Paradise Lost

by John Milton

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Book II

High on a Throne of Royal State, which far
  Outshon the wealth of ORMUS and of IND,
  Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand
  Showrs on her Kings BARBARIC Pearl & Gold,
  Satan exalted sat, by merit rais'd
  To that bad eminence; and from despair
  Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
  Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue
  Vain Warr with Heav'n, and by success untaught
  His proud imaginations thus displaid.
    Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heav'n,
  For since no deep within her gulf can hold
  Immortal vigor, though opprest and fall'n,
  I give not Heav'n for lost. From this descent
  Celestial vertues rising, will appear
  More glorious and more dread then from no fall,
  And trust themselves to fear no second fate:
  Mee though just right, and the fixt Laws of Heav'n
  Did first create your Leader, next, free choice,
  With what besides, in Counsel or in Fight,
  Hath bin achievd of merit, yet this loss
  Thus farr at least recover'd, hath much more
  Establisht in a safe unenvied Throne
  Yeilded with full consent. The happier state
  In Heav'n, which follows dignity, might draw
  Envy from each inferior; but who here
  Will envy whom the highest place exposes
  Formost to stand against the Thunderers aime
  Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share
  Of endless pain? where there is then no good
  For which to strive, no strife can grow up there
  From Faction; for none sure will claim in hell
  Precedence, none, whose portion is so small
  Of present pain, that with ambitious mind
  Will covet more. With this advantage then
  To union, and firm Faith, and firm accord,
  More then can be in Heav'n, we now return
  To claim our just inheritance of old,
  Surer to prosper then prosperity
  Could have assur'd us; and by what best way,
  Whether of open Warr or covert guile,
  We now debate; who can advise, may speak.
    He ceas'd, and next him MOLOC, Scepter'd King
  Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest Spirit
  That fought in Heav'n; now fiercer by despair:
  His trust was with th' Eternal to be deem'd
  Equal in strength, and rather then be less
  Car'd not to be at all; with that care lost
  Went all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse
  He reckd not, and these words thereafter spake.
    My sentence is for open Warr: Of Wiles,
  More unexpert, I boast not: them let those
  Contrive who need, or when they need, not now.
  For while they sit contriving, shall the rest,
  Millions that stand in Arms, and longing wait
  The Signal to ascend, sit lingring here
  Heav'ns fugitives, and for thir dwelling place
  Accept this dark opprobrious Den of shame,
  The Prison of his Tyranny who Reigns
  By our delay? no, let us rather choose
  Arm'd with Hell flames and fury all at once
  O're Heav'ns high Towrs to force resistless way,
  Turning our Tortures into horrid Arms
  Against the Torturer; when to meet the noise
  Of his Almighty Engin he shall hear
  Infernal Thunder, and for Lightning see
  Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
  Among his Angels; and his Throne it self
  Mixt with TARTAREAN Sulphur, and strange fire,
  His own invented Torments. But perhaps
  The way seems difficult and steep to scale
  With upright wing against a higher foe.
  Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
  Of that forgetful Lake benumme not still,
  That in our proper motion we ascend
  Up to our native seat: descent and fall
  To us is adverse. Who but felt of late
  When the fierce Foe hung on our brok'n Rear
  Insulting, and pursu'd us through the Deep,
  With what compulsion and laborious flight
  We sunk thus low? Th' ascent is easie then;
  Th' event is fear'd; should we again provoke
  Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find
  To our destruction: if there be in Hell
  Fear to be worse destroy'd: what can be worse
  Then to dwell here, driv'n out from bliss, condemn'd
  In this abhorred deep to utter woe;
  Where pain of unextinguishable fire
  Must exercise us without hope of end
  The Vassals of his anger, when the Scourge
  Inexorably, and the torturing houre
  Calls us to Penance? More destroy'd then thus
  We should be quite abolisht and expire.
  What fear we then? what doubt we to incense
  His utmost ire? which to the highth enrag'd,
  Will either quite consume us, and reduce
  To nothing this essential, happier farr
  Then miserable to have eternal being:
  Or if our substance be indeed Divine,
  And cannot cease to be, we are at worst
  On this side nothing; and by proof we feel
  Our power sufficient to disturb his Heav'n,
  And with perpetual inrodes to Allarme,
  Though inaccessible, his fatal Throne:
  Which if not Victory is yet Revenge.
    He ended frowning, and his look denounc'd
  Desperate revenge, and Battel dangerous
  To less then Gods. On th' other side up rose
  BELIAL, in act more graceful and humane;
  A fairer person lost not Heav'n; he seemd
  For dignity compos'd and high exploit:
  But all was false and hollow; though his Tongue
  Dropt Manna, and could make the worse appear
  The better reason, to perplex and dash
  Maturest Counsels: for his thoughts were low;
  To vice industrious, but to Nobler deeds
  Timorous and slothful: yet he pleas'd the eare,
  And with perswasive accent thus began.
