long chufing, and beginning late;
Not fedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroic deem'd; chief maft'ry to diffect
With long and tedious havock fabled Knights
In battels feign'd: (the better fortitude
Of patience, and Heroic Martyrdom,
Unfung) or to defcribe Races, and Games,
Or tilting furniture, emblazon'd fhields,
Impreffes quaint, caparifons, and steeds;
Bafes, and tinfel trappings, gorgeous Knights
At jouft, and tornament; then marshal'd feaft,
Serv'd up in hall with fewers, and fenefhals:
The skil of artifice, or office, mean!
Not that which juftly gives Heroic name
To perfon, or to poem. Me (of these
Nor skill'd, nor ftudious) higher argument
Remains; fufficient of itself to raise

That name, unless an age too late, or cold
Climate, or years, damp my intended wing
Depreft: and much they may, if all be mine,
Not hers, who brings it nightly to my ear.

The Sun was funk, and after him the star
Of HESPERUs, whofe office is to bring

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Twilight upon the earth (fhort arbiter
'Twixt day and night) and now, from end to end,
Night's hemifphere had veil'd th' 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 deftruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier on himself, fearless return'd.
By night he fled, and at midnight return'd
From compaffing the earth; cautious of day
Since URIEL, regent of the Sun, defcry'd
His entrance, and forewarn'd the Cherubim,
That kept their watch: thence full of anguish driv'n,
The space of fev'n continu'd nights he rode
With darkness; thrice the equinoctial Line
He circled; four times crofs'd the car of Night
From Pole to Pole, traverfing each Colure;
On th' eighth return'd, and on the coaft averfe
From entrance, or Cherubic watch, by stealth
Found unfufpected way. There was a place,
Now not (tho' fin, not time, firft wrought the change)
Where TIGRIS, at the foot.of Paradise,
Into a gulph fhot under-ground, 'till part
Rofe up a fountain by the Tree of Life.
In with the river funk, and with it rofe
SATAN, involv'd in rifing mift; then fought
Where to lie hid: fea he had fearch'd, and land,
From EDEN over PONTUS, and the pool
MAOTIS, up beyond the river OB:
Downward as far antartic: and in length,
Weft 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 fearch; and with inspection deep
Confider'd every creature, which of all
Moft opportune might ferve his wiles; and found 85
The ferpent fubtleft beast of all the field.
Him after long debate (irrefolute

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