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When Satan who late fled before the threats
60 His entrance, and forewarn’d the Cherubim That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven, The space of sev’n continued nights he rode With darkness, thrice the equinoctial line He circled, four times cross'd the car of night From pole to pole, travérsing each colure; On th' 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 change, 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 Satan involv'd in rising mist, then sought
75 Where to lie hid; fea he had search'd and land From Eden over Pontus, and the pool Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob; Downward as far antarctic; and in length West from Orontes to the ocean barr'd
80 At Darien, thence to the land where flows Ganges and Indus: thus the orb he roam'd
With narrow search, and with inspection deep
95 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 Heav'n, if not preferr'd More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as built With second thoughts, reforming what was old! For what God after better worse would build ? Terrestrial Heav’n, danc'd round by other Heavens That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps, Light above light, for thee alone, as seems, JOS In thee concentring all their precious beams Of sacred influence! As God in Heaven Is center, yet extends to all, so thou Centring receiv'ft 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.
Of his adorers : he to be aveng'd,
155 And flaming ministers to watch and tend Their earthly charge: Of these the vigilance I dread, and to elude, thus wrapt in mist Of midnight vapor glide obscure, and pry In every bush and brake, where hap may find 160 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 fit the high’est, am now constrain'd Into a beast, and mix'd with bestial slime, 165 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 foar’d, obnoxious first or last To bafest things. Revenge, at first though sweet, Bitter ere long back on itself recoils
Let it ; I reck not, so it light well aim'd,
So saying, through each thicket dank or dry, Like a black mist low creeping, he held on 180 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, His head the midst, well stor'd with subtle wiles : Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den, Nor nocent yet, but on the grasly herb Fearless unfear'd he Nept : in at his mouth The Devil enter'd, and his brutal sense, In heart or head, possessing soon inspir’d With act intelligential; but his sleep Disturb’d not, waiting close th' approach of morn. Now when as sacred light began to dawn In Eden on the humid flow'rs, that breath'd Their morning incense, when all things that breathe, From th' earth's great altar send up filent praise 195 To the Creator, and his nostrils fill With grateful smell, forth came the human pair, And join'd their vocal worship to the quire Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs : Then commune how that day they best may ply Their growing work : for much their work outgrew;