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John Milton (1608-1674)

Paradise Regain'd: Book I (1671)


              1I Who e're while the happy Garden sung,
              2By one mans disobedience lost, now sing
              3Recover'd Paradise to all mankind,
              4By one mans firm obedience fully tri'd
              5Through all temptation, and the Tempter foil'd
              6In all his wiles, defeated and repuls't,
              7And Eden rais'd in the wast Wilderness.
              8  Thou Spirit who ledst this glorious Eremite
              9Into the Desert, his Victorious Field
            10Against the Spiritual Foe, and broughtst him thence
            11By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire,
            12As thou art wont, my prompted Song else mute,
            13And bear through highth or depth of natures bounds
            14With prosperous wing full summ'd to tell of deeds
            15Above Heroic, though in secret done,
            16And unrecorded left through many an Age,
            17Worthy t'have not remain'd so long unsung.
            18  Now had the great Proclaimer with a voice
            19More awful then the sound of Trumpet, cri'd
            20Repentance, and Heavens Kingdom nigh at hand
            21To all Baptiz'd: to his great Baptism flock'd
            22With aw the Regions round, and with them came
            23From Nazareth the Son of Joseph deem'd
            24To the flood Jordan, came as then obscure,
            25Unmarkt, unknown; but him the Baptist soon
            26Descri'd, divinely warn'd, and witness bore
            27As to his worthier, and would have resign'd
            28To him his Heavenly Office, nor was long
            29His witness unconfirm'd: on him baptiz'd
            30Heaven open'd, and in likeness of a Dove
            31The Spirit descended, while the Fathers voice
            32From Heav'n pronounc'd him his beloved Son.
            33That heard the Adversary, who roving still
            34About the world, at that assembly fam'd
            35Would not be last, and with the voice divine
            36Nigh Thunder-struck, th' exalted man, to whom
            37Such high attest was giv'n, a while survey'd
            38With wonder, then with envy fraught and rage
            39Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air
            40To Councel summons all his mighty Peers,
            41Within thick Clouds and dark ten-fold involv'd,
            42A gloomy Consistory; and them amidst
            43With looks agast and sad he thus bespake.
            44  O ancient Powers of Air and this wide world,
            45For much more willingly I mention Air,
            46This our old Conquest, then remember Hell
            47Our hated habitation; well ye know
            48How many Ages, as the years of men,
            49This Universe we have possest, and rul'd
            50In manner at our will th' affairs of Earth,
            51Since Adam and his facil consort Eve
            52Lost Paradise deceiv'd by me, though since
            53With dread attending when that fatal wound
            54Shall be inflicted by the Seed of Eve
            55Upon my head, long the decrees of Heav'n
            56Delay, for longest time to him is short;
            57And now too soon for us the circling hours
            58This dreaded time have compast, wherein we
            59Must bide the stroak of that long threatn'd wound,
            60At least if so we can, and by the head
            61Broken be not intended all our power
            62To be infring'd, our freedom and our being.
            63In this fair Empire won of Earth and Air;
            64For this ill news I bring, the Womans seed
            65Destin'd to this, is late of woman born,
            66His birth to our just fear gave no small cause,
            67But his growth now to youths full flowr, displaying
            68All vertue, grace and wisdom to atchieve
            69Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
            70Before him a great Prophet, to proclaim
            71His coming, is sent Harbinger, who all
            72Invites, and in the Consecrated stream
            73Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them so
            74Purified to receive him pure, or rather
            75To do him honour as their King; all come,
            76And he himself among them was baptiz'd,
            77Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
            78The testimony of Heaven, that who he is
            79Thenceforth the Nations may not doubt; I saw
            80The Prophet do him reverence, on him rising
            81Out of the water, Heav'n above the Clouds
            82Unfold her Crystal Dores, thence on his head
            83A perfect Dove descend, what e're it meant,
            84And out of Heav'n the Sov'raign voice I heard,
            85This is my Son belov'd, in him am pleas'd.
            86His Mother then is mortal, but his Sire,
            87He who obtains the Monarchy of Heav'n,
            88And what will he not do to advance his Son?
            89His first-begot we know, and sore have felt,
            90When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep;
            91Who this is we must learn, for man he seems
            92In all his lineaments, though in his face
            93The glimpses of his Fathers glory shine.
            94Ye see our danger on the utmost edge
            95Of hazard, which admits no long debate,
            96But must with something sudden be oppos'd,
            97Not force, but well couch't fraud, well woven snares,
            98E're in the head of Nations he appear
            99Their King, their Leader, and Supream on Earth.
