Paradise Lost

Author: John Milton  | Date: 1663


The Argument

The Son of God presents to his Father the Prayers of our first Parents now repenting, and intercedes for them: God accepts them, but declares that they must no longer abide in Paradise; sends Michael with a Band of Cherubim to dispossess them; but first to reveal to Adam future things: Michaels coming down. Adam shews to Eve certain ominous signs; he discerns Michaels approach, goes out to meet him: the Angel denounces thir departure. Eve’s Lamentation. Adam pleads, but submits: The Angel leads him up to a high Hill, sets before him in vision what shall happ’n till the Flood.

Thus they in lowliest plight repentant stood

Praying, for from the Mercie-seat above

Prevenient Grace descending had remov’d

The stonie from thir hearts, and made new flesh

Regenerate grow instead, that sighs now breath’d

Unutterable, which the Spirit of prayer

Inspir’d, and wing’d for Heav’n with speedier flight

Then loudest Oratorie: yet thir port

Not of mean suiters, nor important less

Seem’d thir Petition, then when th’ ancient Pair

In Fables old, less ancient yet then these,

Deucalion and chaste Pyrrha to restore

The Race of Mankind drownd, before the Shrine

Of Themis stood devout. To Heav’n hir prayers

Flew up, nor missd the way, by envious windes

Blow’n vagabond or frustrate: in they passd

Dimentionless through Heav’nly dores; then clad

With incense, where the Golden Altar fum’d,

By thir great Intercessor, came in sight

Before the Fathers Throne: Them the glad Son

Presenting, thus to intercede began.

See Father, what first fruits on Earth are sprung

From thy implanted Grace in Man, these Sighs

And Prayers, which in this Golden Censer, mixt

With Incense, I thy Priest before thee bring,

Fruits of more pleasing savour from thy seed

Sow’n with contrition in his heart, then those

Which his own hand manuring all the Trees

Of Paradise could have produc’t, ere fall’n

From innocence. Now therefore bend thine eare

To supplication, heare his sighs though mute;

Unskilful with what words to pray, let me

Interpret for him, mee his Advocate

And propitiation, all his works on me

Good or not good ingraft, my Merit those

Shall perfet, and for these my Death shall pay.

Accept me, and in mee from these receave

The smell of peace toward Mankinde, let him live

Before thee reconcil’d, at least his days

Numberd, though sad, till Death, his doom (which I

To mitigate thus plead, not to reverse)

To better life shall yeeld him, where with mee

All my redeemd may dwell in joy and bliss,

Made one with me as I with thee am one.

To whom the Father, without Cloud, serene.

All thy request for Man, accepted Son,

Obtain, all thy request was my Decree:

But longer in that Paradise to dwell,

The Law I gave to Nature him forbids:

Those pure immortal Elements that know

No gross, no unharmoneous mixture foule,

Eject him tainted now, and purge him off

As a distemper, gross to aire as gross,

And mortal food, as may dispose him best

For dissolution wrought by Sin, that first

Distemperd all things, and of incorrupt

Corrupted. I at first with two fair gifts

Created him endowd, with Happiness

And Immortalitie: that fondly lost,

This other serv’d but to eternize woe;

Till I provided Death; so Death becomes

His final remedie, and after Life

Tri’d in sharp tribulation, and refin’d

By Faith and faithful works, to second Life,

Wak’t in the renovation of the just,

Resignes him up with Heav’n and Earth renewd.

But let us call to Synod all the Blest

Through Heavn’s wide bounds; from them I will not hide

My judgments, how with Mankind I proceed,

As how with peccant Angels late they saw;

And in thir state, though firm, stood more confirmd.

He ended, and the Son gave signal high

To the bright Minister that watch’d, hee blew

His Trumpet, heard in Oreb since perhaps

When God descended, and perhaps once more

To sound at general doom. Th’ Angelic blast

Filld all the Regions: from thir blissful Bowrs

Of Amarantin Shade, Fountain or Spring,

By the waters of Life, where ere they sate

In fellowships of joy: the Sons of Light

Hasted, resorting to the Summons high,

And took thir Seats; till from his Throne supream

Th’ Almighty thus pronounc’d his sovran Will.

O Sons, like one of us Man is become

To know both Good and Evil, since his taste

Of that defended Fruit; but let him boast

His knowledge of Good lost, and Evil got,

Happier, had suffic’d him to have known

Good by it self, and Evil not at all.

He sorrows now, repents, and prayes contrite,

My motions in him, longer then they move,

His heart I know, how variable and vain

Self-left. Least therefore his now bolder hand

Reach also of the Tree of Life, and eat,

And live for ever, dream at least to live

For ever, to remove him I decree,

And send him from the Garden forth to Till

The Ground whence he was taken, fitter soile.

