Paradise Lost in Modern English

A summary of the epic masterpiece in plain English for the lazy student or teacher in need. It's a line-by-line, side-by-side paraphrasing of the poem, just in case reading literature from cover to cover isn't your thing. This is John Milton's Paradise Lost in translation.

Book 9: Satan does the thing


john milton book 9 paradise lost

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john milton book 9 paradise lost

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Summary and Analysis Book IX

In the prologue to Book IX, Milton says that his work must now take a tragic tone and that this Christian epic, though different, is nonetheless more heroic than earlier epics like the Iliad and the Aeneid . Again, he calls on Urania as the muse of Christian inspiration to help him complete his work and show the true heroism that lies in the Christian idea of sacrifice. Then Milton returns to his story.

Satan returns to Eden eight days after being forced out by Gabriel. He has studied all the animals and has decided to approach Eve in the form of a serpent which he considers to be the "subtlest Beast of all the Field" (86).

The following morning, Adam and Eve prepare for their daily work tending the Garden. Because the Garden's growth seems to surpass their labors, Eve suggests that on this day they work apart. She thinks they can accomplish more working individually. Adam argues the point with Eve, saying that Raphael has warned them of dangers and that she is more vulnerable by herself. He and she continue this argument — she proposing that they work alone; he proposing that they work together — until Adam finally relents; however, he makes Eve promise to return to their bower soon, but Milton comments that she will never return to Adam in the way that she was that morning.

Satan in the form of the serpent is surprised and excited to find Eve alone tending flowers. He watches her and for a few moments becomes enraptured and forgets his evil nature. Then he remembers what his purpose is — to destroy God's creation. The serpent approaches Eve upright upon its tail. His various acts fail to attract Eve's attention because she is used to dealing with animals. However, when the serpent speaks, complimenting Eve on her beauty, playing on both her vanity and curiosity, Eve is suddenly interested. She is especially curious about how the serpent learned to speak. Satan replies through the serpent that he learned speech by eating the fruit of a particular tree in the Garden. He acquired speech and the ability to reason and has, therefore, sought Eve out to worship as the most beautiful of God's creations.

When Eve inquires which tree gave the serpent his abilities, he takes her to the Tree of Knowledge. Eve tells the serpent that God has forbidden Man to eat from that tree, and she chooses to obey God. Satan, using the same sophistic reasoning he has used throughout the story, tells Eve that God has tricked her and Adam. He has eaten of the tree and is not dead; neither will they die. Instead the tree will give them knowledge, which will make them like God. This fact makes God envious and has caused him to demand that Adam and Eve not eat of the tree. Eve is taken in by the words of the serpent, and after some rationalizing, she convinces herself that she should eat the fruit. And she does.

Now Eve suddenly worships the Tree of Knowledge as a god, even as all nature weeps for her fall. Her thoughts turn to Adam, and she decides that he must eat the fruit also. She cannot bear the idea that she might die and Adam would be given another wife. When Eve approaches Adam, he drops the wreath of flowers that he was weaving for her hair. Eve quickly tells him what she has done, and Adam just as quickly makes his own decision. He allows his physical love and passion for Eve to outweigh his reason. He knowingly eats the fruit and is immediately affected with carnal desire for Eve. The two humans exit to engage in "amorous play" (1045). The description here is not of love but lust.

After sex, Adam and Eve fall into a deep sleep. They awake and are overcome with shame and guilty knowledge. They both are weeping, and they launch into arguments with each other. Adam says Eve is at fault; she replies in kind. Milton describes them as spending "fruitless hours" (1188) in bitter accusation. Each is willing to blame the other, but neither is willing to accept responsibility. Paradise is gone and in its place guilt, blame, and shame. Milton says that both of them have given way to "Appetite" (1129), and reason is lost. Paradise has ended; the earth has begun.

Milton's fourth invocation differs from earlier ones in that he does not call on Urania, except obliquely, and he does not mention his blindness. Rather he offers an explanation for his epic and says that the tone must now become "Tragic" (6). The word "tragic" had two connotations for Milton. First, it carried the simple moral meaning of something terribly bad or unfortunate. Christians since the Middle Ages had always considered the falls of Lucifer and Adam tragic. But "tragic' also refers to the dramatic concept of tragedy as first defined by Aristotle and developed through the centuries to its high achievement in Elizabethan England. Milton knew the nature of dramatic tragedy from his study of the Greeks (he patterned Samson Agonistes on Greek tragedy) as well as from reading Shakespeare and other Elizabethan dramatists (he wrote an essay On Shakespeare for the Second Folio).

By the seventeenth century, tragedies had assumed a basic format. The play would have a noble hero who had a tragic flaw in either personality or actions. The fortunes of the hero would reverse during the play from good to bad with the hero recognizing his own responsibility for these consequences that resulted from his flaw. The end of the play would result in the death of the hero. Throughout the play, fate would, in one form or another, control the action, and, at the end, the audience would experience a catharsis or purging of emotions, resulting from their empathy with the hero. They should feel pity for the hero and fear for themselves.

To see that Paradise Lost has an underlying tragic structure is not difficult. Adam is a noble character. He has a flaw in his passion for Eve that overrides his reason. He makes the mistake of eating the fruit. He recognizes, eventually, his responsibility for his actions. Death, though not occurring in the epic, is the main result of Adam's action. Fate (God) knows what will happen throughout the poem. And finally, Milton wanted his audience to experience pity for Adam and all mankind but fear for the consequences of their own sinful lives. So when Milton speaks of changing his "Notes to Tragic" (6), he means more than a passing remark.

Yet for all of these connections to tragedy, Paradise Lost is not a tragedy; it is a Christian epic with a tragic core. Adam is a noble hero, but as Milton notes in this prologue, he is not a hero like Achilles, Aeneas, or Odysseus. He is, in Milton's words, a hero of "Patience and Heroic Martyrdom" (33). Ultimately too, Adam is regenerated and reconciled rather than just killed. Paradise Lost will end on a hopeful — even joyful — note, since through Adam's fall, salvation and eternal life will come to Man through God's mercy and grace. This felix culpa or "happy fault" is not the stuff of tragedy.

Moreover, even as an epic, Milton says that he was attempting something different in Paradise Lost . He did not want to glorify warfare as in earlier epics like the Iliad . Instead, in his only description of warfare (Book VI), he creates parody rather than magnificence. Rather Milton's goal was to write a Christian epic, specifically a Protestant Christian epic with a new sort of hero, one who wins ultimately through patience and suffering. At the time Milton wrote this particular invocation, he still prayed to the Muse (Urania, Christian inspiration) to help him complete his work and to let it gain acceptance in a time when such a work's fate was unclear.

After the invocation, Milton begins this book with Satan who has been absent for the three books in which Adam and Raphael talked. Satan has degenerated as a character. In his speech in Eden, he is unable to make his thoughts logical. He thinks Earth may be more beautiful than Heaven since God created it after Heaven. He thinks he might be happy on Earth but then argues that he could not be happy in Heaven. He fusses about Man being tended by angels. Satan's ability to think, which seemed potent in Book I, now appears weak and confused. An even greater indication of Satan's character degeneration is that he is now self-delusional. In the early books, he lied but only to get others to do his bidding. In this speech, he lies to himself. He questions whether God actually created the angels, he sees Man as God's revenge on him, he says he took half of all the angels out of Heaven. Satan who seemed somewhat heroic in his rebellion now seems to be a dangerous con man who has come to believe his own lies. In the early books, the reader can at least see reasoning as well as envy behind Satan's actions, but, here in Book IX, Satan has become the delusional psychopath who believes his own lies. The concept of heroism cannot be stretched to include Satan's attitude and thinking at this point in the epic.

Milton reinforces Satan's degeneration with visual images. Satan creeps along the ground of Eden in a low-lying mist and ultimately takes on the form of the serpent who crawls along the ground. The shape changes Satan has made in Paradise Lost show a pattern. From angel to cherub, from cherub to cormorant, then to lion and tiger, and finally to toad and snake, Satan has progressively made himself more and more earthbound and lowly. The irony of these shifts in shape is not lost on Satan. As he searches for a serpent to enter, he complains of the bestial nature of the animal that he must "incarnate and imbrute, / That to the highth of deity aspired" (166-167). That is, as he tries to become like God, he takes on lower and lower forms.

The next scene of Book IX involves the argument between Adam and Eve over whether they should work alone or separately. Some commentators have seen Eve's arguments as a kind of calculated sophistry akin to Satan's that demonstrates Eve's complicity in her own fall. Her argument, however, is more of innocence. She has played the proper womanly role during Raphael's visit, and now she simply wants more freedom and responsibility. Perhaps she wants to show that she can be Adam's equal. To read Eve as a conniver is to overlook her naiveté and innocent desire to be more like Adam.

Satan's attitude when he finds Eve alone shows that the two humans made the wrong decision in separating. When Satan sees Eve by herself, he is pleased that she is not with Adam, who would have been a "Foe not informidable" (486). Eve's only real defense against Satan seems to be her basic beauty and goodness. Satan is so astounded when he first sees her that for a brief period he forgets his purpose and stands "Stupidly good" (465). The scene makes two points: First, the goodness expressed just by Eve's physical person is overwhelming. And second, Satan has lost the capacity for real goodness. He may be momentarily struck dumb and be "stupidly good," but he quickly recovers and is not in any way deflected from his evil purpose.

Satan's temptation of Eve is a cunning masterpiece. As a prelapsarian serpent, he is able to approach her standing upright upon his tail, a "Circular base of rising folds, that tow'r'd / Fold above fold, a surging maze" (498-99). The images of circuitous, folding mazes occur intermittently throughout Paradise Lost and reach their culmination in this image of the serpent rising to tempt Eve with his body a coiling labyrinth. Visually, Eve is pure, simple innocence; the serpent, unfathomable, complex evil. Eve will soon be lost in his labyrinthine argument and plot.

Satan as serpent first uses his physical beauty and speech to impress Eve, who finds him beautiful. A number of writers have found sexual undertones in the description of the serpent: "pleasing was his shape, / And lovely" (503-04). An old Jewish tradition even had it that Eve made love with the serpent. Milton's subtle sexualizing of the serpent followed this tradition and adds another element to Eve's fall. William Blake, in his illustration for this scene, certainly noticed sexual imagery. At first glance, Eve appears to kiss the serpent, but is, in fact, taking a bite of a very phallic apple in the serpent's mouth. The fruit hanging from the Tree of Life in Blake's illustration suggests nothing so much as male genitalia.

Eve is also taken with the fact that the serpent talks. Further, the snake is not in the angelic form of the tempter in Eve's dream, so she is not put on guard by the creature. (Milton has made it clear earlier that Adam and Eve were never threatened by any animal in Eden.) Satan first flatters Eve. He licks the ground. He says he worships her beauty. The reader recalls that Eve narcissistically became enamored of her own image in the water at her creation. She is vain, but she is also secondary to Adam. Here a talking snake praises her beauty and says he worships her. She is interested though not enraptured.

But when the serpent takes Eve to the Tree of Knowledge, his arguments come so fast and so deviously that she cannot follow them. At first, she does what she should. She tells the serpent that she cannot eat from the tree. He argues that he has eaten and did not die. Then he adds that God wants her to eat of the tree and, contradictorily, that he envies what the humans might learn if they did eat. The arguments come so fast that Eve cannot answer, let alone think through them. Her innocence in comparison with Satan's cunning overcomes her reason. She is no match for Satan, and so his sophistic arguments seem reason to her. Unlike Adam, Eve buys into the arguments without grasping what is really happening. Eve eats the fruit, and eats, for the first time, gluttonously, letting her appetite take control of her reason.

After she eats, Eve at first feels elated. She thinks that she has reached a higher level but shows this ironically by starting to worship the tree. Her thoughts turn to Adam. Initially, she thinks she might keep this new power for herself and perhaps become his equal. At this point, Eve is conniving; already the fruit has changed her innocence. Even her reason for telling Adam shows this fact. If the fruit indeed leads to death, she does not want to die and leave Adam to another woman. She selfishly wants him to be in the same condition she is.

Adam's temptation and fall is much less complicated than Eve's. When Adam drops the flowery chaplet that he has been making for Eve, he symbolically drops all that he has in Eden. He immediately realizes what Eve has done. Adam makes a conscious decision to eat the fruit because he cannot give up Eve. He allows his physical passion for her to outweigh his reason, and so he eats. Adam's decision is willful, unlike Eve's, which was based on fraudulent argument and weak reason.

After the fall, the two are overcome by lust. Adam says to Eve, "if such pleasure be / In things to us forbidden, it might be wish'd, / For this one Tree had been forbidden ten" (1024-26). The language of the entire scene is charged with sexual imagery and innuendo. Their appetites are in control, and reason is lost. After their lovemaking, they fall into a troubled sleep — no more innocent dreams. When they wake, they are cognizant of what they have done, and their arguing is that of real people. If their argument at the end of Book IX is compared with their discussion of whether to work alone or together at the beginning, the difference in Man before and after the fall is clear. The opening discussion is reasoned and pleasant; the closing, irrational and bitter.

harbinger (13) a person or thing that comes before to announce or give an indication of what follows; herald.

sedulous (27) working hard and steadily; diligent.

Seneschal (38) a steward or major-domo in the household of a medieval noble.

wanton (211) [Now Rare] luxuriant (said of vegetation, etc.).

patriarch (376) the father and ruler of a family or tribe; Adam is identified in Paradise Lost as the patriarch of all Mankind.

verdant (500) covered with green vegetation.

unctuous (635 ) oily or greasy; made up of or containing fat or oil. Milton uses the word to describe one of the elements of ignis fatuus or fool's fire , a phenomenon like St. Elmo's Fire which often led the foolish astray.

dalliance (1016) flirting, toying, or trifling. Milton uses the term as a euphemism for sex.

umbrage (1087) shade; shadow; foliage, considered as shade-giving.

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Literary Theory and Criticism

Home › Literature › Analysis of John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Analysis of John Milton’s Paradise Lost

By NASRULLAH MAMBROL on July 12, 2020 • ( 0 )

Paradise Lost is a poetic rewriting of the book of Genesis. It tells the story of the fall of Satan and his compatriots, the creation of man, and, most significantly, of man’s act of disobedience and its consequences: paradise was lost for us. It is a literary text that goes beyond the traditional limitations of literary story telling, because for the Christian reader and for the predominant ethos of Western thinking and culture it involved the original story, the exploration of everything that man would subsequently be and do. Two questions arise from this and these have attended interpretations of the poem since its publication in 1667. First, to what extent did Milton diverge from orthodox perceptions of Genesis? Second, how did his own experiences, feelings, allegiances, prejudices and disappointments, play some part in the writing of the poem and, in respect of this, in what ways does it reflect the theological and political tensions of the seventeenth century?

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Paradise Lost was probably written between 1660–65, although there is evidence that Milton had had long term plans for a biblical epic: there are rough outlines for such a poem, thought to have been produced in the 1640s, in the Trinity MS, and Edward Phillips (1694:13) claims that Milton had during the same period shown him passages similar to parts of Book IV of the published work. The first edition (1667) was comprised of 10 books and its restructuring to 12 book occurred in the 1674 edition.

Paradise Lost Study Guide

Prefatory material

There are two significant pieces of prefatory material; a 54-line poem by his friend Andrew Marvell (added in 1674) and Milton’s own prose note on ‘The Verse’ (added to the sixth issue of the 1667 first edition).

Marvell’s poem is largely a fulsome tribute to Milton’s achievement but this is interposed with cautiously framed questions which are thought to reflect the mood of awe and perplexity which surrounded Paradise Lost during the seven years between its publication and the addition of Marvell’s piece (lines 5–8, 11–12, 15–16).

Milton’s own note on ‘The Verse’ is a defence of his use of blank verse. Before the publication of Paradise Lost blank verse was regarded as occupying a middle ground between poetic and non-poetic language and suitable only for plays; with non-dramatic verse there had to be rhyme. Milton claims that his use of blank verse will overturn all of these presuppositions, that he has for the first time ever in English created the equivalent of the unrhymed forms of Homer’s and Virgil’s classical epics. He does not state exactly how he has achieved this and subsequent commentators (see particularly Prince 1954 and Emma 1964) have noted that while his use of the unrhymed iambic pentameter is largely orthodox he frames within it syntactic constructions that throughout the poem constitute a particular Miltonic style. In fact ‘The Verse’ is a relatively modest citation of what would be a change in the history of English poetry comparable with the invention of free verse at the beginning of the twentieth century. Effectively, Paradise Lost licensed blank verse as a non-dramatic form and without it James Thomson’s The Seasons (1730), William Cowper’s The Task (1785) and William Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey (1798) and The Prelude (1850) would not be the poems that they are.

The first twenty-six lines of Book I introduce the theme of the poem; ‘man’s first disobedience, and the fruit/Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste/Brought death into the world…’ (1–3) – and contain a number of intriguing statements. Milton claims to be pursuing ‘things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme’ (16) which can be taken to mean an enterprise unprecedented in non-literary or literary writing. While theologians had debated the book of Genesis and poets and dramatists engaged with it, no-one had, as yet, rewritten it. This raises the complex question of Milton’s objectives in doing so. He calls upon ‘the heavenly muse’ to help him ‘assert eternal providence,/And justify the ways of God to men’ (25–6). Both of these statements carry immense implications, suggesting that he will offer a new perspective upon the indisputable truths of Christianity. The significance of this intensifies as we engage with the developing narrative of the poem.

In lines 27–83 Milton introduces the reader to Satan and his ‘horrid crew’, cast down into a recently constructed hell after their failed rebellion against God. For the rest of the book Milton shares his third person description with the voices of Satan, Beelzebub and other members of the defeated assembly.

The most important sections of the book are Satan’s speeches (82–124, 241–264 particularly). In the first he attempts to raise the mood of Beelzebub, his second in command, and displays a degree of heroic stoicism in defeat: ‘What though the field be lost?/All is not lost’ (105–6). His use of military images has caused critics, William Empson particularly, to compare him with a defeated general reviewing his options while refusing to disclose any notion of final submission or despair to his troops. By the second speech stubborn tenacity has evolved into composure and authority.

The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven What matter where, if I be still the same, And what I should be, all but less than he Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least

We shall be free; the almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure, and in my choice To reign is worth ambition though in hell: Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.

(I: 254–63)

While not altering the substance of Genesis, Milton’s style would remind contemporary readers of more recent texts. Henry V addressing his troops, Mark Antony stirring the passions of the crowd, even Richard III giving expression to his personal image of the political future, all exert the same command of the relation between circumstance,rhetoric and emotive effect. Milton’s Satan is a literary presence in his own right, an embodiment of linguistic energy. In his first speech he is inspired yet speculative but by the second the language is precise, relentless, certain: ‘The mind is its own place … We shall be free… We may reign secure ’. The arrogant symmetry of line 263 has turned it into an idiom, a cliché of stubborn resistance: ‘Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven’. The question raised here is why Milton chose to begin his Christian epic with a heroic presentation of Satan.

The most striking and perplexing element of Book I is the fissure opened between Milton’s presence as guide and co-ordinator in the narrative and our perception of the characters as self-determined figures. Consider, for example, his third-person interjection between Satan’s first speech and Beelzebub’s reply:

So spake the apostate angel, though in pain, Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair.

Milton is not telling anyone familiar with the biblical account anything they do not already know, but he seems to find it necessary to restrain them, to draw them backs lightly from the mood of admiration that Satan’s speeches create. When he gives an itemised account of the devils, he begins with Moloch.

First Moloch, horrid king besmeared with blood Of human sacrifice, and parents tears.

This version of Moloch is accurate enough but Milton is being a little imaginative with chronology, given that at this point in the history of the cosmos children, parents and the blood of human sacrifice did not yet exist. Indeed, his whole account of the sordid tastes and activities of the devils is updated to give emphasis to their effects upon humanity.Again, we have cause to suspect that Milton is attempting to match the reader’s impulse to sympathise with the heroic (in Satan’s case almost charismatic) condition of the devils with a more orthodox presentation of them as a threat to human kind, moral, physical and spiritual. Later (777–92) he employs a mock heroic style and presents them as pygmies, shrunk to a physical status that mirrors their spiritual decadence. Here it could be argued that he is attempting to forestall the reader’s admiration of the efforts and skill in the building of Pandemonium (710–92) by ridiculing the builders.

In Book I Milton initiates a tension, a dynamic that will attend the entire poem, between the reader’s purely literary response and our knowledge that the characters and their actions are ultimates, a foundation for all Christian perceptions of the human condition. The principal figures of Homer’s and Virgil’s poems are our original heroes. The classical hero will face apparently insurmountable tasks and challenges and his struggles against the complex balance of fate and circumstance will cause us to admire, to identify with him. Milton in Book I invoked the heroic, cast Satan and his followers as tragic, defeated soldiers, and at the same time reminded the Christian reader that it is dangerous to sympathise with these particular figures. Throughout the book we encounter an uncertainty that is unmatched in English literature: has the author unleashed feelings,inclinations within himself that he can only partially control, or is he in full control and cautiously manipulating the reader’s state of perplexity?

Book II is divided into two sections. The first (1–628) is the most important and consists of a debate in which members of the Satanic Host – principally Satan, Moloch, Belial, Mammon and Beelzebub – discuss the alternatives available to them. There are four major speeches. Moloch (50–105) argues for a continuation of the war with God. Belial (118–228) and Mammon (237–83) encourage a form of stoical resignation – they should make the best of that to which they have been condemned. It is Beelzebub (309–416) who raises the possibility of an assault upon Earth, Eden, God’s newest creation. Satan, significantly, stays in the background. He favours Beelzebub’s proposal, which eventually wins the consensual proxy, but he allows his compatriots freedom of debate,and it is this feature of the book – its evocation of open exchange – that makes it important in our perception of Paradise Lost as in part an allegory on contemporary politics. Milton’s attachment to the Parliamentarians during the Civil War, along with his role as senior civil servant to the Cromwellian cabinet, would have well attuned him to the fractious rhetoric of political discourse. Indeed, in the vast number of pamphlets he was commissioned to write in defence of the Parliamentarian and Republican causes, he was a participant, and we can find parallels between the speeches of the devils and Milton’s own emboldened, inspirational prose.

For example, one of Milton’s most famous tracts Eikonoklastes [38– 9], in which he seeks to justify the execution of Charles I, is often echoed in Moloch’s argument that they should resume direct conflict with God. Milton invokes the courageous soldiers who gave their lives in the Civil War ‘making glorious war against tyrants for the common liberty’ and condemns those who would protest against the killing of Charles ‘who hath offered at more cunning fetches to undermine our liberties, and put tyranny into an art, than any British king before him’. For Milton the Republicans embody ‘the old English fortitude and love of freedom’ ( CPW, III: 343–4). Similarly Moloch refers to those who bravely fought against God and now ‘stand in arms, and longing wait/The signal to ascend’ (55–6). Charles, the author of ‘tyranny’ in Milton’s pamphlet, shares this status with Moloch’s God; ‘the prison of his tyranny who reigns/By our delay …’ (59–60). Both Milton and Moloch continually raise the image of the defence of freedom against an autocratic tyrant.

