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    Chapter 2

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    Chapter 2
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    High on a throne of royal state, which far
    Outshone the wealth or Ormus and of Ind,
    Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand
    Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,
    Satan exalted sat, by merit raised
    To that bad eminence; and, from despair
    Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
    Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue
    Vain war with Heaven; and, by success untaught,
    His proud imaginations thus displayed:--
    "Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heaven!--
    For, since no deep within her gulf can hold
    Immortal vigour, though oppressed and fallen,
    I give not Heaven for lost: from this descent
    Celestial Virtues rising will appear
    More glorious and more dread than from no fall,
    And trust themselves to fear no second fate!--
    Me though just right, and the fixed laws of Heaven,
    Did first create your leader--next, free choice
    With what besides in council or in fight
    Hath been achieved of merit--yet this loss,
    Thus far at least recovered, hath much more
    Established in a safe, unenvied throne,
    Yielded with full consent. The happier state
    In Heaven, which follows dignity, might draw
    Envy from each inferior; but who here
    Will envy whom the highest place exposes
    Foremost to stand against the Thunderer's aim
    Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share
    Of endless pain? Where there is, then, no good
    For which to strive, no strife can grow up there
    From faction: for none sure will claim in Hell
    Precedence; none whose portion is so small
    Of present pain that with ambitious mind
    Will covet more! With this advantage, then,
    To union, and firm faith, and firm accord,
    More than can be in Heaven, we now return
    To claim our just inheritance of old,
    Surer to prosper than prosperity
    Could have assured us; and by what best way,
    Whether of open war or covert guile,
    We now debate. Who can advise may speak."
    He ceased; and next him Moloch, sceptred king,
    Stood up--the strongest and the fiercest Spirit
    That fought in Heaven, now fiercer by despair.
    His trust was with th' Eternal to be deemed
    Equal in strength, and rather than be less
    Cared not to be at all; with that care lost
    Went all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse,
    He recked not, and these words thereafter spake:--
    "My sentence is for open war. Of wiles,
    More unexpert, I boast not: them let those
    Contrive who need, or when they need; not now.
    For, while they sit contriving, shall the rest--
    Millions that stand in arms, and longing wait
    The signal to ascend--sit lingering here,
    Heaven's fugitives, and for their dwelling-place
    Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame,
    The prison of his ryranny who reigns
    By our delay? No! let us rather choose,
    Armed with Hell-flames and fury, all at once
    O'er Heaven's high towers to force resistless way,
    Turning our tortures into horrid arms
    Against the Torturer; when, to meet the noise
    Of his almighty engine, he shall hear
    Infernal thunder, and, for lightning, see
    Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
    Among his Angels, and his throne itself
    Mixed with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire,
    His own invented torments. But perhaps
    The way seems difficult, and steep to scale
    With upright wing against a higher foe!
    Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
    Of that forgetful lake benumb not still,
    That in our porper motion we ascend
    Up to our native seat; descent and fall
    To us is adverse. Who but felt of late,
    When the fierce foe hung on our broken rear
    Insulting, and pursued us through the Deep,
    With what compulsion and laborious flight
    We sunk thus low? Th' ascent is easy, then;
    Th' event is feared! Should we again provoke
    Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find
    To our destruction, if there be in Hell
    Fear to be worse destroyed! What can be worse
    Than to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemned
    In this abhorred deep to utter woe!
    Where pain of unextinguishable fire
    Must exercise us without hope of end
    The vassals of his anger, when the scourge
    Inexorably, and the torturing hour,
    Calls us to penance? More destroyed than thus,
    We should be quite abolished, and expire.
    What fear we then? what doubt we to incense
    His utmost ire? which, to the height enraged,
    Will either quite consume us, and reduce
    To nothing this essential--happier far
    Than miserable to have eternal being!--
    Or, if our substance be indeed divine,
    And cannot cease to be, we are at worst
    On this side nothing; and by proof we feel
    Our power sufficient to disturb his Heaven,
    And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
    Though inaccessible, his fatal throne:
    Which, if not victory, is yet revenge."
