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Therefore on thy firm hand Religion leans
In peace, and reckons thee her eldest son.

ON THE LATE MASSACRE IN PIEMONT

(1655) AVENGE, O Lord, thy slaughtered Saints, whose bones

Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;

Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold

Slain by the bloody Piemontese, that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they

To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow O’er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway

The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow A hundredfold, who, having learnt thy way,

Early may ily the Babylonian woe.

ON HIS BLINDNESS

(1655)
WHEN I consider how my light is spent

Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present

My true account, lest He returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied ?".

I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best

Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,

And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

TO MR. LAWRENCE

(1656) LAWRENCE, of virtuous father virtuous son,

Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire,
Where shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire

Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
From the hard season gaining ? Time will run
On smoother, till Favonius reinspire
The frozen earth, and clothe in fresh attire

The lily and rose, that neither sowed nor spun.
What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,

Of Attic taste, with wine, whence we may rise

To hear the lute well touched, or artful voice
Warble immortal notes and Tuscan air?

He who of those delights can judge, and spare
To interpose them oft, is not unwise.

TO CYRIACK SKINNER

(1656) CYRIACK, whose grandsire on the royal bench

Of British Themis, with no mean applause,
Pronounced, and in his volumes taught, our laws,
Which others at their bar so often wrench,
To-day deep thoughts resolve with me to drench

In mirth that after no repenting draws;
Let Euclid rest, and Archimedes pause,

And what the Swede intend, and what the French. To measure life learn thou betimes, and know

Toward solid good what leads the nearest way;

For other things mild Heaven a time ordains,
And disapproves that care, though wise in show,

That with superfluous burden loads the day,
And, when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains.

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TO THE SAME

(1655)
CYRIACK, this three years' day these eyes, though clear,

To outward view, of blemish or of spot,
Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot;

Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout the year,

Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot

Of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer
Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?

The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied

In Liberty's defence, my noble task,
Of which all Europe rings from side to side.
This thought might lead me through the world's vain

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Content, though blind, had I no better guide.

ON HIS DECEASED WIFE

(1658)
METHOUGHT I saw my late espousèd saint

Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,

Rescued from Death by force, though pale and faint,
Mine, as whom washed from spot of childbed taint

Purification in the Old Law did save,
And such as yet once more I trust to have

Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind.

Her face was veiled; yet to my fancied sight

Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined
So clear as in no face with more delight.
But, oh! as to embrace me she inclined,
I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night

PARADISE LOST

1658-1663

THE VERSE The measure is English heroic verse without rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin-rime being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame metre; graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hind ance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse, than else they would have expresssd them. Not without cause therefore some both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rime both in longer and shorter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings—a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rime so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming.

THE FIRST BOOK

THE ARGUMENT.-This First Book proposes, first in brief, the whole subject-Man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Para. dise, 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

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the command of God, driven out of Heaven, with all his crew, into the great Deep. Which action passed over, the Poem hastes 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, thunderstruck 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 hope 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.

F MAN'S first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste

Brought death into the World, and all our woc,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That Shepherd who first taught the chosen seed
In the beginning how the heavens and earth
Rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed
Fast by the oracle of God, I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventrous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
And chiefly Thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for Thou know'st; Thou from the first
Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread,
Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast Abyss,
And mad'st it pregnant: what in me is dark

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