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Paradise Lost: Book 07

 Descend from Heaven, Urania, by that name 
If rightly thou art called, whose voice divine 
Following, above the Olympian hill I soar, 
Above the flight of Pegasean wing! 
The meaning, not the name, I call: for thou 
Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top 
Of old Olympus dwellest; but, heavenly-born, 
Before the hills appeared, or fountain flowed, 
Thou with eternal Wisdom didst converse, 
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play 
In presence of the Almighty Father, pleased 
With thy celestial song.
Up led by thee Into the Heaven of Heavens I have presumed, An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air, Thy tempering: with like safety guided down Return me to my native element: Lest from this flying steed unreined, (as once Bellerophon, though from a lower clime,) Dismounted, on the Aleian field I fall, Erroneous there to wander, and forlorn.
Half yet remains unsung, but narrower bound Within the visible diurnal sphere; Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole, More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchanged To hoarse or mute, though fallen on evil days, On evil days though fallen, and evil tongues; In darkness, and with dangers compassed round, And solitude; yet not alone, while thou Visitest my slumbers nightly, or when morn Purples the east: still govern thou my song, Urania, and fit audience find, though few.
But drive far off the barbarous dissonance Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears To rapture, till the savage clamour drowned Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend Her son.
So fail not thou, who thee implores: For thou art heavenly, she an empty dream.
Say, Goddess, what ensued when Raphael, The affable Arch-Angel, had forewarned Adam, by dire example, to beware Apostasy, by what befel in Heaven To those apostates; lest the like befall In Paradise to Adam or his race, Charged not to touch the interdicted tree, If they transgress, and slight that sole command, So easily obeyed amid the choice Of all tastes else to please their appetite, Though wandering.
He, with his consorted Eve, The story heard attentive, and was filled With admiration and deep muse, to hear Of things so high and strange; things, to their thought So unimaginable, as hate in Heaven, And war so near the peace of God in bliss, With such confusion: but the evil, soon Driven back, redounded as a flood on those From whom it sprung; impossible to mix With blessedness.
Whence Adam soon repealed The doubts that in his heart arose: and now Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know What nearer might concern him, how this world Of Heaven and Earth conspicuous first began; When, and whereof created; for what cause; What within Eden, or without, was done Before his memory; as one whose drouth Yet scarce allayed still eyes the current stream, Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites, Proceeded thus to ask his heavenly guest.
Great things, and full of wonder in our ears, Far differing from this world, thou hast revealed, Divine interpreter! by favour sent Down from the empyrean, to forewarn Us timely of what might else have been our loss, Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach; For which to the infinitely Good we owe Immortal thanks, and his admonishment Receive, with solemn purpose to observe Immutably his sovran will, the end Of what we are.
But since thou hast vouchsafed Gently, for our instruction, to impart Things above earthly thought, which yet concerned Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seemed, Deign to descend now lower, and relate What may no less perhaps avail us known, How first began this Heaven which we behold Distant so high, with moving fires adorned Innumerable; and this which yields or fills All space, the ambient air wide interfused Embracing round this floried Earth; what cause Moved the Creator, in his holy rest Through all eternity, so late to build In Chaos; and the work begun, how soon Absolved; if unforbid thou mayest unfold What we, not to explore the secrets ask Of his eternal empire, but the more To magnify his works, the more we know.
And the great light of day yet wants to run Much of his race though steep; suspense in Heaven, Held by thy voice, thy potent voice, he hears, And longer will delay to hear thee tell His generation, and the rising birth Of Nature from the unapparent Deep: Or if the star of evening and the moon Haste to thy audience, Night with her will bring, Silence; and Sleep, listening to thee, will watch; Or we can bid his absence, till thy song End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine.
Thus Adam his illustrious guest besought: And thus the Godlike Angel answered mild.
