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Short poem

John Milton (1608-1674)

Paradise Regain'd: Book III (1671)

              1SO spake the Son of God, and Satan stood
              2A while as mute confounded what to say,
              3What to reply, confuted and convinc't
              4Of his weak arguing, and fallacious drift;
              5At length collecting all his Serpent wiles,
              6With soothing words renew'd, him thus accosts.
              7  I see thou know'st what is of use to know,
              8What best to say canst say, to do canst do;
              9Thy actions to thy words accord, thy words
            10To thy large heart give utterance due, thy heart
            11Conteins of good, wise, just, the perfect shape.
            12Should Kings and Nations from thy mouth consult,
            13Thy Counsel would be as the Oracle
            14Urim and Thummim, those oraculous gems
            15On Aaron's breast: or tongue of Seers old
            16Infallible; or wert thou sought to deeds
            17That might require th' array of war, thy skill
            18Of conduct would be such, that all the world
            19Could not sustain thy Prowess, or subsist
            20In battel, though against thy few in arms.
            21These God-like Vertues wherefore dost thou hide?
            22Affecting private life, or more obscure
            23In savage Wilderness, wherefore deprive
            24All Earth her wonder at thy acts, thy self
            25The fame and glory, glory the reward
            26That sole excites to high attempts the flame
            27Of most erected Spirits, most temper'd pure
            28Ætherial, who all pleasures else despise,
            29All treasures and all gain esteem as dross,
            30And dignities and powers all but the highest?
            31Thy years are ripe, and over-ripe, the Son
            32Of Macedonian Philip had e're these
            33Won Asia and the Throne of Cyrus held
            34At his dispose, young Scipio had brought down
            35The Carthaginian pride, young Pompey quell'd
            36The Pontic King and in triumph had rode.
            37Yet years, and to ripe years judgment mature,
            38Quench not the thirst of glory, but augment.
            39Great Julius, whom now all the world admires
            40The more he grew in years, the more inflam'd
            41With glory, wept that he had liv'd so long
            42Inglorious: but thou yet art not too late.
            43  To whom our Saviour calmly thus reply'd.
            44Thou neither dost perswade me to seek wealth
            45For Empires sake, nor Empire to affect
            46For glories sake by all thy argument.
            47For what is glory but the blaze of fame,
            48The peoples praise, if always praise unmixt?
            49And what the people but a herd confus'd,
            50A miscellaneous rabble, who extol
            51Things vulgar, & well weigh'd, scarce worth the praise,
            52They praise and they admire they know not what;
            53And know not whom, but as one leads the other;
            54And what delight to be by such extoll'd,
            55To live upon thir tongues and be thir talk,
            56Of whom to be disprais'd were no small praise?
            57His lot who dares be singularly good.
            58Th' intelligent among them and the wise
            59Are few, and glory scarce of few is rais'd.
            60This is true glory and renown, when God
            61Looking on the Earth, with approbation marks
            62The just man, and divulges him through Heaven
            63To all his Angels, who with true applause
            64Recount his praises; thus he did to Job,
            65When to extend his fame through Heaven & Earth,
            66As thou to thy reproach mayst well remember,
            67He ask'd thee, hast thou seen my servant Job?
            68Famous he was in Heaven, on Earth less known;
            69Where glory is false glory, attributed
            70To things not glorious, men not worthy of fame.
            71They err who count it glorious to subdue
            72By Conquest far and wide, to over-run
            73Large Countries, and in field great Battels win,
            74Great Cities by assault: what do these Worthies,
            75But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave
            76Peaceable Nations, neighbouring, or remote,
            77Made Captive, yet deserving freedom more
            78Then those thir Conquerours, who leave behind
            79Nothing but ruin wheresoe're they rove,
            80And all the flourishing works of peace destroy,
            81Then swell with pride, and must be titl'd Gods,
            82Great Benefactors of mankind, Deliverers,
            83Worship't with Temple, Priest and Sacrifice;
            84One is the Son of Jove, of Mars the other,
            85Till Conquerour Death discover them scarce men,
            86Rowling in brutish vices, and deform'd,
            87Violent or shameful death thir due reward.
