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With awful reverence prone ; and as a God
Extol him equal to the Highest in Heaven:
Nor fail'd they to express how much they praised, 480
That for the general safety he despised
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
Heaven's cheerful face, the lowering element 490
Scowls o'er the darken'd landscape 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 ring.
O shame to men! Devil with Devil damn'd
Firm concord holds; men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope
Of heavenly 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 now besides,
That, day and night, for his destruction wait. 505

The Stygian council thus dissolved; and forth In order came the grand infernal Peers : Midst came their mighty Paramount, and seem'd Alone the Antagonist of Heaven, nor less Than Hell's dread Emperor, with pomp supreme 510 And Godlike imitated state : him round A globe of fiery Seraphim enclosed With bright emblazonry and horrent arms. Then of their session ended they bid cry With trumpets' regal sound the great result: 515 530

Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,
By herald's voice explain'd; the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell
With deafening shout return'd them loud acclaim. 520
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised
By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Powers
Disband; and, wandering, 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 the Olympian games or Pythian fields ;
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brigades form.
As when, to warn proud cities, war appears
Waged 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 Heaven the welkin burns.
Others, with vast Typhæan 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 Echalia crown'd.
With conquest, felt the envenom'd robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines ;
And Lichas from the top of (Eta threw

5451
Into the 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 enthral 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 discourge more sweet
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense,) 556
Others apart sat on a hill retired,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate;
Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute;
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then.
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy, and glory and shamo ;
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy!

565
Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm
Pain for a while or anguish, and exite
Fallacious hope, or arm the obdured breast
(With stubborn patience, as with triple steel.
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
Into the burning lake their baleful streams ;
Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron, of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, named of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueíul stream ; fiercé Phlegethon, 580
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these, a slow and silent stream,
Lathe, the river of oblivion, rolls
Her watery 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,

SWEECE

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 the effect of fire. 595
Thither by harpy-footed furies haled,
At certain revolutions, all the damn'd
Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce, X
From beds of raging fire, to starve in ice 600
Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine
Immovable, 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 the 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 confused march forlorn, the adventurous bands, 615
With shuddering 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 hreeds,
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things, 625
Abominable, inutterable, and worse
& han fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceived,
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.

Meanwhile the adversary of God and Man,,

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Satan, with thoughts inflamed 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 towering high.

635
As when far off at sea a fleet descried
Hangs on 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,
Three iron, three of adamantine rock
Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire,
Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat,
On either side a formidable shape :
The one seemd 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 Hellhounds never ceasing bark'd
With wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rung 635
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 howlid,
Within, unseen. Far less abhorr'd than those
Vex'd Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts 600
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore ;
Nor uglier follow the night hag, when, call'd
In secret, riding through the air she comes,
Lured with the smell of infant blood, to danco
With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon 665
Eclipses at their charms. The other shape,
If shape it might be call'd that shape had none

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