This also thy request, with caution asked, Obtain; though to recount almighty works What words or tongue of Seraph can suffice, Or heart of man suffice to comprehend? Yet what thou canst attain, which best may serve To glorify the Maker, and infer Thee also happier, shall not be withheld Thy hearing; such commission from above I have received, to answer thy desire Of knowledge within bounds; beyond, abstain To ask; nor let thine own inventions hope Things not revealed, which the invisible King, Only Omniscient, hath suppressed in night; To none communicable in Earth or Heaven: Enough is left besides to search and know.
But knowledge is as food, and needs no less Her temperance over appetite, to know In measure what the mind may well contain; Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind.
Know then, that, after Lucifer from Heaven (So call him, brighter once amidst the host Of Angels, than that star the stars among,) Fell with his flaming legions through the deep Into his place, and the great Son returned Victorious with his Saints, the Omnipotent Eternal Father from his throne beheld Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake.
At least our envious Foe hath failed, who thought All like himself rebellious, by whose aid This inaccessible high strength, the seat Of Deity supreme, us dispossessed, He trusted to have seised, and into fraud Drew many, whom their place knows here no more: Yet far the greater part have kept, I see, Their station; Heaven, yet populous, retains Number sufficient to possess her realms Though wide, and this high temple to frequent With ministeries due, and solemn rites: But, lest his heart exalt him in the harm Already done, to have dispeopled Heaven, My damage fondly deemed, I can repair That detriment, if such it be to lose Self-lost; and in a moment will create Another world, out of one man a race Of men innumerable, there to dwell, Not here; till, by degrees of merit raised, They open to themselves at length the way Up hither, under long obedience tried; And Earth be changed to Heaven, and Heaven to Earth, One kingdom, joy and union without end.
Mean while inhabit lax, ye Powers of Heaven; And thou my Word, begotten Son, by thee This I perform; speak thou, and be it done! My overshadowing Spirit and Might with thee I send along; ride forth, and bid the Deep Within appointed bounds be Heaven and Earth; Boundless the Deep, because I Am who fill Infinitude, nor vacuous the space.
Though I, uncircumscribed myself, retire, And put not forth my goodness, which is free To act or not, Necessity and Chance Approach not me, and what I will is Fate.
So spake the Almighty, and to what he spake His Word, the Filial Godhead, gave effect.
Immediate are the acts of God, more swift Than time or motion, but to human ears Cannot without process of speech be told, So told as earthly notion can receive.
Great triumph and rejoicing was in Heaven, When such was heard declared the Almighty's will; Glory they sung to the Most High, good will To future men, and in their dwellings peace; Glory to Him, whose just avenging ire Had driven out the ungodly from his sight And the habitations of the just; to Him Glory and praise, whose wisdom had ordained Good out of evil to create; instead Of Spirits malign, a better race to bring Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse His good to worlds and ages infinite.
So sang the Hierarchies: Mean while the Son On his great expedition now appeared, Girt with Omnipotence, with radiance crowned Of Majesty Divine; sapience and love Immense, and all his Father in him shone.
About his chariot numberless were poured Cherub, and Seraph, Potentates, and Thrones, And Virtues, winged Spirits, and chariots winged From the armoury of God; where stand of old Myriads, between two brazen mountains lodged Against a solemn day, harnessed at hand, Celestial equipage; and now came forth Spontaneous, for within them Spirit lived, Attendant on their Lord: Heaven opened wide Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound On golden hinges moving, to let forth The King of Glory, in his powerful Word And Spirit, coming to create new worlds.
On heavenly ground they stood; and from the shore They viewed the vast immeasurable abyss Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild, Up from the bottom turned by furious winds And surging waves, as mountains, to assault Heaven's highth, and with the center mix the pole.
Silence, ye troubled Waves, and thou Deep, peace, Said then the Omnifick Word; your discord end! Nor staid; but, on the wings of Cherubim Uplifted, in paternal glory rode Far into Chaos, and the world unborn; For Chaos heard his voice: Him all his train Followed in bright procession, to behold Creation, and the wonders of his might.