Michael, this my behest have thou in charge,

Take to thee from among the Cherubim

Thy choice of flaming Warriours, least the Fiend

Or in behalf of Man, or to invade

Vacant possession som new trouble raise:

Hast thee, and from the Paradise of God

Without remorse drive out the sinful Pair,

From hallowd ground th’ unholie, and denounce

To them and to thir Progenie from thence

Perpetual banishment. Yet least they faint

At the sad Sentence rigorously urg’d,

For I behold them soft’nd and with tears

Bewailing thir excess, all terror hide.

if patiently thy bidding they obey,

Dismiss them not disconsolate; reveale

To Adam what shall come in future dayes,

As I shall thee enlighten, intermix

My Cov’nant in the Womans seed renewd;

So send them forth, though sorrowing, yet in peace:

And on the East side of the Garden place,

Where entrance up from Eden easiest climbes,

Cherubic watch, and of a Sword the flame

Wide waving, all approach farr off to fright,

And guard all passage to the Tree of Life:

Least Paradise a receptacle prove

To Spirits foule, and all my Trees thir prey,

With whose stol’n Fruit Man once more to delude.

He ceas’d; and th’ Archangelic Power prepar’d

For swift descent, with him the Cohort bright

Of watchful Cherubim; four faces each

Had, like a double Janus, all thir shape

Spangl’d with eyes more numerous then those

Of Argus, and more wakeful then to drouze,

Charm’d with Arcadian Pipe, the Pastoral Reed

Of Hermes, or his opiate Rod. Mean while

To resalute the World with sacred Light

Leucothea wak’d, and with fresh dews imbalmd

The Earth, when Adam and first Matron Eve

Had ended now thir Orisons, and found,

Strength added from above, new hope to spring

Out of despaire, joy, but with fear yet linkt;

Which thus to Eve his welcome words renewd.

Eve, easily may Faith admit, that all

The good which we enjoy, from Heav’n descends

But that from us ought should ascend to Heav’n

So prevalent as to concerne the mind

Of God high-blest, or to incline his will,

Hard to belief may seem; yet this will Prayer,

Or one short sigh of humane breath, up-borne

Ev’n to the Seat of God. For since I saught

By Prayer th’ offended Deitie to appease,

Kneel’d and before him humbl’d all my heart,

Methought I saw him placable and mild,

Bending his eare; perswasion in me grew

That I was heard with favour; peace return’d

Home to my brest, and to my memorie

His promise, that thy Seed shall bruise our Foe;

Which then not minded in dismay, yet now

Assures me that the bitterness of death

Is past, we shall live. Whence Haile to thee

Eve rightly call’d, Mother of all Mankind,

Mother of all things living, since by thee

Man is to live, and all things live for Man.

To whom thus Eve with sad demeanour meek.

Ill worthie I such title should belong

To me transgressour, who for thee ordaind

A help, became thy snare; to mee reproach

Rather belongs, distrust and all dispraise:

But infinite in pardon was my Judge,

That I who first brought Death on all, am grac’t

The sourse of life; next favourable thou,

Who highly thus to entitle me voutsaf’st,

Farr other name deserving. But the Field

To labour calls us now with sweat impos’d,

Though after sleepless Night; for see the Morn,

All unconcern’d with our unrest, begins

Her rosie progress smiling; let us forth,

I never from thy side henceforth to stray,

Wherere our days work lies, though now enjoind

Laborious, till day droop; while here we dwell,

What can be toilsom in these pleasant Walkes?

Here let us live, though in fall’n state, content.

So spake, so wish’d much humbl’d Eve, but Fate

Subscrib’d not; Nature first gave Signs, imprest

On Bird, Beast, Aire, Aire suddenly eclips’d

After short blush of Morn; nigh in her sight

The Bird of Jove, stoopt from his aerie tour,

Two Birds of gayest plume before him drove:

Down from a Hill the Beast that reigns in Woods,

First Hunter then, pursu’d a gentle brace,

Goodliest of all the Forrest, Hart and Hinde;

Direct to th’ Eastern Gate was bent thir flight.

Adam observ’d, and with his Eye the chase

Pursuing, not unmov’d to Eve thus spake.

O Eve, some furder change awaits us nigh,

Which Heav’n by these mute signs in Nature shews

Forerunners of his purpose, or to warn

Us haply too secure of our discharge

From penaltie, because from death releast

Some days; how long, and what till then our life,

Who knows, or more then this, that we are dust,

And thither must return and be no more.

Why else this double object in our sight

Of flight pursu’d in th’ Air and ore the ground

One way the self-same hour? why in the East

Darkness ere Dayes mid-course, and Morning light

More orient in yon Western Cloud that draws

O’re the blew Firmament a radiant white,

And slow descends, with thing heav’nly fraught.

He err’d not, for by this the heav’nly Bands

Down from a Skie of Jasper lighted now

In Paradise, and on a Hill made alt,

A glorious Apparition, had not doubt

And carnal fear that day dimm’d Adams eye.

