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Paradise Regained: The Third Book Analysis

Author: Poetry of John Milton Type: Poetry Views: 430

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So spake the Son of God; and Satan stood

A while as mute, confounded what to say,

What to reply, confuted and convinced

Of his weak arguing and fallacious drift;

At length, collecting all his serpent wiles,

With soothing words renewed, him thus accosts:-"I see thou know'st what is of use to know,

What best to say canst say, to do canst do;

Thy actions to thy words accord; thy words

To thy large heart give utterance due; thy heartContains of good, wise, just, the perfet shape.

Should kings and nations from thy mouth consult,

Thy counsel would be as the oracle

Urim and Thummim, those oraculous gems

On Aaron's breast, or tongue of Seers old

Infallible; or, wert thou sought to deeds

That might require the array of war, thy skill

Of conduct would be such that all the world

Could not sustain thy prowess, or subsist

In battle, though against thy few in arms.These godlike virtues wherefore dost thou hide?

Affecting private life, or more obscure

In savage wilderness, wherefore deprive

All Earth her wonder at thy acts, thyself

The fame and glory-glory, the reward

That sole excites to high attempts the flame

Of most erected spirits, most tempered pure

AEthereal, who all pleasures else despise,

All treasures and all gain esteem as dross,

And dignities and powers, all but the highest?Thy years are ripe, and over-ripe.The son

Of Macedonian Philip had ere these

Won Asia, and the throne of Cyrus held

At his dispose; young Scipio had brought down

The Carthaginian pride; young Pompey quelled

The Pontic king, and in triumph had rode.

Yet years, and to ripe years judgment mature,

Quench not the thirst of glory, but augment.

Great Julius, whom now all the world admires,

The more he grew in years, the more inflamedWith glory, wept that he had lived so long

Ingloroious.But thou yet art not too late."To whom our Saviour calmly thus replied:-

"Thou neither dost persuade me to seek wealth

For empire's sake, nor empire to affect

For glory's sake, by all thy argument.

For what is glory but the blaze of fame,

The people's praise, if always praise unmixed?

And what the people but a herd confused,

A miscellaneous rabble, who extolThings vulgar, and, well weighed, scarce worth the praise?

They praise and they admire they know not what,

And know not whom, but as one leads the other;

And what delight to be by such extolled,

To live upon their tongues, and be their talk?

Of whom to be dispraised were no small praise-

His lot who dares be singularly good.

The intelligent among them and the wise

Are few, and glory scarce of few is raised.

This is true glory and renown-when God,Looking on the Earth, with approbation marks

The just man, and divulges him through Heaven

To all his Angels, who with true applause

Recount his praises.Thus he did to Job,

When, to extend his fame through Heaven and Earth,

As thou to thy reproach may'st well remember,

He asked thee, 'Hast thou seen my servant Job?'

Famous he was in Heaven; on Earth less known,

Where glory is false glory, attributed

To things not glorious, men not worthy of fame.They err who count it glorious to subdue

By conquest far and wide, to overrun

Large countries, and in field great battles win,

Great cities by assault.What do these worthies

But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave

Peaceable nations, neighbouring or remote,

Made captive, yet deserving freedom more

Than those their conquerors, who leave behind

Nothing but ruin wheresoe'er they rove,

And all the flourishing works of peace destroy;Then swell with pride, and must be titled Gods,

Great benefactors of mankind, Deliverers,

Worshipped with temple, priest, and sacrifice?

One is the son of Jove, of Mars the other;

Till conqueror Death discover them scarce men,

Rowling in brutish vices, and deformed,

Violent or shameful death their due reward.

But, if there be in glory aught of good;

It may be means far different be attained,

Without ambition, war, or violence-By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,

By patience, temperance.I mention still

Him whom thy wrongs, with saintly patience borne,

Made famous in a land and times obscure;

Who names not now with honour patient Job?

Poor Socrates, (who next more memorable?)

By what he taught and suffered for so doing,

For truth's sake suffering death unjust, lives now

Equal in fame to proudest conquerors.

Yet, if for fame and glory aught be done,Aught suffered-if young African for fame

His wasted country freed from Punic rage-

The deed becomes unpraised, the man at least,

And loses, though but verbal, his reward.

