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Below the bottom of the great Abyss,
There where one centre reconciles all things,
Fast bound, since first he forfeited the skies.
The judge of torments, and the king of tears,
A gloomy mantle of dark flames; the tire
That crowns his hated head on high appears ;
His eyes, the sullen dens of Death and Night,
Such his fell glances as the fatal light
Of staring comets, that look kingdoms dead.
Of Hell's own stink, a worser stench is spread.
His flaming eyes' dire exhalation
Unto a dreadful pile gives fiery breath;
(His shop of flames) he fries himself; beneath
While his steel sides sound with his tail's strong lash.
Three (rigorous virgins waiting still behind,
Assist the throne of th' iron-sceptred king:
With whips of thorns and knotty vipers twined
They rouse him, when his rank thoughts need a sting [— Their locks are beds of uncombed snakes, that wind About their shady brows in wanton rings.
Thus reigns the wrathful king, and while he reigns,
Disdainful wretch! how hath one bold sin cost
Narcissus foolish Phaeton! who for all
Thy high-aim'd hopes gain'dst but a flaming fall.
From Death's sad shades to the life-breathing air,
To become beautiful in human blood.
He calls to mind th' old quarrel, and what spark
To crown their past predictions; both he lays
Heaven's golden-winged herald, late he saw
To a poor Galilean virgin sent:
How low the bright youth bowed, and with what awe Immortal flowers to her fair hand present.
He saw th' old Hebrew's womb neglect the law
Of age and barrenness, and her babe prevent
Betimes to be a saint, before a man.
He saw rich nectar-thaws release the rigor
Of th' icy North; from frost-bound Atlas' hands
His adamantine fetters fall: green vigor
Gladding the Scythian rocks and Libyan sands. Cat
He saw a vernal smile sweetly disfigure
Winter's sad face, and through the flowery lands
With manna, milk, and balm, new-broach the
He saw how, in that blest Day-bearing night,
Amazed the midnight world, and made a Day
He saw a threefold Sun, with rich increase,
Make proud the ruby portals of the East: He saw the Temple sacred to sweet Peace, Adore her Prince's birth, flat on her breast: He saw the falling idols all confess
A coming Deity: He saw the nest
Of poisonous and unnatural loves, Earth-nursed,
He saw Heaven blossom with a new-born light,
By whom (as Heaven's illustrious handmaid) raised,
Struck with these great concurrences of things,
Eternally bind each rebellious limb.
He shook himself, and spread his spacious wings;
Air with a dismal shade; but all in vain,
While thus Heaven's highest counsels by the low