Paradise Regained

Author: John Milton  | Date: 1671


I WHO erewhile the happy Garden sung,

By one man’s disobedience lost, now sing

Recover’d Paradise to all mankind,

By one man’s firm obedience fully tried

Through all temptation, and the Tempter foil’d

In all his wiles, defeated and repuls’t,

And Eden rais’d in the waste Wilderness.

Thou Spirit who led’st this glorious Eremite

Into the Desert, his Victorious Field

Against the Spiritual Foe, and brought’st him thence

By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire,

As thou art wont, my prompted Song, else mute,

And bear through highth or depth of nature’s bounds

With prosperous wing full summ’d to tell of deeds

Above Heroic, though in secret done,

And unrecorded left through many an Age,

Worthy t’ have not remain’d so long unsung.

Now had the great Proclaimer with a voice

More awful than the sound of Trumpet, cried

Repentance, and Heaven’s Kingdom nigh at hand

To all Baptiz’d: to his great Baptism flock’d

With awe the Regions round, and with them came

From Nazareth the Son of Joseph deem’d

To the flood Jordan, came as then obscure,

Unmarkt, unknown; but him the Baptist soon

Descried, divinely warn’d, and witness bore

As to his worthier, and would have resign’d

To him his Heavenly Office, nor was long

His witness unconfirm’d; on him baptiz’d

Heaven open’d, and in likeness of a Dove

The Spirit descended, while the Father’s voice

From Heav’n pronounc’d him his beloved Son.

That heard the Adversary, who roving still

About the world, at that assembly fam’d

Would not be last, and with the voice divine

Nigh Thunder-struck, th’ exalted man, to whom

Such high attest was giv’n, a while survey’d

With wonder, then with envy fraught and rage

Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air

To Council summons all his mighty Peers,

Within thick Clouds and dark ten-fold involv’d,

A gloomy Consistory; and them amidst

With looks aghast and sad he thus bespake.

O ancient Powers of Air and this wide world-

For much more willingly I mention Air,

This our old Conquest, than remember Hell

Our hated habitation- well ye know

How many Ages, as the years of men,

This Universe we have possest, and rul’d

In manner at our will th’ affairs of Earth,

Since Adam and his facile consort Eve

Lost Paradise deceiv’d by me, though since

With dread attending when that fatal wound

Shall be inflicted by the Seed of Eve

Upon my head. Long the decrees of Heav’n

Delay, for longest time to him is short;

And now too soon for us the circling hours

This dreaded time have compast, wherein we

Must bide the stroke of that long threat’n’d wound,

At least if so we can, and by the head

Broken be not intended all our power

To be infring’d, our freedom and our being

In this fair Empire won of Earth and Air;

For this ill news I bring, the Woman’s seed

Destin’d to this, is late of woman born:

His birth to our just fear gave no small cause,

But his growth now to youth’s full flow’r, displaying

All virtue, grace and wisdom to achieve

Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.

Before him a great Prophet, to proclaim

His coming, is sent Harbinger, who all

Invites, and in the Consecrated stream

Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them so

Purified to receive him pure, or rather

To do him honour as their King; all come,

And he himself among them was baptiz’d,

Not thence to be more pure, but to receive

The testimony of Heaven, that who he is

Thenceforth the Nations may not doubt; I saw

The Prophet do him reverence; on him rising

Out of the water, Heav’n above the Clouds

Unfold her Crystal Doors, thence on his head

A perfect Dove descend, whate’er it meant,

And out of Heav’n the Sovran voice I heard,

This is my Son belov’d, in him am pleas’d.

His Mother then is mortal, but his Sire,

He who obtains the Monarchy of Heav’n,

And what will he not do to advance his Son?

His first-begot we know, and sore have felt,

When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep;

Who this is we must learn, for man he seems

In all his lineaments, though in his face

The glimpses of his Father’s glory shine.

Ye see our danger on the utmost edge

Of hazard, which admits no long debate,

But must with something sudden be oppos’d,

Not force, but well couch’t fraud, well woven snares,

Ere in the head of Nations he appear

Their King, their Leader, and Supreme on Earth.

