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Short poem

John Milton (1608-1674)

Paradise Regain'd: Book II (1671)

              1MEan while the new-baptiz'd, who yet remain'd
              2At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen
              3Him whom they heard so late expresly call'd
              4Jesus Messiah Son of God declar'd,
              5And on that high Authority had believ'd,
              6And with him talkt, and with him lodg'd, I mean
              7Andrew and Simon, famous after known
              8With others though in Holy Writ not nam'd,
              9Now missing him thir joy so lately found,
            10So lately found, and so abruptly gone,
            11Began to doubt, and doubted many days,
            12And as the days increas'd, increas'd thir doubt:
            13Sometimes they thought he might be only shewn,
            14And for a time caught up to God, as once
            15Moses was in the Mount, and missing long;
            16And the great Thisbite who on fiery wheels
            17Rode up to Heaven, yet once again to come.
            18Therefore as those young Prophets then with care
            19Sought lost Eliah, so in each place these
            20Nigh to Bethabara; in Jerico
            21The City of Palms, Ænon, and Salem Old,
            22Machærus and each Town or City wall'd
            23On this side the broad lake Genezaret,
            24Or in Perea, but return'd in vain.
            25Then on the bank of Jordan, by a Creek:
            26Where winds with Reeds, and Osiers whisp'ring play
            27Plain Fishermen, no greater men them call,
            28Close in a Cottage low together got
            29Thir unexpected loss and plaints out breath'd.
            30Alas, from what high hope to what relapse
            31Unlook'd for are we fall'n, our eyes beheld
            32Messiah certainly now come, so long
            33Expected of our Fathers; we have heard
            34His words, his wisdom full of grace and truth,
            35Now, now, for sure, deliverance is at hand,
            36The Kingdom shall to Israel be restor'd:
            37Thus we rejoyc'd, but soon our joy is turn'd
            38Into perplexity and new amaze:
            39For whither is he gone, what accident
            40Hath rapt him from us? will he now retire
            41After appearance, and again prolong
            42Our expectation?  God of Israel,
            43Send thy Messiah forth, the time is come;
            44Behold the Kings of the Earth how they oppress
            45Thy chosen, to what highth thir pow'r unjust
            46They have exalted, and behind them cast
            47All fear of thee, arise and vindicate
            48Thy Glory, free thy people from thir yoke,
            49But let us wait; thus far he hath perform'd,
            50Sent his Anointed, and to us reveal'd him,
            51By his great Prophet, pointed at and shown,
            52In publick, and with him we have convers'd;
            53Let us be glad of this, and all our fears
            54Lay on his Providence; he will not fail
            55Nor will withdraw him now, nor will recall,
            56Mock us with his blest sight, then snatch him hence,
            57Soon we shall see our hope, our joy return.
            58  Thus they out of their plaints new hope resume
            59To find whom at the first they found unsought:
            60But to his Mother Mary, when she saw
            61Others return'd from Baptism, not her Son,
            62Nor left at Jordan, tydings of him none;
            63Within her brest, though calm; her brest though pure,
            64Motherly cares and fears got head, and rais'd
            65Some troubl'd thoughts, which she in sighs thus clad.
            66  O what avails me now that honour high
            67To have conceiv'd of God, or that salute
            68Hale highly favour'd, among women blest;
            69While I to sorrows am no less advanc't,
            70And fears as eminent, above the lot
            71Of other women, by the birth I bore,
            72In such a season born when scarce a Shed
            73Could be obtain'd to shelter him or me
            74From the bleak air; a Stable was our warmth,
            75A Manger his, yet soon enforc't to flye
            76Thence into Egypt, till the Murd'rous King
            77Were dead, who sought his life, and missing fill'd
            78With Infant blood the streets of Bethlehem;
            79From Egypt home return'd, in Nazareth
            80Hath been our dwelling many years, his life
            81Private, unactive, calm, contemplative,
            82Little suspicious to any King; but now
            83Full grown to Man, acknowledg'd, as I hear,
            84By John the Baptist, and in publick shown,
            85Son own'd from Heaven by his Father's voice;
            86I look't for some great change; to Honour? no,
            87But trouble, as old Simeon plain fore-told,
            88That to the fall and rising he should be
            89Of many in Israel, and to a sign
            90Spoken against, that through my very Soul
            91A sword shall pierce, this is my favour'd lot,
            92My Exaltation to Afflictions high;
            93Afflicted I may be, it seems, and blest;
            94I will not argue that, nor will repine.
            95But where delays he now? some great intent
            96Conceals him: when twelve years he scarce had seen,
            97I lost him, but so found, as well I saw
            98He could not lose himself; but went about
            99His Father's business; what he meant I mus'd,
          100Since understand; much more his absence now
          101Thus long to some great purpose he obscures.