Not that more glorious, when the Angels met

Jacob in Mahanaim, where he saw

The field Pavilion’d with his Guardians bright;

Nor that which on the flaming Mount appeerd

In Dothan, cover’d with a Camp of Fire,

Against the Syrian King, who to surprize

One man, Assassin-like had levied Warr,

Warr unproclam’d. The Princely Hierarch

In thir bright stand, there left his Powers to seise

Possession of the Garden; hee alone,

To finde where Adam shelterd, took his way,

Not unperceav’d of Adam, who to Eve,

While the great Visitant approachd, thus spake.

Eve, now expect great tidings, which perhaps

Of us will soon determin, or impose

New Laws to be observ’d; for I descrie

From yonder blazing Cloud that veils the Hill

One or the heav’nly Host, and by his Gate

None of the meanest, some great Potentate

Or of the Thrones above, such Majestie

Invests him coming; yet not terrible,

That I should fear, nor sociably mild,

As Raphael, that I should much confide,

But solemn and sublime, whom not to offend,

With reverence I must meet, and thou retire.

He ended; and th’ Arch-Angel soon drew nigh,

Not in his shape Celestial, but as Man

Clad to meet Man; over his lucid Armes

A militarie Vest of purple flowd

Livelier then Melibaean, or the graine

Of Sarra, worn by Kings and Hero’s old

In time of Truce; Iris had dipt the woof

His starrie Helme unbuckl’d shew’d him prime

In Manhood where Youth ended; by his side

As in a glistering Zodiac hung the Sword,

Satans dire dread, and in his hand the Spear,

Adam bowd low, hee Kingly from his State

Inclin’d not, but his coming thus declar’d.

Adam, Heav’ns high behest no Preface needs:

Sufficient that thy Prayers are heard, and Death,

Then due by sentence when thou didst transgress,

Defeated of his seisure many dayes

Giv’n thee of Grace, wherein thou may’st repent,

And one bad act with many deeds well done

Mayst cover: well may then thy Lord appeas’d

Redeem thee quite from Deaths rapacious claime;

But longer in this Paradise to dwell

Permits not; to remove thee I am come,

And send thee from the Garden forth to till

The ground whence thou wast tak’n, fitter Soile.

He added not, for Adam at the newes

Heart-strook with chilling gripe of sorrow stood,

That all his senses bound; Eve, who unseen

Yet all had heard, with audible lament

Discover’d soon the place of her retire.

O unexspected stroke, worse then of Death!

Must I thus leave thee Paradise? thus leave

Thee Native Soile, these happie Walks and Shades,

Fit haunt of Gods? where I had hope to spend,

Quiet though sad, the respit of that day

That must be mortal to us both. O flours,

That never will in other Climate grow,

My early visitation, and my last

At Eev’n, which I bred up with tender hand

From the first op’ning bud, and gave ye Names,

Who now shall reare ye to the Sun, or ranke

Your Tribes, and water from th’ ambrosial Fount?

Thee lastly nuptial Bowre, by mee adornd

With what to sight or smell was sweet; from thee

How shall I part, and whither wander down

Into a lower World, to this obscure

And wilde, how shall we breath in other Aire

Less pure, accustomd to immortal Fruits?

Whom thus the Angel interrupted milde.

Lament not Eve, but patiently resigne

What justly thou hast lost; nor set thy heart,

Thus over fond, on that which is not thine;

Thy going is not lonely, with thee goes

Thy Husband, him to follow thou art bound;

Where he abides, think there thy native soile.

Adam by this from the cold sudden damp

Recovering, and his scatterd spirits returnd,

To Michael thus his humble words addressd.

Celestial, whether among the Thrones, or nam’d

Of them the Highest, for such of shape may seem

Prince above Princes, gently hast thou tould

Thy message, which might else in telling wound,

And in performing end us; what besides

Of sorrow and dejection and despair

Our frailtie can sustain, thy tidings bring,

Departure from this happy place, our sweet

Recess, and onely consolation left

Familiar to our eyes, all places else

Inhospitable appeer and desolate,

Nor knowing us nor known: and if by prayer

Incessant I could hope to change the will

Of him who all things can, I would not cease

To wearie him with my assiduous cries:

But prayer against his absolute Decree

No more availes then breath against the winde,

Blown stifling back on him that breaths it forth:

Therefore this great bidding I submit.

This most afflicts me, that departing hence,

As from his face I shall be hid, deprivd

His blessed count’nance; here I could frequent,

With worship, place by place where he voutsaf’d

Presence Divine, and to my Sons relate;

On this Mount he appeerd, under this Tree

Stood visible, among these Pines his voice

I heard, here with him at this Fountain talk’d:

So many grateful Altars I would reare

Of grassie Terfe, and pile up every Stone

Of lustre from the brook, in memorie,

Or monument to Ages, and thereon

Offer sweet smelling Gumms & Fruits and Flours:

In yonder nether World where shall I seek

His bright appearances, or footstep trace?

For though I fled him angrie, yet recall’d

To life prolongd and promisd Race, I now

Gladly behold though but his utmost skirts

Of glory, and farr off his steps adore.

To whom thus Michael with regard benigne.