I, when no other durst, sole undertook

The dismal expedition to find out

And ruin Adam, and the exploit perform’d

Successfully; a calmer voyage now

Will waft me; and the way found prosperous once

Induces best to hope of like success.

He ended, and his words impression left

Of much amazement to th’ infernal Crew,

Distracted and surpris’d with deep dismay

At these sad tidings; but no time was then

For long indulgence to their fears or grief:

Unanimous they all commit the care

And management of this main enterprise

To him their great Dictator, whose attempt

At first against mankind so well had thriv’d

In Adam’s overthrow, and led thir march

From Hell’s deep-vaulted Den to dwell in light,

Regents and Potentates, and Kings, yea gods

Of many a pleasant Realm and Province wide.

So to the Coast of Jordan he directs

His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles,

Where he might likeliest find this new-declar’d,

This man of men, attested Son of God,

Temptation and all guile on him to try,

So to subvert whom he suspected rais’d

To end his Reign on Earth so long enjoy’d:

But contrary unweeting he fulfill’d

The purpos’d Counsel pre-ordain’d and fixt

Of the most High, who, in full frequence bright

Of Angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake.

Gabriel, this day by proof thou shalt behold,

Thou and all Angels conversant on Earth

With man or men’s affairs, how I begin

To verify that solemn message late,

On which I sent thee to the Virgin pure

In Galilee, that she should bear a Son

Great in Renown, and call’d the Son of God;

Then told’st her doubting how these things could be

To her a Virgin, that on her should come

The Holy Ghost, and the power of the highest

O’er-shadow her: this man born and now up-grown,

To show him worthy of his birth divine

And high prediction, henceforth I expose

To Satan; let him tempt and now assay

His utmost sublety, because he boasts

And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng

Of his Apostasy; he might have learnt

Less over-weening, since he fail’d in Job,

Whose constant perseverance overcame

Whate’er his cruel malice could invent.

He now shall know I can produce a man

Of female Seed, far abler to resist

All his solicitations, and at length

All his vast force, and drive him back to Hell,

Winning by Conquest what the first man lost

By fallacy surpris’d. But first I mean

To exercise him in the Wilderness;

There he shall first lay down the rudiments

Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth

To conquer Sin and Death the two grand foes,

By Humiliation and strong Sufferance:

His weakness shall o’ercome Satanic strength

And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh;

That all the Angels and Ethereal Powers,

They now, and men hereafter, may discern

From what consummate virtue I have chose

This perfect Man, by merit call’d my Son,

To earn Salvation for the Sons of men.

So spake the Eternal Father, and all Heaven

Admiring stood a space, then into Hymns

Burst forth, and in Celestial measures mov’d,

Circling the Throne and Singing, while the hand

Sung with the voice, and this the argument.

Victory and Triumph to the Son of God

Now ent’ring his great duel, not of arms,

But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles.

The Father knows the Son; therefore secure

Ventures his filial Virtue, though untried,

Against whate’er may tempt, whate’er seduce,

Allure, or terrify, or undermine.

Be frustrate, all ye stratagems of Hell,

And devilish machinations come to nought.

So they in Heav’n their Odes and Vigils tun’d.

Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days

Lodg’d in Bethabara where John baptiz’d,

Musing and much revolving in his breast,

How best the mighty work he might begin

Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first

Publish his God-like office now mature,

One day forth walk’d alone, the Spirit leading

And his deep thoughts, the better to converse

With solitude, till far from track of men,

Thought following thought, and step by step led on,

He enter’d now the bordering Desert wild,

And with dark shades and rocks environ’d round,

His holy Meditations thus pursu’d.

O what a multitude of thoughts at once

Awak’n’d in me swarm, while I consider

What from within I feel myself, and hear

What from without comes often to my ears,

Ill sorting with my present state compar’d.

