Home  »  Complete Poems Written in English  »  Paradise Lost: The Fifth Book

John Milton. (1608–1674). Complete Poems.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


Paradise Lost: The Fifth Book

THE ARGUMENT.—Morning approached, Eve relates to Adam her troublesome dream; he likes it not, yet comforts her: they come forth to their day labours: their morning hymn at the door of their bower. God, to render Man inexcusable, sends Raphael to admonish him of his obedience, of his free estate, of his enemy near at hand, who he is, and why his enemy, and whatever else may avail Adam to know. Raphael comes down to Paradise; his appearance described; his coming discerned by Adam afar off, sitting at the door of his bower; he goes out to meet him, brings him to his lodge, entertains him with the choicest fruits of Paradise, got together by Eve; their discourse at table. Raphael performs his massage, minds Adam of his state and of his enemy; relates, at Adam’s request, who that enemy is, and how he came to be so, beginning from his first revolt in Heaven, and the occasion thereof; how he drew his legions after him to the parts of the North, and there incited them to rebel with him, persuading all but only Abdiel, a seraph, who in argument dissuades and opposes him, then forsakes him.

NOW Morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime

Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl,

When Adam waked, so customed; for his sleep

Was aerie light, from pure digestion bred,

And temperate vapours bland, which the only sound

Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora’s fan,

Lightly dispersed, and the shrill matin song

Of birds on every bough. So much the more

His wonder was to find unwakened Eve,

With tresses discomposed, and glowing cheek,

As through unquiet rest. He, on his side

Leaning half raised, with looks of cordial love

Hung over her enamoured, and beheld

Beauty which, whether waking or asleep,

Shot forth peculiar graces; then, with voice

Mild as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes,

Her hand soft touching, whispered thus:—“Awake,

My fairest, my espoused, my latest found,

Heaven’s last, best gift, my ever-new delight!

Awake! the morning shines, and the fresh field

Calls us; we lose the prime to mark how spring

Our tended plants, how blows the citron grove,

What drops the myrrh, and what the balmy reed,

How Nature paints her colours, how the bee

Sits on the bloom extracting liquid sweet.”

Such whispering waked her, but with startled eye

On Adam; whom imbracing, thus she spake:—

“O sole in whom my thoughts find all repose,

My glory, my perfection! glad I see

Thy face, and morn returned; for I this night

(Such night till this I never passed) have dreamed,

If dreamed, not, as I oft am wont, of thee,

Works of day past, or morrow’s next design;

But of offence and trouble, which my mind

Knew never till this irksome night. Methought

Close at mine ear one called me forth to walk

With gentle voice; I thought it thine. It said,

‘Why sleep’st thou, Eve? now is the pleasant time,

The cool, the silent, save where silence yields

To the night-warbling bird, that now awake

Tunes sweetest his love-laboured song; now reigns

Full-orbed the moon, and, with more pleasing light,

Shadowy sets off the face of things—in vain,

If none regard. Heaven wakes with all his eyes;

Whom to behold but thee, Nature’s desire,

In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment

Attracted by thy beauty still to gaze?

I rose as at thy call, but found thee not:

To find thee I directed then my walk;

And on, methought, alone I passed through ways

That brought me on a sudden to the Tree

Of interdicted Knowledge. Fair it seemed,

Much fairer to my fancy than by day;

And, as I wondering looked, beside it stood

One shaped and winged like one of those from Heaven

By us oft seen: his dewy locks distilled

Ambrosia. On that Tree he also gazed;

And, ‘O fair plant,’ said he, ‘with fruit surcharged,

Deigns none to ease thy load, and taste thy sweet,

Nor God nor Man? Is knowledge so despised?

Or envy, or what reserve forbids to taste?

Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold

Longer thy offered good, why else set here?

This said, he paused not, but with ventrous arm

He plucked, he tasted. Me damp horror chilled

At such bold words vouched with a deed so bold;

But he thus, overjoyed: ‘O fruit divine,

Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet thus cropt,

Forbidden here, it seems, as only fit

For gods, yet able to make gods of men!

And why not gods of men, since good, the more

Communicated, more abundant grows,

The author not impaired, but honoured more?

Here, happy creature, fair angelic Eve!

Partake thou also: happy though thou art,

Happier thou may’st be, worthier canst not be.

Taste this, and be henceforth among the gods

Thyself a goddess; not to Earth confined,

But sometimes in the Air; as we; sometimes

Ascend to Heaven, by merit thine, and see

What life the gods live there, and such live thou.’