Shall I seek glory, then, as vain men seek,

Oft not deserved?I seek not mine, but His

Who sent me, and thereby witness whence I am."To whom the Tempter, murmuring, thus replied:-

"Think not so slight of glory, therein least

Resembling thy great Father.He seeks glory,And for his glory all things made, all things

Orders and governs; nor content in Heaven,

By all his Angels glorified, requires

Glory from men, from all men, good or bad,

Wise or unwise, no difference, no exemption.

Above all sacrifice, or hallowed gift,

Glory he requires, and glory he receives,

Promiscuous from all nations, Jew, or Greek,

Or Barbarous, nor exception hath declared;

From us, his foes pronounced, glory he exacts."To whom our Saviour fervently replied:

"And reason; since his Word all things produced,

Though chiefly not for glory as prime end,

But to shew forth his goodness, and impart

His good communicable to every soul

Freely; of whom what could He less expect

Than glory and benediction-that is, thanks-

The slightest, easiest, readiest recompense

From them who could return him nothing else,

And, not returning that, would likeliest renderContempt instead, dishonour, obloquy?

Hard recompense, unsuitable return

For so much good, so much beneficience!

But why should man seek glory, who of his own

Hath nothing, and to whom nothing belongs

But condemnation, ignominy, and shame-

Who, for so many benefits received,

Turned recreant to God, ingrate and false,

And so of all true good himself despoiled;

Yet, sacrilegious, to himself would takeThat which to God alone of right belongs?

Yet so much bounty is in God, such grace,

That who advances his glory, not their own,

Them he himself to glory will advance."So spake the Son of God; and here again

Satan had not to answer, but stood struck

With guilt of his own sin-for he himself,

Insatiable of glory, had lost all;

Yet of another plea bethought him soon:-"Of glory, as thou wilt," said he, "so deem;Worth or not worth the seeking, let it pass.

But to a Kingdom thou art born-ordained

To sit upon thy father David's throne,

By mother's side thy father, though thy right

Be now in powerful hands, that will not part

Easily from possession won with arms.

Judaea now and all the Promised Land,

Reduced a province under Roman yoke,

Obeys Tiberius, nor is always ruled

With temperate sway: oft have they violatedThe Temple, oft the Law, with foul affronts,

Abominations rather, as did once

Antiochus.And think'st thou to regain

Thy right by sitting still, or thus retiring?

So did not Machabeus.He indeed

Retired unto the Desert, but with arms;

And o'er a mighty king so oft prevailed

That by strong hand his family obtained,

Though priests, the crown, and David's throne usurped,

With Modin and her suburbs once content.If kingdom move thee not, let move thee zeal

And duty-zeal and duty are not slow,

But on Occasion's forelock watchful wait:

They themselves rather are occasion best-

Zeal of thy Father's house, duty to free

Thy country from her heathen servitude.

So shalt thou best fulfil, best verify,

The Prophets old, who sung thy endless reign-

The happier reign the sooner it begins.

Rein then; what canst thou better do the while?"To whom our Saviour answer thus returned:-

"All things are best fulfilled in their due time;

And time there is for all things, Truth hath said.

If of my reign Prophetic Writ hath told

That it shall never end, so, when begin

The Father in his purpose hath decreed-

He in whose hand all times and seasons rowl.

What if he hath decreed that I shall first

Be tried in humble state, and things adverse,

By tribulations, injuries, insults,Contempts, and scorns, and snares, and violence,

Suffering, abstaining, quietly expecting

Without distrust or doubt, that He may know

What I can suffer, how obey?Who best

Can suffer best can do, best reign who first

Well hath obeyed-just trial ere I merit

My exaltation without change or end.

But what concerns it thee when I begin

My everlasting Kingdom?Why art thou

Solicitous?What moves thy inquisition?Know'st thou not that my rising is thy fall,

And my promotion will be thy destruction?"To whom the Tempter, inly racked, replied:-

"Let that come when it comes.All hope is lost

Of my reception into grace; what worse?

For where no hope is left is left no fear.

If there be worse, the expectation more

Of worse torments me than the feeling can.

I would be at the worst; worst is my port,

My harbour, and my ultimate repose,The end I would attain, my final good.

My error was my error, and my crime

My crime; whatever, for itself condemned,

And will alike be punished, whether thou

Reign or reign not-though to that gentle brow

Willingly I could fly, and hope thy reign,

From that placid aspect and meek regard,

Rather than aggravate my evil state,

Would stand between me and thy Father's ire

(Whose ire I dread more than the fire of Hell)A shelter and a kind of shading cool

Interposition, as a summer's cloud.