Later in the book when Beelzebub is successfully arguing for an assault upon Earth he considers who would best serve their interests in this enterprise:

… Who shall tempt with wandering feet The dark unbottomed infinite abyss And through the palpable obscure find out His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight Up borne with indefatigable wings Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive The happy isle; what strength, what art can then

Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe Through the strict sentries and stations thick Of angels watching round? … for on whom we send The weight of all our last hope relies.

(II: 404–16)

The heroic presence to whom Beelzebub refers is of course Satan, their leader. In Milton’s pamphlet A Second Defence of the English People (1654) he presents England as almost alone in Europe as the bastion of liberty and he elevates Cromwell to the position of heroic leader.

You alone remain. On you has fallen the whole burden of our affairs. On you alone they depend. In unison we acknowledge your unexcelled virtue … Such have been your achievements as the greatest and most illustrious citizen … Your deeds surpass all degrees, not only of admiration but surely of titles too, and like the tops of pyramids bury themselves in the sky, towering above the popular favour of titles. ( CPW , IV: 671–2)

The parallels between Beelzebub’s hyperbolic presentation of Satan and Milton’s of Cromwell are apparent enough. Even Milton’s subtle argument that Cromwell deserves a better status than that conferred by hereditary title echoes the devil’s desire to find their own replacement for the heavenly order, with Satan at its head. It is likely that many early readers of Paradise Lost would spot the similarities between the devils’ discourse and Milton’s, produced barely fifteen years before – which raises the question of what Milton was trying to do.

To properly address this we should compare the two halves of Book II. The first engages the seventeenth-century reader in a process of recognition and immediacy; the devils conduct themselves in a way that is remarkably similar to the political hierarchy of England in the 1650s. In the second, which describes Satan’s journey to Earth, the reader is shifted away from an identification with the devils to an abstract, metaphysical plane in which the protagonists become more symbolic than real. Satan is no longer human. At the Gates of Hell he meets Sin, born out of his head when the rebellion was planned, and Death, the offspring of their bizarre and inhuman coition (II: 666–967). Then he encounters Chaos, a presence and a condition conducive to his ultimate goal (II: 968–1009).

Book II is beautifully engineered. First, we are encouraged to identify with the fallen angels; their state and their heroic demeanour are very human. Then their leader, Satan, is projected beyond this and equated with ultimates, perversely embodied abstracts; Sin,Death and Chaos. One set of characters have to deal with uncertainties, unpredictable circumstances, conflicting states of mind. The others are irreducible absolutes.

Milton is establishing the predominant, in effect the necessary, mood of the poem. For much of it, up to the end of Book IX when the Fall occurs, the Christian reader is being projected into a realm that he/she cannot understand. This reader has inherited the consequences of the Fall, a detachment from any immediate identification with God’s innate character, motives and objectives. On the one hand our only point of comparison for the likes of Satan (and eventually God and his Son) is ourselves; hence Milton’s humanisation of the fallen angels. On the other, we should accept that such parallels are innately flawed; hence Milton’s transference of Satan into the sphere of ultimates, absolutes, metaphysical abstracts.

Critics have developed a variety of approaches to this conundrum. Among the modern commentators, C.S. Lewis read the poem as a kind of instructive guide to the self-evident complexities of Christian belief. Waldock (1947) and Empson (1961) conducted humanist readings in which Satan emerges as a more engaging character than God. Blake(followed by Coleridge and Shelley) was the first humanist interpreter, claiming that Milton was of the ‘Devil’s Party’ without being able to fully acknowledge his allegiance [137–8]. Christopher Hill (1977), a Marxist, is probably the most radical of the humanist critics and he argues that Milton uses the Satanic rebellion as a means of investigating his own ‘deeply divided personality’.

Satan, the battleground for Milton’s quarrel with himself, saw God as arbitrary power and nothing else. Against this he revolted: the Christian, Milton knew, must accept it. Yet how could a free and rational individual accept what God had done to his servants in England? On this reading, Milton expressed through Satan (of whom he disapproved) the dissatisfaction which he felt with the Father (whom intellectually he accepted). (366–7)

It begins with the most candid, personal passage of the entire poem, generally referred to as the ‘Address to Light’ (1–55). In this Milton reflects upon his own blindness. He had already done so in Sonnet XVI. Before that, and before his visual impairment, he had in‘L’Allegro’ and ‘Il Penseroso’ considered the spiritual and perceptual consequences of, respectively, light and darkness. Here all of the previous themes seem to find an apotheosis. He appears to treat his blindness as a beneficent, fatalistic occurrence which will enable him to achieve what few if any poets had previously attempted, a characterisation of God.

So much the rather thou celestial light Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers

Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell Of things invisible to mortal sight.

(III: 51–55)

Milton is not so much celebrating his blindness as treating it as a fitting correlative to a verbal enactment of ‘things invisible to mortal sight’, and by invisible he also means inconceivable.

God’s address (56–134) is to his Son, who will of course be assigned the role of man’s redeemer, and it involves principally God’s foreknowledge of man’s Fall. The following is its core passage.

So will fall He and his faithless Progeny: whose fault? Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me All he could have; I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall. Such I created all the etherial powers And spirits, both them who stood and them who failed;

Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell. Not free, what proof could they have given sincere Of true allegiance, constant faith or love, Where only what they needs must do, appeared, Not what they would? What praise could they receive?

What pleasure I from such obedience paid, When will and reason (reason also is choice) Useless and vain, of freedom both despoiled, Made passive both, had served necessity, Not me.

(III: 95–111)

The address tells us nothing that we do not already know, but its style has drawn the attention of critics. In the passage quoted, and throughout the rest of it, figurative,expansive language is rigorously avoided; there is no metaphor. This is appropriate, given that rhetoric during the Renaissance was at once celebrated and tolerated as a reflection of the human condition; we invent figures and devices as substitutes for the forbidden realm of absolute, God-given truth. And God’s abjuration of figures will remind us of our guilty admiration for their use by the devils.

At the same time, however, the language used by an individual, however sparse and pure, will create an image of its user. God, it seems, is unsettled: ‘whose fault?/Whose but his own?’ He is aware that the Fall will occur, so why does he trouble himself with questions? And why, moreover, does God feel the need to explain himself, to apparently render himself excusable and blameless regarding events yet to occur: ‘Not me’. If Milton was attempting in his presentation of the devils to catch the reader between their faith and their empirical response, he appears to be doing so again with God. Critics have dealt with this problem in different ways. C.S. Lewis reminds the reader that this is a poem about religion but that it should not be allowed to disturb the convictions and certainties of Christian faith.

The cosmic story – the ultimate plot in which all other stories are episodes – is set before us. We are invited, for the time being, to look at it from the outside. And that is not, in itself, a religious experience … In the religious life man faces God and God faces man. But in the epic it is feigned for the moment, that we, as readers, can step aside and see the faces of God and man in profile.

Lewis’s reader, the collective ‘we’, is an ahistorical entity, but a more recent critic, Stanley Fish (1967) has looked more closely at how Milton’s contemporaries would have interpreted the passage. They, he argued, by virtue of the power of seventeenth-century religious belief, would not be troubled even by the possibility that Milton’s God might seem a little too much like us. William Empson (1961) contends that the characterisations of God and Satan were, if not a deliberate anticipation of agnostic doubt, then a genuine reflection of Milton’s troubled state of mind; ‘the poem is not good in spite of but especially because of its moral confusions’ (p.13).

Such critical controversies as this will be dealt with in detail in Part 3, but they should be borne in mind here as an indication of Paradise Lost’s ability to cause even the most learned and sophisticated of readers to interpret it differently. Lewis argues that Milton would not have wanted his Christian readers to doubt their faith (though he acknowledges that they might, implying that Milton intended the poem as a test), while Fish contends that querulous, fugitive interpretations are a consequence of modern, post-eighteenth-century, states of mind (a strategy generally known of Reader-Response Criticism). Empson, who treats the poem as symptomatic of Milton’s own uncertainties, is regarded by Fish as an example of the modern reader.

The first half of the Book (1–415) comprises God’s exchange with the Son and includes their discussion of what will happen after the Fall, anticipating the New Testament and Christ’s heroic role as the redeemer. The rest (416–743) returns us to Satan’s journey to Earth, during which he meets Oriel, the Sun Spirit, disguises himself and asks directions to God’s newest creation which, he claims, he wishes to witness and admire. By the end of the Book he has reached Earth.

Here the reader is engaged in two perspectives. We are shown Adam and Eve conversing,praying and (elliptically described) making love, and this vision of Edenic bliss is juxtaposed with the arrival and the thoughts of Satan. Adam’s opening speech (411–39) and Eve’s reply (440–91) establish the roles and characteristics that for both of them will be maintained throughout the poem. Adam, created first, is the relatively experienced,wise figure of authority who explains their status in Paradise and the single rule of obedience and loyalty. Eve, in her account of her first moments of existence, discloses aless certain, perhaps impulsive, command of events and impressions.

That day I oft remember, when from sleep I first awaked, and found myself reposed Under a shade of flowers, much wondering where And what I was, whence thither brought, and how.

Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound Of waters issued from a cave and spread Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved Pure as the expanse of heaven; I thither went With unexperienced thought, and laid me down On the green bank, to look into the clear Smooth lake, that to me seemed another sky. As I bent down to look just opposite A shape within the watery gleam appeared Bending to look on me; I started back, It started back, but pleased I soon returned, Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks Of sympathy and love; there I had fixed Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire, Had not a voice thus warned me, What thou seest,

What there thou seest fair creature is thyself, With thee it came and goes: but follow me, And I will bring thee where no shadow stays They coming, and thy soft embraces, he Whose image thou art, him thou shall enjoy Inseparably thine, to him shalt bear Multitudes like thyself, and then be called Mother of human race: what could I do, But follow straight, invisibly thus led? Till I espied thee.

(IV: 449–77)

This passage is frequently cited in feminist surveys of Milton [166– 74]. It introduces his most important female figure, indeed the original woman, and it does so by enablingher to disclose her innate temperamental and intellectual characteristics through her useof language.

We do not require textual notes or critical commentaries to tell us that Eve’s attraction to her own image in the water (460–5) is a straight-forward, indeed candid, disclosure of narcissism. Her first memory is of vain self-obsession. However, before we cite this as evidence of Milton’s portrayal of Eve, who will eat the forbidden fruit first, as by virtue of her gender the prototypical cause of the Fall, we should look more closely at the stylistic complexities of her speech.

For example, when she tells of how she looked ‘into the clear/Smooth lake’ (458–9) she is performing a subtle balancing act between hesitation and a more confident command of her account. ‘Clear’ in seventeenth-century usage could be both a substantive reference to clarity of vision (‘ the clear’) and be used in its more conventional adjectival sense (‘clear smooth lake’). Similarly with ‘no shadow stays/Thy coming’ (470–1), the implied pause after ‘stays’ could suggest it first as meaning ‘prevents’ and then in its less familiar sense of ‘awaits’. The impression we get is confusing. Is she tentatively feeling her way through the traps and complexities of grammar, as would befit her ingenuous, unsophisticated state as someone recently introduced to language and perception? Or is Milton urging us to perceive her as, from her earliest moments, a rather cunning actress and natural rhetorician, someone who canuse language as a means of presenting herself as touchingly naïve and blameless in her instincts? In short, is her language a transparent reflection of her character or a means by which she creates a persona for herself?

This question has inevitably featured in feminist readings of the poem [168–9], because it involves the broader issue of whether or not Milton was creating in Adam and Eve the ultimate and fundamental gender stereotypes – their acts were after all responsible for the postlapsarian condition of humankind.

To return to the poem itself we should note that it is not only the reader who is forming perceptions of Adam and Eve. Satan, in reptilian disguise, is watching and listening too.Beginning at line 505, Milton has him disclose his thoughts.

all is not theirs it seems: One fatal tree there stands of knowledge called,

Forbidden them to taste: knowledge forbidden?

Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord Envy them that? Can it be sin to know, Can it be death? And do they only stand By ignorance, is that their happy state, The proof of their obedience and their faith? O fair foundation laid whereon to build Their ruin! Hence I will excite their minds With more desire to know …

(IV: 513–24)

Without actually causing us to question the accepted facts regarding Satan’s malicious, destructive intent Milton again prompts the reader to empathise with his thoughts – and speculations. Satan touches upon issues that would strike deeply into the mindset of the sophisticated Renaissance reader. Can there, should there, be limits to human knowledge?By asking questions about God’s will and His design of the universe do we overreach ourselves? More significantly, was the original act of overreaching and its consequences– the eating of the fruit from the tree of knowledge as an aspiration to knowledge –intended by God as a warning?

The rest of the book returns us to the less contentious, if no less thrilling, details of the narrative, with Uriel warning the angel Gabriel of Satan’s apparent plot, Gabriel assigning two protecting angels to Adam and Eve, without their knowledge, and Gabriel himself confronting Satan and telling him that he is contesting powers greater than himself.

Before moving further into the poem let us consider whether the various issues raised so far in the narrative correspond with what we know of Milton the thinker and not simply our projected notion of the thoughts which underlie his writing of the poem. Most significantly, all of the principal figures – Satan, God, Adam and Eve – have been caused to affect us in ways that we would associate as much with literary characterisation as with their functions within religious belief; they have been variously humanised. In one of Milton’s later prose tracts, De Doctrina Christiana ,  begun, it is assumed, only a few years before he started Paradise Lost, we encounter what could be regarded as the theological counterparts to the complex questions addressed in the poem. In a passage on predestination, one of the most contentious topics of the post-reformation debate, Milton is, to say the least, challenging:

Everyone agrees that man could have avoided falling. But if, because of God’s decree, man could not help but fall (and the two contradictory opinions are sometimes voiced by the same people), then God’s restoration of fallen man was a matter of justice not grace. For once it is granted that man fell, though not unwillingly, yet by necessity, it will always seem that necessity either prevailed upon his will by some secret influence, or else guided his will in some way. But if God foresaw that man would fall of his own accord, then there was no need for him to make a decree about the fall, but only about what would become of man who was going to fall. Since, then, God’s supreme wisdom foreknew that first man’s falling away, but did not decree it, it follows that, before the fall of man, predestination was not absolutely decreed either. Predestination, even after the fall, should always be considered and defined not so much the result of an actual decree but as arising from the immutable condition of a decree.

( CPW, VI: 174)

If after reading this you feel rather more perplexed and uncertain about our understanding of God and the Fall than you did before, you are not alone. It is like being led blindfold through a maze. You start with a feeling of relative certainty about where you are and what surrounds you, and you end the journey with a sense of having returned to this state,but you are slightly troubled about where you’ve been in the meantime. Can we wrest an argument or a straightforward message from this passage? It would seem that predestination (a long running theological crux of Protestantism) is, just like every other component of our conceptual universe, a result of the Fall. Thus, although God knew that man would fall, He did not cause (predetermine) the act of disobedience. As such, this is fairly orthodox theology, but in making his point Milton allows himself and his readers to stray into areas of paradox and doubt that seem to run against the overarching sense of certainty. For instance, he concedes that ‘it will always seem that necessity either prevailed upon his (man’s) will by some secret influence, or else guided his will in someway’. Milton admits here that man will never be able to prevent himself (‘it will always seem’) from wondering what actually caused Adam and Eve to eat the fruit. Was it fate,the influence of Satan, Adam’s or Eve’s own temperamental defects?

The passage certainly does not resolve the uncertainties encountered in the first four books, but it does present itself as a curious mirror-image of the poem. Just as in the poem the immutable doctrine of scripture sits uneasily with the disorientating complexities of literary writing, so our trust in theology will always be compromised by our urge to ask troubling questions. Considering these similarities it is possible to wonder if Milton decided to dramatise Genesis in order to throw into the foreground the very human tendencies of skepticism and self-doubt that exist only in the margins of conventionalreligious and philosophic thought. If so, why? As a form of personal catharsis, as an encoded manifesto for potential anti-Christianity, or as a means of revealing to readers the true depths of their uncertainties? All of these possibilities have been put forward by commentators on the poem, but as the following pages will show, the decision is finally yours.

Books V–VIII

These four books, the middle third of the poem, will be treated as a single unit because they are held together by a predominant theme; the presence of Raphael, sent by God to Paradise at the beginning of book V as Adam and Eve’s instructor and advisor. The books show us the growth of Adam and Eve, the development of their emotional and intellectual engagement with their appointed role prior to the most important moment in the poem’s narrative, their Fall in book IX. At the beginning of book V God again becomes a speaking presence, stating that he despatches Raphael to ‘render man inexcusable … Lest wilfully transgressing he pretend/Surprisal, unadmonished, unfore-warned’ (244–5). Line 244 offers a beautiful example of tactical ambiguity. Does ‘Lest’ refer to man’s act of ‘transgressing’? If so, we are caused again to consider the uneasy relation between free will, predestination and God’s state of omniscience: surely God knows that man will transgress. Or does ‘Lest’ relate, less problematically, to man’s potential reaction to the consequences of his act?Once more the reader is faced with the difficult choice between an acceptance of his limited knowledge of God’s state and the presentation to us here of God as a humanised literary character.

The arrival of Raphael (V: 308–576) brings with it a number of intriguing, often puzzling, issues. Food plays a significant part. Eve is busy preparing a meal for their first guest.

She turns, on hospitable thoughts intent What choice to choose for delicacy best, What order so contrived as not to mix Tastes, not well-joined, inelegant, but bring Taste after taste upheld with kindliest change.

This passage might seem to be an innocuous digression on the domestic bliss of the newlyweds – with Eve presented as a Restoration prototype for Mrs. Beaton or Delia Smith – but there are serious resonances. For one thing her hesitant, anxious state of mind appears to confirm the conventional, male, social and psychological model of ‘female’ behaviour – should we then be surprised that she will be the first to transgress, given her limitations? Also, the passage is a fitting preamble for Raphael’s first informal act of instruction. Milton sets the scene with, ‘A while discourse they hold;/No fear lest dinner cool’ (395–6), reminding us that fire would be part of the punishment for the Fall; before that neither food nor anything else needed to be heated. The ‘discourse’ itself, on Raphael’s part, treats food as a useful starting point for a mapping out of the chain of being. Raphael, as he demonstrates by his presence and his ability to eat, can shift between transubstantial states; being an angel he spends most of his time as pure spirit. At lines 493–9 he states that

Time may come when men With angels may participate, and find No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare; And from these corporal nutriments perhaps Your bodies may at last turn to spirit, Improved by tract of time, and winged ascend

Raphael will expand upon this crucial point throughout the four central books: it is God’s intention that man, presently part spirit, part substance, will gradually move up the chain of being and replace Satan’s fallen crew as the equivalent of the new band of angels. How exactly this will occur is not specified but Raphael here implies, without really explaining, that there is some mysterious causal relationship between such physical experiences as eating and the gradual transformation to an angelic, spiritual condition: his figurative language is puzzling. It would, however, strike a familiar chord for Eve, who atthe beginning of the book had described to Adam her strange dream about the forbidden fruit and an unidentified tempter who tells her to ‘Taste this, and be henceforth among the gods/Thyself a goddess, not to earth confined’ (V: 77–8). Later in Book IX, just before she eats the fruit, Satan plays upon this same curious equation between eating and spirituality, ‘And what are gods that man may not become/As they, participating godlike food?’ (IX: 716–17).

Milton appears to be sewing into the poem a fabric of clues for the attentive reader,clues that suggest some sort of causal, psychological explanation for the Fall. In this instance it might appear that Raphael’s well meant, but perhaps misleading, discourse creates for Eve just the right amount of intriguing possibilities to make her decision to eat the fruit almost inevitable. In consequence, God’s statement that Raphael’s role is to ‘render man inexcusable’ sounds a little optimistic.

Books VI–VIII are concerned almost exclusively with Raphael’s instructive exchanges with Adam; Eve, not always present, is kept informed of this by Adam during their own conversations. Book VI principally involves Raphael’s description of Satan’s revolt, the subsequent battles and God’s victory. Book VII deals mainly with the history of Creation and in Book VIII Raphael explains to Adam the state and dimensions of the Cosmos. The detail of all this is of relatively slight significance for an understanding of the poem itself.Much of it involves an orthodox account of the Old Testament story of Creation and the only notable feature is Milton’s decision in Book VIII to follow, via Raphael, the ancient theory of Ptolemy that the earth is the centre of the universe. Copernicus, the sixteenth-century astronomer, had countered this with the then controversial model of the earth revolving around the sun, which Raphael alludes to (without of course naming Copernicus) but largely discounts. Milton had met Galileo and certainly knew of his confirmation of the Copernican model. His choice to retain the Ptolemaic system for Paradise Lost was not alluded to in his ex cathedr awriting and was probably made fordramatic purposes; in terms of man’s fate the earth was indeed at the centre of things.

More significant than the empirical details of Raphael’s disclosures is Adam’s level of understanding. Constantly, Raphael interrupts his account and speaks with Adam about God’s gift of reason, the power of the intellect, which is the principal distinction between human beings and other earthbound, sentient creatures. At the end of Book VI Raphael relates reason (563–76) to free will (520–35). Adam is told (and the advice will be oft repeated) that their future will depend not upon some prearranged ‘destiny’ but upon their own decisions and actions, but that they should maintain a degree of caution regarding how much they are able, as yet, to fully comprehend of God’s design and intent. In short, their future will be of their own making while their understanding of the broader framework within which they must make decisions is limited and partial. At the end of Book VI, for example, after Raphael has provided a lengthy account of the war in heaven he informs Adam that he should not take this too literally. It has been an allegory, an extended metaphor, a ‘measuring [of] things in Heaven by things on Earth’. (893)

In Book VIII, before his description of the Cosmos, Raphael again reminds Adam that he is not capable of fully appreciating its vast complexity.

The great architect Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge, His secrets to be scanned by them who ought

Rather admire; or if they list to try Conjecture, he his fabric of the heavens Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move His laughter at their quaint opinions wide

(VIII: 72–8)

This is frequently treated as an allusion to the ongoing debate on the validity of the Ptolemaic or the Copernican models of earth and the planets, but it also has a rhetorical function in sustaining a degree of tension between man’s gift of reason and the at once tantalising yet dangerous possibilities that might accompany its use. All of this carries significant, but by no means transparent, relevance from a number of theological issues with which Milton was involved; principally the Calvinist notion of predestination versus the Arminianist concept as free will as a determinant of fate [9–11].