            88But if there be in glory aught of good,
            89It may by means far different be attain'd
            90Without ambition, war, or violence;
            91By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,
            92By patience, temperance; I mention still
            93Him whom thy wrongs with Saintly patience born,
            94Made famous in a Land and times obscure;
            95Who names not now with honour patient Job?
            96Poor Socrates (who next more memorable?)
            97By what he taught and suffer'd for so doing,
            98For truths sake suffering death unjust, lives now
            99Equal in fame to proudest Conquerours.
          100Yet if for fame and glory aught be done,
          101Aught suffer'd; if young African for fame
          102His wasted Country freed from Punic rage,
          103The deed becomes unprais'd, the man at least,
          104And loses, though but verbal, his reward.
          105Shall I seek glory then, as vain men seek
          106Oft not deserv'd?  I seek not mine, but his
          107Who sent me, and thereby witness whence I am.
          108  To whom the Tempter murmuring thus reply'd.
          109Think not so slight of glory; therein least
          110Resembling thy great Father: he seeks glory,
          111And for his glory all things made, all things
          112Orders and governs, nor content in Heaven
          113By all his Angels glorifi'd, requires
          114Glory from men, from all men good or bad,
          115Wise or unwise, no difference, no exemption;
          116Above all Sacrifice, or hallow'd gift
          117Glory he requires, and glory he receives
          118Promiscuous from all Nations, Jew, or Greek,
          119Or Barbarous, nor exception hath declar'd;
          120From us his foes pronounc't glory he exacts.
          121  To whom our Saviour fervently reply'd.
          122And reason; since his word all things produc'd,
          123Though chiefly not for glory as prime end,
          124But to shew forth his goodness, and impart
          125His good communicable to every soul
          126Freely; of whom what could he less expect
          127Then glory and benediction, that is thanks,
          128The slightest, easiest, readiest recompence
          129From them who could return him nothing else,
          130And not returning that would likeliest render
          131Contempt instead, dishonour, obloquy?
          132Hard recompence, unsutable return
          133For so much good, so much beneficence.
          134But why should man seek glory? who of his own
          135Hath nothing, and to whom nothing belongs
          136But condemnation, ignominy, and shame?
          137Who for so many benefits receiv'd
          138Turn'd recreant to God, ingrate and false,
          139And so of all true good himself despoil'd,
          140Yet, sacrilegious, to himself would take
          141That which to God alone of right belongs;
          142Yet so much bounty is in God, such grace,
          143That who advance his glory, not thir own,
          144Them he himself to glory will advance.
          145  So spake the Son of God; and here again
          146Satan had not to answer, but stood struck
          147With guilt of his own sin, for he himself
          148Insatiable of glory had lost all,
          149Yet of another Plea bethought him soon.
          150  Of glory as thou wilt, said he, so deem,
          151Worth or not worth the seeking, let it pass:
          152But to a Kingdom thou art born, ordain'd
          153To sit upon thy Father David's Throne;
          154By Mothers side thy Father, though thy right
          155Be now in powerful hands, that will not part
          156Easily from possession won with arms;
          157Judæa now and all the promis'd land
          158Reduc't a Province under Roman yoke,
          159Obeys Tiberius; nor is always rul'd
          160With temperate sway; oft have they violated
          161The Temple, oft the Law with foul affronts,
          162Abominations rather, as did once
          163Antiochus: and think'st thou to regain
          164Thy right by sitting still or thus retiring?
          165So did not Machabeus: he indeed
          166Retir'd unto the Desert, but with arms;
          167And o're a mighty King so oft prevail'd,
          168That by strong hand his Family obtain'd,
          169Though Priests, the Crown, and David's Throne usurp'd,
          170With Modin and her Suburbs once content.
          171If Kingdom move thee not, let move thee Zeal,
          172And Duty; Zeal and Duty are not slow;
          173But on Occasions forelock watchful wait.