    He ended frowning, and his look denounced
    Desperate revenge, and battle dangerous
    To less than gods. On th' other side up rose
    Belial, in act more graceful and humane.
    A fairer person lost not Heaven; he seemed
    For dignity composed, and high exploit.
    But all was false and hollow; though his tongue
    Dropped manna, and could make the worse appear
    The better reason, to perplex and dash
    Maturest counsels: for his thoughts were low--
    To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds
    Timorous and slothful. Yet he pleased the ear,
    And with persuasive accent thus began:--
    "I should be much for open war, O Peers,
    As not behind in hate, if what was urged
    Main reason to persuade immediate war
    Did not dissuade me most, and seem to cast
    Ominous conjecture on the whole success;
    When he who most excels in fact of arms,
    In what he counsels and in what excels
    Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair
    And utter dissolution, as the scope
    Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
    First, what revenge? The towers of Heaven are filled
    With armed watch, that render all access
    Impregnable: oft on the bodering Deep
    Encamp their legions, or with obscure wing
    Scout far and wide into the realm of Night,
    Scorning surprise. Or, could we break our way
    By force, and at our heels all Hell should rise
    With blackest insurrection to confound
    Heaven's purest light, yet our great Enemy,
    All incorruptible, would on his throne
    Sit unpolluted, and th' ethereal mould,
    Incapable of stain, would soon expel
    Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire,
    Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hope
    Is flat despair: we must exasperate
    Th' Almighty Victor to spend all his rage;
    And that must end us; that must be our cure--
    To be no more. Sad cure! for who would lose,
    Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
    Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
    To perish rather, swallowed up and lost
    In the wide womb of uncreated Night,
    Devoid of sense and motion? And who knows,
    Let this be good, whether our angry Foe
    Can give it, or will ever? How he can
    Is doubtful; that he never will is sure.
    Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,
    Belike through impotence or unaware,
    To give his enemies their wish, and end
    Them in his anger whom his anger saves
    To punish endless? 'Wherefore cease we, then?'
    Say they who counsel war; 'we are decreed,
    Reserved, and destined to eternal woe;
    Whatever doing, what can we suffer more,
    What can we suffer worse?' Is this, then, worst--
    Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms?
    What when we fled amain, pursued and struck
    With Heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought
    The Deep to shelter us? This Hell then seemed
    A refuge from those wounds. Or when we lay
    Chained on the burning lake? That sure was worse.
    What if the breath that kindled those grim fires,
    Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold rage,
    And plunge us in the flames; or from above
    Should intermitted vengeance arm again
    His red right hand to plague us? What if all
    Her stores were opened, and this firmament
    Of Hell should spout her cataracts of fire,
    Impendent horrors, threatening hideous fall
    One day upon our heads; while we perhaps,
    Designing or exhorting glorious war,
    Caught in a fiery tempest, shall be hurled,
    Each on his rock transfixed, the sport and prey
    Or racking whirlwinds, or for ever sunk
    Under yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains,
    There to converse with everlasting groans,
    Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved,
    Ages of hopeless end? This would be worse.
    War, therefore, open or concealed, alike
    My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile
    With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye
    Views all things at one view? He from Heaven's height
    All these our motions vain sees and derides,
    Not more almighty to resist our might
    Than wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.
    Shall we, then, live thus vile--the race of Heaven
    Thus trampled, thus expelled, to suffer here
    Chains and these torments? Better these than worse,
    By my advice; since fate inevitable
    Subdues us, and omnipotent decree,
    The Victor's will. To suffer, as to do,
    Our strength is equal; nor the law unjust
    That so ordains. This was at first resolved,
    If we were wise, against so great a foe
    Contending, and so doubtful what might fall.