    I should be much for open Warr, O Peers,
  As not behind in hate; if what was urg'd
  Main reason to perswade immediate Warr,
  Did not disswade me most, and seem to cast
  Ominous conjecture on the whole success:
  When he who most excels in fact of Arms,
  In what he counsels and in what excels
  Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair
  And utter dissolution, as the scope
  Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
  First, what Revenge? the Towrs of Heav'n are fill'd
  With Armed watch, that render all access
  Impregnable; oft on the bordering Deep
  Encamp thir Legions, or with obscure wing
  Scout farr and wide into the Realm of night,
  Scorning surprize. Or could we break our way
  By force, and at our heels all Hell should rise
  With blackest Insurrection, to confound
  Heav'ns purest Light, yet our great Enemie
  All incorruptible would on his Throne
  Sit unpolluted, and th' Ethereal mould
  Incapable of stain would soon expel
  Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire
  Victorious. Thus repuls'd, our final hope
  Is flat despair: we must exasperate
  Th' Almighty Victor to spend all his rage,
  And that must end us, that must be our cure,
  To be no more; sad cure; for who would loose,
  Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
  Those thoughts that wander through Eternity,
  To perish rather, swallowd up and lost
  In the wide womb of uncreated night,
  Devoid of sense and motion? and who knows,
  Let this be good, whether our angry Foe
  Can give it, or will ever? how he can
  Is doubtful; that he never will is sure.
  Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,
  Belike through impotence, or unaware,
  To give his Enemies thir wish, and end
  Them in his anger, whom his anger saves
  To punish endless? wherefore cease we then?
  Say they who counsel Warr, we are decreed,
  Reserv'd and destin'd to Eternal woe;
  Whatever doing, what can we suffer more,
  What can we suffer worse? is this then worst,
  Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in Arms?
  What when we fled amain, pursu'd and strook
  With Heav'ns afflicting Thunder, and besought
  The Deep to shelter us? this Hell then seem'd
  A refuge from those wounds: or when we lay
  Chain'd on the burning Lake? that sure was worse.
  What if the breath that kindl'd those grim fires
  Awak'd should blow them into sevenfold rage
  And plunge us in the Flames? or from above
  Should intermitted vengeance Arme again
  His red right hand to plague us? what if all
  Her stores were op'n'd, and this Firmament
  Of Hell should spout her Cataracts of Fire,
  Impendent horrors, threatning hideous fall
  One day upon our heads; while we perhaps
  Designing or exhorting glorious Warr,
  Caught in a fierie Tempest shall be hurl'd
  Each on his rock transfixt, the sport and prey
  Of racking whirlwinds, or for ever sunk
  Under yon boyling Ocean, wrapt in Chains;
  There to converse with everlasting groans,
  Unrespited, unpitied, unrepreevd,
  Ages of hopeless end; this would be worse.
  Warr therefore, open or conceal'd, alike
  My voice disswades; for what can force or guile
  With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye
  Views all things at one view? he from heav'ns highth
  All these our motions vain, sees and derides;
  Not more Almighty to resist our might
  Then wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.
  Shall we then live thus vile, the race of Heav'n
  Thus trampl'd, thus expell'd to suffer here
  Chains & these Torments? better these then worse
  By my advice; since fate inevitable
  Subdues us, and Omnipotent Decree,
  The Victors will. To suffer, as to doe,
  Our strength is equal, nor the Law unjust
  That so ordains: this was at first resolv'd,
  If we were wise, against so great a foe
  Contending, and so doubtful what might fall.
  I laugh, when those who at the Spear are bold
  And vent'rous, if that fail them, shrink and fear
  What yet they know must follow, to endure
  Exile, or ignominy, or bonds, or pain,
  The sentence of thir Conquerour: This is now
  Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear,
  Our Supream Foe in time may much remit
  His anger, and perhaps thus farr remov'd
  Not mind us not offending, satisfi'd
  With what is punish't; whence these raging fires
  Will slack'n, if his breath stir not thir flames.
  Our purer essence then will overcome
  Thir noxious vapour, or enur'd not feel,
  Or chang'd at length, and to the place conformd
  In temper and in nature, will receive
  Familiar the fierce heat, and void of pain;
  This horror will grow milde, this darkness light,
  Besides what hope the never-ending flight
  Of future days may bring, what chance, what change
  Worth waiting, since our present lot appeers
  For happy though but ill, for ill not worst,
  If we procure not to our selves more woe.
    Thus BELIAL with words cloath'd in reasons garb
  Counsel'd ignoble ease, and peaceful sloath,
  Not peace: and after him thus MAMMON spake.
    Either to disinthrone the King of Heav'n
  We warr, if warr be best, or to regain
  Our own right lost: him to unthrone we then
  May hope, when everlasting Fate shall yeild
  To fickle Chance, and CHAOS judge the strife:
  The former vain to hope argues as vain
  The latter: for what place can be for us
  Within Heav'ns bound, unless Heav'ns Lord supream
  We overpower? Suppose he should relent
  And publish Grace to all, on promise made
  Of new Subjection; with what eyes could we
  Stand in his presence humble, and receive
  Strict Laws impos'd, to celebrate his Throne
  With warbl'd Hymns, and to his Godhead sing
  Forc't Halleluiah's; while he Lordly sits
  Our envied Sovran, and his Altar breathes
  Ambrosial Odours and Ambrosial Flowers,
  Our servile offerings. This must be our task
  In Heav'n, this our delight; how wearisom
  Eternity so spent in worship paid
  To whom we hate. Let us not then pursue
  By force impossible, by leave obtain'd
  Unacceptable, though in Heav'n, our state
  Of splendid vassalage, but rather seek
  Our own good from our selves, and from our own
  Live to our selves, though in this vast recess,
  Free, and to none accountable, preferring
  Hard liberty before the easie yoke
  Of servile Pomp. Our greatness will appear
  Then most conspicuous, when great things of small,
  Useful of hurtful, prosperous of adverse
  We can create, and in what place so e're
  Thrive under evil, and work ease out of pain
  Through labour and endurance. This deep world
  Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst
  Thick clouds and dark doth Heav'ns all-ruling Sire
  Choose to reside, his Glory unobscur'd,
  And with the Majesty of darkness round
  Covers his Throne; from whence deep thunders roar
  Must'ring thir rage, and Heav'n resembles Hell?
