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Than hell's dread Emperor, with pomp supreme, And God-like imitated state. Him round
511 A globe of fiery Seraphim inclos'd, With bright imblazonry, and horrent arms. Then, of their session ended they bid cry With trumpets regal found the great result :
515 Tow'rds the four winds four speedy Cherubim Put to their mouths the founding alchymy, By herald's voice explain'd: the hollow Abyss Heard far and wide, and all the host of hell 519 With deaf ’ning thout return'd them loud acclaim.
Thence more at ease their minds,and somewhat rais'd By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Pow'rs Difband, and wand'ring, each his several way Pursues, as inclination or sad choice Leads him perplex'd, where he may likeliest find 525 Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain The irksome hours, till his great Chief return. Part on the plain, or in the air sublime Upon the wing, or in swift race contend, As at th' Olympian games, or Pyrbian fields : 530 Part curb their fiery steeds, or fun the goal With rapid wheels, or fronted brigads form. As when, to warn proud cities, war appears Wag'd in the troubled sky, and armies rush To battel in the clouds; before each van 535 Prick forth the aery Knights, and couch their spears Till thickeft legions close ; with feats of arms From either end of heav'n the welkin burns. Others, with vast Typhaan rage, more fell !
Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air 540
In whirlwind : hell scarce holds the wild uproar.
As when Alcides from Oechalia crown'd
With conquest, felt th'invenom'd robe, and tore.
Through pain up by the roots Thesalian pines ;
And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw 545
Into th’Euboic Sea. Others more mild,
Retreated in a silent valley, sing
With notes Angelical to many a harp
Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall
By doom of battel: and complain that fate 550
Free virtue should inthrall to force, or chance.
Their song was partial; but the harmony
(What could it less when spirits immortal sing?)
Suspended hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience.
In discourse more sweet,
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense) 556
Others apart sat on a hill retir'd,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high,
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate;
Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute; 560
And found no end, in wandring mazes loft.
Of good, and evil, much they argu'd then,
Of happiness, and final misery,
Passion, and apathy, and glory, and Name :
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy! 565
Yet, with a pleasing forcery, could charm.
Pain for a while, or anguish; and excite
Faħacious hope, or arm th' obdurate breast
With stubborn patience, as with triple steel.
Another part, in squadrons and gross bands, 57•
On bold adventure to discover wide
That dismal world (if any clime perhaps
Might yield them easier habitation) bend
Four ways their flying march, along the banks
Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge
575 Into the burning lake their baleful streams : Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate ;
of sorrow; black and deep! Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud
579 Heard on the rueful stream: fierce Phlegeton, Whose waves of torrent fire infiame with rage. Far off from these, a now and silent stream, Letbe, the river of oblivion, rolls Her wat'ry labyrinth ; whereof who drinks, Forthwith his former state and Being forgets, 585 Forgets both joy, and grief, pleasure, and pain. Beyond this flood a frozen continent Lies dark, and wild; beat with perpetual storms Of whirlwind, and dire hail ; which on firm land Thaws not, but gāthers heap, and ruin seems 590 Of ancient pile: all else, deep snow and ice : A gulf profound ! as that Serbonian bog Betwixt Damiata, and mount Cafius old, Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air Burns frore, and cold performs th'effect of fire. 595 Thither by harpy-footed furies hald, At certain revolutions, all the damn'd Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce!
From heds of raging fire to starve in ice 600
Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine
Immoveable, infix'd, and frozen round,
Periods of time; thence hurried back to fire.
They ferry over this Lethaan Sound
Both to and fro, their forrow to augment,
And wish, and struggle as they pass, to reach
The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,
All in one moment, and so near the brink :
But Fate withstands, and to oppose th' attempt 610
Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards
The ford, and of itfelf the water fies
All taste of living wight; as once it Aed
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on
In confus'd march forlorn th’advent'rous bands, 615
With shudd'ring horror pale, and eyes agaft,
View'd first their lamentable lot, and found
No rest : through many a dark and dreary vale
They pass’d, and many a region dolorous,
O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp,
620 Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of A universe of death! which God by curse [death; Created evil; for evil only good, Where all life dies, death lives, and nature breeds Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things, 625 Abominable, inutterable; and worse Than Fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceivid, Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.
Mean while the adversary of God and man 629
Satan, with thoughts infiam'd of highest design,
Puts on swift wings, and tow'rds the gates of hell
Explores his folitary fight : sometimes
He scours the right-hand coaft, fometimes the left :
Now thaves with level wing the Deep; then foars
Up to the fiery concave tow'ring high. 635
As when far off at fea a fleet defcry'd,
Hangs in the clouds, by Æquinoctial winds
Close sailing from Bengala, or the illes
Of Ternate, and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs: they on the trading food 640
Through the wide Æthiopian, to the Cape
Ply, ftemming nightly tow'rd the Pole: To seemd
Far off the flying Fiend. At last appear
Hell bounds, high-reaching to the horrid roof; 644
And thrice threefold the gates : three folds were brass,
Three iron, three of adamantine rock ;
Impenetrable, impal'd with circling fire,
Yet inconsum'd. Before the gates there fat
On either fide a formidable shape;
The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair ; 650
But ended foul in many a scaly fold,
Voluminous and vaft! a ferpent arm'd
With mortal sting: about her middle round
A cry of hell-hounds never ceasing bark'd
With wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
If ought disturb'd their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there; yet there still bark'd, and howl'd
Within, unfeen. Far lefs abhor'd than these