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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 honor, due alike
To him who reigns, and so much to him due
Of hazard more, as he above the rest
High honor'd sits ? Go, therefore, mighty Powers,
Terror of Heaven, though fallen; intend at home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present misery, and render Hell

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More tolerable; 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 enterprise
None shall partake with me.” Thus saying, rose
The monarch, and prevented all reply;
Prudent, lest, from his resolution raised,
Others among the chief might offer now
(Certain to be refused) what erst they fear'd; 470
And, so refused, might in opinion stand
His rivals, winning cheap the high repute
Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they
Dreaded not more the adventure than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rose.
Their rising all at once was as the sound
Of thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend,
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
That for the general safety he despised
His own: for neither do the spirits damn'd

481 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 Heaven's cheerful face, the low ring element Scowls o'er the darken'd landskip snow or shower; If chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet 492

Extend 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 heavenly 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! . 502
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 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,
And God-like imitated state; him round
A globe of fiery seraphim inclosed
With bright emblazonry, and horrent arms. 513
Then, of their session ended, they bid cry,
With trumpets' regal sound, the great result.
Towards the four winds four speedy cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,
By heralds' voice explain'd; the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell
With deafʼning shout return'd them loud acclaim.
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised
By false presumptuous hope, the rangéd powers
Disband, and, wandering, each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice

524 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 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

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Prick forth the airy 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
In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar.
As when Alcides, from Echalia crown'

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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
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
Free virtue should inthrall 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 discourse more sweet,
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense,)
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 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 the obdurate breast
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 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;
Abhorréd Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;

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Cocytus, named 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 588
Of whirlwind and dire bail, 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, nl. em Egylan
Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs the effect of fire.
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, 599
From beds of raging fire to starve in ice
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,
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,
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,
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
Than fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceived,
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimæras dire.

Meanwhile the adversary of God and man,
Satan, with thoughts inflamed of highest design,
Puts on swift wings, and towards the gates of Hell 631
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, toweriag high.
As when far off at sea a fleet descried
Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds

Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles

LamOf Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Luned yet. Their spicy drugs: they on the trading flood

Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape
Ply, stemming nightly toward the pole. So seem'd 642
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 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 653
A cry of hell-hounds, never ceasing, bark’d,
With wide Cerberian mouths, full loud, and rung
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 howl'd,

Within unseen. Far less abhorr'd than these
Anna Vex'd Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts

Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore: / when
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 dance 664

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