    I laugh when those who at the spear are bold
    And venturous, if that fail them, shrink, and fear
    What yet they know must follow--to endure
    Exile, or igominy, or bonds, or pain,
    The sentence of their Conqueror. This is now
    Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear,
    Our Supreme Foe in time may much remit
    His anger, and perhaps, thus far removed,
    Not mind us not offending, satisfied
    With what is punished; whence these raging fires
    Will slacken, if his breath stir not their flames.
    Our purer essence then will overcome
    Their noxious vapour; or, inured, not feel;
    Or, changed at length, and to the place conformed
    In temper and in nature, will receive
    Familiar the fierce heat; and, void of pain,
    This horror will grow mild, this darkness light;
    Besides what hope the never-ending flight
    Of future days may bring, what chance, what change
    Worth waiting--since our present lot appears
    For happy though but ill, for ill not worst,
    If we procure not to ourselves more woe."
    Thus Belial, with words clothed in reason's garb,
    Counselled ignoble ease and peaceful sloth,
    Not peace; and after him thus Mammon spake:--
    "Either to disenthrone the King of Heaven
    We war, if war be best, or to regain
    Our own right lost. Him to unthrone we then
    May hope, when everlasting Fate shall yield
    To fickle Chance, and Chaos judge the strife.
    The former, vain to hope, argues as vain
    The latter; for what place can be for us
    Within Heaven's bound, unless Heaven's Lord supreme
    We overpower? Suppose he should relent
    And publish grace to all, on promise made
    Of new subjection; with what eyes could we
    Stand in his presence humble, and receive
    Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne
    With warbled hyms, and to his Godhead sing
    Forced hallelujahs, while he lordly sits
    Our envied sovereign, and his altar breathes
    Ambrosial odours and ambrosial flowers,
    Our servile offerings? This must be our task
    In Heaven, this our delight. How wearisome
    Eternity so spent in worship paid
    To whom we hate! Let us not then pursue,
    By force impossible, by leave obtained
    Unacceptable, though in Heaven, our state
    Of splendid vassalage; but rather seek
    Our own good from ourselves, and from our own
    Live to ourselves, though in this vast recess,
    Free and to none accountable, preferring
    Hard liberty before the easy yoke
    Of servile pomp. Our greatness will appear
    Then most conspicuous when great things of small,
    Useful of hurtful, prosperous of adverse,
    We can create, and in what place soe'er
    Thrive under evil, and work ease out of pain
    Through labour and endurance. This deep world
    Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst
    Thick clouds and dark doth Heaven's all-ruling Sire
    Choose to reside, his glory unobscured,
    And with the majesty of darkness round
    Covers his throne, from whence deep thunders roar.
    Mustering their rage, and Heaven resembles Hell!
    As he our darkness, cannot we his light
    Imitate when we please? This desert soil
    Wants not her hidden lustre, gems and gold;
    Nor want we skill or art from whence to raise
    Magnificence; and what can Heaven show more?
    Our torments also may, in length of time,
    Become our elements, these piercing fires
    As soft as now severe, our temper changed
    Into their temper; which must needs remove
    The sensible of pain. All things invite
    To peaceful counsels, and the settled state
    Of order, how in safety best we may
    Compose our present evils, with regard
    Of what we are and where, dismissing quite
    All thoughts of war. Ye have what I advise."
    He scarce had finished, when such murmur filled
    Th' assembly as when hollow rocks retain
    The sound of blustering winds, which all night long
    Had roused the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull
    Seafaring men o'erwatched, whose bark by chance
    Or pinnace, anchors in a craggy bay
    After the tempest. Such applause was heard
    As Mammon ended, and his sentence pleased,
    Advising peace: for such another field
    They dreaded worse than Hell; so much the fear
    Of thunder and the sword of Michael
    Wrought still within them; and no less desire
    To found this nether empire, which might rise,
    By policy and long process of time,
    In emulation opposite to Heaven.