When I was yet a child, no childish play

To me was pleasing, all my mind was set

Serious to learn and know, and thence to do

What might be public good; myself I thought

Born to that end, born to promote all truth,

All righteous things: therefore above my years,

The Law of God I read, and found it sweet,

Made it my whole delight, and in it grew

To such perfection that, ere yet my age

Had measur’d twice six years, at our great Feast

I went into the Temple, there to hear

The Teachers of our Law, and to propose

What might improve my knowledge or their own;

And was admir’d by all: yet this not all

To which my Spirit aspir’d, victorious deeds

Flam’d in my heart, heroic acts; one while

To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke,

Then to subdue and quell o’er all the earth

Brute violence and proud Tyrannic pow’r,

Till truth were freed, and equity restor’d:

Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first

By winning words to conquer willing hearts,

And make persuasion do the work of fear;

At least to try, and teach the erring Soul

Not wilfully mis-doing, but unaware

Misled: the stubborn only to subdue.

These growing thoughts my Mother soon perceiving

By words at times cast forth, inly rejoic’d,

And said to me apart, high are thy thoughts

O Son, but nourish them and let them soar

To what highth sacred virtue and true worth

Can raise them, though above example high;

By matchless Deeds express thy matchless Sire.

For know, thou art no Son of mortal man;

Though men esteem thee low of Parentage,

Thy Father is the Eternal King, who rules

All Heaven and Earth, Angels and Sons of men.

A messenger from God fore-told thy birth

Conceiv’d in me a Virgin; he fore-told

Thou shouldst be great and sit on David’s Throne,

And of thy Kingdom there should be no end.

At thy Nativity a glorious Quire

Of Angels in the fields of Bethlehem sung

To Shepherds watching at their folds by night,

And told them the Messiah now was born,

Where they might see him, and to thee they came,

Directed to the Manger where thou lay’st,

For in the Inn was left no better room.

A Star, not seen before, in Heaven appearing

Guided the Wise Men thither from the East,

To honour thee with Incense, Myrrh, and Gold,

By whose bright course led on they found the place,

Affirming it thy Star new grav’n in Heaven,

By which they knew thee King of Israel born.

Just Simeon and Prophetic Anna, warn’d

By Vision, found thee in the Temple, and spake,

Before the Altar and the vested Priest,

Like things of thee to all that present stood.

This having heard, straight I again revolv’d

The Law and Prophets, searching what was writ

Concerning the Messiah, to our Scribes

Known partly, and soon found of whom they spake

I am; this chiefly, that my way must lie

Through many a hard assay even to the death,

Ere I the promis’d Kingdom can attain,

Or work Redemption for mankind, whose sins’

Full weight must be transferr’d upon my head.

Yet neither thus dishearten’d or dismay’d,

The time prefixt I waited, when behold

The Baptist (of whose birth I oft had heard,

Not knew by sight) now come, who was to come

Before Messiah and his way prepare.

I as all others to his Baptism came,

Which I believ’d was from above; but he

Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaim’d

Me him (for it was shown him so from Heaven)

Me him whose Harbinger he was; and first

Refus’d on me his Baptism to confer,

As much his greater, and was hardly won.

But as I rose out of the laving stream,

Heaven open’d her eternal doors, from whence

The Spirit descended on me like a Dove;

And last the sum of all, my Father’s voice,

Audibly heard from Heav’n, pronounc’d me his,

Me his beloved Son, in whom alone

He was well pleas’d; by which I knew the time

Now full, that I no more should live obscure,

But openly begin, as best becomes

The Authority which I deriv’d from Heaven.

And now by some strong motion I am led

Into this Wilderness, to what intent

I learn not yet; perhaps I need not know;

For what concerns my knowledge God reveals.

So spake our Morning Star then in his rise,

And looking round on every side beheld

A pathless Desert, dusk with horrid shades;

The way he came not having mark’d, return

Was difficult, by human steps untrod;

And he still on was led, but with such thoughts

Accompanied of things past and to come

Lodg’d in his breast, as well might recommend

Such Solitude before choicest Society.

