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Ascending, while the north-wind sleeps, o'er-spread
Heav'n's cheerful face, the low'ring element 450
Scowls o'er the darken'd landskip snow, or shower;
If chance the radiant sun with farewel sweet
Extend his evening beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
O shume 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 carth, 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 emperor with pomp supreme, 510
And God-like imitated state ; him round
A globe of fiery Seraphim inclos'd
With bright emblazonry, and horrent arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets regal sound the great result :
Towards the four winds four speedy Cherubims
J'it to their mouthis the sounding alchemy
By hieralds voice explain’d; the hollow' abyss

Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell
With deaf ’ning shout return’d them loud acclaim. 520
Thencemore 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
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 swifi 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
Prick forth the airy knights, and conch their spears
Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms
From either end of Heav'n the weikin burns.
Others with vast Typhaan 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
Into th' Euboic sea. Others inore mild,
Re reated in a silent valiey, 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 inthrall to force her chance. Their song was partial, but the harmony (What could it less when Spi'rits 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, 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 : 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. Another part in squadrons and gross bands, 590 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, 580
Whose waves of torrent fire in Jame 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 be’ing 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 seems 590
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 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,
And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach
The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
In swéct 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 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 à fiery Alp, 620
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of

death,
A universe of death, which God by curse
Created ev'il, 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 Chimäras dire.

Meanwhile the Adversary of God and Man, Satan with thoughts inflam'd of high’est design, 630 Puts on swift wings, and tow'ards the gates of Hell Explores his solitary fight; 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

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