    Which when Beelzebub perceived--than whom,
    Satan except, none higher sat--with grave
    Aspect he rose, and in his rising seemed
    A pillar of state. Deep on his front engraven
    Deliberation sat, and public care;
    And princely counsel in his face yet shone,
    Majestic, though in ruin. Sage he stood
    With Atlantean shoulders, fit to bear
    The weight of mightiest monarchies; his look
    Drew audience and attention still as night
    Or summer's noontide air, while thus he spake:--
    "Thrones and Imperial Powers, Offspring of Heaven,
    Ethereal Virtues! or these titles now
    Must we renounce, and, changing style, be called
    Princes of Hell? for so the popular vote
    Inclines--here to continue, and build up here
    A growing empire; doubtless! while we dream,
    And know not that the King of Heaven hath doomed
    This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat
    Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt
    From Heaven's high jurisdiction, in new league
    Banded against his throne, but to remain
    In strictest bondage, though thus far removed,
    Under th' inevitable curb, reserved
    His captive multitude. For he, to be sure,
    In height or depth, still first and last will reign
    Sole king, and of his kingdom lose no part
    By our revolt, but over Hell extend
    His empire, and with iron sceptre rule
    Us here, as with his golden those in Heaven.
    What sit we then projecting peace and war?
    War hath determined us and foiled with loss
    Irreparable; terms of peace yet none
    Vouchsafed or sought; for what peace will be given
    To us enslaved, but custody severe,
    And stripes and arbitrary punishment
    Inflicted? and what peace can we return,
    But, to our power, hostility and hate,
    Untamed reluctance, and revenge, though slow,
    Yet ever plotting how the Conqueror least
    May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice
    In doing what we most in suffering feel?
    Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need
    With dangerous expedition to invade
    Heaven, whose high walls fear no assault or siege,
    Or ambush from the Deep. What if we find
    Some easier enterprise? There is a place
    (If ancient and prophetic fame in Heaven
    Err not)--another World, the happy seat
    Of some new race, called Man, about this time
    To be created like to us, though less
    In power and excellence, but favoured more
    Of him who rules above; so was his will
    Pronounced among the Gods, and by an oath
    That shook Heaven's whole circumference confirmed.
    Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
    What creatures there inhabit, of what mould
    Or substance, how endued, and what their power
    And where their weakness: how attempted best,
    By force of subtlety. Though Heaven be shut,
    And Heaven's high Arbitrator sit secure
    In his own strength, this place may lie exposed,
    The utmost border of his kingdom, left
    To their defence who hold it: here, perhaps,
    Some advantageous act may be achieved
    By sudden onset--either with Hell-fire
    To waste his whole creation, or possess
    All as our own, and drive, as we were driven,
    The puny habitants; or, if not drive,
    Seduce them to our party, that their God
    May prove their foe, and with repenting hand
    Abolish his own works. This would surpass
    Common revenge, and interrupt his joy
    In our confusion, and our joy upraise
    In his disturbance; when his darling sons,
    Hurled headlong to partake with us, shall curse
    Their frail original, and faded bliss--
    Faded so soon! Advise if this be worth
    Attempting, or to sit in darkness here
    Hatching vain empires." Thus beelzebub
    Pleaded his devilish counsel--first devised
    By Satan, and in part proposed: for whence,
    But from the author of all ill, could spring
    So deep a malice, to confound the race
    Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell
    To mingle and involve, done all to spite
    The great Creator? But their spite still serves
    His glory to augment. The bold design
    Pleased highly those infernal States, and joy
    Sparkled in all their eyes: with full assent
    They vote: whereat his speech he thus renews:--
    "Well have ye judged, well ended long debate,
    Synod of Gods, and, like to what ye are,
    Great things resolved, which from the lowest deep
    Will once more lift us up, in spite of fate,
    Nearer our ancient seat--perhaps in view
    Of those bright confines, whence, with neighbouring arms,
    And opportune excursion, we may chance
    Re-enter Heaven; or else in some mild zone
    Dwell, not unvisited of Heaven's fair light,
    Secure, and at the brightening orient beam
    Purge off this gloom: the soft delicious air,
    To heal the scar of these corrosive fires,
    Shall breathe her balm. But, first, whom shall we send
    In search of this new World? whom shall we find
    Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandering feet
    The dark, unbottomed, infinite Abyss,
    And through the palpable obscure find out
    His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight,
    Upborne with indefatigable wings
    Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
    The happy Isle? What strength, what art, can then
    Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe,
    Through the strict senteries and stations thick
    Of Angels watching round? Here he had need
    All circumspection: and we now no less
    Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send
    The weight of all, and our last hope, relies."