Full forty days he pass’d, whether on hill

Sometimes, anon in shady vale, each night

Under the covert of some ancient Oak,

Or Cedar, to defend him from the dew,

Or harbour’d in one Cave, is not reveal’d;

Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt

Till those days ended, hunger’d then at last

Among wild Beasts: they at his sight grew mild,

Nor sleeping him nor waking harm’d, his walk

The fiery Serpent fled, and noxious Worm,

The Lion and fierce Tiger glar’d aloof.

But now an aged man in Rural weeds,

Following, as seem’d, the quest of some stray Ewe,

Or wither’d sticks to gather, which might serve

Against a Winter’s day when winds blow keen,

To warm him wet return’d from field at Eve,

He saw approach; who first with curious eye

Perus’d him, then with words thus utter’d spake.

Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this place

So far from path or road of men, who pass

In Troop or Caravan, for single none

Durst ever, who return’d, and dropt not here

His Carcase, pin’d with hunger and with drought?

I ask the rather, and the more admire,

For that to me thou seem’st the man whom late

Our new baptizing Prophet at the Ford

Of Jordan honour’d so, and call’d thee Son

Of God; I saw and heard, for we sometimes

Who dwell this wild, constrain’d by want, come forth

To Town or Village nigh (nighest is far)

Where aught we hear, and curious are to hear,

What happ’ns new; Fame also finds us out.

To whom the Son of God. Who brought me hither

Will bring me hence, no other Guide I seek.

By Miracle he may, replied the Swain,

What other way I see not, for we here

Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inur’d

More than the Camel, and to drink go far,

Men to much misery and hardship born;

But if thou be the Son of God, Command

That out of these hard stones be made thee bread;

So shalt thou save thyself and us relieve

With Food, whereof we wretched seldom taste.

He ended, and the Son of God replied.

Think’st thou such force in Bread? is it not written

(For I discern thee other than thou seem’st)

Man lives not by Bread only, but each Word

Proceeding from the mouth of God, who fed

Our Fathers here with Manna? In the Mount

Moses was forty days, nor eat nor drank,

And forty days Eliah without food

Wander’d this barren waste, the same I now:

Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust,

Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art?

Whom thus answer’d th’ Arch Fiend now undisguis’d.

’Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate,

Who, leagu’d with millions more in rash revolt,

Kept not my happy Station, but was driv’n

With them from bliss to the bottomless deep,

Yet to that hideous place not so confin’d

By rigour unconniving, but that oft,

Leaving my dolorous Prison, I enjoy

Large liberty to round this Globe of Earth,

Or range in th’ Air, nor from the Heav’n of Heav’ns

Hath he excluded my resort sometimes.

I came among the Sons of God, when he

Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job

To prove him, and illustrate his high worth;

And when to all his Angels he propos’d

To draw the proud King Ahab into fraud

That he might fall in Ramoth, they demurring,

I undertook that office, and the tongues

Of all his flattering Prophets glibb’d with lies

To his destruction, as I had in charge;

For what he bids I do. Though I have lost

Much lustre of my native brightness, lost

To be belov’d of God, I have not lost

To love, at least contemplate and admire

What I see excellent in good, or fair,

Or virtuous; I should so have lost all sense.

What can be then less in me than desire

To see thee and approach thee, whom I know

Declar’d the Son of God, to hear attent

Thy wisdom, and behold thy God-like deeds?

Men generally think me much a foe

To all mankind: why should I? they to me

Never did wrong or violence; by them

I lost not what I lost, rather by them

I gain’d what I have gain’d, and with them dwell

Copartner in these Regions of the World,

If not disposer; lend them oft my aid,

Oft my advice by presages and signs,

And answers, oracles, portents and dreams,

Whereby they may direct their future life.

Envy they say excites me, thus to gain

Companions of my misery and woe.

At first it may be; but long since with woe

Nearer acquainted, now I feel by proof,

That fellowship in pain divides not smart,

Nor lightens aught each man’s peculiar load:

Small consolation then, were Man adjoin’d.

This wounds me most (what can it less) that Man,

Man fall’n shall be restor’d, I never more.

To whom our Saviour sternly thus replied.