If I, then, to the worst that can be haste,

Why move thy feet so slow to what is best?

Happiest, both to thyself and all the world,

That thou, who worthiest art, shouldst be their King!

Perhaps thou linger'st in deep thoughts detained

Of the enterprise so hazardous and high!

No wonder; for, though in thee be united

What of perfection can in Man be found,Or human nature can receive, consider

Thy life hath yet been private, most part spent

At home, scarce viewed the Galilean towns,

And once a year Jerusalem, few days'

Short sojourn; and what thence couldst thou observe?

The world thou hast not seen, much less her glory,

Empires, and monarchs, and their radiant courts-

Best school of best experience, quickest in sight

In all things that to greatest actions lead.

The wisest, unexperienced, will be everTimorous, and loth, with novice modesty

(As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom)

Irresolute, unhardy, unadventrous.

But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit

Those rudiments, and see before thine eyes

The monarchies of the Earth, their pomp and state-

Sufficient introduction to inform

Thee, of thyself so apt, in regal arts,

And regal mysteries; that thou may'st know

How best their opposition to withstand."With that (such power was given him then), he took

The Son of God up to a mountain high.

It was a mountain at whose verdant feet

A spacious plain outstretched in circuit wide

Lay pleasant; from his side two rivers flowed,

The one winding, the other straight, and left between

Fair champaign, with less rivers interveined,

Then meeting joined their tribute to the sea.

Fertil of corn the glebe, of oil, and wine;

With herds the pasture thronged, with flocks the hills;Huge cities and high-towered, that well might seem

The seats of mightiest monarchs; and so large

The prospect was that here and there was room

For barren desert, fountainless and dry.

To this high mountain-top the Tempter brought

Our Saviour, and new train of words began:-"Well have we speeded, and o'er hill and dale,

Forest, and field, and flood, temples and towers,

Cut shorter many a league.Here thou behold'st

Assyria, and her empire's ancient bounds,Araxes and the Caspian lake; thence on

As far as Indus east, Euphrates west,

And oft beyond; to south the Persian bay,

And, inaccessible, the Arabian drouth:

Here, Nineveh, of length within her wall

Several days' journey, built by Ninus old,

Of that first golden monarchy the seat,

And seat of Salmanassar, whose success

Israel in long captivity still mourns;

There Babylon, the wonder of all tongues,As ancient, but rebuilt by him who twice

Judah and all thy father David's house

Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,

Till Cyrus set them free; Persepolis,

His city, there thou seest, and Bactra there;

Ecbatana her structure vast there shews,

And Hecatompylos her hunderd gates;

There Susa by Choaspes, amber stream,

The drink of none but kings; of later fame,

Built by Emathian or by Parthian hands,The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there

Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphon,

Turning with easy eye, thou may'st behold.

All these the Parthian (now some ages past

By great Arsaces led, who founded first

That empire) under his dominion holds,

From the luxurious kings of Antioch won.

And just in time thou com'st to have a view

Of his great power; for now the Parthian king

In Ctesiphon hath gathered all his hostAgainst the Scythian, whose incursions wild

Have wasted Sogdiana; to her aid

He marches now in haste.See, though from far,

His thousands, in what martial equipage

They issue forth, steel bows and shafts their arms,

Of equal dread in flight or in pursuit-

All horsemen, in which fight they most excel;

See how in warlike muster they appear,

In rhombs, and wedges, and half-moons, and wings."He looked, and saw what numbers numberlessThe city gates outpoured, light-armed troops

In coats of mail and military pride.

In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong,

Prauncing their riders bore, the flower and choice

Of many provinces from bound to bound-

From Arachosia, from Candaor east,

And Margiana, to the Hyrcanian cliffs

Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales;

From Atropatia, and the neighbouring plains

Of Adiabene, Media, and the southOf Susiana, to Balsara's haven.

He saw them in their forms of battle ranged,

How quick they wheeled, and flying behind them shot

Sharp sleet of arrowy showers against the face

Of their pursuers, and overcame by flight;

The field all iron cast a gleaming brown.

Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor, on each horn,

Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight,

Chariots, or elephants indorsed with towers

Of archers; nor of labouring pionersA multitude, with spades and axes armed,

To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,

Or where plain was raise hill, or overlay

With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke:

Mules after these, camels and dromedaries,

And waggons fraught with utensils of war.

Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,

When Agrican, with all his northern powers,

Besieged Albracea, as romances tell,

The city of Gallaphrone, from thence to winThe fairest of her sex, Angelica,

His daughter, sought by many prowest knights,

Both Paynim and the peers of Charlemane.

Such and so numerous was their chivalry;

At sight whereof the Fiend yet more presumed,

And to our Saviour thus his words renewed:-"That thou may'st know I seek not to engage

Thy virtue, and not every way secure

On no slight grounds thy safety, hear and mark

To what end I have brought thee hither, and shewAll this fair sight.Thy kingdom, though foretold

By Prophet or by Angel, unless thou

Endeavour, as thy father David did,

Thou never shalt obtain: prediction still

In all things, and all men, supposes means;

Without means used, what it predicts revokes.

But say thou wert possessed of David's throne

By free consent of all, none opposite,

Samaritan or Jew; how couldst thou hope

Long to enjoy it quiet and secureBetween two such enclosing enemies,

Roman and Parthian?Therefore one of these

Thou must make sure thy own: the Parthian first,

By my advice, as nearer, and of late

Found able by invasion to annoy

Thy country, and captive lead away her kings,

Antigonus and old Hyrcanus, bound,

Maugre the Roman.It shall be my task

To render thee the Parthian at dispose,

Choose which thou wilt, by conquest or by league.By him thou shalt regain, without him not,

That which alone can truly reinstall thee

In David's royal seat, his true successor-

Deliverance of thy brethren, those Ten Tribes

Whose offspring in his territory yet serve

In Habor, and among the Medes dispersed:

The sons of Jacob, two of Joseph, lost

Thus long from Israel, serving, as of old

Their fathers in the land of Egypt served,

This offer sets before thee to deliver.These if from servitude thou shalt restore

To their inheritance, then, nor till then,

Thou on the throne of David in full glory,

From Egypt to Euphrates and beyond,

Shalt reign, and Rome or Caesar not need fear."To whom our Saviour answered thus, unmoved:-

"Much ostentation vain of fleshly arm

And fragile arms, much instrument of war,

Long in preparing, soon to nothing brought,

Before mine eyes thou hast set, and in my earVented much policy, and projects deep

Of enemies, of aids, battles, and leagues,

Plausible to the world, to me worth naught.

Means I must use, thou say'st; prediction else

Will unpredict, and fail me of the throne!

My time, I told thee (and that time for thee

Were better farthest off), is not yet come.

When that comes, think not thou to find me slack

On my part aught endeavouring, or to need

Thy politic maxims, or that cumbersomeLuggage of war there shewn me-argument

Of human weakness rather than of strength.

My brethren, as thou call'st them, those Ten Tribes,

I must deliver, if I mean to reign

David's true heir, and his full sceptre sway

To just extent over all Israel's sons!

But whence to thee this zeal?Where was it then

For Israel, or for David, or his throne,

When thou stood'st up his tempter to the pride

Of numbering Israel-which cost the livesof threescore and ten thousand Israelites

By three days' pestilence?Such was thy zeal

To Israel then, the same that now to me.

As for those captive tribes, themselves were they

Who wrought their own captivity, fell off

From God to worship calves, the deities

Of Egypt, Baal next and Ashtaroth,

And all the idolatries of heathen round,

Besides their other worse than heathenish crimes;

Nor in the land of their captivityHumbled themselves, or penitent besought

The God of their forefathers, but so died

Impenitent, and left a race behind

Like to themselves, distinguishable scarce

From Gentiles, but by circumcision vain,

And God with idols in their worship joined.

Should I of these the liberty regard,

Who, freed, as to their ancient patrimony,

Unhumbled, unrepentant, unreformed,

Headlong would follow, and to their gods perhapsOf Bethel and of Dan?No; let them serve

Their enemies who serve idols with God.

Yet He at length, time to himself best known,

Remembering Abraham, by some wondrous call

May bring them back, repentant and sincere,

And at their passing cleave the Assyrian flood,

While to their native land with joy they haste,

As the Red Sea and Jordan once he cleft,

When to the Promised Land their fathers passed.

To his due time and providence I leave them."So spake Israel's true King, and to the Fiend

Made answer meet, that made void all his wiles.

So fares it when with truth falsehood contends.


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