    This said, he sat; and expectation held
    His look suspense, awaiting who appeared
    To second, or oppose, or undertake
    The perilous attempt. But all sat mute,
    Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each
    In other's countenance read his own dismay,
    Astonished. None among the choice and prime
    Of those Heaven-warring champions could be found
    So hardy as to proffer or accept,
    Alone, the dreadful voyage; till, at last,
    Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised
    Above his fellows, with monarchal pride
    Conscious of highest worth, unmoved thus spake:--
    "O Progeny of Heaven! Empyreal Thrones!
    With reason hath deep silence and demur
    Seized us, though undismayed. Long is the way
    And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.
    Our prison strong, this huge convex of fire,
    Outrageous to devour, immures us round
    Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant,
    Barred over us, prohibit all egress.
    These passed, if any pass, the void profound
    Of unessential Night receives him next,
    Wide-gaping, and with utter loss of being
    Threatens him, plunged in that abortive gulf.
    If thence he scape, into whatever world,
    Or unknown region, what remains him less
    Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape?
    But I should ill become this throne, O Peers,
    And this imperial sovereignty, adorned
    With splendour, armed with power, if aught proposed
    And judged of public moment in the shape
    Of difficulty or danger, could deter
    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 honour, due alike
    To him who reigns, and so much to him due
    Of hazard more as he above the rest
    High honoured 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
    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 feared,
    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 th' 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 failed they to express how much they praised
    That for the general safety he despised
    His own: for neither do the Spirits damned
    Lose all their virtue; lest bad men should boast
    Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,
    Or close ambition varnished 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 louring element
    Scowls o'er the darkened landscape snow or shower,
    If chance the radiant sun, with farewell 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 shame to men! Devil with devil damned
    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:
    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 seemed
    Alone th' 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 enclosed
    With bright emblazonry, and horrent arms.
    Then of their session ended they bid cry
    With trumpet's regal sound the great result:
    Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim
    Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,
    By herald's voice explained; the hollow Abyss
    Heard far adn wide, and all the host of Hell
    With deafening shout returned them loud acclaim.
    Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised
    By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Powers
    Disband; and, wandering, each his several way
    Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
    Leads him perplexed, 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
    Waged 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 heaven the welkin burns.
    Others, with vast Typhoean 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 Oechalia crowned
    With conquest, felt th' envenomed robe, and tore
    Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines,
    And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw
    Into th' 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 enthrall 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 reasoned high
    Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate--
    Fixed 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 th' obdured 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--
    Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
    Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;
    Cocytus, named of lamentation loud
    Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegeton,
    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 seems
    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 haled,
    At certain revolutions all the damned
    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
    Immovable, infixed, 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 wight, as once it fled
    The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on
    In confused march forlorn, th' adventurous bands,
    With shuddering horror pale, and eyes aghast,
    Viewed first their lamentable lot, and found
    No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale
    They passed, 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,
    Obominable, inutterable, and worse
    Than fables yet have feigned or fear conceived,
    Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.
    Meanwhile the Adversary of God and Man,
    Satan, with thoughts inflamed of highest design,
    Puts on swift wings, and toward 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 towering high.