Later in Book VIII (357–451) Adam tells Raphael of his first conversation with God just prior to the creation of Eve, which resembles a Socratic dialogue. Socrates, the Greek philosopher, engaged in a technique when instructing a pupil of not imposing a belief but sewing his discourse with enough speculations and possibilities to engage the pupil’s faculties of enquiry and reason. Through this exchange of questions and propositions they would move together toward a final, logically valid conclusion. God’s exchange with Adam follows this pattern. The following is a summary of it.

Adam laments his solitude. God says, well you’re not alone, you have other creatures,the angels and me. Yes, says Adam, but I want an equal partner. God replies: Considermy state. I don’t need a consort. Adam returns, most impressively, with the argument that God is a perfect self-sufficiency, but man must be complemented in order to multiply. Quite so, says God. This was my intention all along. And He creates Eve.

The relevance of this to Adam’s ongoing exchange with Raphael is unsettling. Stanley Fish suggests that it is meant to offer a further, tacit reminder to the reader of the rulesand preconditions that attend man’s pre-fallen state. ‘If the light of reason coincides with the word of God, well and good; if not reason must retire, and not fall into the presumption of denying or questioning what it cannot explain’ (1967:242). It reminded William Empson (1961) of the educational phenomenon of the Rule of Inverse Probability, where the student is less concerned with the attainment of absolute truth than with satisfying the expectations of the teacher: in short, Adam has used his gift of reason without really understanding what it is and to what it might lead. Is Adam being carefully and adequately prepared for the future (Fish) or is Raphael’s instruction presented to us as some kind of psychological explanation for the Fall (Empson)?

This interpretative difference underpins our reading of Books V– XII, and, to complicate matters further, indeed to heighten the dramatic tension of the narrative,Milton places Adam’s account of his exchange with God not too long before a similar conversation takes place between Eve and Satan, in Book IX just prior to her decision to eat the fruit.

Eve’s conversation with Satan (532–779) is the most important in the poem; it initiates the Fall of mankind. Satan’s speeches, particularly the second (678–733), display an impressive and logical deployment of fact and hypothesis. Eve does not understand the meaning of death, the threatened punishment for the eating of the fruit, and Satan explains:

ye shall not die: How should ye? By the fruit? It gives you life To knowledge. By the threatener? Look on me, Me who have touched and tasted, yet both live, And life more perfect have attained than fate Meant me, by venturing higher than my lot. Shall that be shut to man, which to the beast Is open?

(IX: 685–93)

Having raised the possibility that death is but a form of transformation beyond the merely physical, he delivers a very cunning follow-up.

So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off Human, to put on gods, death to be wished, Though threatened, which no worse than this can bring.

And what are gods that man may not become As they, participating godlike food?

(IX: 713–17)

In short, he suggests that the fruit, forbidden but for reasons yet obscure, might be the key to that which is promised.

Eve’s reply to Satan’s extensive, even-handed listing of the ethical and practical considerations of her decision is equally thoughtful. She raises a question, ‘In plain then, what forbids he but to know/Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise? (758–9) and expands, ‘What fear I then, rather what know to fear/Under this ignorance of good and evil, /Of God or death, of law or penalty?’ Adam and Eve have continually been advised by Raphael of their state of relative ignorance while they have also been promised enlightenment. It is evident from Eve’s speech that she regards the rule of obedience as in some way part, as yet unspecified, of the existential puzzle which their own much promoted gift of reason will gradually enable them to untangle. They are aware that their observance of the rule is a token of their love and loyalty, but as Satan implies, such an edict is open to interpretation.

What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree

Import against his will, if all be his? Or is it envy, and can envy dwell In heavenly breasts?

(IX: 726–30)

Eve’s exchange with Satan inevitably prompts the reader to recall Adam’s very recent account of his own with God and, indeed, his extended dialogue with Raphael. In each instance the human figure is naïve, far less informed than their interlocutor, while the latter both instructs and encourages his pupil to rationalise and speculate. (Eve is unaware of Satan’s identity. He is disguised as a serpent and is, for all she knows, another agent of wisdom.) These parallels can be interpreted differently and the archetypal difference is evident between Christian and humanist readers. Of the former, Lewis argued that the parallels were meant to be recognised but were intended by Milton as a kind of re-enactment of the poem itself: the Christian reader – and in Lewis’s view the poem was intended only for Christian readers – should perceive him/herself as a version of Adam and Eve and resist the temptation to overreach their perceptual and intellectual subservience to God’s wisdom. Lewis held that the poem’s moral of obedience and restraint has the ‘desolating clarity’ of what we are taught in the nursery. Children might be incapable of understanding the ethical and moral framework which underpins their parents’ rules and edicts but they should recognise that these apparently arbitrary regulations are a reflection of the latter’s protective love. Empson countered this as follows: ‘A father may reasonably impose a random prohibition to test the character of his children, but anyone would agree that he should then judge an act of disobedience in the light of its intention’ (1961:161). Empson perceives the exchanges, particularly between Satan and Eve, not only as mitigating factors in Milton’s particular account ofthe Fall but also as explanations of how the Fall was made inevitable by God himself.Both agree that the reader is prompted to question God’s omniscient planning and strategies, while Lewis sees this as a warning and reminder that blind faith should be ouronly proper response and Empson that doubt informs Milton’s own rendering of the story.

Eve does of course eat the fruit, and during lines 896–1016 she confronts Adam with her act. Adam’s response and his eventual decision to follow Eve are intriguing because while the misuse, or misunderstanding, of the gift of reason was the significant factor forher Adam is affected as much by emotional, instinctive registers.

I feel The link of nature draw me: flesh of flesh, of my bone thou art, and from thy state

Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.

(IX: 913–16)

This is addressed ‘to himself’, and then to Eve he states that

So forcible within my heart I feel The bond of nature draw me to my own, My own in thee, for what thou art is mine; Our state cannot be severed; we are one, One flesh; to lose thee were to lose myself.

(IX: 955–9)

And the episode is summed up by Milton:

She gave him of that fair enticing fruit With liberal hand: he scrupled not to eat Against his better knowledge, not deceived,

But fondly overcome with female charm.

(IX: 996–9)

These passages raise questions about chronology and characterisation. We already know from Book VIII (607–17) that Adam appreciates that the love he feels for Eve (partly physical) partakes of his greater love for God (mutual and transcendent) and we might wonder why and how Adam seems able to move so rapidly to a state of almost obsessive physical bonding with her: ‘The link of nature’, ‘flesh of flesh’, ‘The bond of nature’, ‘My own in Thee’, ‘One flesh’. Moreover, during Milton’s description in Book IV of Adam and Eve’s innocent act of sexual liaison we were informed that the base, lust-fulfilling dimension of sex is a consequence of the Fall, and this is confirmed shortly after he too eats the fruit and they engage in acts ‘of amorous intent’ (IX: 1035). It seems odd, therefore, that Adam, still unfallen, seems to be persuaded to eat the fruit by the post-lapsarian instinct of pure physical desire.

One explanation of why Milton offers this puzzling, slightly inconsistent scenario could be implicit in his own rationale of Adam’s decision; ‘not deceived/But fondly overcome with female charm’ (998–9). From this it would seem that her explanation of the act of disobedience is of virtually no significance compared with the sub-rational power of attraction that she shares, or will share, with the rest of her gender.

Charges of misogyny against Milton go back as far as Samuel Johnson and are generally founded upon the biographical formula that the failure of his first marriage to Mary Powell was the motive for his divorce tracts and that these personal and ideological prejudices spilled over into his literary writing. Since the 1970s more sophisticated feminist critics have argued that the distinctive, archetypal roles played out by Adam and Eve are less a consequence of Milton’s personal state of mind and more part of a shared, patriarchal dialectic in which ongoing social conventions are justified and perpetuated through a mythology of religion and culture [166–74].

Here the narrative of the Fall is continued, with God observing the act of disobedience and sending the Son to pronounce judgement on Adam and Eve. The death sentence is deferred and they, and their offspring, are condemned to a limited tenure of earthly existence, much of it to be spent in thankless toil and sorrow (103–228). There then follows a lengthy section (228–720) in which Satan and his followers have their celebrations ruined by being turned into serpents and beset by unquenchable thirst and unassuagble appetite – so much for victory. The most important part is from 720 to the end of the book, during which Adam and Eve contemplate suicide. Adam considers this in an introspective soliloquy.

But say That death be not one stroke, as I supposed,

Bereaving sense, but endless misery From this day onward, which I feel begun Both in me, and without me, and so last To perpetuity.

(X: 808–130)

Adam is aware that self-inflicted death will involve a perpetuation, not a completion, of his tortured condition. This realisation prompts the circling, downward spiral of his inconclusive thoughts, until Eve arrives. She readily accepts blame for their condition.Adam is eventually moved by her contrition and they comfort each other. Crucially, the factor that enables Adam to properly organise his own thoughts is Eve’s proposition that rather than kill themselves they should spare their offspring the consequences of their act and refuse to breed; ‘Childless thou art, childless remain’ (989). Adam points out that this would both further upset the God-given natural order of things and, most importantly, grant a final victory to Satan. He seems at last to be exercising his much promoted gift of reason in a manner that is concurrent with the will of God, which implies that reason is tempered by thoughtful restraint not through any form of enlightenment, but from punishment. This impression finds its theological counterpart in what is termed ‘The Paradox of the Fortunate Fall’. This notion was first considered in depth by St.Augustine, and A.O. Lovejoy (1945 and 1960) traces its history up to and including Paradise Lost . The Fall is both paradoxical and fortunate because in the latter case it wasa necessary stage in man’s journey toward wisdom and awareness, while in the former it reminds us that we should not continually question and investigate God’s will.

Again we are returned to the conflict between Christian and humanist readings of the poem. The Augustinian interpretation would be a reminder that we should not concern ourselves too much with the apparent inconsistencies and paradoxes sewn into the poem,while a humanist reading would raise the question of why Milton deliberately,provocatively accentuates such concerns.

At the end of the book (1041–96) we are offered the spectacle of Adam and Eve no longer pondering such absolutes as the will of God and the nature of the cosmos but concentrating on more practical matters, such as how they might protect themselves from the new and disagreeable climate by rubbing two sticks together. Is Milton implicitly sanctioning the Augustinian notion of investigative restraint or is he presenting the originators of humanity as embodiments of pathetic, pitiable defeat?

Books XI and XII

In these the angel Michael shows Adam a vision of the future, drawn mainly from the Old Testament but sometimes bearing a close resemblance to the condition of life in seventeenth-century England. Kenneth Muir (1955) argued that although the two closing books were essential to the scriptural scheme of the poem they are ‘poetically on a much lower level’. What he means is that there is no longer any need for Milton to generate dramatic or logical tension: the future, as disclosed by Michael, has already arrived.

Adam is particularly distressed by the vision of Cain and Abel (XI: 429–60), the ‘sight/Of terror, foul and ugly to behold/Horrid to think, how horrible to feel!’ (463–5). Michael has already explained how, by some form of genetic inheritance, Adam is responsible for this spectacle of brother murdering brother. And we should remind ourselves that many of the first readers of this account had memories of brothers, sons and fathers facing one another across English battlefields; indeed its author’s own brother was on the Royalist side.

These two are brethren, Adam, and to come

Out of thy loins; the unjust the just hath slain,

For envy that his brother’s offering found From heaven acceptance; but the bloody fact Will be avenged, and other’s faith approved.

(XI: 454–8)

The tragic consequences of a perpetual rivalry between two figures who believe that theirs is the better ‘offering’ to God might easily be regarded as a vision of the consequences of the Reformation. The specific description of war (638–81) pays allegiance to the Old Testament and Virgil but would certainly evoke memories of when Englishmen, barely a decade earlier,

Lay siege, encamped; by battery, scale and mine,

Assaulting; others from the wall defend With dart and javelin, stones and sulphurous fire;

On each hand slaughter and gigantic deeds.

(XI: 656–9)

One wonders if Milton’s own experience of the Civil War, the Cromwellian Commonwealth and the Restoration, when death and destruction were perpetuated by man’s perception of God’s will, was in his mind when he wrote these passages. Hill, the Marxist historian, (1977) is in no doubt that it was and he devotes a subsection to apolitical-historical decoding of Books XI and XII (380–90). Hill concludes that

They [the books] represent Milton’s attempt to be utterly realistic in facing the worst without despair. It seemed to be true that there was a cyclical return of evil after every good start … God’s people in England after 1660 must learn to escape from history as circular treadmill, must become free to choose the good, as the English people had failed to chose it during the Revolution. (386)

For Hill, Milton regarded the political swings and catastrophes of the previous three decades as a concentrated version of man’s perpetual struggle and continual failure to build something better from his fallen condition. Moreover, Hill argues that the essential parallel between Adam’s vision of the future and Milton’s own of the recent past was that Milton perceived both as part of an extended process of man’s ‘reeducation and ultimate recognition of God’s purposes.’ (387) In short, the Cromwellian Revolution failed because man was not yet able to fully comprehend and engage with the legacy of the Fall.

Alongside the particulars of war and destruction Adam is shown more general, but no less distressing, pictures of the human condition. After enquiring of Michael if there arenot better ways to die than in battle Adam is presented with the following.

A lazar house it seemed, wherein were laid Numbers of all diseased, all maladies Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds, Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs Intestine stone and ulcer, colic pangs, Demoniac frenzy, moping melancholy And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy, Marasmus, and wide wasting pestilence, Dropsies, and asthmas, and joint racking rheums.

Dire was the tossing, deep the groans, despair Tended the sick busiest from couch to couch; And over them triumphant death his dart Shook, but delayed to strike, though oft invoked With vows, as their chief good, and final hope.

(XI: 479–93)

Disease, disablement, terminal illness and much pain will be inescapable and the onlymeans by which their worst effects might be moderated is through abstinence andrestraint: the pursuit of sensual pleasure brings its own form of physical punishment. Justprior to disclosing the ‘lazar house’ to Adam Michael informs him that he is doing so ‘that thou mayst know/What misery the inabstinence of Eve/ Shall bring on men’ (475–7) and yet again the reader feels a puzzling engagement with narrative chronology. At no point in Eve’s book IX exchange with Satan does she even inadvertently disclose that hedonism plays some part in her desire to eat the fruit, but Michael clearly presents acausal relation between what she did and the self destructive in abstinence of man’s fallen state. During his conversations with Raphael, before the Fall, Adam might well have enquired about such apparent discontinuities, but not now because as becomes evident in Book XII Michael’s instructive regimen is informed by, and apparently achieves, a different purpose.

Most of Book XII charts a tour of the Old and parts of the New Testament – Noah, The Flood, the Tower of Babel, the journey to the Promised Land and the coming of Christ –but its most important sections are towards the end when Adam is given the opportunityto reflect on what he has seen.

How soon hath thy prediction, seer blest, Measured this transcient world, the race of time,

Till time stand fixed: beyond is all abyss, Eternity, whose end no eye can reach. Greatly instructed I shall hence depart, Greatly in peace of thought, and have my fill Of knowledge, what this vessel can contain; Beyond which was my folly to aspire. Henceforth I learn, that to obey is best, And love with fear the only God, to walk As in his presence, ever to observe His providence, and on him sole depend.

(XII: 553–64)

Michael answers, approvingly:

This having learned, thou hast attained the sum

Of wisdom; hope no higher.

(XII: 575–6)

Without actually comparing his experiences with Michael with those before the Fall Adam is clearly aware that the cause of the Fall was his inclination to ‘aspire’ to an over-ambitious, extended state of ‘knowledge’. One significant difference between Raphael’s and Michael’s methods of instruction is that while the former operated almost exclusively within the medium of language, the principal instrument of speculation and enquiry, the latter relies more upon empirical and tangible evidence, pictures. This is appropriate,given that Michael’s intention is to present Adam with indisputable, ineluctable facts, matters not open to debate, and in doing so to reinforce the lesson that ‘wisdom’ has its limits; ‘hope no higher’. The question that has attended practically all of the critical debates on the poem is encapsulated in three lines at the centre of Adam’s speech.

Greatly instructed I shall hence depart, Greatly in peace of thought, and have my fill Of knowledge.

(XII: 537–9)

The question is this: does Adam speak for the reader? And there are questions within the question. Did Milton intend the reader to share Adam’s state of intellectual subordination to a mindset ‘beyond which was [his] folly to aspire’? Are the tantalising complexities of the poem – the presentations of God and Satan, the intricate moral and theological problems raised in the narrative – designed to tempt the reader much as Adam had been tempted, and to remind us of the consequences? Or did Milton himself face uncertainties and did he use the poem not so much to resolve as to confront them? As Part III will show, these matters, after 300 years of often perplexed commentary and debate, remain unsettled.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Aers, D. and Hodge, B., ‘“Rational Burning”: Milton and Sex and Marriage’ (1981), References from Zunder (1999). Barker, A.E., Milton and the Puritan Dilemma, Toronto: University of Toronto Press (1942). Barker, F., The Tremulous Private Body: Essays on Subjection, London: Methuen (1984). Belloc, H., Milton, London: Cassell (1935). Belsey, C., John Milton. Language, Gender, Power, Oxford: Blackwell (1988). Bennett, J.S., ‘God, Satan and King Charles: Milton’s Royal Portraits’, PMLA 92 (1977) pp. 441–57. Blamires, H., Milton’s Creation, London: Methuen (1971). Bloom, Harold, The Anxiety of Influence, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1973). Bradford, R., ‘Milton’s Graphic Poetics’, in Nyquist and Ferguson (1987). Bradford, R., Paradise Lost. An Open Guide, Buckingham: Open University Press (1992). Bradford, R., Silence and Sound. Theories of Poetics from the 18th Century, London: Associated University Presses (1992). Bridges, R., Milton’s Prosody, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1921). Brooks, C., The Well Wrought Urn. Studies in the Structure of Poetry, London: Methuen (1968, first published 1947). Brown, C., John Milton. A Literary Life, London: Macmillan (1995). Burnett, A., Milton’s Style, London: Longman (1981). Bush, D., John Milton. A Sketch of His Life and Writings, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson (1964). Champagne, C., ‘Adam and his “Other Self” in Paradise Lost: A Lacanian study in Psychic Development’, in Zunder (1999). Corns, T., ‘Milton’s Quest for Respectabiltiy’, Modern Language Review 77 (1982). Corns, T., Milton’s Language, Oxford: Blackwell (1990). Danielson, D. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Milton, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1989). Darbishire, Helen (ed.), The Early Lives of John Milton, London: Constable (1932). Davie, D., ‘Syntax and Music in Paradise Lost’, The Living Milton, ed., F. Kermode, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1960). Davies, S., Milton, London: Harvester (1993). Dyson, A.E. and Lovelock, J. (eds), Milton: Paradise Lost. A Casebook, London: Macmillan (1973). Eagleton, T., ‘The God That Failed’, in Nyquist and Ferguson (1987). Eliot, T.S., ‘Milton I’ (1936); ‘Milton II’ (1947), in On Poetry and Poets, London: Faber (1957). Eliot, T.S., ‘The Metaphysical Poets’ (1921), in Selected Essays, London: Faber (1961). Ellwood, T., History of the Life of Thomas Ellwood, London (1714). Emma, R.D., Milton’s Grammar, The Hague: Mouton (1964) Empson, W., Milton’s God, London: Chatto (1961). Evans, J. Martin, Milton’s Imperial Epic, Ithaca: Cornwell University Press (1996). Fallon, R.T., Captain or Colonel, Columbia: Missouri University Press (1984). Ferry, A., Milton’s Epic Voice: The Narrator in Paradise Lost, Cambridge, MA: Yale University Press (1963). Fish, S., ‘What its Like to Read L’Allegro and I’l Penseroso’ (1975), in Is There a Text in This Class? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (1980). Fish, S., Surprized By Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost, London: Macmillan (1967). Fixler, M., Milton and the Kingdoms of God, Northwestern University Press (1964). Fletcher, H.F., The Intellectual Development of John Milton, Illinois: Illinois University Press (1956). Forgacs, D., ‘Marxist Literary Theories’, in Modern Literary Theory, (eds) A. Jefferson and D. Robey, London: Batsford (1982). French, J.M. (ed.), Life Records of John Milton, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press (1949–58). Froula, C., ‘When Eve Reads Milton: Undoing the Canonical Economy’ (1983). References from Patterson (1992). Geisst, C., The Political Thought of John Milton, London: Macmillan (1984). Gilbert, S., ‘Patriarchal Poetry and Women Readers: Reflections on Milton’s Bogey’, PMLA 93 (1978), pp.368–82. Graves, Robert, Wife to Mr. Milton, London: Cassell (1942). Greenlaw, E., ‘A Better Teaching Than Aquinas’ Studies in Philology, 14 (1917), pp. 196–217 Halkett, J., Milton and the Idea of Matrimony, New Haven: Yale University Press (1970). Halpern, R., ‘The Great Instauration: imaginary narratives in Milton’s “Nativity Ode”’, in Nyquist and Ferguson (1987). Hanford, J., John Milton, Englishman, New York: Crown (1949). Hartman, G., ‘Adam on The Grass with Balsamora’ (1970) in Zunder (1999). Havens, R.D., The Influence of Milton on English Poetry, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (1922). Hayley, W., Life of Milton, London (1794). Hill, Christopher, Milton and the English Revolution, London: Faber and Faber (1977). Honigman, E.A.J. (ed.), Milton’s Sonnets, London: Macmillan (1966). Hooker, E.N. (ed.), The Critical Works of John Dennis, 2 Vols, Baltimore: John Hopkins Press (1939–43). Hopkins, G.M., Selected Letters, ed. C. Phillips, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1990). Hunter, W.B. (ed.), A Milton Encyclopedia, 7 Vols, London: Associated University Presses (1978). Ivimay, Joseph, John Milton: His Life and Times, Religious and Political Opinions, London (1833). Jameson, F., ‘Religion and Ideology: A Political Reading of Paradise Lost’ (1986). References from Zunder (1999). Johnson, S., Lives of the Poets, 1779–81; references from reprints in Oxford Anthology of English Literature, Vol. I, ed. Kermode, F. et al., Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kelley, M., This Great Argument, New Jersey: Princeton University Press (1941). Kendrick, C., Milton. A Study in Ideology and Form, New York: Methuen (1986). Kermode, F. (ed.), The Living Milton: Essays by Various Hands, London: Routledge (1960). Kerrigan, W., The Sacred Garden, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (1983). Landy, M., ‘Kinship and The Role of Women in Paradise Lost’, Milton Studies 4 (1972), pp.3–18. Le Comte, E., Milton and Sex, London: Macmillan (1978). Leavis, F.R. Revaluation, London: Chatto (1936). Leishman, J.B., Milton’s Minor Poems, London: Hutchinson (1969). Levi, P., Eden Renewed. The Public and Private Life of John Milton, London: Macmillan (1996). Lewalski, B.K., ‘Milton on Women – Yet Once More’, Milton Studies 6, (1974), pp.3–20. Lewalski, B.K., Milton’s Brief Epic, Providence (1966). Lewis, C.S., A Preface to Paradise Lost, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1942). Lovejoy, A.O., The Great Chain of Being: A Study in the History of an Idea, New York: Harper and Row (1960). Macauley, T., The Works of Lord Macauley, ed. Lady Trevelyan, Vol. 5, London: Longman (1875). Martz, L., ‘The Rising Poet, 1645’ (1965), in Poet of Exile: A Study of Milton’s Poetry, New Haven: Yale University Press (1980). Masson, D., Life of Milton, 7 Vols, London (1859–94). McColley, D., Milton’s Eve, Champagne: Illinois University Press (1983). Milner, A., John Milton and the English Revolution, London: Macmillan (1981). Milton, John, The Complete Prose Works of John Milton, ed. D.M. Wolfe, 8 Vols, New Haven: Yale University Press (1953–82). Milton, John, The Poems, eds J. Carey and A. Fowler, London: Longman (1968). Milton, John, The Works of John Milton, ed. F.A. Patterson, 20 Vols, New York: Columbia University Press (1931–40). Muir, K., John Milton, London: Longman, Green & Co (1955). Myers, W., Milton and Free Will: An Essay in Criticism and Philosophy, London: Croom Helm (1987). References from Patterson (1992). Newlyn, L., Paradise Lost and the Romantic Reader, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1993). Nicolson, M., A Reader’s Guide to John Milton, London: Thames and Hudson (1964). Norbrook, D., ‘The Politics of Milton’s Early Poetry’, (1984). References from Patterson (1992). Nyquist, M. and Ferguson, M. (eds), Re-Membering Milton. Essays on the Texts and Traditions, London: Methuen (1987). Nyquist, M., ‘Fallen Differences, Phallogocentric Discourses: Losing Paradise Lost to History’ (1988). References from Patterson (1992). Nyquist, M., ‘The Genesis of Gendered Subjectivity in the Divorce Tracts and in Paradise Lost’, in Re-Membering Milton, eds Nyquist and Ferguson, London: Methuen (1987). References from Zunder (1999). Oras, A., Milton’s Editors and Commentators from Patrick Hume to Henry John Todd 16959–1801, Tartu (1930). Oras, A., Milton’s Blank Verse and the Chronology of His Major Poems, Gainsville: University of Illinois Press (1953). Parker, W.R., Milton. A Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1968). Patrides, C.A. (ed.), Approaches to Paradise Lost, London: Edward Arnold (1968). Patrides, C.A., Adamson, J.H. and Hunter, W.B., Bright Essence. Studies in Milton’s Theology, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press (1971). Patrides, C.A., Milton and the Christian Tradition, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1966). Patterson, A. (ed.), John Milton: Longman Critical Reader, London: Longman (1992). Phillips, E., Life of Milton, (1694). References from Darbishire (1932). Prince, F.T., The Italian Element in Milton’s Verse, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1954). Quint, D., ‘David’s Census: Milton’s Politics and Paradise Regained’, in Nyquist and Ferguson (1987). Rajan, B., Paradise Lost and the 17th Century Reader(1947). Referenes from Dyson and Lovelock (1973). Raleigh, W., Milton, London (1900). Rapaport, H., Milton and the Post Modern, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press (1983). Revard, S.P., The War in Heaven, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press (1980). Richmond, H., The Christian Revolutionary: John Milton, Berkeley: University of California Press (1974). Ricks, C., Milton’s Grand Style, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1963). Ricks, C., Tennyson, London: Macmillan (1972). Riggs, W.G., The Christian Poet in Paradise Lost, Berkeley: University of California Press (1972). Ross, M., Milton and Royalism, Ithaca: Cornell University Press (1943). Rowse, A.L., Milton the Puritan, London: Macmillan (1977). Rudrum, A. (ed.), Milton. Modern Judgements, London: Macmillan (1968). Saintsbury, G., A History of English Prosody, 3 Vols, London (1906–10). Schwartz, R., Remembering and Repeating: Biblical Creation in Paradise Lost, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1988). Sewell, A., A Study of Milton’s Christian Doctrine, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1939). Shawcross, J.T. (ed.), Milton. The Critical Heritage, Vols I and II, London: Routledge (1970 and 1972). Smart, John (ed.), The Sonnets of Milton, Glasgow (1921). Spencer Hill, J., John Milton: Poet, Priest and Prophet, London (1979). Sprott, S.E., Milton’s Art of Prosody, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1953). Stein, A., Answerable Style, University of Minnesota Press (1953). Stocker, M., Paradise Lost: The Critics’ Debate, London: Macmillan (1988). Stroup, T.B., Religious Rite and Ceremony in Milton’s Poetry, Lexington: University of Kentucky Press (1968). Svendsen, K., Milton and Science, New York: Greenwood Press (1956). Tillyard, E.M.W., Milton, London: Chatto and Windus (1930). Tillyard, E.M.W., The Miltonic Setting, Past and Present, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1938). Treip, M., Milton’s Punctuation and the Changing English Usage, London: Methuen (1970). Turner, J.G., One Flesh: Paradisal Marriage and Sexual Relations in the Age of Milton, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1987). Tuve, R., Image and Themes in Five Poems By Milton, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1957). Waldock, A.J.A., Paradise Lost and its Critics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1947). Webber, J.M., ‘The Politics of Poetry: Feminism and Paradise Lost’, Milton Studies 14 (1980), pp.3–24. Wedgwood, C.V., Milton and His World, London: Lutterworth (1969). Whiting, G.W., Milton’s Literary Milieu, New York: Russell and Russell (1964). Wilding, M., ‘Milton’s Early Radicalism’ (1987) in Patterson (1992). Wilding, M., ‘Milton’s Radical Epic’, in Writing and Radicalism, (ed.) J. Lucas, London: Longman (1996). Wilson, A.N., The Life of John Milton, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1983). Wittreich, J. (ed.), The Romantics on Milton, Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University Press (1970). Wittreich, J., Feminist Milton, Ithaca: Cornwell University Press (1987). Wittreich, J., Milton’s Tradition and his Legacy, California: Huntingdon Library (1979). Wright, E., ‘Modern Psychoanalytic Criticism’ in Modern Literary Theory, eds A. Jefferson and D. Robey, London: Batsford (1982). Zunder, W. (ed.), Paradise Lost. New Casebooks, London: Macmillan (1999).

