Paradise Lost: The Fourth Book. John Milton. Complete Poems. The Harvard Classics
That day I oft remember, when from sleep I first awaked, and found myself reposed, Under a shade, on 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. Till I espied thee, fair, indeed, and tall, Under a platan; yet methought less fair, Less winning soft, less amiably mild, That that smooth watery image. Whom thou fliest, of him thou art, His flesh, his bone, to give thee being I lent Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart, Substantial life, to have thee by my side Henceforth an individual solace dear: Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim My other half.
He, in delight Both of her beauty and submissive charms, Smiled with superior love, as Jupiter On Juno smiles when he impregns the clouds That shed May flowers, and pressed her matron lip With kisses pure. Aside the Devil turned For envy; yet with jealous leer malign Eyed them askance, and to himself thus plained:— "Sight hateful, sight tormenting! Yet let me not forget what I have gained From their own mouths.
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, and to reject Envious commands, invented with design To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt Equal with gods. Aspiring to be such, They taste and die: what likelier can ensue? But first with narrow search I must walk round This garden, and no corner leave unspied; A chance but chance may lead where I may meet Some wandering Spirit of Heaven, by fountain-side, Or in thick shade retired, from him to draw What further would be learned.
Live while ye may, Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return, Short pleasures; for long woes are to succeed! Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heaven With Earth and Ocean meets, the setting Sun Slowly descended, and with right aspect Against the eastern gate of Paradise Levelled his evening rays. It was a rock Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds, Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent Accessible from Earth, one entrance high; The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung Still as it rose, impossible to climb.
Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat, Chief of the angelic guards, awaiting night; About him exercised heroic games The unarmed youth of Heaven; but nigh at hand Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears, Hung high, with diamond flaming and with gold. Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fired Impress the air, and shews the mariner From what point of his compass to beware Impetuous winds, He thus began in haste:— "Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given Charge and strict watch that to this happy place No evil thing approach or enter in.
I described his way Bent all on speed, and marked his aerie gait, But in the mount that lies from Eden north, Where he first lighted, soon discerned his looks Alien from Heaven, with passions foul obscured.
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Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade Lost sight of him. One of the banished crew, I fear, hath ventured from the Deep, to raise New troubles; him thy care must be to find. In at this gate none pass The vigilance here placed, but such as come Well known from Heaven; since meridian hour No creature thence.
Now came still Evening on, and Twilight gray Had in her sober livery all things clad; Silence accompanied; for beast and bird, They to their grassy couch, these to their nests Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale. She all night longer her amorous descant sung: Silence was pleased. Other creatures all day long Rove idle, unimployed, and less need rest; Man hath his daily work of body or mind Appointed, which declares his dignity, And the regard of Heaven on all his ways; While other animals unactive range, And of their doings God takes no account.
To—morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east With first approach of light, we must be risen, And at our pleasant labour, to reform Yon flowery arbours, yonder alleys green, Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown, That mock our scant manuring, and require More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth. Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums, That lie bestrown, unsightly and unsmooth, Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease. Meanwhile, as Nature wills, Night bids us rest. With thee conversing, I forget all time, All seasons, and their change; all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of Morn, her rising sweet, With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the Sun, When first on this delightful land he spreads His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower, Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertil Earth After soft showers; and sweet the coming on Of grateful Evening mild; then silent Night, With this her solemn bird, and this fair Moon, And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train: But neither breath of Morn, when she ascends With charm of earliest birds; nor rising Sun On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower, Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after showers; Nor grateful Evening mild; nor silent Night, With her solemn bird; nor walk by moon, Or glittering star-light, without thee is sweet.
But wherefore all night long shine these? These then, though unbeheld in deep of night, Shine not in vain. Nor think, though men were none, That Heaven would want spectators, God want praise. Millions of spiritual creatures walk the Earth Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep: All these with ceaseless praise his works behold Both day and night. Oft in bands While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk, With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds In full harmonic number joined, their songs Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven.
The roof Of thickest covert was inwoven shade, Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew Of firm and fragrant leaf; on either side Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub, Fenced up the verdant wall; each beauteous flower, Iris all hues, roses, and gessamin, Reared high their flourished heads between, and wrought Mosaic; under foot the violet, Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay Broidered the ground, more coloured than with stone Of costliest emblem. Other creature here, Beast, bird, insect, or worm, durst enter none; Such was their awe of Man. In shadier bower More sacred and sequestered, though but feigned, Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor Nymph For Faunus haunted.
But thou hast promised from us two a race To fill the Earth, who shall with us extol Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake, And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep.