So saying, he drew nigh, and to me held,

Even to my mouth of that same fruit held part

Which he had plucked: the pleasant savoury smell

So quickened appetite that I, methought,

Could not but taste. Forthwith up to the clouds

With him I flew, and underneath beheld

The Earth outstretched immense, a prospect wide

And various. Wondering at my flight and change

To this high exaltation, suddenly

My guide was gone, and I, methought, sunk down,

And fell asleep; but, O, how glad I waked

To find this but a dream!” Thus Eve her night

Related, and thus Adam answered sad:—

“Best image of myself, and dearer half,

The trouble of thy thoughts this night in sleep

Affects me equally; nor can I like

This uncouth dream—of evil sprung, I fear;

Yet evil whence? In thee can harbour none,

Created pure. But know that in the soul

Are many lesser faculties, that serve

Reason as chief. Among these Fancy next

Her office holds; of all external things,

Which the five watchful senses represent,

She forms imaginations, aerie shapes,

Which Reason, joining or disjoining, frames

All what we affirm or what deny, and call

Our knowledge or opinion; then retires

Into her private cell when Nature rests.

Oft, in her absence, mimic Fancy wakes

To imitate her; but, misjoining shapes,

Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams,

Ill matching words and deeds long past or late.

Some such resemblances, methinks, I find

Of our last evening’s talk in this thy dream,

But with addition strange. Yet be not sad:

Evil into the mind of God or Man

May come and go, so unapproved, and leave

No spot or blame behind; which gives me hope

That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream

Waking thou never wilt consent to do.

Be not disheartened, then, nor cloud those looks,

That wont to be more cheerful and serene

Than when fair Morning first smiles on the world;

And let us to our fresh imployments rise

Among the groves, the fountains, and the flowers,

That open now their choicest bosomed smells,

Reserved from night, and kept for thee in store.”

So cheered he his fair spouse; and she was cheered,

But silently a gentle tear let fall

From either eye, and wiped them with her hair:

Two other precious drops that ready stood,

Each in their crystal sluice, he, ere they fell,

Kissed as the gracious signs of sweet remorse

And pious awe, that feared to have offended.

So all was cleared, and to the field they haste.

But first, from under shady arborous roof

Soon as they forth were come to open sight

Of day-spring, and the Sun—who, scarce uprisen,

With wheels yet hovering o’er the ocean-brim,

Shot parallel to the Earth his dewy ray,

Discovering in wide lantskip all the east

Of Paradise and Eden’s happy plains—

Lowly they bowed, adoring, and began

Their orisons, each morning duly paid

In various style; for neither various style

Nor holy rapture wanted they to praise

Their Maker, in fit strains pronounced, or sung

Unmeditated; such prompt eloquence

Flowed from their lips, in prose or numerous verse,

More tuneable than needed lute or harp

To add more sweetness. And they thus began:—

“These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,

Almighty! thine this universal frame,

Thus wondrous fair: Thyself how wondrous then!

Unspeakable! who sitt’st above these heavens

To us invisible, or dimly seen

In these thy lowest works; yet these declare

Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.

Speak, ye who best can tell, ye Sons of Light,

Angels—for ye behold him, and with songs

And choral symphonies, day without night,

Circle his throne rejoicing—ye in Heaven;

On Earth join, all ye creatures, to extol

Him first, him last, him midst, and without end.

Fairest of Stars, last in the train of Night,

If better thou belong not to the Dawn,

Sure pledge of day, that crown’st the smiling morn

With thy bright circlet, praise him in thy sphere

While day arises, that sweet hour of prime.

Thou Sun, of this great World both eye and soul,

Acknowledge him thy Greater; sound his praise

In thy eternal course, both when thou climb’st,

And when high noon hast gained, and when thou fall’st.

Moon, that now meet’st the orient Sun, now fliest,

With the fixed Stars, fixed in their orb that flies;

And ye five other wandering Fires, that move

In mystic dance, not without song, resound

His praise who out of Darkness called up Light.

Air, and ye Elements, the eldest birth

Of Nature’s womb, that in quaternion run

Perpetual circle, multiform, and mix

And nourish all things, let your ceaseless change

Vary to our great Maker still new praise.

Ye Mists and Exhalations, that now rise

From hill or steaming lake, dusky or gray,

Till the sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold,

In honour to the World’s great Author rise;

Whether to deck with clouds the uncoloured sky,

Or wet the thirsty earth with falling showers,

Rising or falling, still advance his praise.

His praise, ye Winds, that from four quarters blow,

Breathe soft or loud; and wave your tops, ye Pines,

With every Plant, in sign of worship wave.

Fountains, and ye, that warble, as ye flow,

Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise.

Join voices, all ye living Souls. Ye Birds,

That, singing, up to Heaven-gate ascend,

Bear on your wings and in your notes his praise.

Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk

The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep,

Witness if I be silent, morn or even,

To hill or valley, fountain, or fresh shade,

Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise.

Hail, universal Lord! Be bounteous still

To give us only good; and, if the night

Have gathered aught of evil, or concealed,

Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark.”

So prayed they innocent, and to their thoughts

Firm peace recovered soon, and wonted calm.

On to their morning’s rural work they haste,

Among sweet dews and flowers, where any row

Of fruit-trees, over-woody, reached too far

Their pampered boughs, and needed hands to check

Fruitless imbraces; or they led the vine

To wed her elm; she, spoused, about him twines

Her marriageable arms, and with her brings

Her dower, the adopted clusters, to adorn

His barren leaves. Them thus imployed beheld

With pity Heaven’s high King, and to him called

Raphael, the sociable Spirit, that deigned

To travel with Tobias, and secured

His marriage with the seven-times-wedded maid.

“Raphael,” said he, “thou hear’st what stir on Earth

Satan, from Hell scaped through the darksome Gulf,

Hath raised in Paradise, and how disturbed

This night the human pair; now he designs

In them at once to ruin all mankind.

Go, therefore; half this day, as friend with friend,

Converse with Adam, in what bower or shade

Thou find’st him from the heat of noon retired

To respite his day-labour with repast

Or with repose; and such discourse bring on

As may advise him of his happy state—

Happiness in his power left free to will,

Left to his own free will, his will though free

Yet mutable. Whence warn him to beware

He swerve not, too secure: tell him withal

His danger, and from whom; what enemy,

Late fallen himself from Heaven, is plotting now

The fall of others from like state of bliss.

By violence? no, for that shall be withstood;

But by deceit and lies. This let him know,

Lest, wilfully transgressing, he pretend

Surprisal, unadmonished, unforewarned.”

So spake the Eternal Father, and fulfilled

All justice. Nor delayed the winged Saint

After his charge received; but from among

Thousand celestial Ardours, where he stood

Veiled with his gorgeous wings, upspringing light,

Flew through the midst of Heaven. The angelic quires

On each hand parting, to his speed gave way

Through all the empyreal road, till, at the gate

Of Heaven arrived, the gate self-opened wide,

On golden hinges turning, as by work

Divine the sovran Architect had framed.

From hence—no cloud or, to obstruct his sight,

Star interposed, however small—he sees,

Not unconform to other shining globes,

Earth, and the Garden of God, with cedars crowned

Above all hills; as when by night the glass

Of Galileo, less assured, observes

Imagined lands and regions in the Moon;

Or pilot from amidst the Cyclades

Delos or Samos first appearing kens,

A cloudy spot. Down thither prone in flight

He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky

Sails between worlds and worlds, with steady wing

Now on the polar winds; then with quick fan

Winnows the buxom air, till, within soar

Of towering eagles, to all the fowls he seems

A phœnix, gazed by all, as that sole bird,

When, to enshrine his relics in the Sun’s

Bright temple, to Ægyptian Thebes he flies.

At once on the eastern cliff of Paradise

He lights, and to his proper shape returns,

A Seraph winged. Six wings he wore, to shade

His lineaments divine: the pair that clad

Each shoulder broad came mantling o’er his breast

With regal ornament; the middle pair

Girt like a starry zone his waist, and round

Skirted his loins and thighs with downy gold

And colours dipt in heaven; the third his feet

Shadowed from either heel with feathered mail,

Sky-tinctured grain. Like Maia’s son he stood,

And shook his plumes, that heavenly fragrance filled

The circuit wide. Straight knew him all the bands

Of Angels under watch, and to his state

And to his message high in honour rise;

For on some message high they guessed him bound.

Their glittering tents he passed, and now is come

Into the blissful field, through groves of myrrh,

And flowering odours, cassia, nard, and balm,

A wilderness of sweets; for Nature here

Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will

Her virgin fancies, pouring forth more sweet,

Wild above rule or art, enormous bliss.

Him, through the spicy forest onward come,

Adam discerned, as in the door he sat

Of his cool bower, while now the mounted Sun

Shot down direct his fervid rays, to warm

Earth’s inmost womb, more warmth than Adam needs’

And Eve, within, due at her hour, prepared

For dinner savoury fruits, of taste to please

True appetite, and not disrelish thirst

Of nectarous draughts between, from milky stream,

Berry or grape: to whom thus Adam called:—

“Haste hither, Eve, and, worth thy sight, behold

Eastward among those trees what glorious Shape

Comes this way moving; seems another morn

Risen on mid-noon. Some great behest from Heaven

To us perhaps he brings, and will voutsafe

This day to be our guest. But go with speed,

And what thy stores contain bring forth, and pour

Abundance fit to honour and receive

Our heavenly stranger; well may we afford

Our givers their own gifts, and large bestow

From large bestowed, where Nature multiplies

Her fertile growth, and by disburdening grows

More fruitful; which instructs us not to spare.”