          100I, when no other durst, sole undertook
          101The dismal expedition to find out
          102And ruine Adam, and the exploit perform'd
          103Successfully; a calmer voyage now
          104Will waft me; and the way found prosperous once
          105Induces best to hope of like success.
          106  He ended, and his words impression left
          107Of much amazement to th' infernal Crew,
          108Distracted and surpriz'd with deep dismay
          109At these sad tidings; but no time was then
          110For long indulgence to their fears or grief:
          111Unanimous they all commit the care
          112And management of this main enterprize
          113To him their great Dictator, whose attempt
          114At first against mankind so well had thriv'd
          115In Adam's overthrow, and led thir march
          116From Hell's deep-vaulted Den to dwell in light,
          117Regents and Potentates, and Kings, yea gods
          118Of many a pleasant Realm and Province wide.
          119So to the Coast of Jordan he directs
          120His easie steps; girded with snaky wiles,
          121Where he might likeliest find this new-declar'd,
          122This man of men, attested Son of God,
          123Temptation and all guile on him to try;
          124So to subvert whom he suspected rais'd
          125To end his Raign on Earth so long enjoy'd:
          126But contrary unweeting he fulfill'd
          127The purpos'd Counsel pre-ordain'd and fixt
          128Of the most High, who in full frequence bright
          129Of Angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake.
          130  Gabriel this day by proof thou shalt behold,
          131Thou and all Angels conversant on Earth
          132With man or mens affairs, how I begin
          133To verifie that solemn message late,
          134On which I sent thee to the Virgin pure
          135In Galilee, that she should bear a Son
          136Great in Renown, and call'd the Son of God;
          137Then toldst her doubting how these things could be
          138To her a Virgin, that on her should come
          139The Holy Ghost, and the power of the highest
          140O're-shadow her: this man born and now up-grown,
          141To shew him worthy of his birth divine
          142And high prediction, henceforth I expose
          143To Satan; let him tempt and now assay
          144His utmost subtilty, because he boasts
          145And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng
          146Of his Apostasie; he might have learnt
          147Less over-weening, since he fail'd in Job,
          148Whose constant perseverance overcame
          149Whate're his cruel malice could invent.
          150He now shall know I can produce a man
          151Of female Seed, far abler to resist
          152All his sollicitations, and at length
          153All his vast force, and drive him back to Hell,
          154Winning by Conquest what the first man lost
          155By fallacy surpriz'd.  But first I mean
          156To exercise him in the Wilderness,
          157There he shall first lay down the rudiments
          158Of his great warfare, e're I send him forth
          159To conquer Sin and Death the two grand foes,
          160By Humiliation and strong Sufferance:
          161His weakness shall o'recome Satanic strength
          162And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh;
          163That all the Angels and Ætherial Powers,
          164They now, and men hereafter may discern,
          165From what consummate vertue I have chose
          166This perfect Man, by merit call'd my Son,
          167To earn Salvation for the Sons of men.
          168  So spake the Eternal Father, and all Heaven
          169Admiring stood a space, then into Hymns
          170Burst forth, and in Celestial measures mov'd,
          171Circling the Throne and Singing, while the hand
          172Sung with the voice, and this the argument.
          173  Victory and Triumph to the Son of God
          174Now entring his great duel, not of arms,
          175But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles.
          176The Father knows the Son; therefore secure
          177Ventures his filial Vertue, though untri'd,
          178Against whate're may tempt, whate're seduce,
          179Allure, or terrifie, or undermine.
          180Be frustrate all ye stratagems of Hell,
          181And devilish machinations come to nought.
          182  So they in Heav'n their Odes and Vigils tun'd:
          183Mean while the Son of God, who yet some days
          184Lodg'd in Bethabara where John baptiz'd,
          185Musing and much revolving in his brest,
          186How best the mighty work he might begin
          187Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first
          188Publish his God-like office now mature,
          189One day forth walk'd alone, the Spirit leading;
          190And his deep thoughts, the better to converse
          191With solitude, till far from track of men,
          192Thought following thought, and step by step led on,
          193He entred now the bordering Desert wild,
          194And with dark shades and rocks environ'd round,
          195His holy Meditations thus persu'd.
          196  O what a multitude of thoughts at once
          197Awakn'd in me swarm, while I consider
          198What from within I feel my self, and hear
          199What from without comes often to my ears,
          200Ill sorting with my present state compar'd.