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Paradise Lost

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Hierarchy and Order

In portraying the “Fall of Man” and the war in Heaven, Milton spends much of Paradise Lost describing the universal hierarchy and order that these events upset. In his 17th century view of the cosmos, Heaven exists above, Earth below, and Hell and Chaos below that. Within this geographically ordered cosmos, the most important hierarchy of Heaven is that of God as supreme monarch, the creator and ruler of the universe, and his “only begotten”…

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Disobedience and Revolt

Paradise Lost is about the fall of humanity and the rebellion of Satan and his angels, so the plot and conflict almost entirely come from acts of revolt against the hierarchy of God ’s universe. The “Fall” comes when Satan grows jealous of God honoring the Son so highly. Satan then convinces a third of Heaven’s angels to rebel with him, claiming that they should be honored as gods and not have to worship God…

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Sin and Innocence

Paradise Lost is basically a dramatization of the “original sin,” the explanation of how evil entered a world that began as God ’s perfect creation. For a Christian like Milton, sin is everything that breaks God’s laws, including acts that do harm to other humans and acts that upset the hierarchy of the universe. God’s Heaven of good Angels and the original Paradise are both innocent places, free from any sin and unhappiness, and Milton…

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Free Will and Predestination

In Paradise Lost Milton argues that though God foresaw the Fall of Man, he still didn’t influence Adam and Ev e’s free will. Milton’s God exists outside of time and so sees all times at once, and thus can see the future without actively affecting it. God specifically says that he gives his creatures the option to serve or disobey, as he wants obedience that is freely given, not forced. Some critics have claimed that…

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Love and Marriage

Love is one of the Christian God ’s most important attributes, and Heavenly love also takes center stage early in the poem as the angels ceaselessly worship God and commune with each other in joy, and the Son offers himself as a sacrifice for humankind out of love for them. Then when Adam and Eve are created, the poem partly shifts its focus to mortal love and the idea of marriage.

Milton was seen as…

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Paradise Lost

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About Paradise Lost

Edited by William Kerrigan, John Rumrich, and Stephen M. Fallon John Milton’s Paradise Lost , an epic poem on the clash between God and his fallen angel, Satan, is a profound meditation on fate, free will, and divinity, and one of the most beautiful works in world literature. Extracted from the Modern Library’s highly acclaimed The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton , this edition reflects up-to-date scholarship and includes a substantial Introduction, fresh commentary, and other features—annotations on Milton’s classical allusions, a chronology of the writer’s life, clean page layouts, and an index—that make it the definitive twenty-first-century presentation of John Milton’s timeless signature work.

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About John Milton

John Milton was born in London on December 9, 1608, and studied at the University of Cambridge. He originally planned to become a clergyman, but abandoned those ambitions to become a poet. Political in his writings, he served a government… More about John Milton

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You are here, engl 220: milton,  - paradise lost, book i.

The invocation to Paradise Lost is read and analyzed. Milton’s tenure as Latin Secretary under the Puritan government, his subsequent imprisonment upon the restoration of the monarchy, and his blindness are all briefly discussed. The poet’s subsequent choice of a religious subject, rather than a nationalist one, for his epic is considered in light of the failure of the Puritan regime. His radical poetics, including his stance against rhyme and his unique use of enjambment and double syntax, is closely examined. Elements of the radical philosophy of monism, present in his depiction of angelic bodies, are identified and discussed at length.

Lecture Chapters

  • “Paradise Lost”: The Fall of Adam, Eve and the Rebel Angels
  • “Paradise Lost”: A Powerful Defense against Lateness
  • “First”: A Strategy of Retrospective Anticipation
  • “Paradise Lost”: Radical Theology
  • “Paradise Lost”: Thoughts Unconstrained by Grammar

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58 John Milton: Paradise Lost (Books 7-9)

The argument.

Raphael at the request of Adam relates how and wherefore this world was first created; that God, after the expelling of Satan and his Angels out of Heaven, declar’d his pleasure to create another World and other Creatures to dwell therein; sends his Son with Glory and attendance of Angels to perform the work of Creation in six dayes: the Angels celebrate with Hymns the performance thereof, and his reascention into Heaven.

DEscend from Heav’n Urania, by that name If rightly thou art call’d, whose Voice divine Following, above th’ Olympian Hill I soare, Above the flight of Pegasean wing. The meaning, not the Name I call: for thou [ 5 ] Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top Of old Olympus dwell’st, but Heav’nlie borne, Before the Hills appeerd, or Fountain flow’d, Thou with Eternal Wisdom didst converse, Wisdom thy Sister, and with her didst play [ 10 ] In presence of th’ Almightie Father, pleas’d With thy Celestial Song. Up led by thee Into the Heav’n of Heav’ns I have presum’d, An Earthlie Guest, and drawn Empyreal Aire, Thy tempring; with like safetie guided down [ 15 ] Return me to my Native Element: Least from this flying Steed unrein’d, (as once Bellerophon, though from a lower Clime) Dismounted, on th’ Aleian Field I fall Erroneous there to wander and forlorne. [ 20 ] Half yet remaines unsung, but narrower bound Within the visible Diurnal Spheare; Standing on Earth, not rapt above the Pole, More safe I Sing with mortal voice, unchang’d To hoarce or mute, though fall’n on evil dayes, [ 25 ] On evil dayes though fall’n, and evil tongues; In darkness, and with dangers compast round, And solitude; yet not alone, while thou Visit’st my slumbers Nightly, or when Morn Purples the East: still govern thou my Song, [ 30 ] Urania, and fit audience find, though few. But drive farr off the barbarous dissonance Of Bacchus and his Revellers, the Race Of that wilde Rout that tore the Thracian Bard In Rhodope, where Woods and Rocks had Eares [ 35 ] To rapture, till the savage clamor dround Both Harp and Voice; nor could the Muse defend Her Son. So fail not thou, who thee implores: For thou art Heav’nlie, shee an empty dreame.

Say Goddess, what ensu’d when Raphael, [ 40 ] The affable Arch-Angel, had forewarn’d Adam by dire example to beware Apostasie, by what befell in Heaven To those Apostates, least the like befall In Paradise to Adam or his Race, [ 45 ] Charg’d not to touch the interdicted Tree, If they transgress, and slight that sole command, So easily obeyd amid the choice Of all tastes else to please thir appetite, Though wandring. He with his consorted Eve [ 50 ] The storie heard attentive, and was fill’d With admiration, and deep Muse to heare Of things so high and strange, things to thir thought So unimaginable as hate in Heav’n, And Warr so neer the Peace of God in bliss [ 55 ] With such confusion: but the evil soon Driv’n back redounded as a flood on those From whom it sprung, impossible to mix With Blessedness. Whence Adam soon repeal’d The doubts that in his heart arose: and now [ 60 ] Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know What neerer might concern him, how this World Of Heav’n and Earth conspicious first began, When, and whereof created, for what cause, What within Eden or without was done [ 65 ] Before his memorie, as one whose drouth Yet scarce allay’d still eyes the current streame, Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites, Proceeded thus to ask his Heav’nly Guest.

Great things, and full of wonder in our eares, [ 70 ] Farr differing from this World, thou hast reveal’d Divine interpreter, by favour sent Down from the Empyrean to forewarne Us timely of what might else have bin our loss, Unknown, which human knowledg could not reach: [ 75 ] For which to the infinitly Good we owe Immortal thanks, and his admonishment Receave with solemne purpose to observe Immutably his sovran will, the end Of what we are. But since thou hast voutsaf’t [ 80 ] Gently for our instruction to impart Things above Earthly thought, which yet concernd Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seemd, Deign to descend now lower, and relate What may no less perhaps availe us known, [ 85 ] How first began this Heav’n which we behold Distant so high, with moving Fires adornd Innumerable, and this which yeelds or fills All space, the ambient Aire, wide interfus’d Imbracing round this florid Earth, what cause [ 90 ] Mov’d the Creator in his holy Rest Through all Eternitie so late to build In Chaos, and the work begun, how soon Absolv’d, if unforbid thou maist unfould What wee, not to explore the secrets aske [ 95 ] Of his Eternal Empire, but the more To magnifie his works, the more we know. And the great Light of Day yet wants to run Much of his Race though steep, suspens in Heav’n Held by thy voice, thy potent voice he heares, [ 100 ] And longer will delay to heare thee tell His Generation, and the rising Birth Of Nature from the unapparent Deep: Or if the Starr of Eevning and the Moon Haste to thy audience, Night with her will bring [ 105 ] Silence, and Sleep listning 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 answerd milde. [ 110 ] This also thy request with caution askt Obtaine: though to recount Almightie 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 [ 115 ] To glorifie the Maker, and inferr Thee also happier, shall not be withheld Thy hearing, such Commission from above I have receav’d, to answer thy desire Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain [ 120 ] To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope Things not reveal’d, which th’ invisible King, Onely Omniscient hath supprest in Night, To none communicable in Earth or Heaven: Anough is left besides to search and know. [ 125 ] 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 Surfet, and soon turns Wisdom to Folly, as Nourishment to Winde. [ 130 ]

Know then, that after Lucifer from Heav’n (So call him, brighter once amidst the Host Of Angels, then that Starr the Starrs among) Fell with his flaming Legions through the Deep Into his place, and the great Son returnd [ 135 ] Victorious with his Saints, th’ Omnipotent Eternal Father from his Throne beheld Thir multitude, and to his Son thus spake.

At least our envious Foe hath fail’d, who thought All like himself rebellious, by whose aid [ 140 ] This inaccessible high strength, the seat Of Deitie supream, us dispossest, He trusted to have seis’d, and into fraud Drew many, whom thir place knows here no more; Yet farr the greater part have kept, I see, [ 145 ] Thir station, Heav’n yet populous retaines Number sufficient to possess her Realmes Though wide, and this high Temple to frequent With Ministeries due and solemn Rites: But least his heart exalt him in the harme [ 150 ] Already done, to have dispeopl’d Heav’n My damage fondly deem’d, I can repaire That detriment, if such it be to lose Self-lost, and in a moment will create Another World, out of one man a Race [ 155 ] Of men innumerable, there to dwell, Not here, till by degrees of merit rais’d They open to themselves at length the way Up hither, under long obedience tri’d, And Earth be chang’d to Heav’n, & Heav’n to Earth, [ 160 ] One Kingdom, Joy and Union without end. Mean while inhabit laxe, ye Powers of Heav’n, And by my Word, begotten Son, by thee This I perform, speak thou, and be it don: My overshadowing Spirit and might with thee [ 165 ] I send along, ride forth, and bid the Deep Within appointed bounds be Heav’n and Earth, Boundless the Deep, because I am who fill Infinitude, nor vacuous the space. Though I uncircumscrib’d my self retire, [ 170 ] And put not forth my goodness, which is free To act or not, Necessitie and Chance Approach not mee, and what I will is Fate.

So spake th’ Almightie, and to what he spake His Word, the Filial Godhead, gave effect. [ 175 ] Immediate are the Acts of God, more swift Then time or motion, but to human ears Cannot without process of speech be told, So told as earthly notion can receave. Great triumph and rejoycing was in Heav’n [ 180 ] When such was heard declar’d the Almightie’s will; Glorie they sung to the most High, good will To future men, and in thir dwellings peace: Glorie to him whose just avenging ire Had driven out th’ ungodly from his sight [ 185 ] And th’ habitations of the just; to him Glorie and praise, whose wisdom had ordain’d Good out of evil to create, in stead Of Spirits maligne a better Race to bring Into thir vacant room, and thence diffuse [ 190 ] His good to Worlds and Ages infinite. So sang the Hierarchies: Mean while the Son On his great Expedition now appeer’d, Girt with Omnipotence, with Radiance crown’d Of Majestie Divine, Sapience and Love [ 195 ] Immense, and all his Father in him shon. About his Chariot numberless were pour’d Cherub and Seraph, Potentates and Thrones, And Vertues, winged Spirits, and Chariots wing’d, From the Armoury of God, where stand of old [ 200 ] Myriads between two brazen Mountains lodg’d Against a solemn day, harnest at hand, Celestial Equipage; and now came forth Spontaneous, for within them Spirit livd, Attendant on thir Lord: Heav’n op’nd wide [ 205 ] Her ever during Gates, Harmonious sound On golden Hinges moving, to let forth The King of Glorie in his powerful Word And Spirit coming to create new Worlds. On heav’nly ground they stood, and from the shore [ 210 ] They view’d the vast immeasurable Abyss Outrageous as a Sea, dark, wasteful, wilde, Up from the bottom turn’d by furious windes And surging waves, as Mountains to assault Heav’ns highth, and with the Center mix the Pole. [ 215 ]

Silence, ye troubl’d waves, and thou Deep, peace, Said then th’ Omnific Word, your discord end:

Nor staid, but on the Wings of Cherubim Uplifted, in Paternal Glorie rode Farr into Chaos, and the World unborn; [ 220 ] For Chaos heard his voice: him all his Traine Follow’d in bright procession to behold Creation, and the wonders of his might. Then staid the fervid Wheeles, and in his hand He took the golden Compasses, prepar’d [ 225 ] In Gods Eternal store, to circumscribe This Universe, and all created things: One foot he center’d, and the other turn’d Round through the vast profunditie obscure, And said, thus farr extend, thus farr thy bounds, [ 230 ] This be thy just Circumference, O World. Thus God the Heav’n created, thus the Earth, Matter unform’d and void: Darkness profound Cover’d th’ Abyss: but on the watrie calme His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspred, [ 235 ] And vital vertue infus’d, and vital warmth Throughout the fluid Mass, but downward purg’d The black tartareous cold Infernal dregs Adverse to life: then founded, then conglob’d Like things to like, the rest to several place [ 240 ] Disparted, and between spun out the Air, And Earth self ballanc’t on her Center hung.

Let ther be Light, said God, and forthwith Light Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure Sprung from the Deep, and from her Native East [ 245 ] To journie through the airie gloom began, Sphear’d in a radiant Cloud, for yet the Sun Was not; shee in a cloudie Tabernacle Sojourn’d the while. God saw the Light was good; And light from darkness by the Hemisphere [ 250 ] Divided: Light the Day, and Darkness Night He nam’d. Thus was the first Day Eev’n and Morn: Nor past uncelebrated, nor unsung By the Celestial Quires, when Orient Light Exhaling first from Darkness they beheld; [ 255 ] Birth-day of Heav’n and Earth; with joy and shout The hollow Universal Orb they fill’d, And touch’d thir Golden Harps, and hymning prais’d God and his works, Creatour him they sung, Both when first Eevning was, and when first Morn. [ 260 ]

Again, God said, let ther be Firmament Amid the Waters, and let it divide The Waters from the Waters: and God made The Firmament, expanse of liquid, pure, Transparent, Elemental Air, diffus’d [ 265 ] In circuit to the uttermost convex Of this great Round: partition firm and sure, The Waters underneath from those above Dividing: for as Earth, so he the World Built on circumfluous Waters calme, in wide [ 270 ] Crystallin Ocean, and the loud misrule Of Chaos farr remov’d, least fierce extreames Contiguous might distemper the whole frame: And Heav’n he nam’d the Firmament: So Eev’n And Morning Chorus sung the second Day. [ 275 ]

The Earth was form’d, but in the Womb as yet Of Waters, Embryon immature involv’d, Appeer’d not: over all the face of Earth Main Ocean flow’d, not idle, but with warme Prolific humour soft’ning all her Globe, [ 280 ] Fermented the great Mother to conceave, Satiate with genial moisture, when God said Be gather’d now ye Waters under Heav’n Into one place, and let dry Land appeer. Immediately the Mountains huge appeer [ 285 ] Emergent, and thir broad bare backs upheave Into the Clouds, thir tops ascend the Skie: So high as heav’d the tumid Hills, so low Down sunk a hollow bottom broad and deep, Capacious bed of Waters: thither they [ 290 ] Hasted with glad precipitance, uprowld As drops on dust conglobing from the drie; Part rise in crystal Wall, or ridge direct, For haste; such flight the great command impress’d On the swift flouds: as Armies at the call [ 295 ] Of Trumpet (for of Armies thou hast heard) Troop to thir Standard, so the watrie throng, Wave rowling after Wave, where way they found, If steep, with torrent rapture, if through Plaine, Soft-ebbing; nor withstood them Rock or Hill, [ 300 ] But they, or under ground, or circuit wide With Serpent errour wandring, found thir way, And on the washie Oose deep Channels wore; Easie, e’re God had bid the ground be drie, All but within those banks, where Rivers now [ 305 ] Stream, and perpetual draw thir humid traine. The dry Land, Earth, and the great receptacle Of congregated Waters he call’d Seas: And saw that it was good, and said, Let th’ Earth Put forth the verdant Grass, Herb yielding Seed, [ 310 ] And Fruit Tree yielding Fruit after her kind; Whose Seed is in her self upon the Earth. He scarce had said, when the bare Earth, till then Desert and bare, unsightly, unadorn’d, Brought forth the tender Grass, whose verdure clad [ 315 ] Her Universal Face with pleasant green, Then Herbs of every leaf, that sudden flour’d Op’ning thir various colours, and made gay Her bosom smelling sweet: and these scarce blown, Forth flourish’t thick the clustring Vine, forth crept [ 320 ] The smelling Gourd, up stood the cornie Reed Embattell’d in her field: and the humble Shrub, And Bush with frizl’d hair implicit: last Rose as in Dance the stately Trees, and spred Thir branches hung with copious Fruit; or gemm’d [ 325 ] Thir blossoms: with high woods the hills were crownd, With tufts the vallies and each fountain side, With borders long the Rivers. That Earth now Seemd like to Heav’n, a seat where Gods might dwell, Or wander with delight, and love to haunt [ 330 ] Her sacred shades: though God had yet not rain’d Upon the Earth, and man to till the ground None was, but from the Earth a dewie Mist Went up and waterd all the ground, and each Plant of the field, which e’re it was in the Earth [ 335 ] God made, and every Herb, before it grew On the green stemm; God saw that it was good. So Eev’n and Morn recorded the Third Day.