Then staid the fervid wheels, and in his hand He took the golden compasses, prepared In God's eternal store, to circumscribe This universe, and all created things: One foot he centered, and the other turned Round through the vast profundity obscure; And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds, This be thy just circumference, O World! Thus God the Heaven created, thus the Earth, Matter unformed and void: Darkness profound Covered the abyss: but on the watery calm His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread, And vital virtue infused, and vital warmth Throughout the fluid mass; but downward purged The black tartareous cold infernal dregs, Adverse to life: then founded, then conglobed Like things to like; the rest to several place Disparted, and between spun out the air; And Earth self-balanced on her center hung.
Let there be light, said God; and forthwith Light Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure, Sprung from the deep; and from her native east To journey through the aery gloom began, Sphered in a radiant cloud, for yet the sun Was not; she in a cloudy tabernacle Sojourned the while.
God saw the light was good; And light from darkness by the hemisphere Divided: light the Day, and darkness Night, He named.
Thus was the first day even and morn: Nor past uncelebrated, nor unsung By the celestial quires, when orient light Exhaling first from darkness they beheld; Birth-day of Heaven and Earth; with joy and shout The hollow universal orb they filled, And touched their golden harps, and hymning praised God and his works; Creator him they sung, Both when first evening was, and when first morn.
Again, God said, Let there be firmament Amid the waters, and let it divide The waters from the waters; and God made The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure, Transparent, elemental air, diffused In circuit to the uttermost convex Of this great round; partition firm and sure, The waters underneath from those above Dividing: for as earth, so he the world Built on circumfluous waters calm, in wide Crystalline ocean, and the loud misrule Of Chaos far removed; lest fierce extremes Contiguous might distemper the whole frame: And Heaven he named the Firmament: So even And morning chorus sung the second day.
The Earth was formed, but in the womb as yet Of waters, embryon immature involved, Appeared not: over all the face of Earth Main ocean flowed, not idle; but, with warm Prolifick humour softening all her globe, Fermented the great mother to conceive, Satiate with genial moisture; when God said, Be gathered now ye waters under Heaven Into one place, and let dry land appear.
Immediately the mountains huge appear Emergent, and their broad bare backs upheave Into the clouds; their tops ascend the sky: So high as heaved the tumid hills, so low Down sunk a hollow bottom broad and deep, Capacious bed of waters: Thither they Hasted with glad precipitance, uprolled, As drops on dust conglobing from the dry: Part rise in crystal wall, or ridge direct, For haste; such flight the great command impressed On the swift floods: As armies at the call Of trumpet (for of armies thou hast heard) Troop to their standard; so the watery throng, Wave rolling after wave, where way they found, If steep, with torrent rapture, if through plain, Soft-ebbing; nor withstood them rock or hill; But they, or under ground, or circuit wide With serpent errour wandering, found their way, And on the washy oose deep channels wore; Easy, ere God had bid the ground be dry, All but within those banks, where rivers now Stream, and perpetual draw their humid train.
The dry land, Earth; and the great receptacle Of congregated waters, he called Seas: And saw that it was good; and said, Let the Earth Put forth the verdant grass, herb yielding seed, And fruit-tree yielding fruit after her kind, Whose seed is in herself upon the Earth.
He scarce had said, when the bare Earth, till then Desart and bare, unsightly, unadorned, Brought forth the tender grass, whose verdure clad Her universal face with pleasant green; Then herbs of every leaf, that sudden flowered Opening their various colours, and made gay Her bosom, smelling sweet: and, these scarce blown, Forth flourished thick the clustering vine, forth crept The swelling gourd, up stood the corny reed Embattled in her field, and the humble shrub, And bush with frizzled hair implicit: Last Rose, as in dance, the stately trees, and spread Their branches hung with copious fruit, or gemmed Their blossoms: With high woods the hills were crowned; With tufts the valleys, and each fountain side; With borders long the rivers: that Earth now Seemed like to Heaven, a seat where Gods might dwell, Or wander with delight, and love to haunt Her sacred shades: though God had yet not rained Upon the Earth, and man to till the ground None was; but from the Earth a dewy mist Went up, and watered all the ground, and each Plant of the field; which, ere it was in the Earth, God made, and every herb, before it grew On the green stem: God saw that it was good: So even and morn recorded the third day.