Adam, thou know’st Heav’n his, and all the Earth,

Not this Rock onely; his Omnipresence fills

Land, Sea, and Aire, and every kinde that lives,

Fomented by his virtual power and warmd:

All th’ Earth he gave thee to possess and rule,

No despicable gift; surmise not then

His presence to these narrow bounds confin’d

Of Paradise or Eden: this had been

Perhaps thy Capital Seate, from whence had spred

All generations, and had hither come

From all the ends of th’ Earth, to celebrate

And reverence thee thir great Progenitor.

But this proceminence thou hast lost, brought down

To dwell on eeven ground now with thy Sons:

Yet doubt not but in Vallie and in Plaine

God is as here, and will be found alike

Present, and of his presence many a signe

Still following thee, still compassing thee round

With goodness and paternal Love, his Face

Express, and of his steps the track Divine.

Which that thou mayst beleeve, and be confirmd,

Ere thou from hence depart, know I am sent

To shew thee what shall come in future dayes

To thee and to thy ofspring; good with bad

Expect to hear, supernal Grace contending

With sinfulness of Men; thereby to learn

True patience, and to temper joy with fear

And pious sorrow, equally enur’d

By moderation either state to heare,

Prosperous or adverse: so shalt thou lead

Safest thy life, and best prepar’d endure

Thy mortal passage when it comes. Ascend

This Hill; let Eve (for I have drencht her eyes)

Here sleep below while thou to foresight wak’st,

As once thou slepst, while Shee to life was formd.

To whom thus Adam gratefully repli’d.

Ascend, I follow thee, safe Guide, the path

Thou lead’st me, and to the hand of Heav’n submit,

However chast’ning, to the evil turne

My obvious breast, arming to overcom

By suffering, and earne rest from labour won,

If so I may attain. So both ascend

In the Visions of God: It was a Hill

Of Paradise the highest, from whose top

The Hemisphere of Earth in cleerest Ken

Stretcht out to amplest reach of prospect lay.

Not higher that Hill nor wider looking round,

Whereon for different cause the Tempter set

Our second Adam in the Wilderness,

To shew him all Earths Kingdomes and thir Glory.

His Eye might there command wherever stood

City of old or modern Fame, the Seat

Of mightiest Empire, from the destind Walls

Of Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Can

And Samarchand by Oxus, Temirs Throne,

To Paquin of Sinean Kings, and thence

To Agra and Lahor of great Mogul

Down to the golden Chersonese, or where

The Persian in Ecbatan sate, or since

In Hispahan, or where the Russian Ksar

In Mosco, or the Sultan in Bizance,

Turchestan-born; nor could his eye not ken

Th’ Empire of Negus to his utmost Port

Ercoco and the less Maritine Kings

Mombaza, and Quiloa, and Melind,

And Sofala thought Ophir, to the Realme

Of Congo, and Angola fardest South;

Or thence from Niger Flood to Atlas Mount

The Kingdoms of Almansor, Fez and Sus,

Marocco and Algiers, and Tremisen;

On Europe thence, and where Rome was to sway

The World: in Spirit perhaps he also saw

Rich Mexico the seat of Motezume,

And Cusco in Peru, the richer seat

Of Atabalipa, and yet unspoil’d

Guiana, whose great Citie Geryons Sons

Call El Dorado: but to nobler sights

Michael from Adams eyes the Filme remov’d

Which that false Fruit that promis’d clearer sight

Had bred; then purg’d with Euphrasie and Rue

The visual Nerve, for he had much to see;

And from the Well of Life three drops instill’d.

So deep the power of these Ingredients pierc’d,

Eeven to the inmost seat of mental sight,

That Adam now enforc’t to close his eyes,

Sunk down and all his Spirits became intranst:

But him the gentle Angel by the hand

Soon rais’d, and his attention thus recall’d.

Adam, now ope thine eyes, and first behold

Th’ effects which thy original crime hath wrought

In some to spring from thee, who never touch’d

Th’ excepted Tree, nor with the Snake conspir’d,

Nor sinn’d thy sin, yet from that sin derive

Corruption to bring forth more violent deeds.

His eyes he op’nd, and beheld a field,

Part arable and tilth, whereon were Sheaves

New reapt, the other part sheep-walks and foulds;

Ith’ midst an Altar as the Land-mark stood

Rustic, of grassie sord; thither anon

A sweatie Reaper from his Tillage brought

First Fruits, the green Eare, and the yellow Sheaf,

Uncull’d, as came to hand; a Shepherd next

More meek came with the Firstlings of his Flock

Choicest and best; then sacrificing, laid

The Inwards and thir Fat, with Incense strew’d,

On the cleft Wood, and all due Rites perform’d.

His Offring soon propitious Fire from Heav’n

Consum’d with nimble glance, and grateful steame;

The others not, for his was not sincere;

Whereat hee inlie rag’d, and as they talk’d,

Smote him into the Midriff with a stone

That beat out life; he fell, and deadly pale

Groand out his Soul with gushing bloud effus’d.

Much at that sight was Adam in his heart

Dismai’d, and thus in haste to th’ Angel cri’d.