          174They themselves rather are occasion best,
          175Zeal of thy Fathers house, Duty to free
          176Thy Country from her Heathen servitude;
          177So shalt thou best fullfil, best verifie
          178The Prophets old, who sung thy endless raign,
          179The happier raign the sooner it begins,
          180Raign then; what canst thou better do the while?
          181  To whom our Saviour answer thus return'd.
          182All things are best fullfil'd in their due time,
          183And time there is for all things, Truth hath said:
          184If of my raign Prophetic Writ hath told,
          185That it shall never end, so when begin
          186The Father in his purpose hath decreed,
          187He in whose hand all times and seasons roul.
          188What if he hath decreed that I shall first
          189Be try'd in humble state, and things adverse,
          190By tribulations, injuries, insults,
          191Contempts, and scorns, and snares, and violence,
          192Suffering, abstaining, quietly expecting
          193Without distrust or doubt, that he may know
          194What I can suffer, how obey? who best
          195Can suffer, best can do; best reign, who first
          196Well hath obey'd; just tryal e're I merit
          197My exaltation without change or end.
          198But what concerns it thee when I begin
          199My everlasting Kingdom, why art thou
          200Sollicitous, what moves thy inquisition?
          201Know'st thou not that my rising is thy fall,
          202And my promotion will be thy destruction?
          203  To whom the Tempter inly rackt reply'd.
          204Let that come when it comes; all hope is lost
          205Of my reception into grace; what worse?
          206For where no hope is left, is left no fear;
          207If there be worse, the expectation more
          208Of worse torments me then the feeling can.
          209I would be at the worst; worst is my Port,
          210My harbour and my ultimate repose,
          211The end I would attain, my final good.
          212My error was my error and my crime
          213My crime; whatever for it self condemn'd,
          214And will alike be punish'd; whether thou
          215Raign or raign not; though to that gentle brow
          216Willingly I could flye, and hope thy raign,
          217From that placid aspect and meek regard,
          218Rather then aggravate my evil state,
          219Would stand between me and thy Fathers ire,
          220(Whose ire I dread more then the fire of Hell)
          221A shelter and a kind of shading cool
          222Interposition, as a summers cloud.
          223If I then to the worst that can be hast,
          224Why move thy feet so slow to what is best,
          225Happiest both to thy self and all the world,
          226That thou who worthiest art should'st be thir King?
          227Perhaps thou linger'st in deep thoughts detain'd
          228Of the enterprize so hazardous and high;
          229No wonder, for though in thee be united
          230What of perfection can in man be found,
          231Or human nature can receive, consider
          232Thy life hath yet been private, most part spent
          233At home, scarce view'd the Gallilean Towns,
          234And once a year Jerusalem, few days
          235Short sojourn; and what thence could'st thou observe?
          236The world thou hast not seen, much less her glory,
          237Empires, and Monarchs, and thir radiant Courts,
          238Best school of best experience, quickest in sight
          239In all things that to greatest actions lead.
          240The wisest, unexperienc't, will be ever
          241Timorous and loth, with novice modesty,
          242(As he who seeking Asses found a Kingdom)
          243Irresolute, unhardy, unadventrous:
          244But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit
          245Those rudiments, and see before thine eyes
          246The Monarchies of the Earth, thir pomp and state,
          247Sufficient introduction to inform
          248Thee, of thy self so apt, in regal Arts,
          249And regal Mysteries; that thou may'st know
          250How best their opposition to withstand.
          251  With that (such power was giv'n him then) he took
          252The Son of God up to a Mountain high.
          253It was a Mountain at whose verdant feet
          254A spatious plain out stretch't in circuit wide
          255Lay pleasant; from his side two rivers flow'd,
          256Th' one winding, the other strait and left between
          257Fair Champain with less rivers interveind,
          258Then meeting joyn'd thir tribute to the Sea:
          259Fertil of corn the glebe, of oyl and wine,
          260With herds the pastures throng'd, with flocks the hills,
          261Huge Cities and high towr'd, that well might seem
          262The seats of mightiest Monarchs, and so large
          263The Prospect was, that here and there was room
          264For barren desert fountainless and dry.