To whom thus Eve:—“Adam, Earth’s hallowed mould,

Of God inspired, small store will serve where store,

All seasons, ripe for use hangs on the stalk;

Save what, by frugal storing, firmness gains

To nourish, and superfluous moist consumes.

But I will haste, and from each bough and brake,

Each plant and juiciest gourd, will pluck such choice

To entertain our Angel-guest as he,

Beholding, shall confess that here on Earth

God hath dispensed his bounties as in Heaven.”

So saying, with dispatchful looks in haste

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:

Bestirs her then, and from each tender stalk

Whatever Earth, all-bearing mother, yields

In India East or West, or middle shore

In Pontus or the Punic coast, or where

Alcinous reigned, fruit of all kinds, in coat

Rough or smooth-rined, or bearded husk, or shell,

She gathers, tribute large, and on the board

Heaps with unsparing hand. For drink the grape

She crushes, inoffensive must, and meaths

From many a berry, and from sweet kernels pressed

She tempers dulcet creams—nor those to hold

Wants her fit vessels pure; then strews the ground

With rose and odours from the shrub unfumed.

Meanwhile our primitive great Sire, to meet

His godlike guest, walks forth, without more train

Accompanied than with his own complete

Perfections; in himself was all his state,

More solemn than the tedious pomp that waits

On princes, when their rich retin’ue long

Of horses led and grooms besmeared with gold

Dazzles the crowd and sets them all agape.

Nearer his presence, Adam, though not awed,

Yet with submiss approach and reverence meek,

As to a superior nature, bowing low,

Thus said:—“Native of Heaven (for other place

None can than Heaven such glorious Shape contain),

Since, by descending from the Thrones above,

Those happy places thou hadst deigned a while

To want, and honour these, voutsafe with us,

Two only, who yet by sovran gift possess

This spacious ground, in yonder shady bower

To rest, and what the Garden choicest bears

To sit and taste, till this meridian heat

Be over, and the sun more cool decline.”

Whom thus the angelic Virtue answered mild:—

“Adam, I therefore came; nor art thou such

Created, or such place hast here to dwell,

As may not oft invite, though Spirits of Heaven,

To visit thee. Lead on, then, where thy bower

O’ershades; for these mid-hours, till evening rise,

I have at will. “So to the sylvan lodge

They came, that like Pomona’s arbour smiled,

With flowerets decked and fragrant smells. But Eve,

Undecked, save with herself, more lovely fair

Than wood-nymph, or the fairest goddess feigned

Of three that in Mount Ida naked strove,

Stood to entertain her guest from Heaven; no veil

She needed, virtue-proof; no thought infirm

Altered her cheek. On whom the Angel “Hail!”

Bestowed—the holy salutation used

Long after to blest Mary, second Eve:—

“Hail! Mother of mankind, whose fruitful womb

Shall fill the world more numerous with thy sons

Than with these various fruits the trees of God

Have heaped this table!” Raised of grassy turf

Their table was, and mossy seats had round,

And on her ample square, from side to side,

All Autumn piled, though Spring and Autumn here

Danced hand-in-hand. A while discourse they hold—

No fear lest dinner cool—when thus began

Our Author:—“Heavenly Stranger, please to taste

These bounties, which our Nourisher, from whom

All perfet good, unmeasured-out, descends.

To us for food and for delight hath caused

The Earth to yield: unsavoury food, perhaps,

To Spiritual Natures; only this I know,

That one Celestial Father gives to all.”

To whom the Angel:—“Therefore, what he gives

(Whose praise be ever sung) to Man, in part

Spiritual, may of purest Spirits be found

No ingrateful food: and food alike those pure

Intelligential substances require

As doth your Rational; and both contain

Within them every lower faculty

Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste,

Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,

And corporeal to incorporeal turn.

For know, whatever was created needs

To be sustained and fed. Of Elements

The grosser feeds the purer: Earth the Sea;

Earth and the Sea feed Air; the Air those Fires

Ethereal, and, as lowest, first the Moon;

Whence in her visage round those spots, unpurged,

Vapours not yet into her substance turned.

Nor doth the Moon no nourishment exhale

From her moist continent to higher Orbs.