O Teacher, some great mischief hath befall’n

To that meek man, who well had sacrific’d;

Is Pietie thus and pure Devotion paid?

T’ whom Michael thus, hee also mov’d, repli’d,

These two are Brethren, Adam, and to come

Out of thy loyns; th’ unjust the just hath slain,

For envie that his Brothers Offering found

From Heav’n acceptance; but the bloodie Fact

Will be aveng’d, and th’ others Faith approv’d

Loose no reward, though here thou see him die,

Rowling in dust and gore. To which our Sire.

Alas, both for theaeed and for the cause!

But have I now seen Death? Is this the way

I must return to native dust? O sight

Of terrour, foul and ugly to behold,

Horrid to think, how horrible to feel!

To whom thus Michael. Death thou hast seen

In his first shape on man; but many shapes

Of Death, and many are the wayes that lead

To his grim Cave, all dismal; yet to sense

More terrible at th’ entrance then within.

Some, as thou saw’st, by violent stroke shall die,

By Fire, Flood, Famin, by Intemperance more

In Meats and Drinks, which on the Earth shall bring

Diseases dire, of which a monstrous crew

Before thee shall appear; that thou mayst know

What miserie th’ inabstinence of Eve

Shall bring on men. Immediately a place

Before his eyes appeard, sad, noysom, dark,

A Lazar-house it seemd, wherein were laid

Numbers of all diseas’d, all maladies

Of gastly Spasm, or racking torture, qualmes

Of heart-sick Agonie, all feavorous kinds,

Convulsions, Epilepsies, fierce Catarrhs,

Intestin Stone and Ulcer, Colic pangs,

Dropsies, and Asthma’s, and Joint-racking Rheums.

Dire was the tossing, deep the groans, despair

Tended the sick busiest from Couch to Couch;

And over them triumphant Death his Dart

Shook, but delaid to strike, though oft invokt

With vows, as thir chief good, and final hope.

Sight so deform what heart of Rock could long

Drie-ey’d behold? Adam could not, but wept,

Though not of Woman born; compassion quell’d

His best of Man, and gave him up to tears

A space, till firmer thoughts restraind excess,

And scarce recovering words his plaint renew’d.

O miserable Mankind, to what fall

Degraded, to what wretched state reserv’d!

Better end heer unborn. Why is life giv’n

To be thus wrested from us? rather why

Obtruded on us thus? who if we knew

What we receive, would either not accept

Life offer’d, or soon beg to lay it down,

Glad to be so dismist in peace. Can thus

Th’ Image of God in man created once

So goodly and erect, though faultie since,

To such unsightly sufferings be debas’t

Under inhuman pains? Why should not Man,

Retaining still Divine similitude

In part, from such deformities be free,

And for his Makers Image sake exempt?

Thir Makers Image, answerd Michael, then

Forsook them, when themselves they villifi’d

To serve ungovern’d appetite, and took

His Image whom they serv’d, a brutish vice,

Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve.

Therefore so abject is thir punishment,

Disfiguring not Gods likeness, but thir own,

Or if his likeness, by themselves defac’t

While they pervert pure Natures healthful rules

To loathsom sickness, worthily, since they

Gods Image did not reverence in themselves.

I yeild it just, said Adam, and submit.

But is there yet no other way, besides

These painful passages, how we may come

To Death, and mix with our connatural dust?

There is, said Michael, if thou well observe

The rule of not too much, by temperance taught

In what thou eatst and drinkst, seeking from thence

Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight,

Till many years over thy head return:

So maist thou live, till like ripe Fruit thou drop

Into thy Mothers lap, or be with ease

Gatherd, not harshly pluckt, for death mature:

This is old age; but then thou must outlive

Thy youth, thy strength, thy beauty, which will change

To withered weak & gray; thy Senses then

Obtuse, all taste of pleasure must forgoe,

To what thou hast, and for the Aire of youth

Hopeful and cheerful, in thy blood will reigne

A melancholly damp of cold and dry

To waigh thy spirits down, and last consume

The Balme of Life. To whom our Ancestor.

Henceforth I flie not Death, nor would prolong

Life much, bent rather how I may be quit

Fairest and easiest of this combrous charge,

Which I must keep till my appointed day

Of rendring up, Michael to him repli’d.

Nor love thy Life, nor hate; but what thou livst

Live well, how long or short permit to Heav’n:

And now prepare thee for another sight.

He lookd and saw a spacious Plaine, whereon

Were Tents of various hue; by some were herds

Of Cattel grazing: others, whence the sound

Of Instruments that made melodious chime

Was heard, of Harp and Organ; and who moovd

Thir stops and chords was seen: his volant touch

Instinct through all proportions low and high

Fled and pursu’d transverse the resonant fugue.