          201When I was yet a child, no childish play
          202To me was pleasing, all my mind was set
          203Serious to learn and know, and thence to do
          204What might be publick good; my self I thought
          205Born to that end, born to promote all truth,
          206All righteous things: therefore above my years,
          207The Law of God I read, and found it sweet,
          208Made it my whole delight, and in it grew
          209To such perfection, that e're yet my age
          210Had measur'd twice six years, at our great Feast
          211I went into the Temple, there to hear
          212The Teachers of our Law, and to propose
          213What might improve my knowledge or their own;
          214And was admir'd by all, yet this not all
          215To which my Spirit aspir'd, victorious deeds
          216Flam'd in my heart, heroic acts, one while
          217To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke,
          218Then to subdue and quell o're all the earth
          219Brute violence and proud Tyrannick pow'r,
          220Till truth were freed, and equity restor'd:
          221Yet held it more humane, more heavenly first
          222By winning words to conquer willing hearts,
          223And make perswasion do the work of fear;
          224At least to try, and teach the erring Soul
          225Not wilfully mis-doing, but unware
          226Misled; the stubborn only to destroy.
          227These growing thoughts my Mother soon perceiving
          228By words at times cast forth inly rejoyc'd,
          229And said to me apart, high are thy thoughts
          230O Son, but nourish them and let them soar
          231To what highth sacred vertue and true worth
          232Can raise them, though above example high;
          233By matchless Deeds express thy matchless Sire.
          234For know, thou art no Son of mortal man,
          235Though men esteem thee low of Parentage,
          236Thy Father is the Eternal King, who rules
          237All Heaven and Earth, Angels and Sons of men,
          238A messenger from God fore-told thy birth
          239Conceiv'd in me a Virgin, he fore-told
          240Thou shouldst be great and sit on David's Throne,
          241And of thy Kingdom there should be no end.
          242At thy Nativity a glorious Quire
          243Of Angels in the fields of Bethlehem sung
          244To Shepherds watching at their folds by night,
          245And told them the Messiah now was born,
          246Where they might see him, and to thee they came;
          247Directed to the Manger where thou lais't,
          248For in the Inn was left no better room:
          249A Star, not seen before in Heaven appearing
          250Guided the Wise Men thither from the East,
          251To honour thee with Incense, Myrrh, and Gold,
          252By whose bright course led on they found the place,
          253Affirming it thy Star new grav'n in Heaven,
          254By which they knew thee King of Israel born.
          255Just Simeon and Prophetic Anna, warn'd
          256By Vision, found thee in the Temple, and spake
          257Before the Altar and the vested Priest,
          258Like things of thee to all that present stood.
          259This having heard, strait I again revolv'd
          260The Law and Prophets, searching what was writ
          261Concerning the Messiah, to our Scribes
          262Known partly, and soon found of whom they spake
          263I am; this chiefly, that my way must lie
          264Through many a hard assay even to the death,
          265E're I the promis'd Kingdom can attain,
          266Or work Redemption for mankind, whose sins
          267Full weight must be transferr'd upon my head.
          268Yet neither thus disheartn'd or dismay'd,
          269The time prefixt I waited, when behold
          270The Baptist, (of whose birth I oft had heard,
          271Not knew by sight) now come, who was to come
          272Before Messiah and his way prepare.
          273I as all others to his Baptism came,
          274Which I believ'd was from above; but he
          275Strait knew me, and with loudest voice proclaim'd
          276Me him (for it was shew'n him so from Heaven)
          277Me him whose Harbinger he was; and first
          278Refus'd on me his Baptism to confer,
          279As much his greater, and was hardly won;
          280But as I rose out of the laving stream,
          281Heaven open'd her eternal doors, from whence
          282The Spirit descended on me like a Dove,
          283And last the sum of all, my Father's voice,
          284Audibly heard from Heav'n, pronounc'd me his,
          285Me his beloved Son, in whom alone
          286He was well pleas'd; by which I knew the time
          287Now full, that I no more should live obscure,
          288But openly begin, as best becomes
          289The Authority which I deriv'd from Heaven.
          290And now by some strong motion I am led
          291Into this Wilderness, to what intent
          292I learn not yet, perhaps I need not know;
          293For what concerns my knowledge God reveals.
          294  So spake our Morning Star then in his rise,
          295And looking round on every side beheld
          296A pathless Desert, dusk with horrid shades;
          297The way he came not having mark'd, return
          298Was difficult, by humane steps untrod;
          299And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
          300Accompanied of things past and to come
          301Lodg'd in his breast, as well might recommend
          302Such Solitude before choicest Society.