The Sun, that light imparts to all, receives

From all his alimental recompense

In humid exhalations, and at even

Sups with the Ocean. Though in Heaven the trees

Of life ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines

Yield nectar—though from off the boughs each morn

We brush mellifluous dews and find the ground

Covered with pearly grain—yet God hath here

Varied his bounty so with new delights

As may compare with Heaven; and to taste

Think not I shall be nice.” So down they sat,

And to their viands fell; nor seemingly

The Angel, nor in mist—the common gloss

Of theologians—but with keen dispatch

Of real hunger, and concoctive heat

To transubstantiate: what redounds transpires

Through Spirits with ease; nor wonder, if by fire

Of sooty coal the Empiric Alchimist

Can turn, or holds it possible to turn,

Metals of drossiest ore to perfet gold,

As from the mine. Meanwhile at table Eve

Ministered naked, and their flowing cups

With pleasant liquors crowned. O innocence

Deserving Paradise! If ever, then,

Then had the Sons of God excuse to have been

Enamoured at that sight. But in those hearts

Love unlibidinous reigned, nor jealousy

Was understood, the injured lover’s hell.

Thus when with meats and drinks they had sufficed,

Not burdened nature, sudden mind arose

In Adam not to let the occasion pass,

Given him by this great conference, to know

Of things above his world, and of their being

Who dwell in Heaven, whose excellence he saw

Transcend his own so far, whose radiant forms,

Divine effulgence, whose high power so far

Exceeded human; and his wary speech

Thus to the empyreal minister he framed:—

Inhabitant with God, now know I well

They favour, in this honour done to Man;

Under whose lowly roof thou hast voutsafed

To enter, and these earthly fruits to taste,

Food not of Angels, yet accepted so

As that more willingly thou couldst not seem

At Heaven’s high feasts to have fed: yet what compare!”

To whom the wingèd Hierarch replied:—

“O Adam, one almighty is, from whom

All things proceed, and up to him return,

If not depraved from good, created all

Such to perfection; one first matter all,

Indued with various forms, various degrees

Of substance, and, in things that live, of life;

But more refined, more spiritous and pure,

As nearer to him placed or nearer tending

Each in their several active spheres assigned,

Till body up to spirit work, in bounds

Proportioned to each kind. So from the root

Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves

More aerie, last the bright consummate flower

Spirits odorous breathes: flowers and their fruit,

Man’s nourishment, by gradual scale sublimed,

To vital spirits aspire, to animal,

To intellectual; give both life and sense,

Fancy and understanding; whence the Soul

Reason receives, and Reason is her being,

Discursive, or Intuitive: Discourse

Is oftest yours, the latter most is ours,

Differing but in degree, of kind the same.

Wonder not, then, what God for you saw good

If I refuse not, but convert, as you,

To proper substance. 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 all to spirit,

Improved by tract of time, and winged ascend

Ethereal, as we, or may at choice

Here or in heavenly paradises dwell,

If ye be found obedient, and retain

Unalterably firm his love entire

Whose progeny you are. Meanwhile enjoy,

Your fill, what happiness this happy state

Can comprehend, incapable of more.”

To whom the Patriarch of Mankind replied:—

“O favourable Spirit, propitious guest,

Well hast thou taught the way that might direct

Our knowledge, and the scale of Nature set

From centre to circumference, whereon,

In contemplation of created things,

By steps we may ascend to God. But say,

What meant that caution joined, If ye be found

Obedient? Can we want obedience, then,

To him, or possibly his love desert,

Who formed us from the dust, and placed us here

Full to the utmost measure of what bliss

Human desires can seek or apprehend?”

To whom the Angel:—“Son of Heaven and Earth,

Attend! That thou art happy, owe to God;

That thou continuest such, owe to thyself,

That is, to thy obedience; therein stand.

This was that caution given thee; be advised.

God made thee perfect, not immutable;

And good he made thee; but to persevere

He left it in thy power—ordained thy will

By nature free, not over-ruled by fate

Inextricable, or strict necessity.

Our voluntary service he requires,

Not our necessitated. Such with him

Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how

Can hearts not free be tried whether they serve

Willing or no, who will but what they must

By destiny, and can no other choose?

Myself, and all the Angelic Host, that stand

In sight of god enthroned, our happy state

Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds.

On other surety none: freely we serve,

Because we freely love, as in our will

To love or not; in this we stand or fall.

And some are fallen, to disobedience fallen,

And so from Heaven to deepest Hell. Of fall

From what high state of bliss into what woe!”

To whom our great Progenitor:—“Thy words

Attentive, and with more delighted ear,

Divine instructor, I have heard, than when

Cherubic songs by night from neighbouring hills

Aerial music send. Nor knew I not

To be, both will and deed, created free.