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Our Maker bids increase; who bids abstain But our destroyer, foe to God and Man? Hail, wedded Love, mysterious law, true source Of human offspring, sole propriety In Paradise of all things common else! By thee adulterous lust was driven from men Among the bestial herds to raunge; by thee, Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure, Relations dear, and all the charities Of father, son, and brother, first were known. Far be it that I should write thee sin or blame, Or think thee unbefitting holiest place, Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets, Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced, Present, or past, as saints and patriarchs used.
Here Love his golden shafts imploys, here lights His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings, Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile Of harlots—loveless, joyless, unindeared, Casual fruition; nor in court amours, Mixed dance, or wanton mask, or midnight bal, Or serenate, which the starved lover sings To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.
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These, lulled by nightingales, imbracing slept, And on their naked limbs the flowery roof Showered roses, which the morn repaired. Sleep on, Blest pair! Now had Night measured with her shadowy cone Half-way up-hill this vast sublunar vault, And from their ivory port the Cherubim Forth issuing, at the accustomed hour, stood armed To their night-watches in warlike parade; When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake:— "Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south With strictest watch; these other wheel the north: Our circuit meets full west.
From these, two strong and subtle Spirits he called That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge:— "Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed Search through this Garden; leave unsearched no nook; But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge, Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm. Him there they found Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve, Assaying by his devilish art to reach The organs of her fancy, and with them forge Illusions as he list, phantasms and dreams; Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint The animal spirits, that from pure blood arise Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise, At least distempered, discontented thoughts, Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires, Blown up with high conceits ingendering pride.
Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure Touch of celestial temper, but returns Of force to its own likeness. Up he starts, Discovered and surprised. As, when a spark Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid Fit for the tun, some magazine to store Against a rumoured war, the smutty grain, With sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air; So started up, in his own shape, the Fiend. Ye knew me once no mate For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar!
Not to know me argues yourselves unknown, The lowest of your throng; or, if ye know, Why ask ye, and superfluous begin Your message, like to end as much in vain?
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That glory then, when thou no more wast good, Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now Thy sin and place of doom obscure and foul. But come; for thou, be sure, shalt give account To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep This place inviolable, and these from harm. Abashed the Devil stood, And felt how awful goodness is, and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely—saw, and pined His loss; but chiefly to find here observed His lustre visibly impaired; yet seemed Undaunted. To strive or fly He held it vain; awe from above had quelled His heart, not else dismayed. Now drew they nigh The western point, where those half—rounding guards Just met, and, closing, stood in squadron joined, Awaiting next command.
Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours. To whom, with stern regard, thus Gabriel spake:— "Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescribed To thy transgressions, and disturbed the charge Of others, who approve not to transgress By thy example, but have power and right To question thy bold entrance on this place; Imployed, it seems to violate sleep, and those Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss?
Lives there who loves his pain? Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell, Though thither doomed? And wilt object His will who bound us?
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Let him surer bar His iron gates, if he intends our stay In that dark durance. Thus much what was asked: The rest is true; they found me where they say; But that implies not violence or harm. The warlike Angel moved, Disdainfully half smiling, thus replied:— "O loss of one in Heaven to judge of wise, Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew, And now returns him from his prison scaped, Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise Or not who ask what boldness brought him hither Unlicensed from his bounds in Hell prescribed!
So wise he judges it to fly from pain However, and to scape his punishment!
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But wherefore thou alone? Wherefore with thee Came not all Hell broke loose? Is pain to them Less pain, less to be fled? Courageous chief, The first in flight from pain, hadst thou alleged To thy deserted host this cause of flight, Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive. But still thy words at random, as before, Argue thy inexperience what behoves, From hard assays and ill successes past, A faithful leader—not to hazard all Through ways of danger by himself untried.
I, therefore, I alone, first undertook To wing the desolate Abyss, and spy This new-created World, whereof in Hell Fame is not silent, here in hope to find Better abode, and my afflicted Powers To settle here on Earth, or in mid Air; Though for possession put to try once more What thou and thy gay legions dare against; Whose easier business where to serve their Lord High up in Heaven, with songs to hymn his throne, And practiced distances to cringe, not fight.
O name, O sacred name of faithfulness profaned!
Faithful to whom? Army of fiends, fit body to fit head! Was this your discipline and faith ingaged, Your military obedience, to dissolve Allegiance to the acknowledged Power Supreme? But mark what I areed thee now: Avaunt! If from this hour Within these hallowed limits thou appear, Back to the Infernal Pit I drag thee chained, And seal thee so as henceforth not to scorn The facile gates of Hell too slightly barred. On the other side, Satan, alarmed, Collecting all his might, dilated stood, Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved: His stature reached the sky, and on his crest Sat Horror plumed; nor wanted in his grasp What seemed both spear and shield.
For proof look up, And read thy lot in yon celestial sign, Where thou art weighed, and shown how light, how weak If thou resist. This poem is in the public domain.
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