          303Full forty days he pass'd, whether on hill
          304Sometimes, anon in shady vale, each night
          305Under the covert of some ancient Oak,
          306Or Cedar, to defend him from the dew,
          307Or harbour'd in one Cave, is not reveal'd;
          308Nor tasted humane food, nor hunger felt
          309Till those days ended, hunger'd then at last
          310Among wild Beasts: they at his sight grew mild,
          311Nor sleeping him nor waking harm'd, his walk
          312The fiery Serpent fled, and noxious Worm,
          313The Lion and fierce Tiger glar'd aloof.
          314But now an aged man in Rural weeds,
          315Following, as seem'd, the quest of some stray Ewe,
          316Or wither'd sticks to gather; which might serve
          317Against a Winters day when winds blow keen,
          318To warm him wet return'd from field at Eve,
          319He saw approach, who first with curious eye
          320Perus'd him, then with words thus utt'red spake.
          321  Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this place
          322So far from path or road of men, who pass
          323In Troop or Caravan, for single none
          324Durst ever, who return'd, and dropt not here
          325His Carcass, pin'd with hunger and with droughth?
          326I ask the rather, and the more admire,
          327For that to me thou seem'st the man, whom late
          328Our new baptizing Prophet at the Ford
          329Of Jordan honour'd so, and call'd thee Son
          330Of God; I saw and heard, for we sometimes
          331Who dwell this wild, constrain'd by want, come forth
          332To Town or Village nigh (nighest is far)
          333Where ought we hear, and curious are to hear,
          334What happ'ns new; Fame also finds us out.
          335  To whom the Son of God. Who brought me hither
          336Will bring me hence, no other Guide I seek.
          337  By Miracle he may, reply'd the Swain,
          338What other way I see not, for we here
          339Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inur'd
          340More then the Camel, and to drink go far,
          341Men to much misery and hardship born;
          342But if thou be the Son of God, Command
          343That out of these hard stones be made thee bread;
          344So shalt thou save thy self and us relieve
          345With Food, whereof we wretched seldom taste.
          346  He ended, and the Son of God reply'd.
          347Think'st thou such force in Bread? is it not written
          348(For I discern thee other then thou seem'st)
          349Man lives not by Bread only, but each Word
          350Proceeding from the mouth of God; who fed
          351Our Fathers here with Manna; in the Mount
          352Moses was forty days, nor eat nor drank,
          353And forty days Eliah without food
          354Wandred this barren waste, the same I now.
          355Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust,
          356Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art?
          357  Whom thus answer'd th' Arch Fiend now undisguis'd.
          358'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate,
          359Who leagu'd with millions more in rash revolt
          360Kept not my happy Station, but was driv'n
          361With them from bliss to the bottomless deep,
          362Yet to that hideous place not so confin'd
          363By rigour unconniving, but that oft
          364Leaving my dolorous Prison I enjoy
          365Large liberty to round this Globe of Earth,
          366Or range in th' Air, nor from the Heav'n of Heav'ns
          367Hath he excluded my resort sometimes.
          368I came among the Sons of God, when he
          369Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job
          370To prove him, and illustrate his high worth;
          371And when to all his Angels he propos'd
          372To draw the proud King Ahab into fraud
          373That he might fall in Ramoth, they demuring,
          374I undertook that office, and the tongues
          375Of all his flattering Prophets glibb'd with lyes
          376To his destruction, as I had in charge.
          377For what he bids I do; though I have lost
          378Much lustre of my native brightness, lost
          379To be belov'd of God, I have not lost
          380To love, at least contemplate and admire
          381What I see excellent in good, or fair,
          382Or vertuous, I should so have lost all sense.
          383What can be then less in me then desire
          384To see thee and approach thee, whom I know
          385Declar'd the Son of God, to hear attent
          386Thy wisdom, and behold thy God-like deeds?
          387Men generally think me much a foe
          388To all mankind: why should I? they to me
          389Never did wrong or violence, by them
          390I lost not what I lost, rather by them
          391I gain'd what I have gain'd, and with them dwell
          392Copartner in these Regions of the World,
          393If not disposer; lend them oft my aid,
          394Oft my advice by presages and signs,
          395And answers, oracles, portents and dreams,
          396Whereby they may direct their future life.
          397Envy they say excites me, thus to gain
          398Companions of my misery and wo.
          399At first it may be; but long since with wo
          400Nearer acquainted, now I feel by proof,
          401That fellowship in pain divides not smart,
          402Nor lightens aught each mans peculiar load.
          403Small consolation then, were Man adjoyn'd:
          404This wounds me most (what can it less) that Man,
          405Man fall'n shall be restor'd, I never more.
