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Into this wild abyss, the wary 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 ear less pealid
With noises loud and ruinous, to compare
Great things with small, than when Bellona storms
With all her battering engines, bent to rase
Some capital city; or less, than if this frame
Of Heaven were falling, and these elements
In mutiny, had from her axle torn
The steadfast earth. At last, his sail-broad vans
He spreads for flight, and, in the surging smoke
Uplifted, spurns the ground: thence many a league,
As in a cloudy chair ascending; rides
Audacious; but that seat soon failing, meets
A vast vacuity. All unawares,
Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb down he drops
Ten thousand fathom deep; and to this hour
Down had been falling, had not, by ill chance,
The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud,
Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him
As many miles aloft: that fury stay'd,
Quench'd in a boggy syrtis, neither sea,
Nor good dry land; nigh founder'd, on he fares,
Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
Half flying; behoves him now both oar and sail,
As when a griffon, through the wilderness
With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale,
Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth
Had, from his wakeful custody, purloin'd
The guarded gold: so eagerly the fiend,

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O’er 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 flies. At length an universal hubbub wild Of stunning sounds, and voices all confused, Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear With loudest vehemence. Thither he plies, Undaunted, to meet there, whatever power, Or spirit, of the nethermost abyss, Might in that noise reside; of whom to ask, Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies, Bordering on light: when straight, behold the Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion, spread [throne Wide on the wasteful deep: with him enthroned, Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things, The consort of his reign; and by them stood Orcus and Ades, and the dreadful name Of Demogorgon: Rumour next, and Chance, And Tumult, and Confusion, all embroil'd; And Discord, with a thousand various moaths. To whom Satan, turning boldly, thus: “ Ye powers And Spirits of this nethermost abyss, Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy. With purpose to explore, or to disturb The secrets of your realm; but by constraint, Wandering this darksome desert, as my way Lies through your spacious empire, up to light: Alone, and without guide, half lost, I seek [bounds What readiest path leads, where your gloomy Confine with Heaven; or if some other place,

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From your dominion won, the ethereal King
Possesses lately, thither to arrive,
I travel this profound: direct my course;
Directed, no mean recompense 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 standard there of ancient Night.
Yours be the advantage all, mine the revenge.”

Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old,
With faltering speech and visage incomposed,
Answer'd: “I know thee, Stranger, who thou art;
That mighty leading angel, who of late [thrown
Made head against Heaven's King, though over-
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 Heaven-gates
Pour'd out by millions her victorious bands,
Pursuing. I upon my frontiers here
Keep residence; if all I can will serve
That little, which is left so to defend,
Encroach'd on still, through your intestine broils,
Weakening the sceptre of old Night: first Hell, .
Your dungeon, stretching far and wide beneath,
Now lately Heaven and Earth, another world,
Hung o'er my realm, link'd in a golden chain
To that side Heaven, from whence your legions fell.
If that way be your walk, you have not far;
So much the nearer danger: go, and speed:

Havoc, and spoil, and ruin are my gain."

He ceased; and Satan staid not to reply; But glad, that now his sea should find a shore, With fresh alacrity and force renew'd, Springs upward, like a pyramid of fire, Into the wild expanse; and, through the shock Of fighting elements, on all sides round Environ'd, wins his way; harder beset And more endanger'd, than when Argo pass’d Through Bosporus, betwixt the justling rocks: Or when Wysses, on the larboard, shunn'd Charybdis, and by the other whirlpool steerd, So he, with difficulty and labour hard, Moved on; with difficulty and labour he. But he once past, soon after, when man fell, Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain, Following his track, such was the will of Heaven, Paved after him a broad and beaten way, Over the dark abyss, whose boiling gulf Tamely endured a bridge, of wondrous length, From Hell continued, reaching the utmost orb Of this frail world: by which the Spirits perverse. With easy 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 Heaver) Shoots far, into the bosom of dim Night, A glimmering dawn. Here Nature first begins Her furthest verge, and Chaos to retire; As from her outmost works, a broken foe,

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ore,

With tumult less, and with less hostile din;
That Satan, with less toil, and now with ease,
Wafts on the calmer wave, hy 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 leisure to behold
Far off the empyreal Heaven, extended wide
In circuit, undetermined, square or round;
With opal towers, and battlements adorn'd,
Of living sapphire, once his native seat;
And fast by, hanging in a golden chain,
This pendent world, in bigness as a star
Of smallest magnitude, close by the moon.
Thither, full fraught with mischievous revenge,
Accursed, and in a cursed hour, he hies.

aven,

Ferse.

END OF BOOK II.

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