Again th’ Almightie spake: Let there be Lights High in th’ expanse of Heaven to divide [ 340 ] The Day from Night; and let them be for Signes, For Seasons, and for Dayes, and circling Years, And let them be for Lights as I ordaine Thir Office in the Firmament of Heav’n To give Light on the Earth; and it was so. [ 345 ] And God made two great Lights, great for thir use To Man, the greater to have rule by Day, The less by Night alterne: and made the Starrs, And set them in the Firmament of Heav’n To illuminate the Earth, and rule the Day [ 350 ] In thir vicissitude, and rule the Night, And Light from Darkness to divide. God saw, Surveying his great Work, that it was good: For of Celestial Bodies first the Sun A mightie Spheare he fram’d, unlightsom first, [ 355 ] Though of Ethereal Mould: then form’d the Moon Globose, and every magnitude of Starrs, And sowd with Starrs the Heav’n thick as a field: Of Light by farr the greater part he took, Transplanted from her cloudie Shrine, and plac’d [ 360 ] In the Suns Orb, made porous to receive And drink the liquid Light, firm to retaine Her gather’d beams, great Palace now of Light. Hither as to thir Fountain other Starrs Repairing, in thir gold’n Urns draw Light, [ 365 ] And hence the Morning Planet guilds her horns; By tincture or reflection they augment Thir small peculiar, though from human sight So farr remote, with diminution seen. First in his East the glorious Lamp was seen, [ 370 ] Regent of Day, and all th’ Horizon round Invested with bright Rayes, jocond to run His Longitude through Heav’n’s high rode: the gray Dawn, and the Pleiades before him danc’d Shedding sweet influence: less bright the Moon, [ 375 ] But opposite in leveld West was set His mirror, with full face borrowing her Light From him, for other light she needed none In that aspect, and still that distance keepes Till night, then in the East her turn she shines, [ 380 ] Revolvd on Heav’ns great Axle, and her Reign With thousand lesser Lights dividual holds, With thousand thousand Starres, that then appeer’d Spangling the Hemisphere: then first adornd With thir bright Luminaries that Set and Rose, [ 385 ] Glad Eevning and glad Morn crownd the fourth day.

And God said, let the Waters generate Reptil with Spawn abundant, living Soule: And let Fowle flie above the Earth, with wings Displayd on the op’n Firmament of Heav’n. [ 390 ] And God created the great Whales, and each Soul living, each that crept, which plenteously The waters generated by thir kindes, And every Bird of wing after his kinde; And saw that it was good, and bless’d them, saying, [ 395 ] Be fruitful, multiply, and in the Seas And Lakes and running Streams the waters fill; And let the Fowle be multiply’d on the Earth. Forthwith the Sounds and Seas, each Creek and Bay With Frie innumerable swarme, and Shoales [ 400 ] Of Fish that with thir Finns and shining Scales Glide under the green Wave, in Sculles that oft Bank the mid Sea: part single or with mate Graze the Sea weed thir pasture, and through Groves Of Coral stray, or sporting with quick glance [ 405 ] Show to the Sun thir wav’d coats dropt with Gold, Or in thir Pearlie shells at ease, attend Moist nutriment, or under Rocks thir food In jointed Armour watch: on smooth the Seale, And bended Dolphins play: part huge of bulk [ 410 ] Wallowing unweildie, enormous in thir Gate Tempest the Ocean: there Leviathan Hugest of living Creatures, on the Deep Stretcht like a Promontorie sleeps or swimmes, And seems a moving Land, and at his Gilles [ 415 ] Draws in, and at his Trunck spouts out a Sea. Mean while the tepid Caves, and Fens and shoares Thir Brood as numerous hatch, from the Egg that soon Bursting with kindly rupture forth disclos’d Thir callow young, but featherd soon and fledge [ 420 ] They summ’d thir Penns, and soaring th’ air sublime With clang despis’d the ground, under a cloud In prospect; there the Eagle and the Stork On Cliffs and Cedar tops thir Eyries build: Part loosly wing the Region, part more wise [ 425 ] In common, rang’d in figure wedge thir way, Intelligent of seasons, and set forth Thir Aierie Caravan high over Sea’s Flying, and over Lands with mutual wing Easing thir flight; so stears the prudent Crane [ 430 ] Her annual Voiage, born on Windes; the Aire, Floats, as they pass, fann’d with unnumber’d plumes: From Branch to Branch the smaller Birds with song Solac’d the Woods, and spred thir painted wings Till Ev’n, nor then the solemn Nightingal [ 435 ] Ceas’d warbling, but all night tun’d her soft layes: Others on Silver Lakes and Rivers Bath’d Thir downie Brest; the Swan with Arched neck Between her white wings mantling proudly, Rowes Her state with Oarie feet: yet oft they quit [ 440 ] The Dank, and rising on stiff Pennons, towre The mid Aereal Skie: Others on ground Walk’d firm; the crested Cock whose clarion sounds The silent hours, and th’ other whose gay Traine Adorns him, colour’d with the Florid hue [ 445 ] Of Rainbows and Starrie Eyes. The Waters thus With Fish replenisht, and the Aire with Fowle, Ev’ning and Morn solemniz’d the Fift day.

The Sixt, and of Creation last arose With Eevning Harps and Mattin, when God said, [ 450 ] Let th’ Earth bring forth Foul living in her kinde, Cattel and Creeping things, and Beast of the Earth, Each in their kinde. The Earth obey’d, and strait Op’ning her fertile Woomb teem’d at a Birth Innumerous living Creatures, perfet formes, [ 455 ] Limb’d and full grown: out of the ground up rose As from his Laire the wilde Beast where he wonns In Forrest wilde, in Thicket, Brake, or Den; Among the Trees in Pairs they rose, they walk’d: The Cattel in the Fields and Meddowes green: [ 460 ] Those rare and solitarie, these in flocks Pasturing at once, and in broad Herds upsprung. The grassie Clods now Calv’d, now half appeer’d The Tawnie Lion, pawing to get free His hinder parts, then springs as broke from Bonds, [ 465 ] And Rampant shakes his Brinded main; the Ounce, The Libbard, and the Tyger, as the Moale Rising, the crumbl’d Earth above them threw In Hillocks; the swift Stag from under ground Bore up his branching head: scarse from his mould [ 470 ] Behemoth biggest born of Earth upheav’d His vastness: Fleec’t the Flocks and bleating rose, As Plants: ambiguous between Sea and Land The River Horse and scalie Crocodile. At once came forth whatever creeps the ground, [ 475 ] Insect or Worme; those wav’d thir limber fans For wings, and smallest Lineaments exact In all the Liveries dect of Summers pride With spots of Gold and Purple, azure and green: These as a line thir long dimension drew, [ 480 ] Streaking the ground with sinuous trace; not all Minims of Nature; some of Serpent kinde Wondrous in length and corpulence involv’d Thir Snakie foulds, and added wings. First crept The Parsimonious Emmet, provident [ 485 ] Of future, in small room large heart enclos’d, Pattern of just equalitie perhaps Hereafter, join’d in her popular Tribes Of Commonaltie: swarming next appeer’d The Female Bee that feeds her Husband Drone [ 490 ] Deliciously, and builds her waxen Cells With Honey stor’d: the rest are numberless, And thou thir Natures know’st, & gav’st them Names, Needless to thee repeated; nor unknown The Serpent suttl’st Beast of all the field, [ 495 ] Of huge extent somtimes, with brazen Eyes And hairie Main terrific, though to thee Not noxious, but obedient at thy call. Now Heav’n in all her Glorie shon, and rowld Her motions, as the great first-Movers hand [ 500 ] First wheeld thir course; Earth in her rich attire Consummate lovly smil’d; Aire, Water, Earth, By Fowl, Fish, Beast, was flown, was swum, was walkt Frequent; and of the Sixt day yet remain’d; There wanted yet the Master work, the end [ 505 ] Of all yet don; a Creature who not prone And Brute as other Creatures, but endu’d With Sanctitie of Reason, might erect His Stature, and upright with Front serene Govern the rest, self-knowing, and from thence [ 510 ] Magnanimous to correspond with Heav’n, But grateful to acknowledge whence his good Descends, thither with heart and voice and eyes Directed in Devotion, to adore And worship God Supream, who made him chief [ 515 ] Of all his works: therefore the Omnipotent Eternal Father (For where is not hee Present) thus to his Son audibly spake.

Let us make now Man in our image, Man In our similitude, and let them rule [ 520 ] Over the Fish and Fowle of Sea and Aire, Beast of the Field, and over all the Earth, And every creeping thing that creeps the ground. This said, he formd thee, Adam, thee O Man Dust of the ground, and in thy nostrils breath’d [ 525 ] The breath of Life; in his own Image hee Created thee, in the Image of God Express, and thou becam’st a living Soul. Male he created thee, but thy consort Female for Race; then bless’d Mankinde, and said, [ 530 ] Be fruitful, multiplie, and fill the Earth, Subdue it, and throughout Dominion hold Over Fish of the Sea, and Fowle of the Aire, And every living thing that moves on the Earth. Wherever thus created, for no place [ 535 ] Is yet distinct by name, thence, as thou know’st He brought thee into this delicious Grove, This Garden, planted with the Trees of God, Delectable both to behold and taste; And freely all thir pleasant fruit for food [ 540 ] Gave thee, all sorts are here that all th’ Earth yields, Varietie without end; but of the Tree Which tasted works knowledge of Good and Evil, Thou mai’st not; in the day thou eat’st, thou di’st; Death is the penaltie impos’d, beware, [ 545 ] And govern well thy appetite, least sin Surprise thee, and her black attendant Death. Here finish’d hee, and all that he had made View’d, and behold all was entirely good; So Ev’n and Morn accomplish’t the Sixt day: [ 550 ] Yet not till the Creator from his work Desisting, though unwearied, up returnd Up to the Heav’n of Heav’ns his high abode, Thence to behold this new created World Th’ addition of his Empire, how it shew’d [ 555 ] In prospect from his Throne, how good, how faire, Answering his great Idea. Up he rode Followd with acclamation and the sound Symphonious of ten thousand Harpes that tun’d Angelic harmonies: the Earth, the Aire, [ 560 ] Resounded, (thou remember’st for thou heardst) The Heav’ns and all the Constellations rung, The Planets in thir stations list’ning stood, While the bright Pomp ascended jubilant. Open, ye everlasting Gates, they sung, [ 565 ] Open, ye Heav’ns, your living dores; let in The great Creator from his work returnd Magnificent, his Six days work, a World; Open, and henceforth oft; for God will deigne To visit oft the dwellings of just Men [ 570 ] Delighted, and with frequent intercourse Thither will send his winged Messengers On errands of supernal Grace. So sung The glorious Train ascending: He through Heav’n, That open’d wide her blazing Portals, led [ 575 ] To Gods Eternal house direct the way, A broad and ample rode, whose dust is Gold And pavement Starrs, as Starrs to thee appeer, Seen in the Galaxie, that Milkie way Which nightly as a circling Zone thou seest [ 580 ] Pouderd with Starrs. And now on Earth the Seventh Eev’ning arose in Eden, for the Sun Was set, and twilight from the East came on, Forerunning Night; when at the holy mount Of Heav’ns high-seated top, th’ Impereal Throne [ 585 ] Of Godhead, fixt for ever firm and sure, The Filial Power arriv’d, and sate him down With his great Father (for he also went Invisible, yet staid, such priviledge Hath Omnipresence) and the work ordain’d, [ 590 ] Author and end of all things, and from work Now resting, bless’d and hallowd the Seav’nth day, As resting on that day from all his work, But not in silence holy kept; the Harp Had work and rested not, the solemn Pipe, [ 595 ] And Dulcimer, all Organs of sweet stop, All sounds on Fret by String or Golden Wire Temper’d soft Tunings, intermixt with Voice Choral or Unison; of incense Clouds Fuming from Golden Censers hid the Mount. [ 600 ] Creation and the Six dayes acts they sung, Great are thy works, Jehovah, infinite Thy power; what thought can measure thee or tongue Relate thee; greater now in thy return Then from the Giant Angels; thee that day [ 605 ] Thy Thunders magnifi’d; but to create Is greater then created to destroy. Who can impair thee, mighty King, or bound Thy Empire? easily the proud attempt Of Spirits apostat and thir Counsels vaine [ 610 ] Thou hast repeld, while impiously they thought Thee to diminish, and from thee withdraw The number of thy worshippers. Who seekes To lessen thee, against his purpose serves To manifest the more thy might: his evil [ 615 ] Thou usest, and from thence creat’st more good. Witness this new-made World, another Heav’n From Heaven Gate not farr, founded in view On the cleer Hyaline, the Glassie Sea; Of amplitude almost immense, with Starr’s [ 620 ] Numerous, and every Starr perhaps a World Of destind habitation; but thou know’st Thir seasons: among these the seat of men, Earth with her nether Ocean circumfus’d, Thir pleasant dwelling place. Thrice happie men, [ 625 ] And sons of men, whom God hath thus advanc’t, Created in his Image, there to dwell And worship him, and in reward to rule Over his Works, on Earth, in Sea, or Air, And multiply a Race of Worshippers [ 630 ] Holy and just: thrice happie if they know Thir happiness, and persevere upright.

So sung they, and the Empyrean rung, With Halleluiahs: Thus was Sabbath kept. And thy request think now fulfill’d, that ask’d [ 635 ] How first this World and face of things began, And what before thy memorie was don From the beginning, that posteritie Informd by thee might know; if else thou seek’st Aught, not surpassing human measure, say. [ 640 ]

Adam inquires concerning celestial Motions, is doubtfully answer’d, and exhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledg: Adam assents, and still desirous to detain Raphael, relates to him what he remember’d since his own Creation, his placing in Paradise, his talk with God concerning solitude and fit society, his first meeting and Nuptials with Eve, his discourse with the Angel thereupon; who after admonitions repeated departs.

THE Angel ended, and in Adams Eare So Charming left his voice, that he a while Thought him still speaking, still stood fixt to hear; Then as new wak’t thus gratefully repli’d. What thanks sufficient, or what recompence [ 5 ] Equal have I to render thee, Divine Hystorian, who thus largely hast allayd The thirst I had of knowledge, and voutsaf’t This friendly condescention to relate Things else by me unsearchable, now heard [ 10 ] With wonder, but delight, and, as is due, With glorie attributed to the high Creator; something yet of doubt remaines, Which onely thy solution can resolve. When I behold this goodly Frame, this World [ 15 ] Of Heav’n and Earth consisting, and compute, Thir magnitudes, this Earth a spot, a graine, An Atom, with the Firmament compar’d And all her numberd Starrs, that seem to rowle Spaces incomprehensible (for such [ 20 ] Thir distance argues and thir swift return Diurnal) meerly to officiate light Round this opacous Earth, this punctual spot, One day and night; in all thir vast survey Useless besides, reasoning I oft admire, [ 25 ] How Nature wise and frugal could commit Such disproportions, with superfluous hand So many nobler Bodies to create, Greater so manifold to this one use, For aught appeers, and on thir Orbs impose [ 30 ] Such restless revolution day by day Repeated, while the sedentarie Earth, That better might with farr less compass move, Serv’d by more noble then her self, attaines Her end without least motion, and receaves, [ 35 ] As Tribute such a sumless journey brought Of incorporeal speed, her warmth and light; Speed, to describe whose swiftness Number failes.

So spake our Sire, and by his count’nance seemd Entring on studious thoughts abstruse, which Eve [ 40 ] Perceaving where she sat retir’d in sight, With lowliness Majestic from her seat, And Grace that won who saw to wish her stay, Rose, and went forth among her Fruits and Flours, To visit how they prosper’d, bud and bloom, [ 45 ] Her Nurserie; they at her coming sprung And toucht by her fair tendance gladlier grew. Yet went she not, as not with such discourse Delighted, or not capable her eare Of what was high: such pleasure she reserv’d, [ 50 ] Adam relating, she sole Auditress; Her Husband the Relater she preferr’d Before the Angel, and of him to ask Chose rather: hee, she knew would intermix Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute [ 55 ] With conjugal Caresses, from his Lip Not Words alone pleas’d her. O when meet now Such pairs, in Love and mutual Honour joyn’d? With Goddess-like demeanour forth she went; Not unattended, for on her as Queen [ 60 ] A pomp of winning Graces waited still, And from about her shot Darts of desire Into all Eyes to wish her still in sight. And Raphael now to Adam’s doubt propos’d Benevolent and facil thus repli’d. [ 65 ]

To ask or search I blame thee not, for Heav’n Is as the Book of God before thee set, Wherein to read his wondrous Works, and learne His Seasons, Hours, or Dayes, or Months, or Yeares: This to attain, whether Heav’n move or Earth, [ 70 ] Imports not, if thou reck’n right, the rest From Man or Angel the great Architect Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge His secrets to be scann’d by them who ought Rather admire; or if they list to try [ 75 ] Conjecture, he his Fabric of the Heav’ns Hath left to thir disputes, perhaps to move His laughter at thir quaint Opinions wide Hereafter, when they come to model Heav’n And calculate the Starrs, how they will weild [ 80 ] The mightie frame, how build, unbuild, contrive To save appeerances, how gird the Sphear With Centric and Eccentric scribl’d o’re, Cycle and Epicycle, Orb in Orb: Alreadie by thy reasoning this I guess, [ 85 ] Who art to lead thy ofspring, and supposest That bodies bright and greater should not serve The less not bright, nor Heav’n such journies run, Earth sitting still, when she alone receaves The benefit: consider first, that Great [ 90 ] Or Bright inferrs not Excellence: the Earth Though, in comparison of Heav’n, so small, Nor glistering, may of solid good containe More plenty then the Sun that barren shines, Whose vertue on it self workes no effect, [ 95 ] But in the fruitful Earth; there first receavd His beams, unactive else, thir vigour find. Yet not to Earth are those bright Luminaries Officious, but to thee Earths habitant. And for the Heav’ns wide Circuit, let it speak [ 100 ] The Makers high magnificence, who built So spacious, and his Line stretcht out so farr; That Man may know he dwells not in his own; An Edifice too large for him to fill, Lodg’d in a small partition, and the rest [ 105 ] Ordain’d for uses to his Lord best known. The swiftness of those Circles attribute, Though numberless, to his Omnipotence, That to corporeal substances could adde Speed almost Spiritual; mee thou thinkst not slow, [ 110 ] Who since the Morning hour set out from Heav’n Where God resides, and ere mid-day arriv’d In Eden, distance inexpressible By Numbers that have name. But this I urge, Admitting Motion in the Heav’ns, to shew [ 115 ] Invalid that which thee to doubt it mov’d; Not that I so affirm, though so it seem To thee who hast thy dwelling here on Earth. God to remove his wayes from human sense, Plac’d Heav’n from Earth so farr, that earthly sight, [ 120 ] If it presume, might erre in things too high, And no advantage gaine. What if the Sun Be Centre to the World, and other Starrs By his attractive vertue and their own Incited, dance about him various rounds? [ 125 ] Thir wandring course now high, now low, then hid, Progressive, retrograde, or standing still, In six thou seest, and what if sev’nth to these The Planet Earth, so stedfast though she seem, Insensibly three different Motions move? [ 130 ] Which else to several Spheres thou must ascribe, Mov’d contrarie with thwart obliquities, Or save the Sun his labour, and that swift Nocturnal and Diurnal rhomb suppos’d, Invisible else above all Starrs, the Wheele [ 135 ] Of Day and Night; which needs not thy beleefe, If Earth industrious of her self fetch Day Travelling East, and with her part averse From the Suns beam meet Night, her other part Still luminous by his ray. What if that light [ 140 ] Sent from her through the wide transpicuous aire, To the terrestrial Moon be as a Starr Enlightning her by Day, as she by Night This Earth? reciprocal, if Land be there, Fields and Inhabitants: Her spots thou seest [ 145 ] As Clouds, and Clouds may rain, and Rain produce Fruits in her soft’nd Soile, for some to eate Allotted there; and other Suns perhaps With thir attendant Moons thou wilt descrie Communicating Male and Femal Light, [ 150 ] Which two great Sexes animate the World, Stor’d in each Orb perhaps with some that live. For such vast room in Nature unpossest By living Soule, desert and desolate, Onely to shine, yet scarce to contribute [ 155 ] Each Orb a glimps of Light, conveyd so farr Down to this habitable, which returnes Light back to them, is obvious to dispute. But whether thus these things, or whether not, Whether the Sun predominant in Heav’n [ 160 ] Rise on the Earth, or Earth rise on the Sun, Hee from the East his flaming rode begin, Or Shee from West her silent course advance With inoffensive pace that spinning sleeps On her soft Axle, while she paces Eev’n, [ 165 ] And beares thee soft with the smooth Air along, Sollicit not thy thoughts with matters hid, Leave them to God above, him serve and feare; Of other Creatures, as him pleases best, Wherever plac’t, let him dispose: joy thou [ 170 ] In what he gives to thee, this Paradise And thy faire Eve; Heav’n is for thee too high To know what passes there; be lowlie wise: Think onely what concernes thee and thy being; Dream not of other Worlds, what Creatures there [ 175 ] Live, in what state, condition or degree, Contented that thus farr hath been reveal’d Not of Earth onely but of highest Heav’n.

