Paradise Lost Book IX
by John Milton

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Book IX

 No more of talk where God or Angel guest 
With Man, as with his friend, familiar us'd, 
To sit indulgent, and with him partake 
Rural repast; permitting him the while 
Venial discourse unblam'd. I now must change 
Those notes to tragick; foul distrust, and breach 
Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt, 
And disobedience: on the part of Heaven 
Now alienated, distance and distaste, 
Anger and just rebuke, and judgement given, 
That brought into this world a world of woe, 
Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery 
Death's harbinger: Sad talk!yet argument 
Not less but more heroick than the wrath 
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued 
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage 
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespous'd; 
Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long 
Perplexed the Greek, and Cytherea's son:                         
If answerable style I can obtain 
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns 
Her nightly visitation unimplor'd, 
And dictates to me slumbering; or inspires 
Easy my unpremeditated verse: 
Since first this subject for heroick song 
Pleas'd me long choosing, and beginning late; 
Not sedulous by nature to indite 
Wars, hitherto the only argument 
Heroick deem'd chief mastery to dissect 
With long and tedious havock fabled knights 
In battles feign'd; the better fortitude 
Of patience and heroick martyrdom 
Unsung; or to describe races and games, 
Or tilting furniture, imblazon'd shields, 
Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds, 
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights 
At joust and tournament; then marshall'd feast 
Serv'd up in hall with sewers and seneshals; 
The skill of artifice or office mean, 
Not that which justly gives heroick name 
To person, or to poem.  Me, of these 
Nor skill'd nor studious, higher argument 
Remains; sufficient of itself to raise 
That name, unless an age too late, or cold 
Climate, or years, damp my intended wing 
Depress'd; and much they may, if all be mine, 
Not hers, who brings it nightly to my ear. 
The sun was sunk, and after him the star 
Of Hesperus, whose office is to bring 
Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter 
"twixt day and night, and now from end to end 
Night's hemisphere had veil'd the horizon round: 
When satan, who late fled before the threats 
Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd 
In meditated fraud and malice, bent 
On Man's destruction, maugre what might hap 
Of heavier on himself, fearless returned 
From compassing the earth; cautious of day, 
Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descried 
His entrance, and foreworned the Cherubim 
That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven, 
The space of seven continued nights he rode 
With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line 
He circled; four times crossed the car of night 
From pole to pole, traversing each colure; 
On the eighth returned; and, on the coast averse 
From entrance or Cherubick watch, by stealth 
Found unsuspected way.  There was a place, 
Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the change, 
Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise, 
Into a gulf shot under ground, till part 
Rose up a fountain by the tree of life: 
In with the river sunk, and with it rose 
Satan, involved in rising mist; then sought 
Where to lie hid; sea he had searched, and land, 
From Eden over Pontus and the pool 
Maeotis, up beyond the river Ob; 
Downward as far antarctick; and in length, 
West from Orontes to the ocean barred 
At Darien ; thence to the land where flows 
Ganges and Indus: Thus the orb he roamed 
With narrow search; and with inspection deep 
Considered every creature, which of all 
Most opportune might serve his wiles; and found 
The Serpent subtlest beast of all the field. 
Him after long debate, irresolute 
Of thoughts revolved, his final sentence chose 
Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom 
To enter, and his dark suggestions hide 
From sharpest sight: for, in the wily snake 
Whatever sleights, none would suspicious mark, 
As from his wit and native subtlety 
Proceeding; which, in other beasts observed, 
Doubt might...

(The entire section is 9,039 words.)