Paradise Lost: Book II (1674)

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The Consultation begun, Satan debates whether another Battel to be hazarded for the recovery of Heaven: some advise it, others dissuade: A third proposal is prefer'd, mention'd before by Satan to search the truth of that Prophesie or Tradition in Heaven concerning another world, and another kind of creature equal or not much inferiour to themselves, about this time to be created: Thir doubt who shall be sent on this difficult search: Satan thir chief undertakes alone the voyage, is honourd and applauded. The Councel thus ended, the rest betake them several wayes and to several imployments, as thir inclinations lead them, to entertain the time till Satan return. He passes on his Journey to Hell Gates, finds them shut, and who sat there to guard them, by whom at length they are op'nd, and discover to him the great Gulf between Hell and Heaven; with what difficulty he passes through, directed by Chaos, the Power of that place, to the sight of this new World which he sought.

HIgh on a Throne of Royal State, which farOutshon the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,Or where the gorgeous East with richest handShowrs on her Kings Barbaric Pearl and Gold,Satan exalted sat, by merit rais'dTo that bad eminence; and from despairThus high uplifted beyond hope, aspiresBeyond thus high, insatiate to pursueVain Warr with Heav'n, and by success untaughtHis proud imaginations thus displaid.

Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heav'n,For since no deep within her gulf can holdImmortal vigor, though opprest and fall'n,I give not Heav'n for lost. From this descentCelestial vertues rising, will appearMore glorious and more dread then from no fall,And trust themselves to fear no second fate:Mee though just right, and the fixt Laws of Heav'nDid first create your Leader, next free choice,With what besides, in Counsel or in Fight,Hath bin achievd of merit, yet this lossThus farr at least recover'd, hath much moreEstablisht in a safe unenvied ThroneYielded with full consent. The happier stateIn Heav'n, which follows dignity, might drawEnvy from each inferior; but who hereWill envy whom the highest place exposesFormost to stand against the Thunderers aimYour bulwark, and condemns to greatest shareOf endless pain? where there is then no goodFor which to strive, no strife can grow up thereFrom Faction; for none sure will claim in HellPrecedence, none, whose portion is so smallOf present pain, that with ambitious mindWill covet more. With this advantage thenTo union, and firm Faith, and firm accord,More then can be in Heav'n, we now returnTo claim our just inheritance of old,Surer to prosper then prosperityCould have assur'd us; and by what best way,Whether of open Warr or covert guile,We now debate; who can advise, may speak.

He ceas'd, and next him Moloc, Scepter'd KingStood up, the strongest and the fiercest SpiritThat fought in Heav'n; now fiercer by despair:His trust was with th' Eternal to be deem'dEqual in strength, and rather then be lessCar'd not to be at all; with that care lostWent all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worseHe reck'd not, and these words thereafter spake.

My sentence is for open Warr: Of Wiles,More unexpert, I boast not: them let thoseContrive who need, or when they need, not now.For while they sit contriving, shall the rest,Millions that stand in Arms, and longing waitThe Signal to ascend, sit lingring hereHeav'ns fugitives, and for thir dwelling placeAccept this dark opprobrious Den of shame,The Prison of his Tyranny who ReignsBy our delay? no, let us rather chooseArm'd with Hell flames and fury all at onceO're Heav'ns high Towrs to force resistless way,Turning our Tortures into horrid ArmsAgainst the Torturer; when to meet the noiseOf his Almighty Engin he shall hearInfernal Thunder, and for Lightning seeBlack fire and horror shot with equal rageAmong his Angels; and his Throne it selfMixt with Tartarean Sulphur, and strange fire,His own invented Torments. But perhapsThe way seems difficult and steep to scaleWith upright wing against a higher foe.Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drenchOf that forgetful Lake benumm not still,That in our proper motion we ascendUp to our native seat: descent and fallTo us is adverse. Who but felt of lateWhen the fierce Foe hung on our brok'n RearInsulting, and pursu'd us through the Deep,With what compulsion and laborious flightWe sunk thus low? Th' ascent is easie then;Th' event is fear'd; should we again provokeOur stronger, some worse way his wrath may findTo our destruction: if there be in HellFear to be worse destroy'd: what can be worseThen to dwell here, driv'n out from bliss, condemn'dIn this abhorred deep to utter woe;Where pain of unextinguishable fireMust exercise us without hope of endThe Vassals of his anger, when the ScourgeInexorably, and the torturing hourCalls us to Penance? More destroy'd then thusWe should be quite abolisht and expire.What fear we then? what doubt we to incenseHis utmost ire? which to the highth enrag'd,Will either quite consume us, and reduceTo nothing this essential, happier farrThen miserable to have eternal being:Or if our substance be indeed Divine,And cannot cease to be, we are at worstOn this side nothing; and by proof we feelOur power sufficient to disturb his Heav'n,And with perpetual inrodes to Allarme,Though inaccessible, his fatal Throne:Which if not Victory is yet Revenge.