To whom thus Adam cleerd of doubt, repli’d. How fully hast thou satisfi’d me, pure [ 180 ] Intelligence of Heav’n, Angel serene, And freed from intricacies, taught to live The easiest way, nor with perplexing thoughts To interrupt the sweet of Life, from which God hath bid dwell farr off all anxious cares, [ 185 ] And not molest us, unless we our selves Seek them with wandring thoughts, and notions vain. But apt the Mind or Fancy is to roave Uncheckt, and of her roaving is no end; Till warn’d, or by experience taught, she learne, [ 190 ] That not to know at large of things remote From use, obscure and suttle, but to know That which before us lies in daily life, Is the prime Wisdom, what is more, is fume, Or emptiness, or fond impertinence, [ 195 ] And renders us in things that most concerne Unpractis’d, unprepar’d, and still to seek. Therefore from this high pitch let us descend A lower flight, and speak of things at hand Useful, whence haply mention may arise [ 200 ] Of somthing not unseasonable to ask By sufferance, and thy wonted favour deign’d. Thee I have heard relating what was don Ere my remembrance: now hear mee relate My Storie, which perhaps thou hast not heard; [ 205 ] And Day is yet not spent; till then thou seest How suttly to detaine thee I devise, Inviting thee to hear while I relate, Fond, were it not in hope of thy reply: For while I sit with thee, I seem in Heav’n, [ 210 ] And sweeter thy discourse is to my eare Then Fruits of Palm-tree pleasantest to thirst And hunger both, from labour, at the houre Of sweet repast; they satiate, and soon fill, Though pleasant, but thy words with Grace Divine [ 215 ] Imbu’d, bring to thir sweetness no satietie.

To whom thus Raphael answer’d heav’nly meek. Nor are thy lips ungraceful, Sire of men, Nor tongue ineloquent; for God on thee Abundantly his gifts hath also pour’d [ 220 ] Inward and outward both, his image faire: Speaking or mute all comliness and grace Attends thee, and each word, each motion formes. Nor less think wee in Heav’n of thee on Earth Then of our fellow servant, and inquire [ 225 ] Gladly into the wayes of God with Man: For God we see hath honour’d thee, and set On Man his Equal Love: say therefore on; For I that Day was absent, as befell, Bound on a voyage uncouth and obscure, [ 230 ] Farr on excursion toward the Gates of Hell; Squar’d in full Legion (such command we had) To see that none thence issu’d forth a spie, Or enemie, while God was in his work, Least hee incenst at such eruption bold, [ 235 ] Destruction with Creation might have mixt. Not that they durst without his leave attempt, But us he sends upon his high behests For state, as Sovran King, and to enure Our prompt obedience. Fast we found, fast shut [ 240 ] The dismal Gates, and barricado’d strong; But long ere our approaching heard within Noise, other then the sound of Dance or Song, Torment, and loud lament, and furious rage. Glad we return’d up to the coasts of Light [ 245 ] Ere Sabbath Eev’ning: so we had in charge. But thy relation now; for I attend, Pleas’d with thy words no less then thou with mine.

So spake the Godlike Power, and thus our Sire. For Man to tell how human Life began [ 250 ] Is hard; for who himself beginning knew? Desire with thee still longer to converse Induc’d me. As new wak’t from soundest sleep Soft on the flourie herb I found me laid In Balmie Sweat, which with his Beames the Sun [ 255 ] Soon dri’d, and on the reaking moisture fed. Strait toward Heav’n my wondring Eyes I turnd, And gaz’d a while the ample Skie, till rais’d By quick instinctive motion up I sprung, As thitherward endevoring, and upright [ 260 ] Stood on my feet; about me round I saw Hill, Dale, and shadie Woods, and sunnie Plaines, And liquid Lapse of murmuring Streams; by these, Creatures that livd, and movd, and walk’d, or flew, Birds on the branches warbling; all things smil’d, [ 265 ] With fragrance and with joy my heart oreflow’d. My self I then perus’d, and Limb by Limb Survey’d, and sometimes went, and sometimes ran With supple joints, as lively vigour led: But who I was, or where, or from what cause, [ 270 ] Knew not; to speak I tri’d, and forthwith spake, My Tongue obey’d and readily could name What e’re I saw. Thou Sun, said I, faire Light, And thou enlight’nd Earth, so fresh and gay, Ye Hills and Dales, ye Rivers, Woods, and Plaines, [ 275 ] And ye that live and move, fair Creatures, tell, Tell, if ye saw, how came I thus, how here? Not of my self; by some great Maker then, In goodness and in power præeminent; Tell me, how may I know him, how adore, [ 280 ] From whom I have that thus I move and live, And feel that I am happier then I know. While thus I call’d, and stray’d I knew not whither, From where I first drew Aire, and first beheld This happie Light, when answer none return’d, [ 285 ] On a green shadie Bank profuse of Flours Pensive I sate me down; there gentle sleep First found me, and with soft oppression seis’d My droused sense, untroubl’d, though I thought I then was passing to my former state [ 290 ] Insensible, and forthwith to dissolve: When suddenly stood at my Head a dream, Whose inward apparition gently mov’d My Fancy to believe I yet had being, And livd: One came, methought, of shape Divine, [ 295 ] And said, thy Mansion wants thee, Adam, rise, First Man, of Men innumerable ordain’d First Father, call’d by thee I come thy Guide To the Garden of bliss, thy seat prepar’d. So saying, by the hand he took me rais’d, [ 300 ] And over Fields and Waters, as in Aire Smooth sliding without step, last led me up A woodie Mountain; whose high top was plaine, A Circuit wide, enclos’d, with goodliest Trees Planted, with Walks, and Bowers, that what I saw [ 305 ] Of Earth before scarce pleasant seemd. Each Tree Load’n with fairest Fruit, that hung to the Eye Tempting, stirr’d in me sudden appetite To pluck and eate; whereat I wak’d, and found Before mine Eyes all real, as the dream [ 310 ] Had lively shadowd: Here had new begun My wandring, had not hee who was my Guide Up hither, from among the Trees appeer’d, Presence Divine. Rejoycing, but with aw, In adoration at his feet I fell [ 315 ] Submiss: he rear’d me, and Whom thou soughtst I am, Said mildely, Author of all this thou seest Above, or round about thee or beneath. This Paradise I give thee, count it thine To Till and keep, and of the Fruit to eate: [ 320 ] Of every Tree that in the Garden growes Eate freely with glad heart; fear here no dearth: But of the Tree whose operation brings Knowledg of good and ill, which I have set The Pledge of thy Obedience and thy Faith, [ 325 ] Amid the Garden by the Tree of Life, Remember what I warne thee, shun to taste, And shun the bitter consequence: for know, The day thou eat’st thereof, my sole command Transgrest, inevitably thou shalt dye; [ 330 ] From that day mortal, and this happie State Shalt loose, expell’d from hence into a World Of woe and sorrow. Sternly he pronounc’d The rigid interdiction, which resounds Yet dreadful in mine eare, though in my choice [ 335 ] Not to incur; but soon his cleer aspect Return’d and gracious purpose thus renew’d. Not onely these fair bounds, but all the Earth To thee and to thy Race I give; as Lords Possess it, and all things that therein live, [ 340 ] Or live in Sea, or Aire, Beast, Fish, and Fowle. In signe whereof each Bird and Beast behold After thir kindes; I bring them to receave From thee thir Names, and pay thee fealtie With low subjection; understand the same [ 345 ] Of Fish within thir watry residence, Not hither summon’d, since they cannot change Thir Element to draw the thinner Aire. As thus he spake, each Bird and Beast behold Approaching two and two, These cowring low [ 350 ] With blandishment, each Bird stoop’d on his wing. I nam’d them, as they pass’d, and understood Thir Nature, with such knowledg God endu’d My sudden apprehension: but in these I found not what me thought I wanted still; [ 355 ] And to the Heav’nly vision thus presum’d.

O by what Name, for thou above all these, Above mankinde, or aught then mankinde higher, Surpassest farr my naming, how may I Adore thee, Author of this Universe, [ 360 ] And all this good to man, for whose well being So amply, and with hands so liberal Thou hast provided all things: but with mee I see not who partakes. In solitude What happiness, who can enjoy alone, [ 365 ] Or all enjoying, what contentment find? Thus I presumptuous; and the vision bright, As with a smile more bright’nd, thus repli’d.

What call’st thou solitude, is not the Earth With various living creatures, and the Aire [ 370 ] Replenisht, and all these at thy command To come and play before thee; know’st thou not Thir language and thir wayes? They also know, And reason not contemptibly; with these Find pastime, and beare rule; thy Realm is large. [ 375 ] So spake the Universal Lord, and seem’d So ordering. I with leave of speech implor’d, And humble deprecation thus repli’d.

Let not my words offend thee, Heav’nly Power, My Maker, be propitious while I speak. [ 380 ] Hast thou not made me here thy substitute, And these inferiour farr beneath me set? Among unequals what societie Can sort, what harmonie or true delight? Which must be mutual, in proportion due [ 385 ] Giv’n and receiv’d; but in disparitie The one intense, the other still remiss Cannot well suite with either, but soon prove Tedious alike: Of fellowship I speak Such as I seek, fit to participate [ 390 ] All rational delight, wherein the brute Cannot be human consort; they rejoyce Each with thir kinde, Lion with Lioness; So fitly them in pairs thou hast combin’d; Much less can Bird with Beast, or Fish with Fowle [ 395 ] So well converse, nor with the Ox the Ape; Wors then can Man with Beast, and least of all. Whereto th’ Almighty answer’d, not displeas’d. A nice and suttle happiness I see Thou to thyself proposest, in the choice [ 400 ] Of thy Associates, Adam, and wilt taste No pleasure, though in pleasure, solitarie. What think’st thou then of mee, and this my State, Seem I to thee sufficiently possest Of happiness, or not? who am alone [ 405 ] From all Eternitie, for none I know Second to mee or like, equal much less. How have I then with whom to hold converse Save with the Creatures which I made, and those To me inferiour, infinite descents [ 410 ] Beneath what other Creatures are to thee?

He ceas’d, I lowly answer’d. To attaine The highth and depth of thy Eternal wayes All human thoughts come short, Supream of things; Thou in thy self art perfet, and in thee [ 415 ] Is no deficience found; not so is Man, But in degree, the cause of his desire By conversation with his like to help, Or solace his defects. No need that thou Shouldst propagat, already infinite; [ 420 ] And through all numbers absolute, though One; But Man by number is to manifest His single imperfection, and beget Like of his like, his Image multipli’d, In unitie defective, which requires [ 425 ] Collateral love, and deerest amitie. Thou in thy secresie although alone, Best with thy self accompanied, seek’st not Social communication, yet so pleas’d, Canst raise thy Creature to what highth thou wilt [ 430 ] Of Union or Communion, deifi’d; I by conversing cannot these erect From prone, nor in thir wayes complacence find. Thus I embold’nd spake, and freedom us’d Permissive, and acceptance found, which gain’d [ 435 ] This answer from the gratious voice Divine.

Thus farr to try thee, Adam, I was pleas’d, And finde thee knowing not of Beasts alone, Which thou hast rightly nam’d, but of thy self, Expressing well the spirit within thee free, [ 440 ] My Image, not imparted to the Brute, Whose fellowship therefore unmeet for thee Good reason was thou freely shouldst dislike, And be so minded still; I, ere thou spak’st, Knew it not good for Man to be alone, [ 445 ] And no such companie as then thou saw’st Intended thee, for trial onely brought, To see how thou could’st judge of fit and meet: What next I bring shall please thee, be assur’d, Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self, [ 450 ] Thy wish, exactly to thy hearts desire.

Hee ended, or I heard no more, for now My earthly by his Heav’nly overpowerd, Which it had long stood under, streind to the highth In that celestial Colloquie sublime, [ 455 ] As with an object that excels the sense, Dazl’d and spent, sunk down, and sought repair Of sleep, which instantly fell on me, call’d By Nature as in aide, and clos’d mine eyes. Mine eyes he clos’d, but op’n left the Cell [ 460 ] Of Fancie my internal sight, by which Abstract as in a transe methought I saw, Though sleeping, where I lay, and saw the shape Still glorious before whom awake I stood; Who stooping op’nd my left side, and took [ 465 ] From thence a Rib, with cordial spirits warme, And Life-blood streaming fresh; wide was the wound, But suddenly with flesh fill’d up and heal’d: The Rib he formd and fashond with his hands; Under his forming hands a Creature grew, [ 470 ] Manlike, but different sex, so lovly faire, That what seemd fair in all the World, seemd now Mean, or in her summ’d up, in her containd And in her looks, which from that time infus’d Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before, [ 475 ] And into all things from her Aire inspir’d The spirit of love and amorous delight. Shee disappeerd, and left me dark, I wak’d To find her, or for ever to deplore Her loss, and other pleasures all abjure: [ 480 ] When out of hope, behold her, not farr off, Such as I saw her in my dream, adornd With what all Earth or Heaven could bestow To make her amiable: On she came, Led by her Heav’nly Maker, though unseen, [ 485 ] And guided by his voice, nor uninformd Of nuptial Sanctitie and marriage Rites: Grace was in all her steps, Heav’n in her Eye, In every gesture dignitie and love. I overjoyd could not forbear aloud. [ 490 ]

This turn hath made amends; thou hast fulfill’d Thy words, Creator bounteous and benigne, Giver of all things faire, but fairest this Of all thy gifts, nor enviest. I now see Bone of my Bone, Flesh of my Flesh, my Self [ 495 ] Before me; Woman is her Name, of Man Extracted; for this cause he shall forgoe Father and Mother, and to his Wife adhere; And they shall be one Flesh, one Heart, one Soule.

She heard me thus, and though divinely brought, [ 500 ] Yet Innocence and Virgin Modestie, Her vertue and the conscience of her worth, That would be woo’d, and not unsought be won, Not obvious, not obtrusive, but retir’d, The more desirable, or to say all, [ 505 ] Nature her self, though pure of sinful thought, Wrought in her so, that seeing me, she turn’d; I follow’d her, she what was Honour knew, And with obsequious Majestie approv’d My pleaded reason. To the Nuptial Bowre [ 510 ] I led her blushing like the Morn: all Heav’n, And happie Constellations on that houre Shed thir selectest influence; the Earth Gave sign of gratulation, and each Hill; Joyous the Birds; fresh Gales and gentle Aires [ 515 ] Whisper’d it to the Woods, and from thir wings Flung Rose, flung Odours from the spicie Shrub, Disporting, till the amorous Bird of Night Sung Spousal, and bid haste the Eevning Starr On his Hill top, to light the bridal Lamp. [ 520 ] Thus I have told thee all my State, and brought My Storie to the sum of earthly bliss Which I enjoy, and must confess to find In all things else delight indeed, but such As us’d or not, works in the mind no change, [ 525 ] Nor vehement desire, these delicacies I mean of Taste, Sight, Smell, Herbs, Fruits and Flours, Walks, and the melodie of Birds; but here Farr otherwise, transported I behold, Transported touch; here passion first I felt, [ 530 ] Commotion strange, in all enjoyments else Superiour and unmov’d, here onely weake Against the charm of Beauties powerful glance. Or Nature faild in mee, and left some part Not proof enough such Object to sustain, [ 535 ] Or from my side subducting, took perhaps More then enough; at least on her bestow’d Too much of Ornament, in outward shew Elaborate, of inward less exact. For well I understand in the prime end [ 540 ] Of Nature her th’ inferiour, in the mind And inward Faculties, which most excell, In outward also her resembling less His Image who made both, and less expressing The character of that Dominion giv’n [ 545 ] O’re other Creatures; yet when I approach Her loveliness, so absolute she seems And in her self compleat, so well to know Her own, that what she wills to do or say, Seems wisest, vertuousest, discreetest, best; [ 550 ] All higher knowledge in her presence falls Degraded, Wisdom in discourse with her Looses discount’nanc’t, and like folly shewes; Authority and Reason on her waite, As one intended first, not after made [ 555 ] Occasionally; and to consummate all, Greatness of mind and nobleness thir seat Build in her loveliest, and create an awe About her, as a guard Angelic plac’t. To whom the Angel with contracted brow. [ 560 ]

Accuse not Nature, she hath don her part; Do thou but thine, and be not diffident Of Wisdom, she deserts thee not, if thou Dismiss not her, when most thou needst her nigh, By attributing overmuch to things [ 565 ] Less excellent, as thou thy self perceav’st. For what admir’st thou, what transports thee so, An outside? fair no doubt, and worthy well Thy cherishing, thy honouring, and thy love, Not thy subjection: weigh with her thy self; [ 570 ] Then value: Oft times nothing profits more Then self esteem, grounded on just and right Well manag’d; of that skill the more thou know’st, The more she will acknowledge thee her Head, And to realities yield all her shows: [ 575 ] Made so adorn for thy delight the more, So awful, that with honour thou maist love Thy mate, who sees when thou art seen least wise. But if the sense of touch whereby mankind Is propagated seem such dear delight [ 580 ] Beyond all other, think the same voutsaf’t To Cattel and each Beast; which would not be To them made common and divulg’d, if aught Therein enjoy’d were worthy to subdue The Soule of Man, or passion in him move. [ 585 ] What higher in her societie thou findst Attractive, human, rational, love still; In loving thou dost well, in passion not, Wherein true Love consists not; love refines The thoughts, and heart enlarges, hath his seat [ 590 ] In Reason, and is judicious, is the scale By which to heav’nly Love thou maist ascend, Not sunk in carnal pleasure, for which cause Among the Beasts no Mate for thee was found.

To whom thus half abash’t Adam repli’d. [ 595 ] Neither her out-side formd so fair, nor aught In procreation common to all kindes (Though higher of the genial Bed by far, And with mysterious reverence I deem) So much delights me as those graceful acts, [ 600 ] Those thousand decencies that daily flow From all her words and actions mixt with Love And sweet compliance, which declare unfeign’d Union of Mind, or in us both one Soule; Harmonie to behold in wedded pair [ 605 ] More grateful then harmonious sound to the eare. Yet these subject not; I to thee disclose What inward thence I feel, not therefore foild, Who meet with various objects, from the sense Variously representing; yet still free [ 610 ] Approve the best, and follow what I approve. To Love thou blam’st me not, for love thou saist Leads up to Heav’n, is both the way and guide; Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask; Love not the heav’nly Spirits, and how thir Love [ 615 ] Express they, by looks onely, or do they mix Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch?

To whom the Angel with a smile that glow’d Celestial rosie red, Loves proper hue, Answer’d. Let it suffice thee that thou know’st [ 620 ] Us happie, and without Love no happiness. Whatever pure thou in the body enjoy’st (And pure thou wert created) we enjoy In eminence, and obstacle find none Of membrane, joynt, or limb, exclusive barrs: [ 625 ] Easier then Air with Air, if Spirits embrace, Total they mix, Union of Pure with Pure Desiring; nor restrain’d conveyance need As Flesh to mix with Flesh, or Soul with Soul. But I can now no more; the parting Sun [ 630 ] Beyond the Earths green Cape and verdant Isles Hesperean sets, my Signal to depart. Be strong, live happie, and love, but first of all Him whom to love is to obey, and keep His great command; take heed lest Passion sway [ 635 ] Thy Judgment to do aught, which else free Will Would not admit; thine and of all thy Sons The weal or woe in thee is plac’t; beware. I in thy persevering shall rejoyce, And all the Blest: stand fast; to stand or fall [ 640 ] Free in thine own Arbitrement it lies. Perfet within, no outward aid require; And all temptation to transgress repel.

So saying, he arose; whom Adam thus Follow’d with benediction. Since to part, [ 645 ] Go heavenly Guest, Ethereal Messenger, Sent from whose sovran goodness I adore. Gentle to me and affable hath been Thy condescension, and shall be honour’d ever With grateful Memorie: thou to mankind [ 650 ] Be good and friendly still, and oft return.

So parted they, the Angel up to Heav’n From the thick shade, and Adam to his Bowre.

Satan having compast the Earth, with meditated guile returns as a mist by Night into Paradise, enters into the Serpent sleeping. Adam and Eve in the Morning go forth to thir labours, which Eve proposes to divide in several places, each labouring apart: Adam consents not, alledging the danger, lest that Enemy, of whom they were forewarn’d, should attempt her found alone: Eve loath to be thought not circumspect or firm enough, urges her going apart, the rather desirous to make tryal of her strength; Adam at last yields: The Serpent finds her alone; his subtle approach, first gazing, then speaking, with much flattery extolling Eve above all other Creatures. Eve wondring to hear the Serpent speak, asks how he attain’d to human speech and such understanding not till now; the Serpent answers, that by tasting of a certain Tree in the Garden he attain’d both to Speech and Reason, till then void of both: Eve requires him to bring her to that Tree, and finds it to be the Tree of Knowledge forbidden: The Serpent now grown bolder, with many wiles and arguments induces her at length to eat; she pleas’d with the taste deliberates a while whether to impart thereof to Adam or not, at last brings him of the Fruit, relates what perswaded her to eat thereof: Adam at first amaz’d, but perceiving her lost, resolves through vehemence of love to perish with her; and extenuating the trespass, eats also of the Fruit: The Effects thereof in them both; they seek to cover thir nakedness; then fall to variance and accusation of one another.