          265To this high mountain top the Tempter brought
          266Our Saviour, and new train of words began.
          267  Well have we speeded, and o're hill and dale,
          268Forest and field, and flood, Temples and Towers
          269Cut shorter many a league; here thou behold'st
          270Assyria and her Empires antient bounds,
          271Araxes and the Caspian lake, thence on
          272As far as Indus East, Euphrates West,
          273And oft beyond; to South the Persian Bay,
          274And inaccessible the Arabian drouth:
          275Here Ninevee, of length within her wall
          276Several days journey, built by Ninus old,
          277Of that first golden Monarchy the seat,
          278And seat of Salmanassar, whose success
          279Israel in long captivity still mourns;
          280There Babylon the wonder of all tongues,
          281As antient, but rebuilt by him who twice
          282Judah and all thy Father David's house
          283Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,
          284Till Cyrus set them free; Persepolis
          285His City there thou seest, and Bactra there;
          286Ecbatana her structure vast there shews,
          287And Hecatompylos her hunderd gates,
          288There Susa by Choaspes, amber stream,
          289The drink of none but Kings; of later fame
          290Built by Emathian, or by Parthian hands,
          291The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there
          292Artaxata, Teredon, Tesiphon,
          293Turning with easie eye thou may'st behold.
          294All these the Parthian, now some Ages past,
          295By great Arsaces led, who founded first
          296That Empire, under his dominion holds
          297From the luxurious Kings of Antioch won.
          298And just in time thou com'st to have a view
          299Of his great power; for now the Parthian King
          300In Ctesiphon hath gather'd all his Host
          301Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
          302Have wasted Sogdiana; to her aid
          303He marches now in hast; see, though from far,
          304His thousands, in what martial equipage
          305They issue forth, Steel Bows, and Shafts their arms
          306Of equal dread in flight, or in pursuit;
          307All Horsemen, in which fight they most excel;
          308See how in warlike muster they appear,
          309In Rhombs and wedges, and half moons, and wings.
          310  He look't and saw what numbers numberless
          311The City gates out powr'd, light armed Troops
          312In coats of Mail and military pride;
          313In Mail thir horses clad, yet fleet and strong,
          314Prauncing their riders bore, the flower and choice
          315Of many Provinces from bound to bound;
          316From Arachosia, from Candaor East,
          317And Margiana to the Hyrcanian cliffs
          318Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales,
          319From Atropatia and the neighbouring plains
          320Of Adiabene, Media, and the South
          321Of Susiana to Balsara's hav'n.
          322He saw them in thir forms of battell rang'd,
          323How quick they wheel'd, and flying behind them shot
          324Sharp sleet of arrowie showers against the face
          325Of thir pursuers, and overcame by flight;
          326The field all iron cast a gleaming brown,
          327Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor on each horn,
          328Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight;
          329Chariots or Elephants endorst with Towers
          330Of Archers, nor of labouring Pioners
          331A multitude with Spades and Axes arm'd
          332To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,
          333Or where plain was raise hill, or over-lay
          334With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke;
          335Mules after these, Camels and Dromedaries,
          336And Waggons fraught with Utensils of war.
          337Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
          338When Agrican with all his Northern powers
          339Besieg'd Albracca, as Romances tell;
          340The City of Gallaphrone, from thence to win
          341The fairest of her Sex Angelica
          342His daughter, sought by many Prowest Knights,
          343Both Paynim, and the Peers of Charlemane.
          344Such and so numerous was thir Chivalrie;
          345At sight whereof the Fiend yet more presum'd,
          346And to our Saviour thus his words renew'd.
          347  That thou may'st know I seek not to engage
          348Thy Vertue, and not every way secure
          349On no slight grounds thy safety; hear, and mark
          350To what end I have brought thee hither and shewn
          351All this fair sight; thy Kingdom though foretold
          352By Prophet or by Angel, unless thou
          353Endeavour, as thy Father David did,
          354Thou never shalt obtain; prediction still
          355In all things, and all men, supposes means,
          356Without means us'd, what it predicts revokes.