In other part stood one who at the Forge

Labouring, two massie clods of Iron and Brass

Had melted (wether found where casual fire

Had wasted woods on Mountain or in Vale,

Down to the veins of Earth, thence gliding hot

To som Caves mouth, or whether washt by stream

From underground) the liquid Ore he dreind

Into fit moulds prepar’d; from which he formd

First his own Tooles; then, what might else be wrought

Fusil or grav’n in mettle. After these,

But on the hether side a different sort

From the high neighbouring Hills, which was thir Seat,

Down to the Plain descended: by thir guise

Just men they seemd, and all thir study bent

To worship God aright, and know his works

Not hid, nor those things last which might preserve

Freedom and Peace to men: they on the Plain

Long had not walkt, when from the Tents behold

A Beavie of fair Women, richly gay

In Gems and wanton dress; to the Harp they sung

Soft amorous Ditties, and in dance came on:

The Men though grave, ey’d them, and let thir eyes

Rove without rein, till in the amorous Net

Fast caught, they lik’d, and each his liking chose;

And now of love they treat till Eevning Star

Loves Harbinger then all in heat

They light the Nuptial Torch, and bid invoke

Hymen, then first marriage Rites invok’t;

With Feast and Musick all Tents resound.

Such happy interview and fair event

Of love & youth not lost, Songs, Garlands, Flours,

And charming Symphonies attach’d the heart

Of Adam, soon enclin’d to admit delight,

The bent of Nature; which he thus express’d.

True opener of mine eyes, prime Angel blest,

Much better seems this Vision, and more hope

Of peaceful dayes portends, then those two past;

Those were of hate and death, or pain much worse,

Here Nature seems fulfilld in all her ends.

To whom thus Michael. Judg not what is best

By pleasure, though to Nature seeming meet,

Created, as thou art, to nobler end

Holie and pure, conformitie divine.

Those Tents thou sawst so pleasant, were the Tents

Of wickedness, wherein shall dwell his Race

Who slew his Brother; studious they appere

Of Arts that polish Life, Inventers rare,

Unmindful of thir Maker, though his Spirit

Taught them, but they his gifts acknowledg’d none.

Yet all a beauteous ofspring shall beget;

For that fair femal Troop thou sawst, that seemd

Of Goddesses, so blithe, so smooth, so gay,

Yet empty of all good wherein consists

Womans domestic honour and chief praise;

Bred onely and completed to the taste

Of lustful appetence, to sing, to dance,

To dress, and troule the Tongue, and roule the Eye.

To these that sober Race of Men, whose lives

Religious titl’d them the Sons of God,

Shall yeild up all thir vertue, all thir fame

Ignobly, to the traines and to the smiles

Of these in Atheists, and now swim in joy,

(Erelong to swim at larg) and laugh; for which

The world erelongg a world of tears must weepe.

To whom thus Adam of short joy bereft.

O pittie and shame, that they who to live well

Enterd so faire, should turn aside to tread

Paths indirect, or in the mid way faint!

But still I see the tenor of Mans woe

Holds on the same, from Woman to begin.

From Mans effeminate slackness it begins,

Said th’ Angel, who should better hold his place

By wisdome, and superiour gifts receavd.

But now prepare thee for another Scene.

He lookd and saw wide Territorie spred

Before him, Towns, and rural works between,

Cities of Men with lofty Gates and Towrs,

Concours in Arms, fierce Faces threatning Warr,

Giants of mightie Bone, and bould emprise;

Part wield thir Arms, part courb the foaming Steed,

Single or in Array of Battel rang’d

Both Horse and Foot, nor idely mustring stood;

One way a Band select from forage drives

A herd of Beeves, faire Oxen and faire Kine

From a fat Meddow ground; or fleecy Flock,

Ewes and thir bleating Lambs over the Plaine,

Thir Bootie; scarce with Life the Shepherds flye,

But call in aide, which tacks a bloody Pray;

With cruel Tournament the Squadrons joine;

Where Cattel pastur’d late, now scatterd lies

With Carcasses and Arms ensanguind Field

Deserted: Others to a Citie strong

Lay Siege, encampt; by Batterie, Scale, and Mine,

Assaulting; others from the Wall defend

With Dart and Jav’lin, Stones and sulfurous Fire;

On each hand slaughter and gigantic deeds.

In other part the scepter’d Haralds cal

To Council in the Citie Gates: anon

Grey-headed men and grave, with Warriours mixt,

Assemble, and Harangues are heard, but soon

In factious opposition, till at last

Of middle Age one rising, eminent

In wise deport, spake much of Right and Wrong,

Of Justice, of Religion, Truth and Peace,

And Judgement from above: him old and young

Exploded, and had seiz’d with violent hands,

Had not a Cloud descending snatch’d him thence

Unseen amid the throng: so violence

Proceeded, and Oppression, and Sword-Law

Through all the Plain, and refuge none was found.

Adam was all in tears, and to his guide

Lamenting turnd full sad; O what are these,

Deaths Ministers, not Men, who thus deal Death

Inhumanly to men, and multiply

Ten thousand fould the sin of him who slew

His Brother; for of whom such massacher

Make they but of thir Brethren, men of men?