Again the Almighty spake, Let there be lights High in the expanse of Heaven, to divide The day from night; and let them be for signs, For seasons, and for days, and circling years; And let them be for lights, as I ordain Their office in the firmament of Heaven, To give light on the Earth; and it was so.
And God made two great lights, great for their use To Man, the greater to have rule by day, The less by night, altern; and made the stars, And set them in the firmament of Heaven To illuminate the Earth, and rule the day In their vicissitude, and rule the night, And light from darkness to divide.
God saw, Surveying his great work, that it was good: For of celestial bodies first the sun A mighty sphere he framed, unlightsome first, Though of ethereal mould: then formed the moon Globose, and every magnitude of stars, And sowed with stars the Heaven, thick as a field: Of light by far the greater part he took, Transplanted from her cloudy shrine, and placed In the sun's orb, made porous to receive And drink the liquid light; firm to retain Her gathered beams, great palace now of light.
Hither, as to their fountain, other stars Repairing, in their golden urns draw light, And hence the morning-planet gilds her horns; By tincture or reflection they augment Their small peculiar, though from human sight So far remote, with diminution seen, First in his east the glorious lamp was seen, Regent of day, and all the horizon round Invested with bright rays, jocund to run His longitude through Heaven's high road; the gray Dawn, and the Pleiades, before him danced, Shedding sweet influence: Less bright the moon, But opposite in levelled west was set, His mirrour, with full face borrowing her light From him; for other light she needed none In that aspect, and still that distance keeps Till night; then in the east her turn she shines, Revolved on Heaven's great axle, and her reign With thousand lesser lights dividual holds, With thousand thousand stars, that then appeared Spangling the hemisphere: Then first adorned With their bright luminaries that set and rose, Glad evening and glad morn crowned the fourth day.
And God said, Let the waters generate Reptile with spawn abundant, living soul: And let fowl fly above the Earth, with wings Displayed on the open firmament of Heaven.
And God created the great whales, and each Soul living, each that crept, which plenteously The waters generated by their kinds; And every bird of wing after his kind; And saw that it was good, and blessed them, saying.
Be fruitful, multiply, and in the seas, And lakes, and running streams, the waters fill; And let the fowl be multiplied, on the Earth.
Forthwith the sounds and seas, each creek and bay, With fry innumerable swarm, and shoals Of fish that with their fins, and shining scales, Glide under the green wave, in sculls that oft Bank the mid sea: part single, or with mate, Graze the sea-weed their pasture, and through groves Of coral stray; or, sporting with quick glance, Show to the sun their waved coats dropt with gold; Or, in their pearly shells at ease, attend Moist nutriment; or under rocks their food In jointed armour watch: on smooth the seal And bended dolphins play: part huge of bulk Wallowing unwieldy, enormous in their gait, Tempest the ocean: there leviathan, Hugest of living creatures, on the deep Stretched like a promontory sleeps or swims, And seems a moving land; and at his gills Draws in, and at his trunk spouts out, a sea.
Mean while the tepid caves, and fens, and shores, Their brood as numerous hatch, from the egg that soon Bursting with kindly rupture forth disclosed Their callow young; but feathered soon and fledge They summed their pens; and, soaring the air sublime, With clang despised the ground, under a cloud In prospect; there the eagle and the stork On cliffs and cedar tops their eyries build: Part loosely wing the region, part more wise In common, ranged in figure, wedge their way, Intelligent of seasons, and set forth Their aery caravan, high over seas Flying, and over lands, with mutual wing Easing their flight; so steers the prudent crane Her annual voyage, borne on winds; the air Floats as they pass, fanned with unnumbered plumes: From branch to branch the smaller birds with song Solaced the woods, and spread their painted wings Till even; nor then the solemn nightingale Ceased warbling, but all night tun'd her soft lays: Others, on silver lakes and rivers, bathed Their downy breast; the swan with arched neck, Between her white wings mantling proudly, rows Her state with oary feet; yet oft they quit The dank, and, rising on stiff pennons, tower The mid aereal sky: Others on ground Walked firm; the crested cock whose clarion sounds The silent hours, and the other whose gay train Adorns him, coloured with the florid hue Of rainbows and starry eyes.