  As he our Darkness, cannot we his Light
  Imitate when we please? This Desart soile
  Wants not her hidden lustre, Gemms and Gold;
  Nor want we skill or art, from whence to raise
  Magnificence; and what can Heav'n shew more?
  Our torments also may in length of time
  Become our Elements, these piercing Fires
  As soft as now severe, our temper chang'd
  Into their temper; which must needs remove
  The sensible of pain. All things invite
  To peaceful Counsels, and the settl'd State
  Of order, how in safety best we may
  Compose our present evils, with regard
  Of what we are and where, dismissing quite
  All thoughts of Warr: ye have what I advise.
    He scarce had finisht, when such murmur filld
  Th' Assembly, as when hollow Rocks retain
  The sound of blustring winds, which all night long
  Had rous'd the Sea, now with hoarse cadence lull
  Sea-faring men orewatcht, whose Bark by chance
  Or Pinnace anchors in a craggy Bay
  After the Tempest: Such applause was heard
  As MAMMON ended, and his Sentence pleas'd,
  Advising peace: for such another Field
  They dreaded worse then Hell: so much the fear
  Of Thunder and the Sword of MICHAEL
  Wrought still within them; and no less desire
  To found this nether Empire, which might rise
  By pollicy, and long process of time,
  In emulation opposite to Heav'n.
  Which when BEELZEBUB perceiv'd, then whom,
  SATAN except, none higher sat, with grave
  Aspect he rose, and in his rising seem'd
  A Pillar of State; deep on his Front engraven
  Deliberation sat and publick care;
  And Princely counsel in his face yet shon,
  Majestick though in ruin: sage he stood
  With ATLANTEAN shoulders fit to bear
  The weight of mightiest Monarchies; his look
  Drew audience and attention still as Night
  Or Summers Noon-tide air, while thus he spake.
    Thrones and imperial Powers, off-spring of heav'n,
  Ethereal Vertues; or these Titles now
  Must we renounce, and changing stile be call'd
  Princes of Hell? for so the popular vote
  Inclines, here to continue, and build up here
  A growing Empire; doubtless; while we dream,
  And know not that the King of Heav'n hath doom'd
  This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat
  Beyond his Potent arm, to live exempt
  From Heav'ns high jurisdiction, in new League
  Banded against his Throne, but to remaine
  In strictest bondage, though thus far remov'd,
  Under th' inevitable curb, reserv'd
  His captive multitude: For he, be sure,
  In highth or depth, still first and last will Reign
  Sole King, and of his Kingdom loose no part
  By our revolt, but over Hell extend
  His Empire, and with Iron Scepter rule
  Us here, as with his Golden those in Heav'n.
  What sit we then projecting Peace and Warr?
  Warr hath determin'd us, and foild with loss
  Irreparable; tearms of peace yet none
  Voutsaf't or sought; for what peace will be giv'n
  To us enslav'd, but custody severe,
  And stripes, and arbitrary punishment
  Inflicted? and what peace can we return,
  But to our power hostility and hate,
  Untam'd reluctance, and revenge though slow,
  Yet ever plotting how the Conquerour least
  May reap his conquest, and may least rejoyce
  In doing what we most in suffering feel?
  Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need
  With dangerous expedition to invade
  Heav'n, whose high walls fear no assault or Siege,
  Or ambush from the Deep. What if we find
  Some easier enterprize? There is a place
  (If ancient and prophetic fame in Heav'n
  Err not) another World, the happy seat
  Of som new Race call'd MAN, about this time
  To be created like to us, though less
  In power and excellence, but favour'd more
  Of him who rules above; so was his will
  Pronounc'd among the Gods, and by an Oath,
  That shook Heav'ns whol circumference, confirm'd.
  Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
  What creatures there inhabit, of what mould,
  Or substance, how endu'd, and what thir Power,
  And where thir weakness, how attempted best,
  By force or suttlety: Though Heav'n be shut,
  And Heav'ns high Arbitrator sit secure
  In his own strength, this place may lye expos'd
  The utmost border of his Kingdom, left
  To their defence who hold it: here perhaps
  Som advantagious act may be achiev'd
  By sudden onset, either with Hell fire
  To waste his whole Creation, or possess
  All as our own, and drive as we were driven,
  The punie habitants, or if not drive,
  Seduce them to our Party, that thir God
  May prove thir foe, and with repenting hand
  Abolish his own works. This would surpass
  Common revenge, and interrupt his joy
  In our Confusion, and our Joy upraise
  In his disturbance; when his darling Sons
  Hurl'd headlong to partake with us, shall curse
  Thir frail Originals, and faded bliss,
  Faded so soon. Advise if this be worth
  Attempting, or to sit in darkness here
  Hatching vain Empires. Thus BEELZEBUB
  Pleaded his devilish Counsel, first devis'd
  By SATAN, and in part propos'd: for whence,
  But from the Author of all ill could Spring
  So deep a malice, to confound the race
  Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell
  To mingle and involve, done all to spite
  The great Creatour? But thir spite still serves
  His glory to augment. The bold design
  Pleas'd highly those infernal States, and joy
  Sparkl'd in all thir eyes; with full assent
  They vote: whereat his speech he thus renews.