    As when far off at sea a fleet descried
    Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds
    Close sailing from Bengala, 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 toward the pole: so seemed
    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 seemed woman to the waist, and fair,
    But ended foul in many a scaly fold,
    Voluminous and vast--a serpent armed
    With mortal sting. About her middle round
    A cry of Hell-hounds never-ceasing barked
    With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung
    A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep,
    If aught disturbed their noise, into her womb,
    And kennel there; yet there still barked and howled
    Within unseen. Far less abhorred than these
    Vexed Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts
    Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore;
    Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, called
    In secret, riding through the air she comes,
    Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance
    With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon
    Eclipses at their charms. The other Shape--
    If shape it might be called that shape had none
    Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
    Or substance might be called that shadow seemed,
    For each seemed either--black it stood as Night,
    Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,
    And shook a dreadful dart: what seemed his head
    The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
    Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
    The monster moving onward came as fast
    With horrid strides; Hell trembled as he strode.
    Th' undaunted Fiend what this might be admired--
    Admired, not feared (God and his Son except,
    Created thing naught valued he nor shunned),
    And with disdainful look thus first began:--
    "Whence and what art thou, execrable Shape,
    That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
    Thy miscreated front athwart my way
    To yonder gates? Through them I mean to pass,
    That be assured, without leave asked of thee.
    Retire; or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,
    Hell-born, not to contend with Spirits of Heaven."
    To whom the Goblin, full of wrath, replied:--
    "Art thou that traitor Angel? art thou he,
    Who first broke peace in Heaven and faith, till then
    Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms
    Drew after him the third part of Heaven's sons,
    Conjured against the Highest--for which both thou
    And they, outcast from God, are here condemned
    To waste eternal days in woe and pain?
    And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits of Heaven
    Hell-doomed, and breath'st defiance here and scorn,
    Where I reign king, and, to enrage thee more,
    Thy king and lord? Back to thy punishment,
    False fugitive; and to thy speed add wings,
    Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
    Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart
    Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before."
    So spake the grisly Terror, and in shape,
    So speaking and so threatening, grew tenfold,
    More dreadful and deform. On th' other side,
    Incensed with indignation, Satan stood
    Unterrified, and like a comet burned,
    That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
    In th' arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
    Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head
    Levelled his deadly aim; their fatal hands
    No second stroke intend; and such a frown
    Each cast at th' other as when two black clouds,
    With heaven's artillery fraught, came rattling on
    Over the Caspian,--then stand front to front
    Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow
    To join their dark encounter in mid-air.
    So frowned the mighty combatants that Hell
    Grew darker at their frown; so matched they stood;
    For never but once more was wither like
    To meet so great a foe. And now great deeds
    Had been achieved, whereof all Hell had rung,
    Had not the snaky Sorceress, that sat
    Fast by Hell-gate and kept the fatal key,
    Risen, and with hideous outcry rushed between.
    "O father, what intends thy hand," she cried,
    "Against thy only son? What fury, O son,
    Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart
    Against thy father's head? And know'st for whom?
    For him who sits above, and laughs the while
    At thee, ordained his drudge to execute
    Whate'er his wrath, which he calls justice, bids--
    His wrath, which one day will destroy ye both!"
    She spake, and at her words the hellish Pest
    Forbore: then these to her Satan returned:--
    "So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strange
    Thou interposest, that my sudden hand,
    Prevented, spares to tell thee yet by deeds
    What it intends, till first I know of thee
    What thing thou art, thus double-formed, and why,
    In this infernal vale first met, thou call'st
    Me father, and that phantasm call'st my son.
    I know thee not, nor ever saw till now
    Sight more detestable than him and thee."