But who was that Just Man, whom had not Heav’n

Rescu’d, had in his Righteousness bin lost?

To whom thus Michael; These are the product

Of those ill-mated Marriages thou saw’st;

Where good with bad were matcht, who of themselves

Abhor to joyn; and by imprudence mixt,

Produce prodigious Births of bodie or mind.

Such were these Giants, men of high renown;

For in those dayes Might onely shall be admir’d,

And Valour and Heroic Vertu’call’d;

To overcome in Battel, and subdue

Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite

Man-slaughter, shall be held the highest pitch

Of human Glorie, and for Glorie done

Of triumph, to be styl’d great Conquerours,

Patrons of Mankind, Gods, and Sons of Gods,

Destroyers rightlier call’d and Plagues of men.

Thus Fame shall be achiev’d, renown on Earth,

And what most merits fame in silence hid.

But hee the seventh from thee, whom thou beheldst

The onely righteous in a World perverse,

And therefore hated, therefore so beset

With Foes for daring single to be just,

And utter odious Truth, that God would come

To judge them with his Saints: Him the most High

Rapt in a balmie Cloud with winged Steeds

Did, as thou sawst, receave, to walk with God

High in Salvation and the Climes of bliss,

Exempt from Death; to shew thee what reward

Awaits the good, the rest what punishment;

Which now direct thine eyes and soon behold.

He look’d, & saw the face of things quite chang’d;

The brazen Throat of Warr had ceast to roar,

All now was turn’d to jollitie and game,

To luxurie and riot, feast and dance,

Marrying or prostituting, as befell,

Rape or Adulterie, where passing faire

Allurd them; thence from Cups to civil Broiles.

At length a Reverend Sire among them came,

And of thir doings great dislike declar’d,

And testifi’d against thir wayes; hee oft

Frequented thir Assemblies, whereso met,

Triumphs or Festivals, and to them preachd

Conversion and Repentance, as to Souls

In prison under Judgements imminent:

But all in vain: which when he saw, he ceas’d

Contending, and remov’d his Tents farr off;

Then from the Mountain hewing Timber tall,

Began to build a Vessel of huge bulk,

Measur’d by Cubit, length, & breadth, and highth,

Smeard round with Pitch, and in the side a dore

Contriv’d, and of provisions laid in large

For Man and Beast: when loe a wonder strange!

Of everie Beast, and Bird, and Insect small

Came seavens, and pairs, and enterd in, as taught

Thir order; last the Sire, and his three Sons

With thir four Wives; and God made fast the dore.

Meanwhile the Southwind rose, & with black wings

Wide hovering, all the Clouds together drove

From under Heav’n; the Hills to their supplie

Vapour, and Exhalation dusk and moist,

Sent up amain; and now the thick’nd Skie

Like a dark Ceeling stood; down rush’d the Rain

Impetuous, and continu’d till the Earth

No more was seen; the floating Vessel swum

Uplifted; and secure with beaked prow

Rode tilting o’re the Waves, all dwellings else

Flood overwhelm’d, and them with all thir pomp

Deep under water rould; Sea cover’d Sea,

Sea without shoar; and in thir Palaces

Where luxurie late reign’d, Sea-monsters whelp’d

And stabl’d; of Mankind, so numerous late,

All left, in one small bottom swum imbark’t.

How didst thou grieve then, Adam, to behold

The end of all thy Ofspring, end so sad,

Depopulation; thee another Floud,

Of tears and sorrow a Floud thee also drown’d,

And sunk thee as thy Sons; till gently reard

By th’ Angel, on thy feet thou stoodst at last,

Though comfortless, as when a Father mourns

His Children, all in view destroyd at once;

And scarce to th’ Angel utterdst thus thy plaint.

O Visions ill foreseen! better had I

Liv’d ignorant of future, so had borne

My part of evil onely, each dayes lot

Anough to bear; those now, that were dispenst

The burd’n of many Ages, on me light

At once, by my foreknowledge gaining Birth

Abortive, to torment me ere thir being,

With thought that they must be. Let no man seek

Henceforth to be foretold what shall befall

Him or his Children, evil he may be sure,

Which neither his foreknowing can prevent,

And hee the future evil shall no less

In apprehension then in substance feel

Grievous to bear: but that care now is past,

Man is not whom to warne: those few escapt

Famin and anguish will at last consume

Wandring that watrie Desert: I had hope

When violence was ceas’t, and Warr on Earth,

All would have then gon well, peace would have crownd

With length of happy days the race of man;

But I was farr deceav’d; for now I see

Peace to corrupt no less then Warr to waste.

How comes it thus? unfould, Celestial Guide,

And whether here the Race of man will end.

To whom thus Michael. Those whom last thou sawst

In triumph and luxurious wealth, are they

First seen in acts of prowess eminent

And great exploits, but of true vertu void;

Who having spilt much blood, and don much waste

Subduing Nations, and achievd thereby

Fame in the World, high titles, and rich prey,

Shall change thir course to pleasure, ease, and sloth,

Surfet, and lust, till wantonness and pride

Raise out of friendship hostil deeds in Peace.