    Well have ye judg'd, well ended long debate,
  Synod of Gods, and like to what ye are,
  Great things resolv'd; which from the lowest deep
  Will once more lift us up, in spight of Fate,
  Neerer our ancient Seat; perhaps in view
  Of those bright confines, whence with neighbouring Arms
  And opportune excursion we may chance
  Re-enter Heav'n; or else in some milde Zone
  Dwell not unvisited of Heav'ns fair Light
  Secure, and at the brightning Orient beam
  Purge off this gloom; the soft delicious Air,
  To heal the scarr of these corrosive Fires
  Shall breath her balme. But first whom shall we send
  In search of this new world, whom shall we find
  Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandring feet
  The dark unbottom'd infinite Abyss
  And through the palpable obscure find out
  His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight
  Upborn with indefatigable wings
  Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
  The happy Ile; what strength, what art can then
  Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
  Through the strict Senteries and Stations thick
  Of Angels watching round? Here he had need
  All circumspection, and we now no less
  Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send,
  The weight of all and our last hope relies.
    This said, he sat; and expectation held
  His look suspence, awaiting who appeer'd
  To second, or oppose, or undertake
  The perilous attempt: but all sat mute,
  Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; & each
  In others count'nance red his own dismay
  Astonisht: none among the choice and prime
  Of those Heav'n-warring Champions could be found
  So hardie as to proffer or accept
  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 demurr
  Seis'd us, though undismaid: 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
  Ninefold, and gates of burning Adamant
  Barr'd over us prohibit all egress.
  These past, if any pass, the void profound
  Of unessential Night receives him next
  Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being
  Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf.
  If thence he scape into what ever world,
  Or unknown Region, what remains him less
  Then unknown dangers and as hard escape.
  But I should ill become this Throne, O Peers,
  And this Imperial Sov'ranty, adorn'd
  With splendor, arm'd with power, if aught propos'd
  And judg'd of public moment, in the shape
  Of difficulty or danger could deterre
  Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume
  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
  High honourd sits? Go therfore 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 tollerable; if there be cure or charm
  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 enterprize
  None shall partake with me. Thus saying rose
  The Monarch, and prevented all reply,
  Prudent, least from his resolution rais'd
  Others among the chief might offer now
  (Certain to be refus'd) what erst they feard;
  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 then his voice
  Forbidding; and at once with him they rose;
  Thir rising all at once was as the sound
  Of Thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend
  With awful reverence prone; and as a God
  Extoll him equal to the highest in Heav'n:
  Nor fail'd they to express how much they prais'd,
  That for the general safety he despis'd
  His own: for neither do the Spirits damn'd
  Loose all thir vertue; least bad men should boast
  Thir specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,
  Or close ambition varnisht o're with zeal.
  Thus they thir doubtful consultations dark
  Ended rejoycing in thir matchless Chief:
  As when from mountain tops the dusky clouds
  Ascending, while the North wind sleeps, o'respread
  Heav'ns chearful face, the lowring Element
  Scowls ore the dark'nd lantskip Snow, or showre;
  If chance the radiant Sun with farewell sweet
  Extend his ev'ning beam, the fields revive,
  The birds thir notes renew, and bleating herds
  Attest thir joy, that hill and valley rings.
  O shame to men! Devil with Devil damn'd
  Firm concord holds, men onely disagree
  Of Creatures rational, though under hope
  Of heavenly Grace: and God proclaiming peace,
  Yet live in hatred, enmitie, and strife
  Among themselves, and levie cruel warres,
  Wasting the Earth, each other to destroy:
  As if (which might induce us to accord)
  Man had not hellish foes anow besides,
  That day and night for his destruction waite.
    The STYGIAN Councel thus dissolv'd; and forth
  In order came the grand infernal Peers,
  Midst came thir mighty Paramount, and seemd
  Alone th' Antagonist of Heav'n, nor less
  Then Hells dread Emperour with pomp Supream,
  And God-like imitated State; him round
  A Globe of fierie Seraphim inclos'd
  With bright imblazonrie, and horrent Arms.
  Then of thir Session ended they bid cry
  With Trumpets regal sound the great result:
  Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim
  Put to thir mouths the sounding Alchymie
  By Haralds voice explain'd: the hollow Abyss
  Heard farr and wide, and all the host of Hell
  With deafning shout, return'd them loud acclaim.
  Thence more at ease thir minds and somwhat rais'd
  By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers
  Disband, and wandring, each his several way
  Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
  Leads him perplext, where he may likeliest find
  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;
  Part curb thir fierie Steeds, or shun the Goal
  With rapid wheels, or fronted Brigads form.