Yet that we never shall forget to love

Our Maker, and obey him whose command

Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts

Assured me, and still assure; though what thou tell’st

Hath passed in Heaven some doubt within me move,

But more desire to hear, if thou consent,

The full relation, which must needs be strange,

Worthy of sacred silence to be heard.

And we have yet large day, for scarce the Sun

Hath finished half his journey, and scarce begins

His other half in the great zone of heaven.”

Thus Adam made request; and Raphael,

After short pause assenting, thus began:—

“High matter thou injoin’st me, O prime of Men—

Sad task and hard; for how shall I relate

To human sense the invisible exploits

Of warring Spirits? how, without remorse,

The ruin of so many, glorious once

And perfet while they stood? how, last, unfold

The secrets of another world, perhaps

Not lawful to reveal? Yet for thy good

This is dispensed; and what surmounts the reach

Of human sense I shall delineate so,

By likening spiritual to corporal forms,

As may express them best—though what if Earth

Be but the shadow of Heaven, and things therein

Each to other like more than on Earth is thought!

“As yet this World was not, and Chaos wild

Reigned where these heavens now rowl, where Earth now rests

Upon her centre poised, when on a day

(For Time, though in Eternity, applied

To motion, measures all things durable

By present, past, and future), on such day

As Heaven’s great year brings forth, the empyreal host

Of Angels, by imperial summons called,

Innumerable before the Almighty’s throne

Forthwith from all the ends of Heaven appeared

Under their hierarchs in orders bright.

Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanced,

Standards and gonfalons, ’twixt van and rear

Stream in the air, and for distinction serve

Of hierarchies, of orders, and degrees:

Or in their glittering tissues bear imblazed

Holy memorials, acts of zeal and love

Recorded eminent. Thus when in orbs

Of circuit inexpressible they stood,

Orb within orb, the Father Infinite,

By whom in bliss imbosomed sat the Son,

Amidst, as from a flaming Mount, whose top

Brightness had made invisible, thus spake:

“‘Hear, all ye Angels, Progeny of Light,

Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers,

Hear my decree, which unrevoked shall stand!

This day I have begot whom I declare

My only Son, and on this holy hill

Him have anointed, whom ye now behold

At my right hand. Your head I him appoint,

And by myself have sworn to him shall bow

All knees in Heaven, and shall confess him Lord.

Under his great vicegerent reign abide,

United as one individual soul,

For ever happy. Him who disobeys

Me disobeys, breaks union, and, that day,

Cast out form God and blessed vision, falls

Into utter darkness, deep ingulfed, his place

Ordained without redemption, without end.’

“So spake the Omnipotent, and with his words

All seemed well pleased; all seemed, but were not all.

That day, as other solemn days, they spent

In song and dance about the sacred Hill—

Mystical dance, which yonder starry sphere

Of planets and of fixed in all her wheels

Resembles, nearest; mazes intricate,

Eccentric, intervolved, yet regular

Then most when most irregular they seem;

And in their motions harmony divine

So smooths her charming tones that God’s own ear

Listens delighted. Evening now approached

(For we have also our evening and our morn—

We ours for change delectable, not need);

Forthwith from dance to sweet repast they turn

Desirous: all in circles as they stood,

Tables are set, and on a sudden piled

With Angels’ food; and rubied nectar flows

In pearl, in diamond, and massy gold,

Fruit of delicious vines, the growth of Heaven.

On flowers reposed, and with fresh flowerets crowned,

They eat, they drink, and in communion sweet

Quaff immortality and joy, secure

Of surfeit where full measure only bounds

Excess, before the all-bounteous King, who showered

With copious hand, rejoicing in their joy.

Now when ambrosial Night, with clouds exhaled

From that high mount of God whence light and shade

Spring both, the face of brightest Heaven had changed

To grateful twilight (for Night comes not there

In darker veil), and roseate dews disposed

All but the unsleeping eyes of God to rest,

Wide over all the plain, and wider far

Than all this globous Earth in plain outspread

(Such are the Courts of God), the Angelic throng,

Dispersed in bands and files, their camp extend

By living streams among the trees of life—

Pavilions numberless and sudden reared,

Celestial tabernacles, where they slept,

Fanned with cool winds; save those who, in their course,

Melodious hymns about the sovran Throne

Alternate all night long. But not so waked

Satan—so call him now; his former name

Is heard no more in Heaven. He, of the first,

If not the first Archangel, great in power,

In favour, and preëminence, yet fraught

With envy against the Son of God, that day

Honoured by his great Father, and proclaimed

Messiah, King Anointed, could not bear,

Through pride, that sight, and thought himself impaired.