          406  To whom our Saviour sternly thus reply'd.
          407Deservedly thou griev'st, compos'd of lyes
          408From the beginning, and in lies wilt end;
          409Who boast'st release from Hell, and leave to come
          410Into the Heav'n of Heavens; thou com'st indeed,
          411As a poor miserable captive thrall,
          412Comes to the place where he before had sat
          413Among the Prime in Splendour, now depos'd,
          414Ejected, emptyed, gaz'd, unpityed, shun'd,
          415A spectacle of ruin or of scorn
          416To all the Host of Heaven; the happy place
          417Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy,
          418Rather inflames thy torment, representing
          419Lost bliss, to thee no more communicable,
          420So never more in Hell then when in Heaven.
          421But thou art serviceable to Heaven's King.
          422Wilt thou impute to obedience what thy fear
          423Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites?
          424What but thy malice mov'd thee to misdeem
          425Of righteous Job, then cruelly to afflict him
          426With all inflictions, but his patience won?
          427The other service was thy chosen task,
          428To be a lyer in four hundred mouths;
          429For lying is thy sustenance, thy food.
          430Yet thou pretend'st to truth; all Oracles
          431By thee are giv'n, and what confest more true
          432Among the Nations? that hath been thy craft,
          433By mixing somewhat true to vent more lyes.
          434But what have been thy answers, what but dark
          435Ambiguous and with double sense deluding,
          436Which they who ask'd have seldom understood,
          437And not well understood as good not known?
          438Who ever by consulting at thy shrine
          439Return'd the wiser, or the more instruct
          440To flye or follow what concern'd him most,
          441And run not sooner to his fatal snare?
          442For God hath justly giv'n the Nations up
          443To thy Delusions; justly, since they fell
          444Idolatrous, but when his purpose is
          445Among them to declare his Providence
          446To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy truth,
          447But from him or his Angels President
          448In every Province, who themselves disdaining
          449To approach thy Temples, give thee in command
          450What to the smallest tittle thou shalt say
          451To thy Adorers; thou with trembling fear,
          452Or like a Fawning Parasite obey'st;
          453Then to thy self ascrib'st the truth fore-told.
          454But this thy glory shall be soon retrench'd;
          455No more shalt thou by oracling abuse
          456The Gentiles; henceforth Oracles are ceast,
          457And thou no more with Pomp and Sacrifice
          458Shalt be enquir'd at Delphos or elsewhere,
          459At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute.
          460God hath now sent his living Oracle
          461Into the World, to teach his final will,
          462And sends his Spirit of Truth henceforth to dwell
          463In pious Hearts, an inward Oracle
          464To all truth requisite for men to know.
          465  So spake our Saviour; but the subtle Fiend,
          466Though inly stung with anger and disdain,
          467Dissembl'd, and this Answer smooth return'd.
          468  Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke,
          469And urg'd me hard with doings, which not will
          470But misery hath rested from me; where
          471Easily canst thou find one miserable,
          472And not inforc'd oft-times to part from truth;
          473If it may stand him more in stead to lye,
          474Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure?
          475But thou art plac't above me, thou art Lord;
          476From thee I can and must submiss endure
          477Check or reproof, and glad to scape so quit.
          478Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk,
          479Smooth on the tongue discourst, pleasing to th' ear,
          480And tuneable as Silvan Pipe or Song;
          481What wonder then if I delight to hear
          482Her dictates from thy mouth? most men admire
          483Vertue, who follow not her lore: permit me
          484To hear thee when I come (since no man comes)
          485And talk at least, though I despair to attain.
          486Thy Father, who is holy, wise and pure,
          487Suffers the Hypocrite or Atheous Priest
          488To tread his Sacred Courts, and minister
          489About his Altar, handling holy things,
          490Praying or vowing, and vouchsaf'd his voice
          491To Balaam Reprobate, a Prophet yet
          492Inspir'd; disdain not such access to me.
          493  To whom our Saviour with unalter'd brow.
          494Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope,
          495I bid not or forbid; do as thou find'st
          496Permission from above; thou canst not more.
          497  He added not; and Satan bowing low
          498His gray dissimulation, disappear'd
          499Into thin Air diffus'd: for now began
          500Night with her sullen wing to double-shade
          501The Desert, Fowls in thir clay nests were couch't;
          502And now wild Beasts came forth the woods to roam.

The End of the First Book.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Electronic transcription courtesy of the North American Reading Program, Oxford English Dictionary, April 17, 1993.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: John Milton, Paradise Regain'd. A Poem (London: J. M. for John Starkey, 1671. Facsimile edition (Menston: Scolar Press, 1968). PR 3563 1968 CRRS Victoria College.
First publication date: 1670
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2002
Recent editing: 1:2002/6/9

Composition date: 1667 - 1671
Rhyme: unrhyming


Other poems by John Milton