Paradise Lost Book IV
by John Milton

Paradise Lost book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download Paradise Lost Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Book IV

 O, for that warning voice, which he, who saw 
The Apocalypse, heard cry in Heaven aloud, 
Then when the Dragon, put to second rout, 
Came furious down to be revenged on men, 
Woe to the inhabitants on earth! that now, 
While time was, our first parents had been warned 
The coming of their secret foe, and 'scaped, 
Haply so 'scaped his mortal snare:  For now 
Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down, 
The tempter ere the accuser of mankind, 
To wreak on innocent frail Man his loss 
Of that first battle, and his flight to Hell: 
Yet, not rejoicing in his speed, though bold 
Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast, 
Begins his dire attempt; which nigh the birth 
Now rolling boils in his tumultuous breast, 
And like a devilish engine back recoils 
Upon himself; horrour and doubt distract 
His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir 
The Hell within him; for within him Hell 
He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell 
One step, no more than from himself, can fly 
By change of place:  Now conscience wakes despair, 
That slumbered; wakes the bitter memory 
Of what he was, what is, and what must be 
Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue. 
Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view 
Lay pleasant, his grieved look he fixes sad; 
Sometimes towards Heaven, and the full-blazing sun, 
Which now sat high in his meridian tower: 
Then, much revolving, thus in sighs began. 
O thou, that, with surpassing glory crowned, 
Lookest from thy sole dominion like the God 
Of this new world; at whose sight all the stars 
Hide their diminished heads; to thee I call, 
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name, 
Of Sun! to tell thee how I hate thy beams, 
That bring to my remembrance from what state 
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere; 
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down 
Warring in Heaven against Heaven's matchless King: 
Ah, wherefore! he deserved no such return 
From me, whom he created what I was 
In that bright eminence, and with his good 
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard. 
What could be less than to afford him praise, 
The easiest recompence, and pay him thanks, 
How due! yet all his good proved ill in me, 
And wrought but malice; lifted up so high 
I sdeined subjection, and thought one step higher 
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit 
The debt immense of endless gratitude, 
So burdensome still paying, still to owe, 
Forgetful what from him I still received, 
And understood not that a grateful mind 
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once 
Indebted and discharged; what burden then 
O, had his powerful destiny ordained 
Me some inferiour Angel, I had stood 
Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised 
Ambition!  Yet why not some other Power 
As great might have aspired, and me, though mean, 
Drawn to his part; but other Powers as great 
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within 
Or from without, to all temptations armed. 
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand? 
Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse, 
But Heaven's free love dealt equally to all? 
Be then his love accursed, since love or hate, 
To me alike, it deals eternal woe. 
Nay, cursed be thou; since against his thy will 
Chose freely what it now so justly rues. 
Me miserable! which way shall I fly 
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair? 
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell; 
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep 
Still threatening to devour me opens wide, 
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven. 
O, then, at last relent:  Is there no place 
Left for repentance, none for pardon left? 
None left but by submission; and that word 
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame 
Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduced 
With other promises and other vaunts 
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue 
The Omnipotent.  Ay me! they little know 
How dearly I abide that boast so vain, 
Under what torments inwardly I groan, 
While they adore me on the throne of Hell. 
With diadem and scepter high advanced, 
The lower...

(The entire section is 7,760 words.)