Deep malice thence conceiving and disdain,

Soon as midnight brought on the dusky hour

Friendliest to sleep and silence, he resolved

With all his legions to dislodge, and leave

Unworshiped, unobeyed, the Throne supreme.

Contemptuous, and, his next subordinate

Awakening, thus to him in secret spake:—

“‘Sleep’st thou, companion dear? what sleep can close

Thy eyelids? and rememberest what decree,

Of yesterday, so late hath passed the lips

Of Heaven’s Almighty? Thou to me thy thoughts

Wast wont, I mine to thee was wont, to impart;

Both waking we were one; how, then, can now

Thy sleep dissent? New laws thou seest imposed;

New laws from him who reigns new minds may raise

In us who serve—new counsels, to debate

What doubtful may ensue. More in this place

To utter is not safe. Assemble thou

Of all those myriads which we lead the chief;

Tell them that, by command, ere yet dim Night

Her shadowy cloud withdraws, I am to haste,

And all who under me their banners wave,

Homeward with flying march where we possess

The Quarters of the North, there to prepare

Fit entertainment to receive our King,

The great Messiah, and his new commands,

Who speedily through all the Hierarchies

Intends to pass triumphant, and give laws.’

“So spake the false Archangel, and infused

Bad influence into the unwary breast

Of his associate. He together calls,

Or several one by one, the regent Powers,

Under him regent; tells, as he was taught,

That, the Most High commanding, now ere Night,

Now ere dim Night had disincumbered Heaven,

The great hierarchal standard was to move;

Tells the suggested cause, and casts between

Ambiguous words and jealousies, to sound

Or taint integrity. But all obeyed

The wonted signal, and superior voice

Of their great Potentate; for great indeed

His name, and high was his degree in Heaven:

His countenance, as the morning-star that guides

The starry flock allured them, and with lies

Drew after him the third part of Heaven’s host.

Meanwhile, the Eternal Eye, whose sight discerns

Abstrusest thoughts, from forth his holy Mount,

And from within the golden Lamps that burn

Nightly before him, saw without their light

Rebellion rising—saw in whom, how spread

Among the Sons of Morn, what multitudes

Were banded to oppose his high decree;

And, smiling, to his only Son thus said:—

“‘Son, thou in whom my glory I behold

In full resplendence, Heir of all my might,

Nearly it now concerns us to be sure

Of our Omnipotence, and with what arms

We mean to hold what anciently we claim

Of deity or empire: such a foe

Is rising, who intends to erect his throne

Equal to ours, throughout the spacious North;

Nor so content, hath in his thought to try

In battle what our power is or our right.

Let us advise, and to this hazard draw

With speed what force is left, and all imploy

In our defence, lest unawares we lose

This our high place, our Sanctuary, our Hill.’

“To whom the Son, with calm aspect and clear

Lightening divine, ineffable, serene,

Made answer:—’Mighty Father, thou thy foes

Justly hast in derision, and secure

Laugh’st at their vain designs and tumults vain—

Matter to me of glory, whom their hate

Illustrates, when they see all regal power

Given me to quell their pride, and in event

Know whether I be dextrous to subdue

Thy rebels, or be found the worst in Heaven.’

“So spake the Son; but Satan with his Powers

Far was advanced on wingèd speed, an host

Innumerable as the stars of night,

Or stars of morning, dew-drops which the sun

Impearls on every leaf and every flower.

Regions they passed, the mighty regencies

Of Seraphim and Potentates and Thrones

In their triple degrees—regions to which

All thy dominion, Adam, is no more

Than what this garden is to all the earth

And all the sea, from one entire globose

Stretched into longitude; which having passed,

At length into the limits of the North

They came, and Satan to his royal seat

High on a hill, far-blazing, as a mount

Raised on a mount, with pyramids and towers

From diamond quarries hewn and rocks of gold—

The palace of great Lucifer (so call

That structure, in the dialect of men

Interpreted) which, not long after, he,

Affecting all equality with God,

In imitation of that mount whereon

Messiah was declared in sight of Heaven,

The Mountain of the Congregation called;

For thither he assembled all his train,

Pretending so commanded to consult

About the great reception of their King

Thither to come, and with calumnious art

Of counterfeited truth thus held their ears:—

“‘Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers—

If these magnific titles yet remain

Not merely titular, since by decree

Another now hath to himself ingrossed

All power, and us eclipsed under the name

Of King Anointed; for whom all this haste

Of midnight march, and hurried meeting here,

This only to consult, how we may best,

With what may be devised of honours new,

Receive him coming to receive from us

Knee-tribute yet unpaid, prostration vile!

Too much to one! but double how endured—

To one and to his image now proclaimed?

But what if better counsels might erect

Our minds, and teach us to cast off this yoke!