  As when to warn proud Cities warr appears
  Wag'd in the troubl'd Skie, and Armies rush
  To Battel in the Clouds, before each Van
  Pric forth the Aerie Knights, and couch thir spears
  Till thickest Legions close; with feats of Arms
  From either end of Heav'n the welkin burns.
  Others with vast TYPHOEAN rage more fell
  Rend up both Rocks and Hills, and ride the Air
  In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wilde uproar.
  As when ALCIDES from OEALIA 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
  Into th' EUBOIC Sea. Others more milde,
  Retreated in a silent valley, sing
  With notes Angelical to many a Harp
  Thir own Heroic deeds and hapless fall
  By doom of Battel; and complain that Fate
  Free Vertue should enthrall to Force or Chance.
  Thir 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,)
  Others apart sat on a Hill retir'd,
  In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
  Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate,
  Fixt Fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute,
  And found no end, in wandring mazes lost.
  Of good and evil much they argu'd then,
  Of happiness and final misery,
  Passion and Apathie, and glory and shame,
  Vain wisdom all, and false Philosophie:
  Yet with a pleasing sorcerie could charm
  Pain for a while or anguish, and excite
  Fallacious hope, or arm th' obdured brest
  With stubborn patience as with triple steel.
  Another part in Squadrons and gross Bands,
  On bold adventure to discover wide
  That dismal world, if any Clime perhaps
  Might yeild them easier habitation, bend
  Four ways thir flying March, along the Banks
  Of four infernal Rivers that disgorge
  Into the burning Lake thir 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 ruful stream; fierce PHLEGETON
  Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
  Farr off from these a slow and silent stream,
  LETHE the River of Oblivion roules
  Her watrie Labyrinth, whereof who drinks,
  Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
  Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
  Beyond this flood a frozen Continent
  Lies dark and wilde, beat with perpetual storms
  Of Whirlwind and dire Hail, which on firm land
  Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
  Of ancient pile; all 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 frore, and cold performs th' effect of Fire.
  Thither by harpy-footed Furies hail'd,
  At certain revolutions all the damn'd
  Are brought: and feel by turns the bitter change
  Of fierce extreams, extreams by change more fierce,
  From Beds of raging Fire to starve in Ice
  Thir soft Ethereal warmth, and there to pine
  Immovable, infixt, and frozen round,
  Periods of time, thence hurried back to fire.
  They ferry over this LETHEAN Sound
  Both to and fro, thir sorrow to augment,
  And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach
  The tempting stream, with one small drop to loose
  In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,
  All in one moment, and so neer the brink;
  But fate withstands, and to oppose th' attempt
  MEDUSA with GORGONIAN terror guards
  The Ford, and of it self the water flies
  All taste of living wight, as once it fled
  The lip of TANTALUS. Thus roving on
  In confus'd march forlorn, th' adventrous Bands
  With shuddring horror pale, and eyes agast
  View'd first thir lamentable lot, and found
  No rest: through many a dark and drearie Vaile
  They pass'd, and many a Region dolorous,
  O're many a Frozen, many a Fierie Alpe,
  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,
  Abominable, inutterable, and worse
  Then Fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceiv'd,
  GORGONS and HYDRA'S, and CHIMERA'S dire.
    Mean while the Adversary of God and Man,
  SATAN with thoughts inflam'd of highest design,
  Puts on swift wings, and toward the Gates of Hell
  Explores his solitary flight; som times
  He scours the right hand coast, som times the left,
  Now shaves with level wing the Deep, then soares
  Up to the fiery concave touring high.
  As when farr off at Sea a Fleet descri'd
  Hangs in the Clouds, by AEQUINOCTIAL Winds
  Close sailing from BENGALA, or the Iles
  Of TERNATE and TIDORE, whence Merchants bring
  Thir spicie Drugs: they on the trading Flood
  Through the wide ETHIOPIAN to the Cape
  Ply stemming nightly toward the Pole. So seem'd
  Farr off the flying Fiend: at last appeer
  Hell bounds high reaching to the horrid Roof,
  And thrice threefold the Gates; three folds were Brass
  Three Iron, three of Adamantine Rock,
  Impenitrable, 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 waste, and fair,
  But ended foul in many a scaly fould
  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
  A hideous Peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
  If aught disturb'd thir noyse, into her woomb,
  And kennel there, yet there still bark'd and howl'd
  Within unseen. Farr less abhorrd then these
  Vex'd SCYLLA bathing in the Sea that parts
  CALABRIA from the hoarce 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 labouring Moon
  Eclipses at thir charms. The other shape,
  If shape it might be call'd that shape had none
  Distinguishable in member, joynt, or limb,
  Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
  For each seem'd either; black it stood as Night,
  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,
  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 vallu'd he nor shun'd;
  And with disdainful look thus first began.
    Whence and what art thou, execrable shape,
  That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
  Thy miscreated Front athwart my way
  To yonder Gates? through them I mean to pass,
  That be assur'd, without leave askt of thee:
  Retire, or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,
  Hell-born, not to contend with Spirits of Heav'n.
    To whom the Goblin full of wrauth reply'd,
  Art thou that Traitor Angel, art thou hee,
  Who first broke peace in Heav'n and Faith, till then
  Unbrok'n, and in proud rebellious Arms
  Drew after him the third part of Heav'ns Sons
  Conjur'd against the highest, for which both Thou
  And they outcast from God, are here condemn'd
  To waste Eternal daies in woe and pain?