          357But say thou wer't possess'd of David's Throne
          358By free consent of all, none opposite,
          359Samaritan or Jew; how could'st thou hope
          360Long to enjoy it quiet and secure,
          361Between two such enclosing enemies
          362Roman and Parthian? therefore one of these
          363Thou must make sure thy own, the Parthian first
          364By my advice, as nearer and of late
          365Found able by invasion to annoy
          366Thy country, and captive lead away her Kings
          367Antigonus, and old Hyrcanus bound,
          368Maugre the Roman: it shall be my task
          369To render thee the Parthian at dispose;
          370Chuse which thou wilt by conquest or by league.
          371By him thou shalt regain, without him not,
          372That which alone can truly reinstall thee
          373In David's royal seat, his true Successour,
          374Deliverance of thy brethren, those ten Tribes
          375Whose off-spring in his Territory yet serve
          376In Habor, and among the Medes dispers't,
          377Ten Sons of Jacob, two of Joseph lost
          378Thus long from Israel; serving as of old
          379Thir Fathers in the land of Egypt serv'd,
          380This offer sets before thee to deliver.
          381These if from servitude thou shalt restore
          382To thir inheritance, then, nor till then,
          383Thou on the Throne of David in full glory,
          384From Egypt to Euphrates and beyond
          385Shalt raign, and Rome or Caesar not need fear.
          386  To whom our Saviour answer'd thus unmov'd.
          387Much ostentation vain of fleshly arm,
          388And fragile arms, much instrument of war
          389Long in preparing, soon to nothing brought,
          390Before mine eyes thou hast set; and in my ear
          391Vented much policy, and projects deep
          392Of enemies, of aids, battels and leagues,
          393Plausible to the world, to me worth naught.
          394Means I must use thou say'st, prediction else
          395Will unpredict and fail me of the Throne:
          396My time I told thee, (and that time for thee
          397Were better farthest off) is not yet come,;
          398When that comes think not thou to find me slack
          399On my part aught endeavouring, or to need
          400Thy politic maxims, or that cumbersome
          401Luggage of war there shewn me, argument
          402Of human weakness rather then of strength.
          403My brethren, as thou call'st them; those Ten Tribes
          404I must deliver, if I mean to raign
          405David's true heir, and his full Scepter sway
          406To just extent over all Israel's Sons;
          407But whence to thee this zeal, where was it then
          408For Israel, or for David, or his Throne,
          409When thou stood'st up his Tempter to the pride
          410Of numbring Israel, which cost the lives
          411Of threescore and ten thousand Israelites
          412By three days Pestilence? such was thy zeal
          413To Israel then, the same that now to me.
          414As for those captive Tribes, themselves were they
          415Who wrought their own captivity, fell off
          416From God to worship Calves, the Deities
          417Of Egypt, Baal next and Ashtaroth,
          418And all the Idolatries of Heathen round,
          419Besides thir other worse then heathenish crimes;
          420Nor in the land of their captivity
          421Humbled themselves, or penitent besought
          422The God of their fore-fathers; but so dy'd
          423Impenitent, and left a race behind
          424Like to themselves, distinguishable scarce
          425From Gentils, but by Circumcision vain,
          426And God with Idols in their worship joyn'd.
          427Should I of these the liberty regard,
          428Who freed, as to their antient Patrimony,
          429Unhumbl'd, unrepentant, unreform'd,
          430Headlong would follow; and to thir Gods perhaps
          431Of Bethel and of Dan? no, let them serve
          432Thir enemies, who serve Idols with God.
          433Yet he at length, time to himself best known,
          434Remembring Abraham by some wond'rous call
          435May bring them back repentant and sincere,
          436And at their passing cleave the Assyrian flood,
          437While to their native land with joy they hast,
          438As the Red Sea and Jordan once he cleft,
          439When to the promis'd land thir Fathers pass'd;
          440To his due time and providence I leave them.
          441  So spake Israel's true King, and to the Fiend
          442Made answer meet, that made void all his wiles.
          443So fares it when with truth falshood contends.

The End of the Third 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: 1671
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