    T' whom thus the Portress of Hell-gate replied:--
    "Hast thou forgot me, then; and do I seem
    Now in thine eye so foul?--once deemed so fair
    In Heaven, when at th' assembly, and in sight
    Of all the Seraphim with thee combined
    In bold conspiracy against Heaven's King,
    All on a sudden miserable pain
    Surprised thee, dim thine eyes and dizzy swum
    In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast
    Threw forth, till on the left side opening wide,
    Likest to thee in shape and countenance bright,
    Then shining heavenly fair, a goddess armed,
    Out of thy head I sprung. Amazement seized
    All th' host of Heaven; back they recoiled afraid
    At first, and called me Sin, and for a sign
    Portentous held me; but, familiar grown,
    I pleased, and with attractive graces won
    The most averse--thee chiefly, who, full oft
    Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing,
    Becam'st enamoured; and such joy thou took'st
    With me in secret that my womb conceived
    A growing burden. Meanwhile war arose,
    And fields were fought in Heaven: wherein remained
    (For what could else?) to our Almighty Foe
    Clear victory; to our part loss and rout
    Through all the Empyrean. Down they fell,
    Driven headlong from the pitch of Heaven, down
    Into this Deep; and in the general fall
    I also: at which time this powerful key
    Into my hands was given, with charge to keep
    These gates for ever shut, which none can pass
    Without my opening. Pensive here I sat
    Alone; but long I sat not, till my womb,
    Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown,
    Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes.
    At last this odious offspring whom thou seest,
    Thine own begotten, breaking violent way,
    Tore through my entrails, that, with fear and pain
    Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew
    Transformed: but he my inbred enemy
    Forth issued, brandishing his fatal dart,
    Made to destroy. I fled, and cried out Death!
    Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sighed
    From all her caves, and back resounded Death!
    I fled; but he pursued (though more, it seems,
    Inflamed with lust than rage), and, swifter far,
    Me overtook, his mother, all dismayed,
    And, in embraces forcible and foul
    Engendering with me, of that rape begot
    These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry
    Surround me, as thou saw'st--hourly conceived
    And hourly born, with sorrow infinite
    To me; for, when they list, into the womb
    That bred them they return, and howl, and gnaw
    My bowels, their repast; then, bursting forth
    Afresh, with conscious terrors vex me round,
    That rest or intermission none I find.
    Before mine eyes in opposition sits
    Grim Death, my son and foe, who set them on,
    And me, his parent, would full soon devour
    For want of other prey, but that he knows
    His end with mine involved, and knows that I
    Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane,
    Whenever that shall be: so Fate pronounced.
    But thou, O father, I forewarn thee, shun
    His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope
    To be invulnerable in those bright arms,
    Through tempered heavenly; for that mortal dint,
    Save he who reigns above, none can resist."
    She finished; and the subtle Fiend his lore
    Soon learned, now milder, and thus answered smooth:--
    "Dear daughter--since thou claim'st me for thy sire,
    And my fair son here show'st me, the dear pledge
    Of dalliance had with thee in Heaven, and joys
    Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change
    Befallen us unforeseen, unthought-of--know,
    I come no enemy, but to set free
    From out this dark and dismal house of pain
    Both him and thee, and all the heavenly host
    Of Spirits that, in our just pretences armed,
    Fell with us from on high. From them I go
    This uncouth errand sole, and one for all
    Myself expose, with lonely steps to tread
    Th' unfounded Deep, and through the void immense
    To search, with wandering quest, a place foretold
    Should be--and, by concurring signs, ere now
    Created vast and round--a place of bliss
    In the purlieus of Heaven; and therein placed
    A race of upstart creatures, to supply
    Perhaps our vacant room, though more removed,
    Lest Heaven, surcharged with potent multitude,
    Might hap to move new broils. Be this, or aught
    Than this more secret, now designed, I haste
    To know; and, this once known, shall soon return,
    And bring ye to the place where thou and Death
    Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen
    Wing silently the buxom air, embalmed
    With odours. There ye shall be fed and filled
    Immeasurably; all things shall be your prey."