NO more of talk where God or Angel Guest With Man, as with his Friend, familiar us’d To sit indulgent, and with him partake Rural repast, permitting him the while Venial discourse unblam’d: I now must change [ 5 ] Those Notes to Tragic; foul distrust, and breach Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt, And disobedience: On the part of Heav’n Now alienated, distance and distaste, Anger and just rebuke, and judgement giv’n, [ 10 ] That brought into this World a world of woe, Sinne and her shadow Death, and Miserie Deaths Harbinger: Sad task, yet argument Not less but more Heroic then the wrauth Of stern Achilles on his Foe pursu’d [ 15 ] Thrice Fugitive about Troy Wall; or rage Of Turnus for Lavinia disespous’d, Or Neptun’s ire or Juno’s, that so long Perplex’d the Greek and Cytherea’s Son; If answerable style I can obtaine [ 20 ] Of my Celestial Patroness, who deignes Her nightly visitation unimplor’d, And dictates to me slumb’ring, or inspires Easie my unpremeditated Verse: Since first this Subject for Heroic Song [ 25 ] Pleas’d me long choosing, and beginning late; Not sedulous by Nature to indite Warrs, hitherto the onely Argument Heroic deem’d, chief maistrie to dissect With long and tedious havoc fabl’d Knights [ 30 ] In Battels feign’d; the better fortitude Of Patience and Heroic Martyrdom Unsung; or to describe Races and Games, Or tilting Furniture, emblazon’d Shields, Impreses quaint, Caparisons and Steeds; [ 35 ] Bases and tinsel Trappings, gorgious Knights At Joust and Torneament; then marshal’d Feast Serv’d up in Hall with Sewers, and Seneshals; The skill of Artifice or Office mean, Not that which justly gives Heroic name [ 40 ] To Person or to Poem. Mee of these Nor skilld nor studious, higher Argument Remaines, sufficient of it self to raise That name, unless an age too late, or cold Climat, or Years damp my intended wing [ 45 ] Deprest, and much they may, if all be mine, Not Hers who brings it nightly to my Ear. The Sun was sunk, and after him the Starr Of Hesperus, whose Office is to bring Twilight upon the Earth, short Arbiter [ 50 ] Twixt Day and Night, and now from end to end Nights Hemisphere had veild 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 [ 55 ] On mans 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 descri’d [ 60 ] His entrance, and forewarnd the Cherubim That kept thir watch; thence full of anguish driv’n, The space of seven continu’d Nights he rode With darkness, thrice the Equinoctial Line He circl’d, four times cross’d the Carr of Night [ 65 ] 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 wraught the change, [ 70 ] 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; Sea he had searcht and Land From Eden over Pontus, and the Poole Mæotis, up beyond the River Ob; Downward as farr Antartic; and in length West from Orontes to the Ocean barr’d [ 80 ] At Darien, thence to the Land where flowes 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 [ 85 ] The Serpent suttlest 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 [ 90 ] From sharpest sight: for in the wilie Snake, Whatever sleights none would suspicious mark, As from his wit and native suttletie Proceeding, which in other Beasts observ’d Doubt might beget of Diabolic pow’r [ 95 ] Active within beyond the sense of brute. Thus he resolv’d, but first from inward griefe 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 [ 100 ] With second thoughts, reforming what was old! For what God after better worse would build? Terrestrial Heav’n, danc’t round by other Heav’ns That shine, yet bear thir bright officious Lamps, Light above Light, for thee alone, as seems, [ 105 ] In thee concentring all thir precious beams Of sacred influence: As God in Heav’n Is Center, yet extends to all, so thou Centring receav’st from all those Orbs; in thee, Not in themselves, all thir known vertue appeers [ 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 walkt thee round, If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange [ 115 ] Of Hill, and Vallie, Rivers, Woods and Plaines, Now Land, now Sea, and Shores with Forrest crownd, 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 [ 120 ] Torment within me, as from the hateful siege Of contraries; all good to me becomes Bane, and in Heav’n much worse would be my state. But neither here seek I, no nor in Heav’n To dwell, unless by maistring Heav’ns Supreame; [ 125 ] Nor hope to be my self less miserable By what I seek, but others to make such As I, though thereby worse to me redound: For onely in destroying I find ease To my relentless thoughts; and him destroyd, [ 130 ] Or won to what may work his utter loss, For whom all this was made, all this will soon Follow, as to him linkt in weal or woe, In wo then: that destruction wide may range: To mee shall be the glorie sole among [ 135 ] The infernal Powers, in one day to have marr’d What he Almightie styl’d, six Nights and Days Continu’d making, and who knows how long Before had bin contriving, though perhaps Not longer then since I in one Night freed [ 140 ] From servitude inglorious welnigh half Th’ Angelic Name, and thinner left the throng Of his adorers: hee to be aveng’d, And to repaire his numbers thus impair’d, Whether such vertue spent of old now faild [ 145 ] 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, [ 150 ] With Heav’nly 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 indignitie! Subjected to his service Angel wings, [ 155 ] And flaming Ministers to watch and tend Thir earthy Charge: Of these the vigilance I dread, and to elude, thus wrapt in mist Of midnight vapor glide obscure, and prie In every Bush and Brake, where hap may finde [ 160 ] The Serpent sleeping, in whose mazie foulds 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 constraind Into a Beast, and mixt with bestial slime, [ 165 ] This essence to incarnate and imbrute, That to the hight of Deitie aspir’d; But what will not Ambition and Revenge Descend to? who aspires must down as low As high he soard, obnoxious first or last [ 170 ] To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet, Bitter ere long back on it self recoiles; Let it; I reck not, so it light well aim’d, Since higher I fall short, on him who next Provokes my envie, this new Favorite [ 175 ] Of Heav’n, 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 Danck or Drie, Like a black mist low creeping, he held on [ 180 ] His midnight search, where soonest he might finde The Serpent: him fast sleeping soon he found In Labyrinth of many a round self-rowld, His head the midst, well stor’d with suttle wiles: Not yet in horrid Shade or dismal Den, [ 185 ] Nor nocent yet, but on the grassie Herbe Fearless unfeard he slept: in at his Mouth The Devil enterd, and his brutal sense, In heart or head, possessing soon inspir’d With act intelligential; but his sleep [ 190 ] Disturbd not, waiting close th’ approach of Morn. Now when as sacred Light began to dawne In Eden on the humid Flours, that breathd Thir morning incense, when all things that breath, From th’ Earths great Altar send up silent praise [ 195 ] To the Creator, and his Nostrils fill With grateful Smell, forth came the human pair And joind thir vocal Worship to the Quire Of Creatures wanting voice, that done, partake The season, prime for sweetest Sents and Aires: [ 200 ] Then commune how that day they best may ply Thir growing work: for much thir work outgrew The hands dispatch of two Gardning so wide. And Eve first to her Husband thus began.

Adam, well may we labour still to dress [ 205 ] This Garden, still to tend Plant, Herb and Flour, Our pleasant task enjoyn’d, but till more hands Aid us, the work under our labour grows, Luxurious by restraint; what we by day Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind, [ 210 ] One night or two with wanton growth derides Tending to wilde. Thou therefore now advise Or hear what to my minde first thoughts present, Let us divide our labours, thou where choice Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind [ 215 ] The Woodbine round this Arbour, or direct The clasping Ivie where to climb, while I In yonder Spring of Roses intermixt With Myrtle, find what to redress till Noon: For while so near each other thus all day [ 220 ] Our taske we choose, what wonder if so near Looks intervene and smiles, or object new Casual discourse draw on, which intermits Our dayes work brought to little, though begun Early, and th’ hour of Supper comes unearn’d. [ 225 ]

To whom mild answer Adam thus return’d. Sole Eve, Associate sole, to me beyond Compare above all living Creatures deare, Well hast thou motion’d, well thy thoughts imployd How we might best fulfill the work which here [ 230 ] God hath assign’d us, nor of me shalt pass Unprais’d: for nothing lovelier can be found In Woman, then to studie houshold good, And good workes in her Husband to promote. Yet not so strictly hath our Lord impos’d [ 235 ] Labour, as to debarr us when we need Refreshment, whether food, or talk between, Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourse Of looks and smiles, for smiles from Reason flow, To brute deni’d, and are of Love the food, [ 240 ] Love not the lowest end of human life. For not to irksom toile, but to delight He made us, and delight to Reason joyn’d. These paths & Bowers doubt not but our joynt hands Will keep from Wilderness with ease, as wide [ 245 ] As we need walk, till younger hands ere long Assist us: But if much converse perhaps Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield. For solitude somtimes is best societie, And short retirement urges sweet returne. [ 250 ] But other doubt possesses me, least harm Befall thee sever’d from me; for thou knowst What hath bin warn’d us, what malicious Foe Envying our happiness, and of his own Despairing, seeks to work us woe and shame [ 255 ] By sly assault; and somwhere nigh at hand Watches, no doubt, with greedy hope to find His wish and best advantage, us asunder, Hopeless to circumvent us joynd, where each To other speedie aide might lend at need; [ 260 ] Whether his first design be to withdraw Our fealtie from God, or to disturb Conjugal Love, then which perhaps no bliss Enjoy’d by us excites his envie more; Or this, or worse, leave not the faithful side [ 265 ] That gave thee being, still shades thee and protects. The Wife, where danger or dishonour lurks, Safest and seemliest by her Husband staies, Who guards her, or with her the worst endures.

To whom the Virgin Majestie of Eve, [ 270 ] As one who loves, and some unkindness meets, With sweet austeer composure thus reply’d,

Ofspring of Heav’n and Earth, and all Earths Lord, That such an Enemie we have, who seeks Our ruin, both by thee informd I learne, [ 275 ] And from the parting Angel over-heard As in a shadie nook I stood behind, Just then returnd at shut of Evening Flours. But that thou shouldst my firmness therfore doubt To God or thee, because we have a foe [ 280 ] May tempt it, I expected not to hear. His violence thou fear’st not, being such, As wee, not capable of death or paine, Can either not receave, or can repell. His fraud is then thy fear, which plain inferrs [ 285 ] Thy equal fear that my firm Faith and Love Can by his fraud be shak’n or seduc’t; Thoughts, which how found they harbour in thy brest Adam, misthought of her to thee so dear?

To whom with healing words Adam replyd. [ 290 ] Daughter of God and Man, immortal Eve, For such thou art, from sin and blame entire: Not diffident of thee do I dissuade Thy absence from my sight, but to avoid Th’ attempt itself, intended by our Foe. [ 295 ] For hee who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses The tempted with dishonour foul, suppos’d Not incorruptible of Faith, not prooff Against temptation: thou thy self with scorne And anger wouldst resent the offer’d wrong, [ 300 ] Though ineffectual found: misdeem not then, If such affront I labour to avert From thee alone, which on us both at once The Enemie, though bold, will hardly dare, Or daring, first on mee th’ assault shall light. [ 305 ] Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn; Suttle he needs must be, who could seduce Angels nor think superfluous others aid. I from the influence of thy looks receave Access in every Vertue, in thy sight [ 310 ] More wise, more watchful, stronger, if need were Of outward strength; while shame, thou looking on, Shame to be overcome or over-reacht Would utmost vigor raise, and rais’d unite. Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee feel [ 315 ] When I am present, and thy trial choose With me, best witness of thy Vertue tri’d.

So spake domestick Adam in his care And Matrimonial Love; but Eve, who thought Less attributed to her Faith sincere, [ 320 ] Thus her reply with accent sweet renewd.

If this be our condition, thus to dwell In narrow circuit strait’nd by a Foe, Suttle or violent, we not endu’d Single with like defence, wherever met, [ 325 ] How are we happie, still in fear of harm? But harm precedes not sin: onely our Foe Tempting affronts us with his foul esteem Of our integritie: his foul esteeme Sticks no dishonor on our Front, but turns [ 330 ] Foul on himself; then wherefore shund or feard By us? who rather double honour gaine From his surmise prov’d false, find peace within, Favour from Heav’n, our witness from th’ event. And what is Faith, Love, Vertue unassaid [ 335 ] Alone, without exterior help sustaind? Let us not then suspect our happie State Left so imperfet by the Maker wise, As not secure to single or combin’d. Fraile is our happiness, if this be so, [ 340 ] And Eden were no Eden thus expos’d.

To whom thus Adam fervently repli’d. O Woman, best are all things as the will Of God ordain’d them, his creating hand Nothing imperfet or deficient left [ 345 ] Of all that he Created, much less Man, Or aught that might his happie State secure, Secure from outward force; within himself The danger lies, yet lies within his power: Against his will he can receave no harme. [ 350 ] But God left free the Will, for what obeyes Reason, is free, and Reason he made right But bid her well beware, and still erect, Least by some faire appeering good surpris’d She dictate false, and misinforme the Will [ 355 ] To do what God expresly hath forbid, Not then mistrust, but tender love enjoynes, That I should mind thee oft, and mind thou me. Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve, Since Reason not impossibly may meet [ 360 ] Some specious object by the Foe subornd, And fall into deception unaware, Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warnd. Seek not temptation then, which to avoide Were better, and most likelie if from mee [ 365 ] Thou sever not: Trial will come unsought. Wouldst thou approve thy constancie, approve First thy obedience; th’ other who can know, Not seeing thee attempted, who attest? But if thou think, trial unsought may finde [ 370 ] Us both securer then thus warnd thou seemst, Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more; Go in thy native innocence, relie On what thou hast of vertue, summon all, For God towards thee hath done his part, do thine. [ 375 ]

So spake the Patriarch of Mankinde, but Eve Persisted, yet submiss, though last, repli’d.

With thy permission then, and thus forewarnd Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words Touchd onely, that our trial, when least sought, [ 380 ] May finde us both perhaps farr less prepar’d, The willinger I goe, nor much expect A Foe so proud will first the weaker seek, So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse. Thus saying, from her Husbands hand her hand [ 385 ] Soft she withdrew, and like a Wood-Nymph light Oread or Dryad, or of Delia’s Traine, Betook her to the Groves, but Delia’s self In gate surpass’d and Goddess-like deport, Though not as shee with Bow and Quiver armd, [ 390 ] But with such Gardning Tools as Art yet rude, Guiltless of fire had formd, or Angels brought. To Pales, or Pomona, thus adornd, Likeliest she seemd, Pomona when she fled Vertumnus, or to Ceres in her Prime, [ 395 ] Yet Virgin of Proserpina from Jove. Her long with ardent look his Eye pursu’d Delighted, but desiring more her stay. Oft he to her his charge of quick returne Repeated, shee to him as oft engag’d [ 400 ] To be returnd by Noon amid the Bowre, And all things in best order to invite Noontide repast, or Afternoons repose. O much deceav’d, much failing, hapless Eve, Of thy presum’d return! event perverse! [ 405 ] Thou never from that houre in Paradise Foundst either sweet repast, or sound repose; Such ambush hid among sweet Flours and Shades Waited with hellish rancour imminent To intercept thy way, or send thee back [ 410 ] Despoild of Innocence, of Faith, of Bliss. For now, and since first break of dawne the Fiend, Meer Serpent in appearance, forth was come, And on his Quest, where likeliest he might finde The onely two of Mankinde, but in them [ 415 ] The whole included Race, his purposd prey. In Bowre and Field he sought, where any tuft Of Grove or Garden-Plot more pleasant lay, Thir tendance or Plantation for delight, By Fountain or by shadie Rivulet [ 420 ] He sought them both, but wish’d his hap might find Eve separate, he wish’d, but not with hope Of what so seldom chanc’d, when to his wish, Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies, Veild in a Cloud of Fragrance, where she stood, [ 425 ] Half spi’d, so thick the Roses bushing round About her glowd, oft stooping to support Each Flour of slender stalk, whose head though gay Carnation, Purple, Azure, or spect with Gold, Hung drooping unsustaind, them she upstaies [ 430 ] Gently with Mirtle band, mindless the while, Her self, though fairest unsupported Flour, From her best prop so farr, and storm so nigh. Neerer he drew, and many a walk travers’d Of stateliest Covert, Cedar, Pine, or Palme, [ 435 ] Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen Among thick-wov’n Arborets and Flours Imborderd on each Bank, the hand of Eve: Spot more delicious then those Gardens feign’d Or of reviv’d Adonis, or renownd [ 440 ] Alcinous, host of old Laertes Son, Or that, not Mystic, where the Sapient King Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian Spouse. Much hee the Place admir’d, the Person more. As one who long in populous City pent, [ 445 ] Where Houses thick and Sewers annoy the Aire, Forth issuing on a Summers Morn to breathe Among the pleasant Villages and Farmes Adjoynd, from each thing met conceaves delight, The smell of Grain, or tedded Grass, or Kine, [ 450 ] Or Dairie, each rural sight, each rural sound; If chance with Nymphlike step fair Virgin pass, What pleasing seemd, for her now pleases more, She most, and in her look summs all Delight. Such Pleasure took the Serpent to behold [ 455 ] This Flourie Plat, the sweet recess of Eve Thus earlie, thus alone; her Heav’nly forme Angelic, but more soft, and Feminine, Her graceful Innocence, her every Aire Of gesture or lest action overawd [ 460 ] His Malice, and with rapine sweet bereav’d His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought: That space the Evil one abstracted stood From his own evil, and for the time remaind Stupidly good, of enmitie disarm’d, [ 465 ] Of guile, of hate, of envie, of revenge; But the hot Hell that alwayes in him burnes, Though in mid Heav’n, soon ended his delight, And tortures him now more, the more he sees Of pleasure not for him ordain’d: then soon [ 470 ] Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites.

Thoughts, whither have ye led me, with what sweet Compulsion thus transported to forget What hither brought us, hate, not love, nor hope [ 475 ] Of Paradise for Hell, hope here to taste Of pleasure, but all pleasure to destroy, Save what is in destroying, other joy To me is lost. Then let me not let pass Occasion which now smiles, behold alone [ 480 ] The Woman, opportune to all attempts, Her Husband, for I view far round, not nigh, Whose higher intellectual more I shun, And strength, of courage hautie, and of limb Heroic built, though of terrestrial mould, [ 485 ] Foe not informidable, exempt from wound, I not; so much hath Hell debas’d, and paine Infeebl’d me, to what I was in Heav’n. Shee fair, divinely fair, fit Love for Gods, Not terrible, though terrour be in Love [ 490 ] And beautie, not approacht by stronger hate, Hate stronger, under shew of Love well feign’d, The way which to her ruin now I tend.

So spake the Enemie of Mankind, enclos’d In Serpent, Inmate bad, and toward Eve [ 495 ] Address’d his way, not with indented wave, Prone on the ground, as since, but on his reare, Circular base of rising foulds, that tour’d Fould above fould a surging Maze, his Head Crested aloft, and Carbuncle his Eyes; [ 500 ] With burnisht Neck of verdant Gold, erect Amidst his circling Spires, that on the grass Floted redundant: pleasing was his shape, And lovely, never since of Serpent kind Lovelier, not those that in Illyria chang’d [ 505 ] Hermione and Cadmus, or the God In Epidaurus; nor to which transformd Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline was seen, Hee with Olympias, this with her who bore Scipio the highth of Rome. With tract oblique [ 510 ] At first, as one who sought access, but feard To interrupt, side-long he works his way. As when a Ship by skilful Stearsman wrought Nigh Rivers mouth or Foreland, where the Wind Veres oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her Saile; [ 515 ] So varied hee, and of his tortuous Traine Curld many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve, To lure her Eye; shee busied heard the sound Of rusling Leaves, but minded not, as us’d To such disport before her through the Field, [ 520 ] From every Beast, more duteous at her call, Then at Circean call the Herd disguis’d. Hee boulder now, uncall’d before her stood; But as in gaze admiring: Oft he bowd His turret Crest, and sleek enamel’d Neck, [ 525 ] Fawning, and lick’d the ground whereon she trod. His gentle dumb expression turnd at length The Eye of Eve to mark his play; he glad Of her attention gaind, with Serpent Tongue Organic, or impulse of vocal Air, [ 530 ] His fraudulent temptation thus began.

Wonder not, sovran Mistress, if perhaps Thou canst, who art sole Wonder, much less arm Thy looks, the Heav’n of mildness, with disdain, Displeas’d that I approach thee thus, and gaze [ 535 ] Insatiate, I thus single, nor have feard Thy awful brow, more awful thus retir’d. Fairest resemblance of thy Maker faire, Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine By gift, and thy Celestial Beautie adore [ 540 ] With ravishment beheld, there best beheld Where universally admir’d; but here In this enclosure wild, these Beasts among, Beholders rude, and shallow to discerne Half what in thee is fair, one man except, [ 545 ] Who sees thee? (and what is one?) who shouldst be seen A Goddess among Gods, ador’d and serv’d By Angels numberless, thy daily Train.

So gloz’d the Tempter, and his Proem tun’d; Into the Heart of Eve his words made way, [ 550 ] Though at the voice much marveling; at length Not unamaz’d she thus in answer spake. What may this mean? Language of Man pronounc’t By Tongue of Brute, and human sense exprest? The first at lest of these I thought deni’d [ 555 ] To Beasts, whom God on thir Creation-Day Created mute to all articulat sound; The latter I demurre, for in thir looks Much reason, and in thir actions oft appeers. Thee, Serpent, suttlest beast of all the field [ 560 ] I knew, but not with human voice endu’d; Redouble then this miracle, and say, How cam’st thou speakable of mute, and how To me so friendly grown above the rest Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight? [ 565 ] Say, for such wonder claims attention due.

To whom the guileful Tempter thus reply’d. Empress of this fair World, resplendent Eve, Easie to mee it is to tell thee all What thou commandst and right thou shouldst be obeyd: [ 570 ] I was at first as other Beasts that graze The trodden Herb, of abject thoughts and low, As was my food, nor aught but food discern’d Or Sex, and apprehended nothing high: Till on a day roaving the field, I chanc’d [ 575 ] A goodly Tree farr distant to behold Loaden with fruit of fairest colours mixt, Ruddie and Gold: I nearer drew to gaze; When from the boughes a savorie odour blow’n, Grateful to appetite, more pleas’d my sense, [ 580 ] Then smell of sweetest Fenel or the Teats Of Ewe or Goat dropping with Milk at Eevn, Unsuckt of Lamb or Kid, that tend thir play. To satisfie the sharp desire I had Of tasting those fair Apples, I resolv’d [ 585 ] Not to deferr; hunger and thirst at once, Powerful perswaders, quick’nd at the scent Of that alluring fruit, urg’d me so keene. About the mossie Trunk I wound me soon, For high from ground the branches would require [ 590 ] Thy utmost reach or Adams: Round the Tree All other Beasts that saw, with like desire Longing and envying stood, but could not reach. Amid the Tree now got, where plenty hung Tempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fill [ 595 ] I spar’d not, for such pleasure till that hour At Feed or Fountain never had I found. Sated at length, ere long I might perceave Strange alteration in me, to degree Of Reason in my inward Powers, and Speech [ 600 ] Wanted not long, though to this shape retain’d. Thenceforth to Speculations high or deep I turnd my thoughts, and with capacious mind Considerd all things visible in Heav’n, Or Earth, or Middle, all things fair and good; [ 605 ] But all that fair and good in thy Divine Semblance, and in thy Beauties heav’nly Ray United I beheld; no Fair to thine Equivalent or second, which compel’d Mee thus, though importune perhaps, to come [ 610 ] And gaze, and worship thee of right declar’d Sovran of Creatures, universal Dame.

So talk’d the spirited sly Snake; and Eve Yet more amaz’d unwarie thus reply’d.

Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt [ 615 ] The vertue of that Fruit, in thee first prov’d: But say, where grows the Tree, from hence how far? For many are the Trees of God that grow In Paradise, and various, yet unknown To us, in such abundance lies our choice, [ 620 ] As leaves a greater store of Fruit untoucht, Still hanging incorruptible, till men Grow up to thir provision, and more hands Help to disburden Nature of her Bearth.

To whom the wilie Adder, blithe and glad. [ 625 ] Empress, the way is readie, and not long, Beyond a row of Myrtles, on a Flat, Fast by a Fountain, one small Thicket past Of blowing Myrrh and Balme; if thou accept My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon. [ 630 ]

Lead then, said Eve. Hee leading swiftly rowld In tangles, and made intricate seem strait, To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy Bright’ns his Crest, as when a wandring Fire Compact of unctuous vapor, which the Night [ 635 ] Condenses, and the cold invirons round, Kindl’d through agitation to a Flame, Which oft, they say, some evil Spirit attends Hovering and blazing with delusive Light, Misleads th’ amaz’d Night-wanderer from his way [ 640 ] To Boggs and Mires, and oft through Pond or Poole, There swallow’d up and lost, from succour farr. So glister’d the dire Snake, and into fraud Led Eve our credulous Mother, to the Tree Of prohibition, root of all our woe; [ 645 ] Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake.