  And reck'n'st thou thy self with Spirits of Heav'n,
  Hell-doomd, and breath'st defiance here and scorn,
  Where I reign King, and to enrage thee more,
  Thy King and Lord? Back to thy punishment,
  False fugitive, and to thy speed add wings,
  Least with a whip of Scorpions I pursue
  Thy lingring, or with one stroke of this Dart
  Strange horror seise thee, and pangs unfelt before.
    So spake the grieslie terrour, and in shape,
  So speaking and so threatning, grew ten fold
  More dreadful and deform: on th' other side
  Incenc't with indignation SATAN stood
  Unterrifi'd, and like a Comet burn'd,
  That fires the length of OPHIUCUS huge
  In th' Artick Sky, and from his horrid hair
  Shakes Pestilence and Warr. Each at the Head
  Level'd his deadly aime; thir fatall hands
  No second stroke intend, and such a frown
  Each cast at th' other, as when two black Clouds
  With Heav'ns Artillery fraught, come rattling on
  Over the CASPIAN, then stand front to front
  Hov'ring a space, till Winds the signal blow
  To joyn thir dark Encounter in mid air:
  So frownd the mighty Combatants, that Hell
  Grew darker at thir frown, so matcht they stood;
  For never but once more was either like
  To meet so great a foe: and now great deeds
  Had been achiev'd, whereof all Hell had rung,
  Had not the Snakie Sorceress that sat
  Fast by Hell Gate, and kept the fatal Key,
  Ris'n, and with hideous outcry rush'd between.
    O Father, what intends thy hand, she cry'd,
  Against thy only Son? What fury O Son,
  Possesses thee to bend that mortal Dart
  Against thy Fathers head? and know'st for whom;
  For him who sits above and laughs the while
  At thee ordain'd his drudge, to execute
  What e're his wrath, which he calls Justice, bids,
  His wrath which one day will destroy ye both.
    She spake, and at her words the hellish Pest
  Forbore, then these to her SATAN return'd:
    So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strange
  Thou interposest, that my sudden hand
  Prevented spares to tell thee yet by deeds
  What it intends; till first I know of thee,
  What thing thou art, thus double-form'd, and why
  In this infernal Vaile first met thou call'st
  Me Father, and that Fantasm call'st my Son?
  I know thee not, nor ever saw till now
  Sight more detestable then him and thee.
    T' whom thus the Portress of Hell Gate reply'd;
  Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem
  Now in thine eye so foul, once deemd so fair
  In Heav'n, when at th' Assembly, and in sight
  Of all the Seraphim with thee combin'd
  In bold conspiracy against Heav'ns King,
  All on a sudden miserable pain
  Surpris'd thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzie swumm
  In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast
  Threw forth, till on the left side op'ning wide,
  Likest to thee in shape and count'nance bright,
  Then shining heav'nly fair, a Goddess arm'd
  Out of thy head I sprung: amazement seis'd
  All th' Host of Heav'n; back they recoild affraid
  At first, and call'd me SIN, and for a Sign
  Portentous held me; but familiar grown,
  I pleas'd, and with attractive graces won
  The most averse, thee chiefly, who full oft
  Thy self in me thy perfect image viewing
  Becam'st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'st
  With me in secret, that my womb conceiv'd
  A growing burden. Mean while Warr arose,
  And fields were fought in Heav'n; wherein remaind
  (For what could else) to our Almighty Foe
  Cleer Victory, to our part loss and rout
  Through all the Empyrean: down they fell
  Driv'n headlong from the Pitch of Heaven, down
  Into this Deep, and in the general fall
  I also; at which time this powerful Key
  Into my hand was giv'n, with charge to keep
  These Gates for ever shut, which none can pass
  Without my op'ning. Pensive here I sat
  Alone, but long I sat not, till my womb
  Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown
  Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes.
  At last this odious offspring whom thou seest
  Thine own begotten, breaking violent way
  Tore through my entrails, that with fear and pain
  Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew
  Transform'd: but he my inbred enemie
  Forth issu'd, brandishing his fatal Dart
  Made to destroy: I fled, and cry'd out DEATH;
  Hell trembl'd at the hideous Name, and sigh'd
  From all her Caves, and back resounded DEATH.
  I fled, but he pursu'd (though more, it seems,
  Inflam'd with lust then rage) and swifter far,
  Me overtook his mother all dismaid,
  And in embraces forcible and foule
  Ingendring with me, of that rape begot
  These yelling Monsters that with ceasless cry
  Surround me, as thou sawst, hourly conceiv'd
  And hourly born, with sorrow infinite
  To me, for when they list into the womb
  That bred them they return, and howle and gnaw
  My Bowels, their repast; then bursting forth
  Afresh with conscious terrours vex me round,
  That rest or intermission none I find.
  Before mine eyes in opposition sits
  Grim DEATH my Son and foe, who sets them on,
  And me his Parent would full soon devour
  For want of other prey, but that he knows
  His end with mine involvd; and knows that I
  Should prove a bitter Morsel, and his bane,
  When ever that shall be; so Fate pronounc'd.