          102But I to wait with patience am inur'd;
          103My heart hath been a store-house long of things
          104And sayings laid up, portending strange events.
          105  Thus Mary pondering oft, and oft to mind
          106Recalling what remarkably had pass'd
          107Since first her Salutation heard, with thoughts
          108Meekly compos'd awaited the fulfilling:
          109The while her Son tracing the Desert wild,
          110Sole but with holiest Meditations fed,
          111Into himself descended, and at once
          112All his great work to come before him set;
          113How to begin, how to accomplish best
          114His end of being on Earth, and mission high:
          115For Satan with slye preface to return
          116Had left him vacant, and with speed was gon
          117Up to the middle Region of thick Air,
          118Where all his Potentates in Council sate;
          119There without sign of boast, or sign of joy,
          120Sollicitous and blank he thus began.
          121  Princes, Heavens antient Sons, Æthereal Thrones,
          122Demonian Spirits now, from the Element
          123Each of his reign allotted, rightlier call'd,
          124Powers of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth beneath,
          125So may we hold our place and these mild seats
          126Without new trouble; such an Enemy
          127Is ris'n to invade us, who no less
          128Threat'ns then our expulsion down to Hell;
          129I, as I undertook, and with the vote
          130Consenting in full frequence was impowr'd,
          131Have found him, view'd him, tasted him, but find
          132Far other labour to be undergon
          133Then when I dealt with Adam first of Men,
          134Though Adam by his Wives allurement fell,
          135However to this Man inferior far,
          136If he be Man by Mothers side at least,
          137With more then humane gifts from Heaven adorn'd,
          138Perfections absolute, Graces divine,
          139And amplitude of mind to greatest Deeds.
          140Therefore I am return'd, lest confidence
          141Of my success with Eve in Paradise
          142Deceive ye to perswasion over-sure
          143Of like succeeding here; I summon all
          144Rather to be in readiness, with hand
          145Or counsel to assist; lest I who erst
          146Thought none my equal, now be over-match'd.
          147  So spake the old Serpent doubting, and from all
          148With clamour was assur'd thir utmost aid
          149At his command; when from amidst them rose
          150Belial the dissolutest Spirit that fell,
          151The sensuallest, and after Asmodai
          152The fleshliest Incubus, and thus advis'd.
          153  Set women in his eye and in his walk,
          154Among daughters of men the fairest found;
          155Many are in each Region passing fair
          156As the noon Skie; more like to Goddesses
          157Then Mortal Creatures, graceful and discreet,
          158Expert in amorous Arts, enchanting tongues
          159Perswasive, Virgin majesty with mild
          160And sweet allay'd, yet terrible to approach,
          161Skill'd to retire, and in retiring draw
          162Hearts after them tangl'd in Amorous Nets.
          163Such object hath the power to soft'n and tame
          164Severest temper, smooth the rugged'st brow,
          165Enerve, and with voluptuous hope dissolve,
          166Draw out with credulous desire, and lead
          167At will the manliest, resolutest brest,
          168As the Magnetic hardest Iron draws.
          169Women, when nothing else, beguil'd the heart
          170Of wisest Solomon, and made him build,
          171And made him bow to the Gods of his Wives.
          172  To whom quick answer Satan thus return'd.
          173Belial, in much uneven scale thou weigh'st
          174All others by thy self; because of old
          175Thou thy self doat'st on womankind, admiring
          176Thir shape, thir colour, and attractive grace,
          177None are, thou think'st, but taken with such toys.
          178Before the Flood thou with thy lusty Crew,
          179False titl'd Sons of God, roaming the Earth
          180Cast wanton eyes on the daughters of men,
          181And coupl'd with them, and begot a race.
          182Have we not seen, or by relation heard,
          183In Courts and Regal Chambers how thou lurk'st,
          184In Wood or Grove by mossie Fountain side,
          185In Valley or Green Meadow to way-lay
          186Some beauty rare, Calisto, Clymene,
          187Daphne, or Semele, Antiopa,
          188Or Amymone, Syrinx, many more
          189Too long, then lay'st thy scapes on names ador'd,
          190Apollo, Neptune, Jupiter, or Pan,
          191Satyr, or Fawn, or Silvan?  But these haunts
          192Delight not all; among the Sons of Men,
          193How many have with a smile made small account
          194Of beauty and her lures, easily scorn'd
          195All her assaults, on worthier things intent?
