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Pure: and commands to some, leaves free to all.
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 proprie'y
In Paradise! of all things common else.
By thee adulterous lust was driven from men,
Among the bestial herds to range; 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 undefil'd, and chaste, pronounc'd,
Present or past; as saints and patriarchs us'd.
Here Love his golden shafts employs, here lights.
His constant lamp; and waves his purple wings
Reigns bere, and revels: not in the bought smile-
Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendear'd;
Casual fruition! nor in court amours,
Mix'd dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball,
Or serenade, which the starv'd lover sings
To his proud fair best quitted with disdain.
These, lull'd by nightingales embracing slept;
And on their naked limbs the flowery roof
Shower'd roses which the morn repair'd. Sleep on
Bless'd pair! and O yet happiest, if ye seek
No happier state, and know to know no more.
Now bad night measur'd with her shadowy cone
Half-way up hill this vast sublunar vault;
And from their ivory port the cherubim
Forth issuing at th' accustom'd hour, stood arm'd
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." As flame they part, Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear. From these, two strong and subtle spirits he call'd, That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge:
"Ithuriel, and Zephon! with winged speed
Search thro' this garden, leave unsearch'd no nook ;
But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge
Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm.
This evening from the sun's decline arriv'd,
Who tells of some infernal spirit, seen
Hitherward bent (who could have thought?) escap❜d
The bars of hell; on errand bad, no doubt :
Such, where ye find, seize fast, and hither bring.”
So saying, on he led his radiant files,
Dazzling the moon: these to the bower direct,
In search of whom they sought 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
Th' animal spirits, that from pure blood arise,
Like gentle breaths from rivers pure; thence raise
At least distemper'd, discontented thoughts,
Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,
Blown up with high conceits engend'ring pride.
Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
Touch'd lightly; for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness; up he starts,
Discover'd and surpris'd. As when a spark
Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid
Fit for the tun, some magazine to store
Against a rumour'd war, the smutty grain
With sudden blaze diffus'd, inflames the air;
So started up in his own shape the fiend.
Back stepp'd those two fair angels, half amaz'd,
So sudden to behold the grisly king;
Yet thus, unmov'd with fear accost him soon:
"Which of those rebel spirits, adjudg'd to hell
Com'st thou, escap'd thy prison? and transform'd
Why sat'st thou, like an enemy in wait,
Here watching at the head of these that sleep?"
"Know ye not then," said Satan, fill'd with scorn,
"Know ye not me? 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 ?"
To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with
"Think not, revolted spirit thy shape the same,
Or undiminish'd brightness, to be known
As when thou stood'st in heaven, upright and pure:
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."
So spake the cherub; and his grave rebuke,
Severe in youthful beauty, added grace
Invincible: abash'd the Devil stood,
And felt how awful goodness is, and saw
Virtue' in her shape how lovely; saw, and pin'd
His loss: but chiefly to find here observ'd
His lustre visibly impair'd; yet seem'd
"If I must contend," said he, "Best with the best, the sender not the sent, Or all at once; more glory will be won, Or less be lost." "Thy fear," said Zephon bold, “Will save us trial, what the least can do Single against thee wicked, and thence weak." The fiend replied not, overcome with rage; But like a proud steed rein'd, went haughty on, Champing bis iron curb to strive or fly He held it vain; awe from above had quell'd His heart, not else dismay'd. Now drew they nigh The western point, where those half-rounding guards Just met, and closing stood in squadron join'd, Awaiting next command.
To whom their chief, Gabriel, from the front thus call'd aloud: "O friends, I hear the tread of nimble feet Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern
Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade,
And with them comes a third of regal port,
But faded splendour wan? who, by his gait
And fierce demeanour, seems the prince of hell,
Not likely to part hence without contest?
Stand firm, for in his look defiance lowers."
He scarce had ended, when those two approach'd, And brief related whom they brought, where found, How busied, in what form and posture couch'd.
To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake : "Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescrib'd To thy transgressions, and disturb'd 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; Employ'd it seems to violate sleep, and those Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss?"
To whom thus Satan with contemptuous brow: "Gabriel, thou hadst in heaven th' esteem of wise, And such I held thee; but this question ask'd
Puts me in doubt, Lives there, who loves his pain? Who would not, finding way, break loose from hell, Though thither doom'd? Thou wouldst thyself, no doubt,
And boldly venture to whatever place
Farthest from pain, where thou might'st hope to change
Torment with ease, and soonest recompense
Dole with delight, which in this place I sought;
To thee no reason, who know'st only good,
But evil hast not tried; and wilt object
His will who bound us? let him surer bar
His iron gates, if he intends our stay
In that dark durance: thus much what was ask'd.
The rest is true, they found me where they say;
But that implies not violence or harm."
Thus he in scorn. The warlike angel mov'd,
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 'scap'd,
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither,
Unlicens'd, from his bounds in hell prescrib'd;
So wise he judges it to fly from pain
However, and to 'scape his punishment.
So judge thou still, presumptuous, till the wrath,
Which thou incurr'st by flying, meet thy flight
Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to hell,
Which taught thee yet no better, that no pain
Can equal anger infinite provok’d.
But wherefore thou alone? wherefore with thee
Came not all hell broke loose? is pain to them
Less pain, less to be fled? or thou than they
Less hardy to endure? Courageous chief,
The first in flight from pain, badst thou alleg'd
To thy deserted host this cause of flight,
Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive."
To which the fiend thus answer'd, frowning stern:
"Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain,
Insulting angel: well thou know'st I stood
Thy fiercest when in battle to thy aid
The blasting vollied thunder made all speed,
And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.
But still thy words at random, as before,
Argue thy inexperience, what behooves,
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 were to serve their Lord
High up in heaven, with songs to hymn his throne,
And practis'd distances, to cringe, not fight."
To whom the warrior angel soon replied;