Deservedly thou griev’st, compos’d of lies

From the beginning, and in lies wilt end;

Who boast’st release from Hell, and leave to come

Into the Heav’n of Heavens; thou com’st indeed,

As a poor miserable captive thrall

Comes to the place where he before had sat

Among the Prime in Splendor, now depos’d,

Ejected, emptied, gaz’d, unpitied, shunn’d,

A spectacle of ruin or of scorn

To all the Host of Heaven; the happy place

Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy,

Rather inflames thy torment, representing

Lost bliss, to thee no more communicable,

So never more in Hell than when in Heaven.

But thou art serviceable to Heaven’s King.

Wilt thou impute to obedience what thy fear

Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites?

What but thy malice mov’d thee to misdeem

Of righteous Job, then cruelly to afflict him

With all inflictions? But his patience won.

The other service was thy chosen task,

To be a liar in four hundred mouths;

For lying is thy sustenance, thy food.

Yet thou pretend’st to truth; all Oracles

By thee are giv’n, and what confest more true

Among the Nations? That hath been thy craft,

By mixing somewhat true to vent more lies.

But what have been thy answers, what but dark,

Ambiguous and with double sense deluding,

Which they who ask’d have seldom understood,

And not well understood as good not known?

Who ever by consulting at thy shrine

Return’d the wiser, or the more instruct

To fly or follow what concern’d him most,

And run not sooner to his fatal snare?

For God hath justly giv’n the Nations up

To thy Delusions; justly, since they fell

Idolatrous; but when his purpose is

Among them to declare his Providence

To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy truth,

But from him or his Angels President

In every Province, who, themselves disdaining

To approach thy Temples, give thee in command

What to the smallest tittle thou shalt say

To thy Adorers? thou with trembling fear,

Or like a Fawning Parasite obey’st;

Then to thyself ascrib’st the truth fore-told.

But this thy glory shall be soon retrench’d;

No more shalt thou by oracling abuse

The Gentiles; henceforth Oracles are ceast,

And thou no more with Pomp and Sacrifice

Shalt be inquir’d at Delphos or elsewhere,

At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute.

God hath now sent his living Oracle

Into the World, to teach his final will,

And sends his Spirit of Truth henceforth to dwell

In pious Hearts, an inward Oracle

To all truth requisite for men to know.

So spake our Saviour; but the subtle Fiend,

Though inly stung with anger and disdain,

Dissembl’d, and this answer smooth return’d.

Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke,

And urg’d me hard with doings, which not will

But misery hath wrested from me; where

Easily canst thou find one miserable,

And not inforc’d oft-times to part from truth;

If it may stand him more in stead to lie,

Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure?

But thou art plac’t above me, thou art Lord;

From thee I can and must submiss endure

Check or reproof, and glad to scape so quit.

Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk,

Smooth on the tongue discourst, pleasing to th’ ear,

And tuneable as Silvan Pipe or Song;

What wonder then if I delight to hear

Her dictates from thy mouth? most men admire

Virtue, who follow not her lore: permit me

To hear thee when I come (since no man comes)

And talk at least, though I despair to attain.

Thy Father, who is holy, wise and pure,

Suffers the Hypocrite or Atheous Priest

To tread his Sacred Courts, and minister

About his Altar, handling holy things,

Praying or vowing, and vouchsaf’d his voice

To Balaam Reprobate, a Prophet yet

Inspir’d; disdain not such access to me.

To whom our Saviour with unalter’d brow.

Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope,

I bid not or forbid; do as thou find’st

Permission from above; thou canst not more.

He added not; and Satan, bowing low

His gray dissimulation, disappear’d

Into thin Air diffus’d: for now began

Night with her sullen wing to double-shade

The Desert; Fowls in thir clay nests were couch’t;

And now wild Beasts came forth the woods to roam.


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Chicago: John Milton, "Book I," Paradise Regained Original Sources, accessed June 15, 2024,

MLA: Milton, John. "Book I." Paradise Regained, Original Sources. 15 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: Milton, J, 'Book I' in Paradise Regained. Original Sources, retrieved 15 June 2024, from