The waters thus With fish replenished, and the air with fowl, Evening and morn solemnized the fifth day.
The sixth, and of creation last, arose With evening harps and matin; when God said, Let the Earth bring forth soul living in her kind, Cattle, and creeping things, and beast of the Earth, Each in their kind.
The Earth obeyed, and straight Opening her fertile womb teemed at a birth Innumerous living creatures, perfect forms, Limbed and full grown: Out of the ground up rose, As from his lair, the wild beast where he wons In forest wild, in thicket, brake, or den; Among the trees in pairs they rose, they walked: The cattle in the fields and meadows green: Those rare and solitary, these in flocks Pasturing at once, and in broad herds upsprung.
The grassy clods now calved; now half appeared The tawny lion, pawing to get free His hinder parts, then springs as broke from bonds, And rampant shakes his brinded mane; the ounce, The libbard, and the tiger, as the mole Rising, the crumbled earth above them threw In hillocks: The swift stag from under ground Bore up his branching head: Scarce from his mould Behemoth biggest born of earth upheaved His vastness: Fleeced the flocks and bleating rose, As plants: Ambiguous between sea and land The river-horse, and scaly crocodile.
At once came forth whatever creeps the ground, Insect or worm: those waved their limber fans For wings, and smallest lineaments exact In all the liveries decked of summer's pride With spots of gold and purple, azure and green: These, as a line, their long dimension drew, Streaking the ground with sinuous trace; not all Minims of nature; some of serpent-kind, Wonderous in length and corpulence, involved Their snaky folds, and added wings.
First crept The parsimonious emmet, provident Of future; in small room large heart enclosed; Pattern of just equality perhaps Hereafter, joined in her popular tribes Of commonalty: Swarming next appeared The female bee, that feeds her husband drone Deliciously, and builds her waxen cells With honey stored: The rest are numberless, And thou their natures knowest, and gavest them names, Needless to thee repeated; nor unknown The serpent, subtlest beast of all the field, Of huge extent sometimes, with brazen eyes And hairy mane terrifick, though to thee Not noxious, but obedient at thy call.
Now Heaven in all her glory shone, and rolled Her motions, as the great first Mover's hand First wheeled their course: Earth in her rich attire Consummate lovely smiled; air, water, earth, By fowl, fish, beast, was flown, was swum, was walked, Frequent; and of the sixth day yet remained: There wanted yet the master-work, the end Of all yet done; a creature, who, not prone And brute as other creatures, but endued With sanctity of reason, might erect His stature, and upright with front serene Govern the rest, self-knowing; and from thence Magnanimous to correspond with Heaven, But grateful to acknowledge whence his good Descends, thither with heart, and voice, and eyes Directed in devotion, to adore And worship God Supreme, who made him chief Of all his works: therefore the Omnipotent Eternal Father (for where is not he Present?) thus to his Son audibly spake.
Let us make now Man in our image, Man In our similitude, and let them rule Over the fish and fowl of sea and air, Beast of the field, and over all the Earth, And every creeping thing that creeps the ground.
This said, he formed thee, Adam, thee, O Man, Dust of the ground, and in thy nostrils breathed The breath of life; in his own image he Created thee, in the image of God Express; and thou becamest a living soul.
Male he created thee; but thy consort Female, for race; then blessed mankind, and said, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the Earth; Subdue it, and throughout dominion hold Over fish of the sea, and fowl of the air, And every living thing that moves on the Earth.
