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With impetuous recoil and jarring sound,
The infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
Of Erebus. She open'd, but to shut
Excell'd her power; the gates wide open stood,
That with extended wings a banner'd host,
Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through,
With horse and chariots rankid in loose array;
So wide they stood, and like a furnace mouth
Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame. 889
Before their eyes in sudden view appear
The secrets of the hoary deep, a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,
Without dimension; where length, breadth, and height,
And time, and place, are lost; where eldest Night
And Chaos, ancestors of nature, hold
Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise
Of endless wars, and by confusion stand.
For hot, cold, moist, and dry, four champions fier de,
Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring
Their embryon atoms; they around the flag 900
Of each his faction, in their several clans,
Light-arm’d or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow,
Swarm populous, unnumber'd as the sands
Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil,
Levied to side with warring winds, and poise
Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,
He rules a moment; Chaos umpire sits,
And by decision more embroils the fray
By which he reigns; next him high arbiter
Chance governs all. Into this wild abyss,
The womb of nature, and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mix'd
Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless the Almighty Maker them ordain
His dark materials to create more worlds;
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 peal'd
With noises loud and ruinous (to compare
Great things with small) than when Bellona storms, 922

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With all her battering engines bent to raze
Some capital city; or less than if his 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,

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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; behooves him now both oar and sail.
As when a gryphon through the wilderness

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With wingéd 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
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 a universal hubbub wild
Of stunning sounds and voices all confused,
Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear
With loudest vehemence: thither he plies,

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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 throne
Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread
Wide on the wasteful deep; with him enthroned,
Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,

The consort of his reign; and by them stood
Cor: Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon; Rumor next, and Chance,

965 manter of tre fateos

And Tumult, and Confusion, all embroil'd,
And Discord, with a thousand various mouths.

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

975 What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds Confine with Heaven; or, if some other place, 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;

986 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 Dade head against Heaven's King, though overthrown. 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 milions her victorious bands,

997 Pursuing. I upon iny 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; 1008 Havoc, and spoil, and ruin, are my gain."

He ceased; and Satan stay'd 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 Bosphorus betwixt the justling rocks; 1018 Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunn'd Charybdis, and by the other whirlpool steer'd So he with difficulty and labor hard Moved on, with difficulty and labor 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 1029 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 Heaven Shoots far into the bosom of dim Night A glimmering dawn: here Nature first begins Her farthest verge, and Chaos to retire, As from our outmost works a broken foe, With tumult less and with less hostile din ;

1040 That Satan with less toil, and now with ease, Wafts on the calmer wave by 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

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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 curséd hour, he hies.

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