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And what I should be, all but less then heWhom Thunder hath made greater? Here at leastWe shall be free; th' Almighty hath not builtHere for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure, and in my choyceTo reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.
John Milton, Satan's Speech, Book I, Paradise Lost
Full soonAmong them he arrived; in his right handGrasping ten thousand thunders, which he sentBefore him, such as in their souls infixedPlagues: They, astonished, all resistance lost, All courage; down their idle weapons dropt: O'er shields, and helms, and helmed heads he rode Of Thrones and mighty Seraphim prostrate, That wished the mountains now might be againThrown on them, as a shelter from his ire.
John Milton, Book VI, Paradise Lost
"The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection."
John Milton, from Of Education
When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hideLodged with me useless, though my soul more bentTo serve therewith my Maker, and presentMy true account, lest He returning chide; "Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?" I fondly ask. But Patience, to preventThat murmur, soon replies, "God doth not needEither man's work or His own gifts. Who bestBear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His stateIs kingly: thousands at His bidding speed, And post o'er land and ocean without rest; They also serve who only stand and wait.
John Milton, "When I Consider How My Light Is Spent" (also called "On His Blindness")
"Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life."
John Milton, Areopagitica
"The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it."
Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour; England hath need of thee: she is a fenOf stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen, Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower, Have forfeited their ancient English dowerOf inward happiness. We are selfish men; Oh! raise us up, return to us again; And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power. Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart; Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea: Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, So didst thou travel on life's common way, In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heartThe lowliest duties on herself did lay.
William Wordsworth, "London, 1802"