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Satan is out for revenge. His rebellion has failed, he has been cast out from heaven and is doomed to spend eternity in hell. Somehow he must find a way to prove his power and wound his enemies. He fixes upon God’s beloved new creations, Adam and Eve, as the vehicles of his vengeance. In this dramatic and influential epic, Milton tells the story of the serpent and the apple, the fall of man and the exile from paradise in stunningly vivid and powerful verse.
62 pages with a reading time of ~60 minutes (15653 words), and first published in 1671. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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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 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 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 hand To 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 Dove The 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 head Broken 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 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 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, rising Out 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 undertook The 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.”