          196Remember that Pellean Conquerour,
          197A youth, how all the Beauties of the East
          198He slightly view'd, and slightly over-pass'd;
          199How hee sirnam'd of Africa dismiss'd
          200In his prime youth the fair Iberian maid.
          201For Solomon he liv'd at ease, and full
          202Of honour, wealth, high fare, aim'd not beyond
          203Higher design then to enjoy his State;
          204Thence to the bait of Women lay expos'd;
          205But he whom we attempt is wiser far
          206Then Solomon, of more exalted mind,
          207Made and set wholly on the accomplishment
          208Of greatest things; what woman will you find,
          209Though of this Age the wonder and the fame,
          210On whom his leisure will vouchsafe an eye
          211Of fond desire? or should she confident,
          212As sitting Queen ador'd on Beauties Throne,
          213Descend with all her winning charms begirt
          214To enamour, as the Zone of Venus once
          215Wrought that effect on Jove, so Fables tell;
          216How would one look from his Majestick brow
          217Seated as on the top of Vertues hill,
          218Discount'nance her despis'd, and put to rout
          219All her array; her female pride deject,
          220Or turn to reverent awe? for Beauty stands
          221In the admiration only of weak minds
          222Led captive; cease to admire, and all her Plumes
          223Fall flat and shrink into a trivial toy,
          224At every sudden slighting quite abasht:
          225Therefore with manlier objects we must try
          226His constancy, with such as have more shew
          227Of worth, of honour, glory, and popular praise;
          228Rocks whereon greatest men have oftest wreck'd;
          229Or that which only seems to satisfie
          230Lawful desires of Nature, not beyond;
          231And now I know he hungers where no food
          232Is to be found, in the wide Wilderness;
          233The rest commit to me, I shall let pass
          234No advantage, and his strength as oft assay.
          235  He ceas'd, and heard thir grant in loud acclaim;
          236Then forthwith to him takes a chosen band
          237Of Spirits likest to himself in guile
          238To be at hand, and at his beck appear,
          239If cause were to unfold some active Scene
          240Of various persons each to know his part;
          241Then to the Desert takes with these his flight;
          242Where still from shade to shade the Son of God
          243After forty days fasting had remain'd,
          244Now hungring first, and to himself thus said.
          245  Where will this end? four times ten days I have pass'd
          246Wandring this woody maze, and humane food
          247Nor tasted, nor had appetite; that Fast
          248To Vertue I impute not, or count part
          249Of what I suffer here; if Nature need not,
          250Or God support Nature without repast
          251Though needing, what praise is it to endure?
          252But now I feel I hunger, which declares,
          253Nature hath need of what she asks; yet God
          254Can satisfie that need some other way,
          255Though hunger still remain: so it remain
          256Without this bodies wasting, I content me,
          257And from the sting of Famine fear no harm,
          258Nor mind it, fed with better thoughts that feed
          259Mee hungring more to do my Fathers will.
          260  It was the hour of night, when thus the Son
          261Commun'd in silent walk, then laid him down
          262Under the hospitable covert nigh
          263Of Trees thick interwoven; there he slept,
          264And dream'd, as appetite is wont to dream,
          265Of meats and drinks, Natures refreshment sweet;
          266Him thought, he by the Brook of Cherith stood
          267And saw the Ravens with their horny beaks
          268Food to Elijah bringing Even and Morn,
          269Though ravenous, taught to abstain from what they brought:
          270He saw the Prophet also how he fled
          271Into the Desert, and how there he slept
          272Under a Juniper; then how awakt,
          273He found his Supper on the coals prepar'd,
          274And by the Angel was bid rise and eat,
          275And eat the second time after repose,
          276The strength whereof suffic'd him forty days;
          277Sometimes that with Elijah he partook,
          278Or as a guest with Daniel at his pulse.
          279Thus wore out night, and now the Herald Lark
          280Left his ground-nest, high towring to descry
          281The morns approach, and greet her with his Song:
          282As lightly from his grassy Couch up rose
          283Our Saviour, and found all was but a dream,
          284Fasting he went to sleep, and fasting wak'd.
          285Up to a hill anon his steps he rear'd,
          286From whose high top to ken the prospect round,
          287If Cottage were in view, Sheep-cote or Herd;
          288But Cottage, Herd or Sheep-cote none he saw,
          289Only in a bottom saw a pleasant Grove,
          290With chaunt of tuneful Birds resounding loud;
          291Thither he bent his way, determin'd there
          292To rest at noon, and entr'd soon the shade
          293High rooft and walks beneath, and alleys brown
          294That open'd in the midst a woody Scene,
          295Natures own work it seem'd (Nature taught Art)
          296And to a Superstitious eye the haunt
          297Of Wood-Gods and Wood-Nymphs; he view'd it round,
          298When suddenly a man before him stood,
          299Not rustic as before, but seemlier clad,
          300As one in City, or Court, or Palace bred,
          301And with fair speech these words to him address'd.