The conquerd also, and enslav’d by War

Shall with thir freedom lost all vertu loose

And feare of God, from whom thir pietie feign’d

In sharp contest of Battel found no aide

Against invaders; therefore coold in zeale

Thenceforth shall practice how to live secure,

Worldlie or dissolute, on what thir Lords

Shall leave them to enjoy; for th’ Earth shall bear

More than anough, that temperance may be tri’d:

So all shall turn degenerate, all deprav’d,

Justice and Temperance, Truth and Faith forgot;

One Man except, the onely Son of light

In a dark Age, against example good,

Against allurement, custom, and a World

Offended; fearless of reproach and scorn,

Or violence, hee of wicked wayes

Shall them admonish, and before them set

The paths of righteousness, how much more safe,

And full of peace, denouncing wrauth to come

On thir impenitence; and shall returne

Of them derided, but of God observd

The one just Man alive; by his command

Shall build a wondrous Ark, as thou beheldst,

To save himself and houshold from amidst

A World devote to universal rack.

No sooner hee with them of Man and Beast

Select for life shall in the Ark be lodg’d,

And shelterd round, but all the Cataracts

Of Heav’n set open on the Earth shall powre

Raine day and night, all fountaines of the Deep

Broke up, shall heave the Ocean to usurp

Beyond all bounds, till inundation rise

Above the highest Hills: then shall this Mount

Of Paradise by might of Waves be moovd

Out of his place, pushd by the horned floud,

With all his verdure spoil’d, and Trees adrift

Down the great River to the op’ning Gulf,

And there take root an Iland salt and bare,

The haunt of Seales and Orcs, and Sea-mews clang.

To teach thee that God attributes to place

No sanctitie, if none be thither brought

By Men who there frequent, or therein dwell.

And now what further shall ensue, behold.

He lookd, and saw the Ark hull on the floud,

Which now abated, for the Clouds were fled,

Drivn by a keen North-winde, that blowing drie

Wrinkl’d the face of Deluge, as decai’d;

And the cleer Sun on his wide watrie Glass

Gaz’d hot, and of the fresh Wave largely drew,

As after thirst, which made thir flowing shrink

From standing lake to tripping ebbe, that stole

With soft foot towards the deep, who now had stopt

His Sluces, as the Heav’n his windows shut.

The Ark no more now flotes, but seems on ground

Fast on the top of som high mountain fixt.

And now the tops of Hills as Rocks appeer;

With clamor thence the rapid Currents drive

Towards the retreating Sea thir furious tyde.

Forthwith from out the Arke a Raven flies,

And after him, the surer messenger,

A Dove sent forth once and agen to spie

Green Tree or ground whereon his foot may light;

The second time returning, in his Bill

An Olive leafe he brings, pacific signe:

Anon drie ground appeers, and from his Arke

The ancient Sire descends with all his Train;

Then with uplifted hands, and eyes devout,

Grateful to Heav’n, over his head beholds

A dewie Cloud, and in the Cloud a Bow

Conspicuous with three listed colours gay,

Betok’ning peace from God, and Cov’nant new.

Whereat the heart of Adam erst so sad

Greatly rejoyc’d, and thus his joy broke forth.

O thou that future things canst represent

As present, Heav’nly instructer, I revive

At this last sight, assur’d that Man shall live

With all the Creatures, and thir seed preserve.

Farr less I now lament for one whole World

Of wicked Sons destroyd, then I rejoyce

For one Man found so perfet and so just,

That God voutsafes to raise another World

From him, and all his anger to forget.

But say, what mean those colourd streaks in Heavn,

Distended as the Brow of God appeas’d,

Or serve they as a flourie verge to binde

The fluid skirts of that same watrie Cloud,

Least it again dissolve and showr the Earth?

To whom th’ Archangel. Dextrously thou aim’st;

So willingly doth God remit his Ire,

Though late repenting him of Man deprav’d,

Griev’d at his heart, when looking down he saw

The whole Earth fill’d with violence, and all flesh

Corrupting each thir way; yet those remoov’d,

Such grace shall one just Man find in his sight,

That he relents, not to blot out mankind,

And makes a Covenant never to destroy

The Earth again by flood, nor let the Sea

Surpass his bounds, nor Rain to drown the World

With Man therein or Beast; but when he brings

Over the Earth a Cloud, will therein set

His triple-colour’d Bow, whereon to look

And call to mind his Cov’nant: Day and Night,

Seed time and Harvest, Heat and hoary Frost

Shall hold thir course, till fire purge all things new,

Both Heav’n and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell.


Related Resources

John Milton

Download Options

Title: Paradise Lost

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Paradise Lost

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: John Milton, "Book XI," Paradise Lost Original Sources, accessed July 12, 2024,

MLA: Milton, John. "Book XI." Paradise Lost, Original Sources. 12 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Milton, J, 'Book XI' in Paradise Lost. Original Sources, retrieved 12 July 2024, from