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Paradise Regained: The First Book Analysis

Author: Poetry of John Milton Type: Poetry Views: 700

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I, who erewhile the happy Garden sung

By one man's disobedience lost, now sing

Recovered Paradise to all mankind,

By one man's firm obedience fully tried

Through all temptation, and the Tempter foiled

In all his wiles, defeated and repulsed,

And Eden raised 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 thenceBy 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 summed, to tell of deeds

Above heroic, though in secret done,

And unrecorded left through many an age:

Worthy to have not remained 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 handTo all baptized.To his great baptism flocked

With awe the regions round, and with them came

From Nazareth the son of Joseph deemed

To the flood Jordan-came as then obscure,

Unmarked, unknown.But him the Baptist soon

Descried, divinely warned, and witness bore

As to his worthier, and would have resigned

To him his heavenly office.Nor was long

His witness unconfirmed: on him baptized

Heaven opened, and in likeness of a DoveThe Spirit descended, while the Father's voice

From Heaven pronounced him his beloved Son.

That heard the Adversary, who, roving still

About the world, at that assembly famed

Would not be last, and, with the voice divine

Nigh thunder-struck, the exalted man to whom

Such high attest was given a while surveyed

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 tenfold involved,

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 possessed, and ruled

In manner at our will the affairs of Earth,Since Adam and his facile consort Eve

Lost Paradise, deceived 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 Heaven

Delay, for longest time to Him is short;

And now, too soon for us, the circling hours

This dreaded time have compassed, wherein we

Must bide the stroke of that long-threatened wound

(At least, if so we can, and by the headBroken be not intended all our power

To be infringed, our freedom and our being

In this fair empire won of Earth and Air)-

For this ill news I bring: The Woman's Seed,

Destined 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 flower, displaying

All virtue, grace and wisdom to achieve

Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.

Before him a great Prophet, to proclaimHis 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 baptized-

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, risingOut of the water, Heaven above the clouds

Unfold her crystal doors; thence on his head

A perfet Dove descend (whate'er it meant);

And out of Heaven the sovraign voice I heard,

'This is my Son beloved,-in him am pleased.'

His mother, than, is mortal, but his Sire

He who obtains the monarchy of Heaven;

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 opposed

(Not force, but well-couched 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 undertookThe dismal expedition to find out

And ruin Adam, and the exploit performed

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 the infernal crew,

Distracted and surprised 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 man enterprise

To him, their great Dictator, whose attempt

At first against mankind so well had thrived

In Adam's overthrow, and led their 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-declared,

This man of men, attested Son of God,

Temptation and all guile on him to try-

So to subvert whom he suspected raised

To end his reign on Earth so long enjoyed:

But, contrary, unweeting he fulfilled

The purposed counsel, pre-ordained and fixed,

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 called 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'ershadow her.This Man, born and now upgrown,To shew him worthy of his birth divine

And high prediction, henceforth I expose

To Satan; let him tempt, and now assay

His utmost subtlety, because he boasts

And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng

Of his Apostasy.He might have learnt

Less overweening, since he failed 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 surprised.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 sufferanceHis weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength,

And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh;

That all the Angels and aethereal Powers-

They now, and men hereafter-may discern

From what consummate virtue I have chose

This perfet man, by merit called 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 moved,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 entering 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 Heaven their odes and vigils tuned.

Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days

Lodged in Bethabara, where John baptized,

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 godlike office now mature,

One day forth walked alone, the Spirit leading

And his deep thoughts, the better to converseWith solitude, till, far from track of men,

Thought following thought, and step by step led on,

He entered now the bordering Desert wild,

And, with dark shades and rocks environed round,

His holy meditations thus pursued:-"O what a multitude of thoughts at once

Awakened 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 compared!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 measured twice six years, at our great FeastI 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 admired by all.Yet this not all

To which my spirit aspired.Victorious deeds

Flamed 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 power,

Till truth were freed, and equity restored: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 misdoing, but unware

Misled; the stubborn only to subdue.

These growing thoughts my mother soon perceiving,

By words at times cast forth, inly rejoiced,

And said to me apart, 'High are thy thoughts,

O Son! but nourish them, and let them soarTo 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 foretold thy birth

Conceived in me a virgin; he foretold

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-graven in heaven,

By which they knew thee King of Israel born.

Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warned

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 heart, straight I again revolved

The Law and Prophets, searching what was writConcerning 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 promised kingdom can attain,

Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins'

Full weight must be transferred upon my head.

Yet, neither thus disheartened or dismayed,

The time prefixed 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 believed was from above; but he

Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaimed

Me him (for it was shewn him so from Heaven)-

Me him whose harbinger he was; and first

Refused on me his baptism to confer,

As much his greater, and was hardly won.

But, as I rose out of the laving stream,Heaven opened 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 Heaven, pronounced me his,

Me his beloved Son, in whom alone

He was well pleased: 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 derived from Heaven.

And now by some strong motion I am ledInto 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 marked return,

Was difficult, by human steps untrod;

And he still on was led, but with such thoughts

Accompanied of things past and to comeLodged in his breast as well might recommend

Such solitude before choicest society.Full forty days he passed-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 harboured in one cave, is not revealed;

Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt,

Till those days ended; hungered then at last

Among wild beasts.They at his sight grew mild,Nor sleeping him nor waking harmed; his walk

The fiery serpent fled and noxious worm;

The lion and fierce tiger glared aloof.

But now an aged man in rural weeds,

Following, as seemed, the quest of some stray eye,

Or withered sticks to gather, which might serve

Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen,

To warm him wet returned from field at eve,

He saw approach; who first with curious eye

Perused him, then with words thus uttered 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 returned, and dropt not here

His carcass, pined with hunger and with droughth.

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 honoured so, and called thee Son

Of God.I saw and heard, for we sometimesWho dwell this wild, constrained by want, come forth

To town or village nigh (nighest is far),

Where aught we hear, and curious are to hear,

What happens 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 inured

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 fedOur fathers here with manna?In the Mount

Moses was forty days, nor eat nor drank;

And forty days Eliah without food

Wandered 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 answered the Arch-Fiend, now undisguised:-

"'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate

Who, leagued with millions more in rash revolt,

Kept not my happy station, but was drivenWith them from bliss to the bottomless Deep-

Yet to that hideous place not so confined

By rigour unconniving but that oft,

Leaving my dolorous prison, I enjoy

Large liberty to round this globe of Earth,

Or range in the Air; nor from the Heaven of Heavens

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 proposed

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 glibbed 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 beloved 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

Declared the Son of God, to hear attent

Thy wisdom, and behold thy godlike 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 themI gained what I have gained, 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 proofThat fellowship in pain divides not smart,

Nor lightens aught each man's peculiar load;

Small consolation, then, were Man adjoined.

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

Man fallen, shall be restored, I never more."To whom our Saviour sternly thus replied:-

"Deservedly thou griev'st, composed of lies

From the beginning, and in lies wilt end,

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

Into the Heaven 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 splendour, now deposed,

Ejected, emptied, gazed, unpitied, shunned,

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 moved 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 oraclesBy thee are given, and what confessed 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 asked have seldom understood,

And, not well understood, as good not known?

Who ever, by consulting at thy shrine,

Returned the wiser, or the more instruct

To fly or follow what concerned him most,And run not sooner to his fatal snare?

For God hath justly given 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 sayTo thy adorers?Thou, with trembling fear,

Or like a fawning parasite, obey'st;

Then to thyself ascrib'st the truth foretold.

But this thy glory shall be soon retrenched;

No more shalt thou by oracling abuse

The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceased,

And thou no more with pomp and sacrifice

Shalt be enquired at Delphos or elsewhere-

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

God hath now sent his living OracleInto 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,

Dissembled, and this answer smooth returned:-"Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke,

And urged me hard with doings which not will,

But misery, hath wrested from me.WhereEasily canst thou find one miserable,

And not inforced 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 placed above me; thou art Lord;

From thee I can, and must, submiss, endure

Cheek or reproof, and glad to scape so quit.

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

Smooth on the tongue discoursed, pleasing to the ear,

And tunable as sylvan 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 voutsafed his voiceTo Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet

Inspired: disdain not such access to me."To whom our Saviour, with unaltered 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, bowling low

His gray dissimulation, disappeared,

Into thin air diffused: for now began

Night with her sullen wing to double-shadeThe desert; fowls in their clay nests were couched;

And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam.


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