Will ye submit your necks, and choose to bend

The supple knee? Ye will not, if I trust

To know ye right, or if ye know yourselves

Natives and Sons of Heaven possessed before

By none, and, if not equal all, yet free,

Equally free; for orders and degrees

Jar not with liberty, but well consist.

Who can in reason, then, or right, assume

Monarchy over such as live by right

His equals—if in power and splendour less,

In freedom equal? or can introduce

Law and edict on us, who without law

Err not? much less for this to be our Lord,

And look for adoration, to the abuse

Of those imperial titles which assert

Our being ordained to govern, not to serve!

“Thus far his bold discourse without control

Had audience, when, among the Seraphim,

Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal adored

The Deity, and divine commands obeyed,

Stood up, and in a flame of zeal severe

The current of his fury thus opposed:—

“‘O argument blasphe’mous, false, and proud—

Words which no ear ever to hear in Heaven

Expected; least of all from thee, ingrate,

In place thyself so high above thy peers!

Canst thou with impious obloquy condemn

The just decree of God, pronounced and sworn,

That to his only Son, by right endued

With regal sceptre, every soul in Heaven

Shall bend the knee, and in that honour due

Confess him rightful King? Unjust, thou say’st,

Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free,

And equal over equals to let reign,

One over all with unsucceeded power!

Shalt thou give law to God? shalt thou dispute

With Him the points of liberty, who made

Thee what Thou art, and formed the Powers of Heaven

Such as he pleased, and circumscribed their being?

Yet, by experience taught, we know how good,

And of our good and of our dignity

How provident, he is—how far from thought

To make us less; bent rather to exalt

Our happy state, under one Head more near

United. But—to grant it thee unjust

That equal over equals monarch reign—

Thyself, though great and glorious, dost thou count,

Or all angelic nature joined in one,

Equal to him, begotten Son, by whom,

As by his Word, the mighty Father made

All things, even thee, and all the Spirits of Heaven

By him created in their bright degrees,

Crowned them with glory, and to their glory named

Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers?—

Essential Powers; nor by his reign obscured,

But more illustrious made; since he, the head,

One of our number thus reduced becomes;

His laws our laws; all honour to him done

Returns our own. Cease, then, this impious rage,

And tempt not these; but hasten to appease

The incensèd Father and the incensed Son

While pardon may be found, in time besought.’

“So spake the fervent Angel; but his zeal

None seconded, as out of season judged,

Or singular and rash. Whereat rejoiced

The Apostat, and, more haughty, thus replied:—

“‘That we were formed, then, say’st thou? and the work

Of secondary hands, by task transferred

From Father to his Son? Strange point and new!

Doctrine which we would know whence learned! Who saw

When this creation was? Remember’st thou

Thy making, while the Maker gave thee being?

We know no time when we were not as now;

Know none before us, self-begot, self-raised

By our own quickening power when fatal course

Had circled his full orb, the birth mature

Of this our native Heaven, Ethereal Sons.

Our puissance is our own; our own right hand

Shall teach us highest deeds, by proof to try

Who is our equal. Then thou shalt behold

Whether by supplication we intend

Address, and to begirt the Almighty Throne

Beseeching or besieging. This report,

These tidings, carry to the Anointed King;

And fly, ere evil intercept thy flight.’

“He said; and, as the sound of waters deep,

Hoarse murmur echoed to his words applause

Through the infinite Host. Nor less for that

The flaming Seraph, fearless, though alone,

Encompassed round with foes, thus answered bold:—

“‘O alienate from God, O Spirit accursed,

Forsaken of all good! I see thy fall

Determined, and thy hapless crew involved

In this perfidious fraud, contagion spread

Both of thy crime and punishment. Henceforth

No more be troubled how to quit the yoke

Of God’s Messiah. Those indulgent laws

Will not be now voutsafed; other decrees

Against thee are gone forth without recall;

That golden sceptre which thou didst reject

Is now an iron rod to bruise and break

Thy disobedience. Well thou didst advise;

Yet not for thy advice or threats I fly

These wicked tents devoted, lest the wrauth

Impendent, raging into sudden flame,

Distinguish not: for soon expect to feel

His thunder on thy head, devouring fire.

Then who can created thee lamenting learn

When who can uncreate thee thou shalt know.’

“So spake the Seraph Abdiel, faithful found;

Among the faithless faithful only he;

Among innumerable false unmoved,

Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,

His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal;

Nor number nor example with him wrought

To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind,

Though single. From amidst them forth he passed,

Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustained

Superior, nor of violence feared aught;

And with retorted scorn his back he turned

On those proud towers, to swift destruction doomed.”