Serpent, we might have spar’d our coming hither, Fruitless to mee, though Fruit be here to excess, The credit of whose vertue rest with thee, Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects. [ 650 ] But of this Tree we may not taste nor touch; God so commanded, and left that Command Sole Daughter of his voice; the rest, we live Law to our selves, our Reason is our Law.

To whom the Tempter guilefully repli’d. [ 655 ] Indeed? hath God then said that of the Fruit Of all these Garden Trees ye shall not eate, Yet Lords declar’d of all in Earth or Aire?

To whom thus Eve yet sinless. Of the Fruit Of each Tree in the Garden we may eate, [ 660 ] But of the Fruit of this fair Tree amidst The Garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eate Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, least ye die.

She scarse had said, though brief, when now more bold The Tempter, but with shew of Zeale and Love [ 665 ] To Man, and indignation at his wrong, New part puts on, and as to passion mov’d, Fluctuats disturbd, yet comely and in act Rais’d, as of som great matter to begin. As when of old som Orator renound [ 670 ] In Athens or free Rome, where Eloquence Flourishd, since mute, to som great cause addrest, Stood in himself collected, while each part, Motion, each act won audience ere the tongue, Somtimes in highth began, as no delay [ 675 ] Of Preface brooking through his Zeal of Right. So standing, moving, or to highth upgrown The Tempter all impassiond thus began.

O Sacred, Wise, and Wisdom-giving Plant, Mother of Science, Now I feel thy Power [ 680 ] Within me cleere, not onely to discerne Things in thir Causes, but to trace the wayes Of highest Agents, deemd however wise. Queen of this Universe, doe not believe Those rigid threats of Death; ye shall not Die: [ 685 ] How should ye? by the Fruit? it gives you Life To Knowledge, By the Threatner? look on mee, Mee who have touch’d and tasted, yet both live, And life more perfet have attaind then Fate Meant mee, by ventring higher then my Lot. [ 690 ] Shall that be shut to Man, which to the Beast Is open? or will God incense his ire For such a petty Trespass, and not praise Rather your dauntless vertue, whom the pain Of Death denounc’t, whatever thing Death be, [ 695 ] Deterrd not from atchieving what might leade To happier life, knowledge of Good and Evil; Of good, how just? of evil, if what is evil Be real, why not known, since easier shunnd? God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just; [ 700 ] Not just, not God; not feard then, nor obeyd: Your feare it self of Death removes the feare. Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe, Why but to keep ye low and ignorant, His worshippers; he knows that in the day [ 705 ] Ye Eate thereof, your Eyes that seem so cleere, Yet are but dim, shall perfetly be then Op’nd and cleerd, and ye shall be as Gods, Knowing both Good and Evil as they know. That ye should be as Gods, since I as Man, [ 710 ] Internal Man, is but proportion meet, I of brute human, yee of human Gods. So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off Human, to put on Gods, death to be wisht, Though threat’nd, which no worse then this can bring. [ 715 ] And what are Gods that Man may not become As they, participating God-like food? The Gods are first, and that advantage use On our belief, that all from them proceeds; I question it, for this fair Earth I see, [ 720 ] Warm’d by the Sun, producing every kind, Them nothing: If they all things, who enclos’d Knowledge of Good and Evil in this Tree, That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains Wisdom without their leave? and wherein lies [ 725 ] Th’ offence, that Man should thus attain to know? What can your knowledge hurt him, or this Tree Impart against his will if all be his? Or is it envie, and can envie dwell In Heav’nly brests? these, these and many more [ 730 ] Causes import your need of this fair Fruit. Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste.

He ended, and his words replete with guile Into her heart too easie entrance won: Fixt on the Fruit she gaz’d, which to behold [ 735 ] Might tempt alone, and in her ears the sound Yet rung of his perswasive words, impregn’d With Reason, to her seeming, and with Truth; Mean while the hour of Noon drew on, and wak’d An eager appetite, rais’d by the smell [ 740 ] So savorie of that Fruit, which with desire, Inclinable now grown to touch or taste, Sollicited her longing eye; yet first Pausing a while, thus to her self she mus’d.

Great are thy Vertues, doubtless, best of Fruits. [ 745 ] Though kept from Man, and worthy to be admir’d, Whose taste, too long forborn, at first assay Gave elocution to the mute, and taught The Tongue not made for Speech to speak thy praise: Thy praise hee also who forbids thy use, [ 750 ] Conceales not from us, naming thee the Tree Of Knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil; Forbids us then to taste, but his forbidding Commends thee more, while it inferrs the good By thee communicated, and our want: [ 755 ] For good unknown, sure is not had, or had And yet unknown, is as not had at all. In plain then, what forbids he but to know, Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise? Such prohibitions binde not. But if Death [ 760 ] Bind us with after-bands, what profits then Our inward freedom? In the day we eate Of this fair Fruit, our doom is, we shall die. How dies the Serpent? hee hath eat’n and lives, And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discerns, [ 765 ] Irrational till then. For us alone Was death invented? or to us deni’d This intellectual food, for beasts reserv’d? For Beasts it seems: yet that one Beast which first Hath tasted, envies not, but brings with joy [ 770 ] The good befall’n him, Author unsuspect, Friendly to man, farr from deceit or guile. What fear I then, rather what know to feare Under this ignorance of good and Evil, Of God or Death, of Law or Penaltie? [ 775 ] Here grows the Cure of all, this Fruit Divine, Fair to the Eye, inviting to the Taste, Of vertue to make wise: what hinders then To reach, and feed at once both Bodie and Mind?

So saying, her rash hand in evil hour [ 780 ] Forth reaching to the Fruit, she pluck’d, she eat: Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat Sighing through all her Works gave signs of woe, That all was lost. Back to the Thicket slunk The guiltie Serpent, and well might, for Eve [ 785 ] Intent now wholly on her taste, naught else Regarded, such delight till then, as seemd, In Fruit she never tasted, whether true Or fansied so, through expectation high Of knowledg, nor was God-head from her thought. [ 790 ] Greedily she ingorg’d without restraint, And knew not eating Death: Satiate at length, And hight’nd as with Wine, jocond and boon, Thus to her self she pleasingly began.

O Sovran, vertuous, precious of all Trees [ 795 ] In Paradise, of operation blest To Sapience, hitherto obscur’d, infam’d, And thy fair Fruit let hang, as to no end Created; but henceforth my early care, Not without Song, each Morning, and due praise [ 800 ] Shall tend thee, and the fertil burden ease Of thy full branches offer’d free to all; Till dieted by thee I grow mature In knowledge, as the Gods who all things know; Though others envie what they cannot give; [ 805 ] For had the gift bin theirs, it had not here Thus grown. Experience, next to thee I owe, Best guide; not following thee, I had remaind In ignorance, thou op’nst Wisdoms way, And giv’st access, though secret she retire. [ 810 ] And I perhaps am secret; Heav’n is high, High and remote to see from thence distinct Each thing on Earth; and other care perhaps May have diverted from continual watch Our great Forbidder, safe with all his Spies [ 815 ] About him. But to Adam in what sort Shall I appeer? shall I to him make known As yet my change, and give him to partake Full happiness with mee, or rather not, But keep the odds of Knowledge in my power [ 820 ] Without Copartner? so to add what wants In Femal Sex, the more to draw his Love, And render me more equal, and perhaps, A thing not undesireable, somtime Superior: for inferior who is free? [ 825 ] This may be well: but what if God have seen And Death ensue? then I shall be no more, And Adam wedded to another Eve, Shall live with her enjoying, I extinct; A death to think. Confirm’d then I resolve, [ 830 ] Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe: So dear I love him, that with him all deaths I could endure, without him live no life.

So saying, from the Tree her step she turnd, But first low Reverence don, as to the power [ 835 ] That dwelt within, whose presence had infus’d Into the plant sciential sap, deriv’d From Nectar, drink of Gods. Adam the while Waiting desirous her return, had wove Of choicest Flours a Garland to adorne [ 840 ] Her Tresses, and her rural labours crown, As Reapers oft are wont thir Harvest Queen. Great joy he promis’d to his thoughts, and new Solace in her return, so long delay’d; Yet oft his heart, divine of somthing ill, [ 845 ] Misgave him; hee the faultring measure felt; And forth to meet her went, the way she took That Morn when first they parted; by the Tree Of Knowledge he must pass, there he her met, Scarse from the Tree returning; in her hand [ 850 ] A bough of fairest fruit that downie smil’d, New gatherd, and ambrosial smell diffus’d. To him she hasted, in her face excuse Came Prologue, and Apologie to prompt, Which with bland words at will she thus addrest. [ 855 ]

Hast thou not wonderd, Adam, at my stay? Thee I have misst, and thought it long, depriv’d Thy presence, agonie of love till now Not felt, nor shall be twice, for never more Mean I to trie, what rash untri’d I sought, [ 860 ] The pain of absence from thy sight. But strange Hath bin the cause, and wonderful to heare: This Tree is not as we are told, a Tree Of danger tasted, nor to evil unknown Op’ning the way, but of Divine effect [ 865 ] To open Eyes, and make them Gods who taste; And hath bin tasted such: the Serpent wise, Or not restraind as wee, or not obeying, Hath eat’n of the fruit, and is become, Not dead, as we are threatn’d, but thenceforth [ 870 ] Endu’d with human voice and human sense, Reasoning to admiration, and with mee Perswasively hath so prevaild, that I Have also tasted, and have also found Th’ effects to correspond, opener mine Eyes [ 875 ] Dimm erst, dilated Spirits, ampler Heart, And growing up to Godhead; which for thee Chiefly I sought, without thee can despise. For bliss, as thou hast part, to me is bliss, Tedious, unshar’d with thee, and odious soon. [ 880 ] Thou therefore also taste, that equal Lot May joyne us, equal Joy, as equal Love; Least thou not tasting, different degree Disjoyne us, and I then too late renounce Deitie for thee, when Fate will not permit. [ 885 ]

Thus Eve with Countnance blithe her storie told; But in her Cheek distemper flushing glowd. On th’ other side, Adam, soon as he heard The fatal Trespass don by Eve, amaz’d, Astonied stood and Blank, while horror chill [ 890 ] Ran through his veins, and all his joynts relax’d; From his slack hand the Garland wreath’d for Eve Down drop’d, and all the faded Roses shed: Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at length First to himself he inward silence broke. [ 895 ]

O fairest of Creation, last and best Of all Gods works, Creature in whom excell’d Whatever can to sight or thought be formd, Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet! How art thou lost, how on a sudden lost, [ 900 ] Defac’t, deflourd, and now to Death devote? Rather how hast thou yeelded to transgress The strict forbiddance, how to violate The sacred Fruit forbidd’n! som cursed fraud Of Enemie hath beguil’d thee, yet unknown, [ 905 ] And mee with thee hath ruind, for with thee Certain my resolution is to Die; How can I live without thee, how forgoe Thy sweet Converse and Love so dearly joyn’d, To live again in these wilde Woods forlorn? [ 910 ] Should God create another Eve, and I Another Rib afford, yet loss of thee Would never from my heart; no no, I feel The Link of Nature draw me: Flesh of Flesh, Bone of my Bone thou art, and from thy State [ 915 ] Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.

So having said, as one from sad dismay Recomforted, and after thoughts disturbd Submitting to what seemd remediless, Thus in calm mood his Words to Eve he turnd. [ 920 ]

Bold deed thou hast presum’d, adventrous Eve And peril great provok’t, who thus hath dar’d Had it been onely coveting to Eye That sacred Fruit, sacred to abstinence, Much more to taste it under banne to touch. [ 925 ] But past who can recall, or don undoe? Not God Omnipotent, nor Fate, yet so Perhaps thou shalt not Die, perhaps the Fact Is not so hainous now, foretasted Fruit, Profan’d first by the Serpent, by him first [ 930 ] Made common and unhallowd ere our taste; Nor yet on him found deadly, he yet lives, Lives, as thou saidst, and gaines to live as Man Higher degree of Life, inducement strong To us, as likely tasting to attaine [ 935 ] Proportional ascent, which cannot be But to be Gods, or Angels Demi-gods. Nor can I think that God, Creator wise, Though threatning, will in earnest so destroy Us his prime Creatures, dignifi’d so high, [ 940 ] Set over all his Works, which in our Fall, For us created, needs with us must faile, Dependent made; so God shall uncreate, Be frustrate, do, undo, and labour loose, Not well conceav’d of God, who though his Power [ 945 ] Creation could repeate, yet would be loath Us to abolish, least the Adversary Triumph and say; Fickle their State whom God Most Favors, who can please him long; Mee first He ruind, now Mankind; whom will he next? [ 950 ] Matter of scorne, not to be given the Foe, However I with thee have fixt my Lot, Certain to undergoe like doom, if Death Consort with thee, Death is to mee as Life; So forcible within my heart I feel [ 955 ] The Bond of Nature draw me to my owne, My own in thee, for what thou art is mine; Our State cannot be severd, we are one, One Flesh; to loose thee were to loose my self.

So Adam, and thus Eve to him repli’d. [ 960 ] O glorious trial of exceeding Love, Illustrious evidence, example high! Ingaging me to emulate, but short Of thy perfection, how shall I attaine, Adam, from whose deare side I boast me sprung, [ 965 ] And gladly of our Union heare thee speak, One Heart, one Soul in both; whereof good prooff This day affords, declaring thee resolvd, Rather then Death or aught then Death more dread Shall separate us, linkt in Love so deare, [ 970 ] To undergoe with mee one Guilt, one Crime, If any be, of tasting this fair Fruit, Whose vertue, for of good still good proceeds, Direct, or by occasion hath presented This happie trial of thy Love, which else [ 975 ] So eminently never had bin known. Were it I thought Death menac’t would ensue This my attempt, I would sustain alone The worst, and not perswade thee, rather die Deserted, then oblige thee with a fact [ 980 ] Pernicious to thy Peace, chiefly assur’d Remarkably so late of thy so true, So faithful Love unequald; but I feel Farr otherwise th’ event, not Death, but Life Augmented, op’nd Eyes, new Hopes, new Joyes, [ 985 ] Taste so Divine, that what of sweet before Hath toucht my sense, flat seems to this, and harsh. On my experience, Adam, freely taste, And fear of Death deliver to the Windes.

So saying, she embrac’d him, and for joy [ 990 ] Tenderly wept, much won that he his Love Had so enobl’d, as of choice to incurr Divine displeasure for her sake, or Death. In recompence (for such compliance bad Such recompence best merits) from the bough [ 995 ] She gave him of that fair enticing Fruit With liberal hand: he scrupl’d not to eat Against his better knowledge, not deceav’d, But fondly overcome with Femal charm. Earth trembl’d from her entrails, as again [ 1000 ] In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan, Skie lowr’d, and muttering Thunder, som sad drops Wept at compleating of the mortal Sin Original; while Adam took no thought, Eating his fill, nor Eve to iterate [ 1005 ] Her former trespass fear’d, the more to soothe Him with her lov’d societie, that now As with new Wine intoxicated both They swim in mirth, and fansie that they feel Divinitie within them breeding wings [ 1010 ] Wherewith to scorne the Earth: but that false Fruit Farr other operation first displaid, Carnal desire enflaming, hee on Eve Began to cast lascivious Eyes, she him As wantonly repaid; in Lust they burne: [ 1015 ] Till Adam thus ‘gan Eve to dalliance move,

Eve, now I see thou art exact of taste, And elegant, of Sapience no small part, Since to each meaning savour we apply, And Palate call judicious; I the praise [ 1020 ] Yeild thee, so well this day thou hast purvey’d. Much pleasure we have lost, while we abstain’d From this delightful Fruit, nor known till now True relish, tasting; if such pleasure be In things to us forbidden, it might be wish’d, [ 1025 ] For this one Tree had bin forbidden ten. But come, so well refresh’t, now let us play, As meet is, after such delicious Fare; For never did thy Beautie since the day I saw thee first and wedded thee, adorn’d [ 1030 ] With all perfections, so enflame my sense With ardor to enjoy thee, fairer now Then ever, bountie of this vertuous Tree.

So said he, and forbore not glance or toy Of amorous intent, well understood [ 1035 ] Of Eve, whose Eye darted contagious Fire. Her hand he seis’d, and to a shadie bank, Thick overhead with verdant roof imbowr’d He led her nothing loath; Flours were the Couch, Pansies, and Violets, and Asphodel, [ 1040 ] And Hyacinth, Earths freshest softest lap. There they thir fill of Love and Loves disport Took largely, of thir mutual guilt the Seale, The solace of thir sin, till dewie sleep Oppress’d them, wearied with thir amorous play. [ 1045 ] Soon as the force of that fallacious Fruit, That with exhilerating vapour bland About thir spirits had plaid, and inmost powers Made erre, was now exhal’d, and grosser sleep Bred of unkindly fumes, with conscious dreams [ 1050 ] Encumberd, now had left them, up they rose As from unrest, and each the other viewing, Soon found thir Eyes how op’nd, and thir minds How dark’nd; innocence, that as a veile Had shadow’d them from knowing ill, was gon, [ 1055 ] Just confidence, and native righteousness And honour from about them, naked left To guiltie shame hee cover’d, but his Robe Uncover’d more, so rose the Danite strong Herculean Samson from the Harlot-lap [ 1060 ] Of Philistean Dalilah, and wak’d Shorn of his strength, They destitute and bare Of all thir vertue: silent, and in face Confounded long they sate, as struck’n mute, Till Adam, though not less then Eve abasht, [ 1065 ] At length gave utterance to these words constraind.

O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give eare To that false Worm, of whomsoever taught To counterfet Mans voice, true in our Fall, False in our promis’d Rising; since our Eyes [ 1070 ] Op’nd we find indeed, and find we know Both Good and Evil, Good lost, and Evil got, Bad Fruit of Knowledge, if this be to know, Which leaves us naked thus, of Honour void, Of Innocence, of Faith, of Puritie, [ 1075 ] Our wonted Ornaments now soild and staind, And in our Faces evident the signes Of foul concupiscence; whence evil store; Even shame, the last of evils; of the first Be sure then. How shall I behold the face [ 1080 ] Henceforth of God or Angel, earst with joy And rapture so oft beheld? those heav’nly shapes Will dazle now this earthly, with thir blaze Insufferably bright. O might I here In solitude live savage, in some glade [ 1085 ] Obscur’d, where highest Woods impenetrable To Starr or Sun-light, spread thir umbrage broad, And brown as Evening: Cover me ye Pines, Ye Cedars, with innumerable boughs Hide me, where I may never see them more. [ 1090 ] But let us now, as in bad plight, devise What best may for the present serve to hide The Parts of each from other, that seem most To shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen, Some Tree whose broad smooth Leaves together sowd, [ 1095 ] And girded on our loyns, may cover round Those middle parts, that this new commer, Shame, There sit not, and reproach us as unclean.

So counsel’d hee, and both together went Into the thickest Wood, there soon they chose [ 1100 ] The Figtree, not that kind for Fruit renown’d, But such as at this day to Indians known In Malabar or Decan spreds her Armes Braunching so broad and long, that in the ground The bended Twigs take root, and Daughters grow [ 1105 ] About the Mother Tree, a Pillard shade High overarch’t, and echoing Walks between; There oft the Indian Herdsman shunning heate Shelters in coole, and tends his pasturing Herds At Loopholes cut through thickest shade: Those Leaves [ 1110 ] They gatherd, broad as Amazonian Targe, And with what skill they had, together sowd, To gird thir waste, vain Covering if to hide Thir guilt and dreaded shame; O how unlike To that first naked Glorie. Such of late [ 1115 ] Columbus found th’ American so girt With featherd Cincture, naked else and wilde Among the Trees on Iles and woodie Shores. Thus fenc’t, and as they thought, thir shame in part Coverd, but not at rest or ease of Mind, [ 1120 ] They sate them down to weep, nor onely Teares Raind at thir Eyes, but high Winds worse within Began to rise, high Passions, Anger, Hate, Mistrust, Suspicion, Discord, and shook sore Thir inward State of Mind, calm Region once [ 1125 ] And full of Peace, now tost and turbulent: For Understanding rul’d not, and the Will Heard not her lore, both in subjection now To sensual Appetite, who from beneathe Usurping over sovran Reason claimd [ 1130 ] Superior sway: From thus distemperd brest, Adam, estrang’d in look and alterd stile, Speech intermitted thus to Eve renewd.

Would thou hadst heark’nd to my words, and stai’d With me, as I besought thee, when that strange [ 1135 ] Desire of wandring this unhappie Morn, I know not whence possessd thee; we had then Remaind still happie, not as now, despoild Of all our good, sham’d, naked, miserable. Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approve [ 1140 ] The Faith they owe; when earnestly they seek Such proof, conclude, they then begin to faile.

To whom soon mov’d with touch of blame thus Eve. What words have past thy Lips, Adam severe, Imput’st thou that to my default, or will [ 1145 ] Of wandring, as thou call’st it, which who knows But might as ill have happ’nd thou being by, Or to thy self perhaps: hadst thou been there, Or here th’ attempt, thou couldst not have discernd Fraud in the Serpent, speaking as he spake; [ 1150 ] No ground of enmitie between us known, Why hee should mean me ill, or seek to harme. Was I to have never parted from thy side? As good have grown there still a liveless Rib. Being as I am, why didst not thou the Head [ 1155 ] Command me absolutely not to go, Going into such danger as thou saidst? Too facil then thou didst not much gainsay, Nay, didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss. Hadst thou bin firm and fixt in thy dissent, [ 1160 ] Neither had I transgress’d, nor thou with mee.

To whom then first incenst Adam repli’d, Is this the Love, is this the recompence Of mine to thee, ingrateful Eve, exprest Immutable when thou wert lost, not I, [ 1165 ] Who might have liv’d and joyd immortal bliss, Yet willingly chose rather Death with thee: And am I now upbraided, as the cause Of thy transgressing? not enough severe, It seems, in thy restraint: what could I more? [ 1170 ] I warn’d thee, I admonish’d thee, foretold The danger, and the lurking Enemie That lay in wait; beyond this had bin force, And force upon free Will hath here no place. But confidence then bore thee on, secure [ 1175 ] Either to meet no danger, or to finde Matter of glorious trial; and perhaps I also err’d in overmuch admiring What seemd in thee so perfet, that I thought No evil durst attempt thee, but I rue [ 1180 ] That errour now, which is become my crime, And thou th’ accuser. Thus it shall befall Him who to worth in Women overtrusting Lets her Will rule; restraint she will not brook, And left to her self, if evil thence ensue, [ 1185 ] Shee first his weak indulgence will accuse.

Thus they in mutual accusation spent The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning, And of thir vain contest appeer’d no end.

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Milton, John.  Paradise Lost , Project Gutenberg, 1991, is licensed under no known copyright.


An Open Companion to Early British Literature Copyright © 2019 by Allegra Villarreal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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