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Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub,
715 In sad event, when to the unwiser son Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged On him who had stole Jove's authentic fire.
Thus, at their shady lodge arrived, both stood, 720 Both turn'd, and under open sky adored The God that made both sky, air, earth, and Heaven, Which they beheld, the moon's resplendent globe And starry pole: Thou also mad'st the night, Maker Omnipotent, and thou the day
725 Which we, in our appointed work employ'd Have finishd, happy in our mutual help And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss Ordain’d by thee; and this delicious place For us too large, where thy abundance wants 730 Partakers, and uncropp'd falls to the ground.
But thou hast promised from us two a race
This said unanimous, and other rites
745 Defaming as impure what God declares Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all. Our maker bids increase; who bids abstain But our Destroyer, foe to God and Man? Hail wedded Love! mysterious law, true source 750 Of human offspring, sole propriety In Paradise of all things common else. By thee adulterous Lust was driven from men Among the bestial herds to range; by thee, Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,
755 Relations dear, and all the charities Of father, son, and brother, first were known. Far be it, that I should write thee sin or blame, Or think thee unbefitting holiest place, Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,
760 Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced, Present or past, as saints and patriarchs used. Here Love his golden shafts employs, here lights His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings, Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile 765 Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendear'd Casual fruition; nor in court amours,
Mix'd dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball,
Now had night measured with her shadowy cone
780 When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake:
Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south With strictest watch; these other wheel the north; Our circuit meets full west. As flame they part, Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear. 785 From these two strong and subtle Spirits he callid That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge.
Ithuriel and Zephon, with wing'd speed Search through this garden, leave unsearch'd no nook; But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge, 790 Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm. This evening from the sun's decline arrived, Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen Hitherward bent (who could have thought?) escapėd The bars of Hell, on errand bad no doubt;
795 Such, where ye find, seize fast, and hither bring.
So saying, on he led his radiant files, Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct In search of whom they sought: Him there they found Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,
800 Assaying by his devilish art to reach The organs of her fancy, and with them forge Illusion, as he lists, phantasms and dreams;
Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint
815 Fit for the tun some magazine to store Against a rumor'd war, the smutty grain, With'sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air; So started up in his own shape the Fiend. Back stepp'd those two fair Angels, half amazed 820 So sudden to behold the grisly king; Yet thus, unmoved with fear, accost him soon:
Which of those rebel Spirits adjudged to Hell Com'st thou, escaped thy prison? and, transformid, Why sat'st thou like an enemy in wait,
825 Here watching at the head of these that sleep?
Know ye not then, said Satan, fillid with scorn, Know ye not me? ye knew me once no mate For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar: Not to know me argues yourselves unknown, 830 The lowest of your throng; or if ye know, Why ask ye, and superfluous begin Your message, like to end as much in vain? To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn:
Think not, revolted Spirit, thy shape the same, 835 Or undiminish'd brightness to be known, As when thou stood'st in Heaven upright and pure; That glory then, when thou no more wast good Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now
Thy sin and place of doom, obscure and foul. 840
So spake the Cherub: and his grave rebuke,
845 Invincible: Abash'd the Devil stood, And felt how awful goodness is, and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely; saw, and pined His loss; but chiefly to find here observed His lustre visibly impair’d, yet seem'd
850 Undaunted. If I must contend, said he, Best with the best, the sender, not the sent, Or all at once; more glory will be won, Or less be lost. Thy fear, said Zephon bold, Will save us trial what the least can do
855 Single against thee, wicked, and thence weak.
The Fiend replied not, overcome with rage; But like a proud steed rein'd, went haughty on, Champing his iron curb: To strive or fly He held it vain; awe from above had quell’d 860 His heart, not else dismay'd. Now drew they nigh The western point, where those half-rounding guards Just met, and closing stood in squadron join'd Awaiting next command. To whom their Chief, Gabriel, from the front thus call'd aloud:
865 O friends! I hear the tread of nimble feet Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade; And with them comes a third of regal port, But faded splendor wan; who by his gait
870 And fierce demeanor seems the Prince of Hell, Not likely to part hence without contest; Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours. He scarce had ended, when those two approach'd, And brief related whom they brought, where found,