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of thunder heard remote. Tow'rds him they bend
With awful rev'rence prone; and as a god
Extol 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
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.
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
Scowls o'er the darken'd landskip snow, or shower;
If chance the radient sun with farewel sweet
Extends his evening beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
O 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
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.

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 einperor with pomp supreme,
And God-like imitated state : him round
A globe of fiery Seraphimn inclos'd
With bright imblazonry, and horrent arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets regal sound the great result;

Tow'rds 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 deafʼning shout return' them loud acclaim.
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat

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
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 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
Prick forth the airy knights and couch their spears
Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms
From either end of heav'n the welkin burns.
Others, with vast Typhean rage more fell,
Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air
In whirlwind; hell scarce holds the wild uproar,
As when Alcides, from Echalia crown'd
With conquest, felt th’invenom'd robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines;
And Lichas from the top of ta threw
Into th’Euboic sea. Others inore 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
Free virtue should enthral to force or chance.
Their songs were partial; but th' 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 ;
Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute;
And found no end in wand'ring mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argu'd then,
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion, and apathy, and glory, and shame;
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy:
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 treple steel.
Another part in squadrons and gross bands,
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 nam'd, of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon,
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these, a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls
Her watery 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 wild, beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land
Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin scems
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 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 beds of raging fire to starve in ice
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,
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
Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards
The ford, and of itself the water flies
All taste of living weight, as once it fied
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on
In confus'd march forlorn, th’advent'rous bands
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,
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of

An 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
Than fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceiv'd,
Gorgons, and hydras, and chimæras, dire.

Meanwhile the adversary of God and man, Satan, with thoughts inflam'd of highest design,

Puts on swift wings, and tow'rds 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,
As when far off at sea a fleet descry'd,
Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds
Close sailing from Bangala, or the isles
Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs; they on the trading flood
Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape
Ply, stemming nightly tow'rds 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
Impenerable, impald 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 ;
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-bounds never ceasing bark'd
With wide Cerberean 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 unseen. Far less abhorr'd than these
Vex'd Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore;
Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when calid
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
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 cail'd that shadow seemd,

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