Wherever thus created, for no place Is yet distinct by name, thence, as thou knowest, He brought thee into this delicious grove, This garden, planted with the trees of God, Delectable both to behold and taste; And freely all their pleasant fruit for food Gave thee; all sorts are here that all the Earth yields, Variety without end; but of the tree, Which, tasted, works knowledge of good and evil, Thou mayest not; in the day thou eatest, thou diest; Death is the penalty imposed; beware, And govern well thy appetite; lest Sin Surprise thee, and her black attendant Death.
Here finished he, and all that he had made Viewed, and behold all was entirely good; So even and morn accomplished the sixth day: Yet not till the Creator from his work Desisting, though unwearied, up returned, Up to the Heaven of Heavens, his high abode; Thence to behold this new created world, The addition of his empire, how it showed In prospect from his throne, how good, how fair, Answering his great idea.
Up he rode Followed with acclamation, and the sound Symphonious of ten thousand harps, that tuned Angelick harmonies: The earth, the air Resounded, (thou rememberest, for thou heardst,) The heavens and all the constellations rung, The planets in their station listening stood, While the bright pomp ascended jubilant.
Open, ye everlasting gates! they sung, Open, ye Heavens! your living doors;let in The great Creator from his work returned Magnificent, his six days work, a World; Open, and henceforth oft; for God will deign To visit oft the dwellings of just men, Delighted; and with frequent intercourse Thither will send his winged messengers On errands of supernal grace.
So sung The glorious train ascending: He through Heaven, That opened wide her blazing portals, led To God's eternal house direct the way; A broad and ample road, whose dust is gold And pavement stars, as stars to thee appear, Seen in the galaxy, that milky way, Which nightly, as a circling zone, thou seest Powdered with stars.
And now on Earth the seventh Evening arose in Eden, for the sun Was set, and twilight from the east came on, Forerunning night; when at the holy mount Of Heaven's high-seated top, the imperial throne Of Godhead, fixed for ever firm and sure, The Filial Power arrived, and sat him down With his great Father; for he also went Invisible, yet staid, (such privilege Hath Omnipresence) and the work ordained, Author and End of all things; and, from work Now resting, blessed and hallowed the seventh day, As resting on that day from all his work, But not in silence holy kept: the harp Had work and rested not; the solemn pipe, And dulcimer, all organs of sweet stop, All sounds on fret by string or golden wire, Tempered soft tunings, intermixed with voice Choral or unison: of incense clouds, Fuming from golden censers, hid the mount.
Creation and the six days acts they sung: Great are thy works, Jehovah! infinite Thy power! what thought can measure thee, or tongue Relate thee! Greater now in thy return Than from the giant Angels: Thee that day Thy thunders magnified; but to create Is greater than created to destroy.
Who can impair thee, Mighty King, or bound Thy empire! Easily the proud attempt Of Spirits apostate, and their counsels vain, Thou hast repelled; while impiously they thought Thee to diminish, and from thee withdraw The number of thy worshippers.
Who seeks To lessen thee, against his purpose serves To manifest the more thy might: his evil Thou usest, and from thence createst more good.
Witness this new-made world, another Heaven From Heaven-gate not far, founded in view On the clear hyaline, the glassy sea; Of amplitude almost immense, with stars Numerous, and every star perhaps a world Of destined habitation; but thou knowest Their seasons: among these the seat of Men, Earth, with her nether ocean circumfused, Their pleasant dwelling-place.
Thrice happy Men, And sons of Men, whom God hath thus advanced! Created in his image, there to dwell And worship him; and in reward to rule Over his works, on earth, in sea, or air, And multiply a race of worshippers Holy and just: Thrice happy, if they know Their happiness, and persevere upright! So sung they, and the empyrean rung With halleluiahs: Thus was sabbath kept.
And thy request think now fulfilled, that asked How first this world and face of things began, And what before thy memory was done From the beginning; that posterity, Informed by thee, might know: If else thou seekest Aught, not surpassing human measure, say.

Poem by John Milton
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