    He ceased; for both seemed highly pleased, and Death
    Grinned horrible a ghastly smile, to hear
    His famine should be filled, and blessed his maw
    Destined to that good hour. No less rejoiced
    His mother bad, and thus bespake her sire:--
    "The key of this infernal Pit, by due
    And by command of Heaven's all-powerful King,
    I keep, by him forbidden to unlock
    These adamantine gates; against all force
    Death ready stands to interpose his dart,
    Fearless to be o'ermatched by living might.
    But what owe I to his commands above,
    Who hates me, and hath hither thrust me down
    Into this gloom of Tartarus profound,
    To sit in hateful office here confined,
    Inhabitant of Heaven and heavenly born--
    Here in perpetual agony and pain,
    With terrors and with clamours compassed round
    Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed?
    Thou art my father, thou my author, thou
    My being gav'st me; whom should I obey
    But thee? whom follow? Thou wilt bring me soon
    To that new world of light and bliss, among
    The gods who live at ease, where I shall reign
    At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems
    Thy daughter and thy darling, without end."
    Thus saying, from her side the fatal key,
    Sad instrument of all our woe, she took;
    And, towards the gate rolling her bestial train,
    Forthwith the huge portcullis high up-drew,
    Which, but herself, not all the Stygian Powers
    Could once have moved; then in the key-hole turns
    Th' intricate wards, and every bolt and bar
    Of massy iron or solid rock with ease
    Unfastens. On a sudden open fly,
    With impetuous recoil and jarring sound,
    Th' infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
    Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
    Of Erebus. She opened; but to shut
    Excelled her power: the gates wide open stood,
    That with extended wings a bannered host,
    Under spread ensigns marching, mibht pass through
    With horse and chariots ranked in loose array;
    So wide they stood, and like a furnace-mouth
    Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.
    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 fierce,
    Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring
    Their embryon atoms: they around the flag
    Of each his faction, in their several clans,
    Light-armed or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow,
    Swarm populous, unnumbered 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 mixed
    Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,
    Unless th' 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 looked a while,
    Pondering his voyage; for no narrow frith
    He had to cross. Nor was his ear less pealed
    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 spread 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 stayed--
    Quenched in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea,
    Nor good dry land--nigh foundered, on he fares,
    Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
    Half flying; behoves him now both oar and sail.
    As when a gryphon through the wilderness
    With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale,
    Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth
    Had from his wakeful custody purloined
    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
    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
    Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
    Of Demogorgon; Rumour next, and Chance,
    And Tumult, and Confusion, all embroiled,
    And Discord with a thousand various mouths.
    T' whom Satan, turning boldly, thus:--"Ye Powers
    And Spirtis 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,
    What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds
    Confine with Heaven; or, if some other place,
    From your dominion won, th' 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 expelled, 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 th' advantage all, mine the revenge!"
    Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old,
    With faltering speech and visage incomposed,
    Answered: "I know thee, stranger, who thou art-- ***
    That mighty leading Angel, who of late
    Made 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
    Poured 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,
    Encroached on still through our 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, linked 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 stayed not to reply,
    But, glad that now his sea should find a shore,
    With fresh alacrity and force renewed
    Springs upward, like a pyramid of fire,
    Into the wild expanse, and through the shock
    Of fighting elements, on all sides round
    Environed, wins his way; harder beset
    And more endangered than when Argo passed
    Through Bosporus betwixt the justling rocks,
    Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunned
    Charybdis, and by th' other whirlpool steered.
    So he with difficulty and labour hard
    Moved on, with difficulty and labour he;
    But, he once passed, 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 th' 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 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 her outmost works, a broken foe,
    With tumult less and with less hostile din;
    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 th' empyreal Heaven, extended wide
    In circuit, undetermined square or round,
    With opal towers and battlements adorned
    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.
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    Chapter 2
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