  But thou O Father, I forewarn thee, shun
  His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope
  To be invulnerable in those bright Arms,
  Though temper'd heav'nly, for that mortal dint,
  Save he who reigns above, none can resist.
    She finish'd, and the suttle Fiend his lore
  Soon learnd, now milder, and thus answerd smooth.
  Dear Daughter, since thou claim'st me for thy Sire,
  And my fair Son here showst me, the dear pledge
  Of dalliance had with thee in Heav'n, and joys
  Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change
  Befalln us unforeseen, unthought of, know
  I come no enemie, but to set free
  From out this dark and dismal house of pain,
  Both him and thee, and all the heav'nly Host
  Of Spirits that in our just pretenses arm'd
  Fell with us from on high: from them I go
  This uncouth errand sole, and one for all
  My self expose, with lonely steps to tread
  Th' unfounded deep, & through the void immense
  To search with wandring quest a place foretold
  Should be, and, by concurring signs, ere now
  Created vast and round, a place of bliss
  In the Pourlieues of Heav'n, and therein plac't
  A race of upstart Creatures, to supply
  Perhaps our vacant room, though more remov'd,
  Least Heav'n surcharg'd with potent multitude
  Might hap to move new broiles: Be this or aught
  Then this more secret now design'd, I haste
  To know, and this once known, shall soon return,
  And bring ye to the place where Thou and Death
  Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen
  Wing silently the buxom Air, imbalm'd
  With odours; there ye shall be fed and fill'd
  Immeasurably, all things shall be your prey.
  He ceas'd, for both seemd highly pleasd, and Death
  Grinnd horrible a gastly smile, to hear
  His famine should be fill'd, and blest his mawe
  Destin'd to that good hour: no less rejoyc'd
  His mother bad, and thus bespake her Sire.
    The key of this infernal Pit by due,
  And by command of Heav'ns all-powerful King
  I keep, by him forbidden to unlock
  These Adamantine Gates; against all force
  Death ready stands to interpose his dart,
  Fearless to be o'rematcht by living might.
  But what ow I to his commands above
  Who hates me, and hath hither thrust me down
  Into this gloom of TARTARUS profound,
  To sit in hateful Office here confin'd,
  Inhabitant of Heav'n, and heav'nlie-born,
  Here in perpetual agonie and pain,
  With terrors and with clamors compasst round
  Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed:
  Thou art my Father, thou my Author, thou
  My being gav'st me; whom should I obey
  But thee, whom follow? thou wilt bring me soon
  To that new world of light and bliss, among
  The Gods who live at ease, where I shall Reign
  At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems
  Thy daughter and thy darling, without end.
    Thus saying, from her side the fatal Key,
  Sad instrument of all our woe, she took;
  And towards the Gate rouling her bestial train,
  Forthwith the huge Porcullis high up drew,
  Which but her self not all the STYGIAN powers
  Could once have mov'd; then in the key-hole turns
  Th' intricate wards, and every Bolt and Bar
  Of massie Iron or sollid Rock with ease
  Unfast'ns: on a sudden op'n flie
  With impetuous recoile and jarring sound
  Th' infernal dores, and on thir hinges great
  Harsh Thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
  Of EREBUS. She op'nd, but to shut
  Excel'd her power; the Gates wide op'n stood,
  That with extended wings a Bannerd Host
  Under spread Ensigns marching might pass through
  With Horse and Chariots rankt in loose array;
  So wide they stood, and like a Furnace mouth
  Cast forth redounding smoak and ruddy flame.
  Before thir eyes in sudden view appear
  The secrets of the hoarie deep, a dark
  Illimitable Ocean without bound,
  Without dimension, where length, breadth, and highth,
  And time and place are lost; where eldest Night
  And CHAOS, Ancestors of Nature, hold
  Eternal ANARCHIE, amidst the noise
  Of endless warrs and by confusion stand.
  For hot, cold, moist, and dry, four Champions fierce
  Strive here for Maistrie, and to Battel bring
  Thir embryon Atoms; they around the flag
  Of each his faction, in thir several Clanns,
  Light-arm'd or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift or slow,
  Swarm populous, unnumber'd as the Sands
  Of BARCA or CYRENE'S torrid soil,
  Levied to side with warring Winds, and poise
  Thir lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,
  Hee rules a moment; CHAOS Umpire sits,
  And by decision more imbroiles the fray
  By which he Reigns: next him high Arbiter
  CHANCE governs all. Into this wilde Abyss,
  The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave,
  Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire,
  But all these in thir pregnant causes mixt
  Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight,
  Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain
  His dark materials to create more Worlds,
  Into this wilde Abyss the warie fiend
  Stood on the brink of Hell and look'd a while,
  Pondering his Voyage; for no narrow frith
  He had to cross. Nor was his eare less peal'd
  With noises loud and ruinous (to compare
  Great things with small) then when BELLONA storms,
  With all her battering Engines bent to rase
  Som Capital City, or less then if this frame
  Of Heav'n were falling, and these Elements
  In mutinie had from her Axle torn
  The stedfast Earth. At last his Sail-broad Vannes
  He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoak
  Uplifted spurns the ground, thence many a League
  As in a cloudy Chair ascending rides
  Audacious, but that seat soon failing, meets
  A vast vacuitie: all unawares
  Fluttring his pennons vain plumb down he drops
  Ten thousand fadom deep, and to this hour
  Down had been falling, had not by ill chance
  The strong rebuff of som tumultuous cloud
  Instinct with Fire and Nitre hurried him
  As many miles aloft: that furie stay'd,
  Quencht in a Boggie SYRTIS, neither Sea,
  Nor good dry Land: nigh founderd on he fares,
  Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
  Half flying; behoves him now both Oare and Saile.
