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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Appeal of Satan

By John Milton (1608–1674)

From ‘Paradise Lost

“IS this the region, this the soil, the clime,”

Said then the lost Archangel, “this the seat

That we must change for heaven?—this mournful gloom

For that celestial light? Be it so, since he

Who now is sovran can dispose and bid

What shall be right: farthest from him is best,

Whom reason hath equaled, force hath made supreme

Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields,

Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail,

Infernal world! and thou, profoundest hell,

Receive thy new possessor—one who brings

A mind not to be changed by place or time.

The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.

What matter where, if I be still the same,

And what I should be, all but less than he

Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least

We shall be free; the Almighty hath not built

Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:

Here we may reign secure: and in my choice,

To reign is worth ambition, though in hell;

Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.

But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,

The associates and copartners of our loss,

Lie thus astonished on the oblivious pool,

And call them not to share with us their part

In this unhappy mansion, or once more

With rallied arms to try what may be yet

Regained in heaven, or what more lost in hell?”

So Satan spake; and him Beëlzebub

Thus answered:—“Leader of those armies bright

Which, but the Omnipotent, none could have foiled!

If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge

Of hope in fears and dangers,—heard so oft

In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge

Of battle, when it raged, in all assaults

Their surest signal,—they will soon resume

New courage and revive, though now they lie

Groveling and prostrate on yon lake of fire,

As we erewhile, astounded and amazed:

No wonder, fallen such a pernicious height!”

He scarce had ceased when the superior Fiend

Was moving toward the shore; his ponderous shield,

Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round,

Behind him cast. The broad circumference

Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb

Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views

At evening, from the top of Fesolè,

Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,

Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.

His spear—to equal which the tallest pine

Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast

Of some great ammiral, were but a wand—

He walked with, to support uneasy steps

Over the burning marle, not like those steps

On heaven’s azure; and the torrid clime

Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire.

Nathless he so endured, till on the beach

Of that inflamèd sea he stood, and called

His legions—angel forms, who lay entranced,

Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks

In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades

High overarched embower; or scattered sedge

Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion armed

Hath vexed the Red Sea coast, whose waves o’erthrew

Busiris and his Memphian chivalry,

While with perfidious hatred they pursued

The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld

From the safe shore their floating carcasses

And broken chariot-wheels. So thick bestrown,

Abject and lost, lay these, covering the flood,

Under amazement of their hideous change.

He called so loud that all the hollow deep

Of hell resounded:—“Princes, potentates,

Warriors, the flower of heaven—once yours; now lost,

If such astonishment as this can seize

Eternal spirits! Or have ye chosen this place

After the toil of battle to repose

Your wearied virtue, for the ease you find

To slumber here, as in the vales of heaven?

Or in this abject posture have ye sworn

To adore the Conqueror, who now beholds

Cherub and seraph rolling in the flood

With scattered arms and ensigns, till anon

His swift pursuers from heaven-gates discern

The advantage, and, descending, tread us down

Thus drooping, or with linkèd thunderbolts

Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf?—

Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen!”