          302  With granted leave officious I return,
          303But much more wonder that the Son of God
          304In this wild solitude so long should bide
          305Of all things destitute, and well I know,
          306Not without hunger.  Others of some note,
          307As story tells, have trod this Wilderness;
          308The Fugitive Bond-woman with her Son
          309Out cast Nebaioth, yet found he relief
          310By a providing Angel; all the race
          311Of Israel here had famish'd, had not God
          312Rain'd from Heaven Manna, and that Prophet bold
          313Native of Thebes wandring here was fed
          314Twice by a voice inviting him to eat.
          315Of thee these forty days none hath regard,
          316Forty and more deserted here indeed.
          317  To whom thus Jesus; what conclud'st thou hence?
          318They all had need, I as thou seest have none.
          319  How hast thou hunger then? Satan reply'd,
          320Tell me if Food were now before thee set,
          321Would'st thou not eat? Thereafter as I like
          322The giver, answer'd Jesus. Why should that
          323Cause thy refusal, said the subtle Fiend,
          324Hast thou not right to all Created things,
          325Owe not all Creatures by just right to thee
          326Duty and Service, nor to stay till bid,
          327But tender all their power? nor mention I
          328Meats by the Law unclean, or offer'd first
          329To Idols, those young Daniel could refuse;
          330Nor proffer'd by an Enemy, though who
          331Would scruple that, with want opprest? behold
          332Nature asham'd, or better to express,
          333Troubl'd that thou shouldst hunger, hath purvey'd
          334From all the Elements her choicest store
          335To treat thee as beseems, and as her Lord
          336With honour, only deign to sit and eat.
          337  He spake no dream, for as his words had end,
          338Our Saviour lifting up his eyes beheld
          339In ample space under the broadest shade
          340A Table richly spred, in regal mode,
          341With dishes pill'd, and meats of noblest sort
          342And savour, Beasts of chase, or Fowl of game,
          343In pastry built, or from the spit, or boyl'd,
          344Gris-amber-steam'd; all Fish from Sea or Shore,
          345Freshet, or purling Brook, of shell or fin,
          346And exquisitest name, for which was drain'd
          347Pontus and Lucrine Bay, and Afric Coast.
          348Alas how simple, to these Cates compar'd,
          349Was that crude Apple that diverted Eve!
          350And at a stately side-board by the wine
          351That fragrant smell diffus'd, in order stood
          352Tall stripling youths rich clad, of fairer hew
          353Then Ganymed or Hylas, distant more
          354Under the Trees now trip'd, now solemn stood
          355Nymphs of Diana's train, and Naiades
          356With fruits and flowers from Amalthea's horn,
          357And Ladies of th' Hesperides, that seem'd
          358Fairer then feign'd of old, or fabl'd since
          359Of Fairy Damsels met in Forest wide
          360By Knights of Logres, or of Lyones,
          361Lancelot or Pelleas, or Pellenore,
          362And all the while Harmonious Airs were heard
          363Of chiming strings, or charming pipes and winds
          364Of gentlest gale Arabian odors fann'd
          365From their soft wings, and Flora's earliest smells.
          366Such was the Splendour, and the Tempter now
          367His invitation earnestly renew'd.
          368  What doubts the Son of God to sit and eat?
          369These are not Fruits forbidden, no interdict
          370Defends the touching of these viands pure,
          371Thir taste no knowledge works, at least of evil,
          372But life preserves, destroys life's enemy,
          373Hunger, with sweet restorative delight.
          374All these are Spirits of Air, and Woods, and Springs,
          375Thy gentle Ministers, who come to pay
          376Thee homage, and acknowledge thee thir Lord:
          377What doubt'st thou Son of God? sit down and eat.
          378  To whom thus Jesus temperately reply'd:
          379Said'st thou not that to all things I had right?
          380And who withholds my pow'r that right to use?
          381Shall I receive by gift what of my own,
          382When and where likes me best, I can command?
          383I can at will, doubt not, as soon as thou,
          384Command a Table in this Wilderness,
          385And call swift flights of Angels ministrant
          386Array'd in Glory on my cup to attend:
          387Why shouldst thou then obtrude this diligence,
          388In vain, where no acceptance it can find,
          389And with my hunger what has thou to do?
          390Thy pompous Delicacies I contemn,
          391And count thy specious gifts no gifts but guiles.