  As when a Gryfon through the Wilderness
  With winged course ore Hill or moarie Dale,
  Pursues the ARIMASPIAN, who by stelth
  Had from his wakeful custody purloind
  The guarded Gold: So eagerly the fiend
  Ore bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,
  With head, hands, wings, or feet pursues his way,
  And swims or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flyes:
  At length a universal hubbub wilde
  Of stunning sounds and voices all confus'd
  Born through the hollow dark assaults his eare
  With loudest vehemence: thither he plyes,
  Undaunted to meet there what ever power
  Or Spirit of the nethermost Abyss
  Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask
  Which way the neerest coast of darkness lyes
  Bordering on light; when strait behold the Throne
  Of CHAOS, and his dark Pavilion spread
  Wide on the wasteful Deep; with him Enthron'd
  Sat Sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
  The consort of his Reign; and by them stood
  ORCUS and ADES, and the dreaded name
  Of DEMOGORGON; Rumor next and Chance,
  And Tumult and Confusion all imbroild,
  And Discord with a thousand various mouths.
    T' whom SATAN turning boldly, thus. Ye Powers
  And Spirits of this nethermost Abyss,
  CHAOS and ANCIENT NIGHT, I come no Spie,
  With purpose to explore or to disturb
  The secrets of your Realm, but by constraint
  Wandring this darksome desart, as my way
  Lies through your spacious Empire up to light,
  Alone, and without guide, half lost, I seek
  What readiest path leads where your gloomie bounds
  Confine with Heav'n; or if som other place
  From your Dominion won, th' Ethereal King
  Possesses lately, thither to arrive
  I travel this profound, direct my course;
  Directed, no mean recompence it brings
  To your behoof, if I that Region lost,
  All usurpation thence expell'd, reduce
  To her original darkness and your sway
  (Which is my present journey) and once more
  Erect the Standerd there of ANCIENT NIGHT;
  Yours be th' advantage all, mine the revenge.
    Thus SATAN; and him thus the Anarch old
  With faultring speech and visage incompos'd
  Answer'd. I know thee, stranger, who thou art,
  That mighty leading Angel, who of late
  Made head against Heav'ns King, though overthrown.
  I saw and heard, for such a numerous host
  Fled not in silence through the frighted deep
  With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
  Confusion worse confounded; and Heav'n Gates
  Pourd out by millions her victorious Bands
  Pursuing. I upon my Frontieres here
  Keep residence; if all I can will serve,
  That little which is left so to defend
  Encroacht on still through our intestine broiles
  Weakning the Scepter of old Night: first Hell
  Your dungeon stretching far and wide beneath;
  Now lately Heaven and Earth, another World
  Hung ore my Realm, link'd in a golden Chain
  To that side Heav'n from whence your Legions fell:
  If that way be your walk, you have not farr;
  So much the neerer danger; goe and speed;
  Havock and spoil and ruin are my gain.
    He ceas'd; and SATAN staid not to reply,
  But glad that now his Sea should find a shore,
  With fresh alacritie and force renew'd
  Springs upward like a Pyramid of fire
  Into the wilde expanse, and through the shock
  Of fighting Elements, on all sides round
  Environ'd wins his way; harder beset
  And more endanger'd, then when ARGO pass'd
  Through BOSPORUS betwixt the justling Rocks:
  Or when ULYSSES on the Larbord shunnd
  CHARYBDIS, and by th' other whirlpool steard.
  So he with difficulty and labour hard
  Mov'd on, with difficulty and labour hee;
  But hee once past, soon after when man fell,
  Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain
  Following his track, such was the will of Heav'n,
  Pav'd after him a broad and beat'n way
  Over the dark Abyss, whose boiling Gulf
  Tamely endur'd a Bridge of wondrous length
  From Hell continu'd reaching th' utmost Orbe
  Of this frail World; by which the Spirits perverse
  With easie intercourse pass to and fro
  To tempt or punish mortals, except whom
  God and good Angels guard by special grace.
  But now at last the sacred influence
  Of light appears, and from the walls of Heav'n
  Shoots farr into the bosom of dim Night
  A glimmering dawn; here Nature first begins
  Her fardest verge, and CHAOS to retire
  As from her outmost works a brok'n foe
  With tumult less and with less hostile din,
  That SATAN with less toil, and now with ease
  Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light
  And like a weather-beaten Vessel holds
  Gladly the Port, though Shrouds and Tackle torn;
  Or in the emptier waste, resembling Air,
  Weighs his spread wings, at leasure to behold
  Farr off th' Empyreal Heav'n, extended wide
  In circuit, undetermind square or round,
  With Opal Towrs and Battlements adorn'd
  Of living Saphire, once his native Seat;
  And fast by hanging in a golden Chain
  This pendant world, in bigness as a Starr
  Of smallest Magnitude close by the Moon.
  Thither full fraught with mischievous revenge,
  Accurst, and in a cursed hour he hies.

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