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The dark, unbottom’d, insinite abyss, 405
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aery slight
Upborne with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy isle P What strength, what art can then 410
Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
Through the strict senteries and stations thick
Of angels watching round 2 Here he had need
All circumspection, and we now no less
Choice in our suffrage; for, on whom we send, 415
The weight of all and our last hope relies.”
This said, he sat; and expectation held
His look suspense, awaiting who appear'd
To second, or oppose, or undertake
The perilous attempt: but all sat mute,
Pond'ring the danger with deep thoughts; and each
In other's count'nance read his own dismay,
Astonish'd : none among the choice and prime
Of those heav'n-warring champions could be found
So hardy, as to proffer or accept 425
Alone the dreadful voyage; till at last
Satan, whom now transcendent glory rais'd
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride,
Conscious of highest worth, unmov'd thus spake:
“O Progeny of heav'n, empyreal Thrones,
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seiz'd us, though undismay’d. Long is the way
And hard, that out of hell leads up to light;
Our prison strong; this huge convex of fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round 435
Ninefold, and gates of burning adamant,
Barr'd over us, prohibit all egress.
These pass'd, if any pass, the void profound
Of unessential night receives him next
Wide-gaping, and with utter loss of being 440
Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf.
If thence he 'scape into whatever world,
Or unknown region, what remains him less
'Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape?
But I should ill become this throne, O peers, 445
And this imperial sovranty, adorn'd
With splendour, arm'd with pow'r, if aught propos'd
And judg’d of public moment, in the shape
Of difficulty or danger, could deter
Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume 450
These royalties, and not refuse to reign,
Refusing to accept as great a share
Of hazard as of honour, due alike
To him who reigns, and so much to him due
Of hazard more, as he above the rest 455
High honour’d sits P Go, therefore, mighty powers,
Terror of heav'n, though fall'n; intend at home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present misery, and render hell

More tolerable; if there be cure or charm 460

To respite, or deceive, or slack the pain Of this ill mansion: intermit no watch Against a wakeful foe, while I abroad Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek Deliverance for us all: this enterprise 465 None shall partake with me.” us saying rose The monarch, and prevented all reply; Prudent, lest, from his resolution rais'd, Others among the chief might offer now (Certain to be refus'd) what erst they fear'd; 470 And, so refus'd, might in opinion stand His rivals; winning cheap the high repute, Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they Dreaded not more th' adventure, than his voice Forbidding; and at once with him they rose: 475 Their rising all at once, was as the sound Of thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend With awful reverence prone; and as a god Extol him equal to the High'st in heav'n : Nor fail'd they to express how much they prais'd, 480 That for the general safety he despis'd His own: for neither do the spirits damn'd Lose all their virtue; lest bad men should boast Their specious deeds on earth which glory excites, Or close ambition, varnish'd o'er with zeal. 485 Thus they their doubtful consultations dark Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief: As when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread Heav'n's cheerful face, the louring element 490 Scowls o'er the darken'd landskip snow, or shower; If chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet Extend his evening beam, the fields revive, The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings. 495 0 shame to men! devil with devil damn'd Firm concord holds, men only disagree Of creatures rational, though under hope Of heav'nly grace; and, God proclaiming peace, Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife, 500 Among themselves, and levy cruel wars, Wasting the earth, each other to destroy: As if (which might induce us to accord) Man had not hellish foes enow besides, That, day and night, for his destruction wait. 505 The Stygian council thus dissolv’d; and forth In order came the grand infernal peers: Midst came their mighty paramount, and seem'd Alone th’ antagonist of heav'n, nor less Than hell's dread emperor, with pomp supreme, 510 And God-like imitated state: him round A globe of fiery Seraphim enclos'd With bright imblazonry, and horrent arms. Then of their session ended they bid cry

With trumpets' regal sound the great result: 515
Towards the four winds four speedy Cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchymy,
By herald's voice explain’d; the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of hell
With deafning shout return'd them loud acclaim. 520
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat rais'd
By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers
Disband, 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 Pythian fields; 530
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brigades form.
As when, to warn proud cities, war appears
Wag'd in the troubled sky, and armies rush
To battle in the clouds, before each van 535
Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their spears,
Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms
From either end of heav'n the well, in burns.
Others with vast Typhoean 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' envenom'd robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian 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 battle; and complain that fate 550
Free virtue should enthrall 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 555
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense),
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 wand'ring mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy, and glory and shame,
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy: 565
Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm
Pain for a while, or anguish, and excite
Fallacious hope, or arm th’ obdured breast
With stubborn patience, as with triple steel.

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Another-part, in squadrons and gross bands, 570
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;
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon, 580
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these, a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, 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 gathers heap, and ruin seems 590
Of ancient pile: or else deep snow and ice,
A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and mount Casius old,
Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air
Burns frone, and cold performs th' effect of fire. 595
Thither by harpy-footed furies hal’d,
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 beds 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 Lethean sound
Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment, 605
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 itself the water flies
All taste of living wight, as once it fled
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on
In cónfus'd march forlorn, th’ advent'rous bands 615
With shudd'ring horror pale, and eyes aghast,
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 death,
A universe of death, which God by curse
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 conceiv'd,
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.
- Meanwhile, the adversary of God and man,
Satan, with thoughts inflam'd of highest design, 630
Puts on swift wings, and towards the gates of hell
Explores his solitary flight: sometimes
He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left;
Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars
Up to the fiery concave tow'ring high. 635
As when far off at sea a fleet descried
Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds
Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles
Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs; they, on the trading flood, 640
Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape,
Ply stemming nightly toward the pole; so seem'd
Far off the flying fiend. At last appear
Hell-bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof,
And thrice threefold—the gates: three folds were brass, 645
Three iron, three of adamantine rock
Impenetrable, impal'd with circling fire,
Yet unconsum’d. Before the gates there sat
On either side a formidable shape;
The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair; 650
But ended foul in many a scaly fold
Voluminous and vast; a serpent arm'd
With mortal sting: about her middle round
A cry of hell-hounds never-ceasing bark'd
With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung 655
A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturb’d their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there; yet there still bark'd and howl'd,
Within unseen. Far less abhorr'd than these
Wex'd Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts 660
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore:
Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, call’d
In secret, riding through the air she comes,
Lur'd with the smell of infant blood, to dance
With Lapland witches, while the lab’ring moon 665
Eclipses at their charms. The other shape,
If shape it might be call'd that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem’d,
For each seem'd either: black it stood as night, 670
Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as hell,
And shook a dreadful dart; what seem'd his head,
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
The monster moving onward came as fast 675
With horrid strides; hell trembled as he strode.
Th’ undaunted fiend what this might be admir’d,
Admir’d, not fear'd; God and his Son except,
Created thing naught valued he, nor shunn'd;

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