          392  To whom thus answer'd Satan malecontent:
          393That I have also power to give thou seest,
          394If of that pow'r I bring thee voluntary
          395What I might have bestow'd on whom I pleas'd,
          396And rather opportunely in this place
          397Chose to impart to thy apparent need,
          398Why shouldst thou not accept it? but I see
          399What I can do or offer is suspect;
          400Of these things others quickly will dispose
          401Whose pains have earn'd the far fet spoil. With that
          402Both Table and Provision vanish'd quite
          403With sound of Harpies wings, and Talons heard;
          404Only the importune Tempter still remain'd,
          405And with these words his temptation pursu'd.
          406  By hunger, that each other Creature tames,
          407Thou art not to be harm'd, therefore not mov'd;
          408Thy temperance invincible besides,
          409For no allurement yields to appetite,
          410And all thy heart is set on high designs,
          411High actions; but wherewith to be atchiev'd?
          412Great acts require great means of enterprise,
          413Thou art unknown, unfriended, low of birth,
          414A Carpenter thy Father known, thy self
          415Bred up in poverty and streights at home;
          416Lost in a Desert here and hunger-bit:
          417Which way or from what hope dost thou aspire
          418To greatness? whence Authority deriv'st,
          419What Followers, what Retinue canst thou gain,
          420Or at thy heels the dizzy Multitude,
          421Longer then thou canst feed them on thy cost?
          422Money brings Honour, Friends, Conquest, and Realms;
          423What rais'd Antipater the Edomite,
          424And his Son Herod plac'd on Juda's Throne;
          425(Thy throne) but gold that got him puissant friends?
          426Therefore, if at great things thou wouldst arrive,
          427Get Riches first, get Wealth, and Treasure heap,
          428Not difficult, if thou hearken to me,
          429Riches are mine, Fortune is in my hand;
          430They whom I favour thrive in wealth amain,
          431While Virtue, Valour, Wisdom sit in want.
          432  To whom thus Jesus patiently reply'd;
          433Yet Wealth without these three is impotent,
          434To gain dominion or to keep it gain'd.
          435Witness those antient Empires of the Earth,
          436In highth of all thir flowing wealth dissolv'd:
          437But men endu'd with these have oft attain'd
          438In lowest poverty to highest deeds;
          439Gideon and Jephtha, and the Shepherd lad,
          440Whose off-spring on the Throne of Juda sat
          441So many Ages, and shall yet regain
          442That seat, and reign in Israel without end.
          443Among the Heathen, (for throughout the World
          444To me is not unknown what hath been done
          445Worthy of Memorial) canst thou not remember
          446Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus?
          447For I esteem those names of men so poor
          448Who could do mighty things, and could contemn
          449Riches though offer'd from the hand of Kings.
          450And what in me seems wanting, but that I
          451May also in this poverty as soon
          452Accomplish what they did, perhaps and more?
          453Extol not Riches then, the toyl of Fools,
          454The wise mans cumbrance if not snare, more apt
          455To slacken Virtue, and abate her edge,
          456Then prompt her to do aught may merit praise.
          457What if with like aversion I reject
          458Riches and Realms; yet not for that a Crown,
          459Golden in shew, is but a wreath of thorns,
          460Brings dangers, troubles, cares, and sleepless nights
          461To him who wears the Regal Diadem,
          462When on his shoulders each mans burden lies;
          463For therein stands the office of a King,
          464His Honour, Vertue, Merit and chief Praise,
          465That for the Publick all this weight he bears.
          466Yet he who reigns within himself, and rules
          467Passions, Desires, and Fears, is more a King;
          468Which every wise and vertuous man attains:
          469And who attains not, ill aspires to rule
          470Cities of men or head-strong Multitudes,
          471Subject himself to Anarchy within,
          472Or lawless passions in him which he serves.
          473But to guide Nations in the way of truth
          474By saving Doctrine, and from errour lead
          475To know, and knowing worship God aright,
          476Is yet more Kingly, this attracts the Soul,
          477Governs the inner man, the nobler part,
          478That other o're the body only reigns,
          479And oft by force, which to a generous mind
          480So reigning can be no sincere delight.
          481Besides to give a Kingdom hath been thought
          482Greater and nobler done, and to lay down
          483Far more magnanimous, then to assume.
          484Riches are needless then, both for themselves,
          485And for thy reason why they should be sought,
          486To gain a Scepter, oftest better miss't.

The End of the Second Book.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
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: 1671
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2002
Recent editing: 1:2002/6/9

Composition date: 1667 - 1671
Composition date note: Electronic transcription courtesy of the North American Reading Program, Oxford English Dictionary, April 17, 1993.
Rhyme: unrhyming

Other poems by John Milton