He ended frowning, and his look denounc'dDesperate revenge, and Battel dangerousTo less then Gods. On th' other side up roseBelial, in act more graceful and humane;A fairer person lost not Heav'n; he seemdFor dignity compos'd and high exploit:But all was false and hollow; though his TongueDropt Manna, and could make the worse appearThe better reason, to perplex and dashMaturest Counsels: for his thoughts were low;To vice industrious, but to Nobler deedsTimorous and slothful: yet he pleas'd the ear,And with perswasive accent thus began.

I should be much for open Warr, O Peers,As not behind in hate; if what was urg'dMain reason to perswade immediate Warr,Did not disswade me most, and seem to castOminous conjecture on the whole success:When he who most excels in fact of Arms,In what he counsels and in what excelsMistrustful, grounds his courage on despairAnd utter dissolution, as the scopeOf all his aim, after some dire revenge.First, what Revenge? the Towrs of Heav'n are fill'dWith Armed watch, that render all accessImpregnable; oft on the bordering DeepEncamp thir Legions, or with obscure wingScout farr and wide into the Realm of night,Scorning surprize. Or could we break our wayBy force, and at our heels all Hell should riseWith blackest Insurrection, to confoundHeav'ns purest Light, yet our great EnemyAll incorruptible would on his ThroneSit unpolluted, and th' Ethereal mouldIncapable of stain would soon expelHer mischief, and purge off the baser fireVictorious. Thus repuls'd, our final hopeIs flat despair: we must exasperateTh' 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 loose,Though full of pain, this intellectual being,Those thoughts that wander through Eternity,To perish rather, swallowd up and lostIn the wide womb of uncreated night,Devoid of sense and motion? and who knows,Let this be good, whether our angry FoeCan give it, or will ever? how he canIs 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 thir wish, and endThem in his anger, whom his anger savesTo punish endless? wherefore cease we then?Say they who counsel Warr, we are decreed,Reserv'd and destin'd 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, pursu'd and strookWith Heav'ns afflicting Thunder, and besoughtThe Deep to shelter us? this Hell then seem'dA refuge from those wounds: or when we layChain'd on the burning Lake? that sure was worse.What if the breath that kindl'd those grim firesAwak'd should blow them into sevenfold rageAnd plunge us in the flames? or from aboveShould intermitted vengeance arm againHis red right hand to plague us? what if allHer stores were open'd, and this FirmamentOf Hell should spout her Cataracts of FireImpendent horrors, threatning hideous fallOne day upon our heads; while we perhapsDesigning or exhorting glorious warr,Caught in a fierie Tempest shall be hurl'dEach on his rock transfixt, the sport and preyOf racking whirlwinds, or for ever sunkUnder yon boyling Ocean, wrapt in Chains;There to converse with everlasting groans,Unrespited, unpitied, unrepreevd,Ages of hopeless end; this would be worse.Warr therefore, open or conceal'd, alikeMy voice disswades; for what can force or guileWith him, or who deceive his mind, whose eyeViews all things at one view? he from heav'ns highthAll these our motions vain, sees and derides;Not more Almighty to resist our mightThen wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.Shall we then live thus vile, the Race of Heav'nThus trampl'd, thus expell'd to suffer hereChains and these Torments? better these then worseBy my advice; since fate inevitableSubdues us, and Omnipotent Decree,The Victors will. To suffer, as to doe,Our strength is equal, nor the Law unjustThat so ordains: this was at first resolv'd,If we were wise, against so great a foeContending, and so doubtful what might fall.I laugh, when those who at the Spear are boldAnd vent'rous, if that fail them, shrink and fearWhat yet they know must follow, to endureExile, or ignominy, or bonds, or pain,The sentence of thir Conquerour: This is nowOur doom; which if we can sustain and bear,Our Supream Foe in time may much remitHis anger, and perhaps thus farr remov'dNot mind us not offending, satisfi'dWith what is punish't; whence these raging firesWill slack'n, if his breath stir not thir flames.Our purer essence then will overcomeThir noxious vapour, or enur'd not feel,Or chang'd at length, and to the place conformdIn temper and in nature, will receiveFamiliar the fierce heat, and void of pain;This horror will grow milde, this darkness light,Besides what hope the never-ending flightOf future dayes may bring, what chance, what changeWorth waiting, since our present lot appeersFor happy though but ill, for ill not worst,If we procure not to our selves more woe.

Thus Belial with words cloath'd in reasons garbCounsel'd ignoble ease, and peaceful sloath,Not peace: and after him thus Mammon spake.

Either to disinthrone the King of Heav'nWe warr, if warr be best, or to regainOur own right lost: him to unthrone we thenMay hope when everlasting Fathe shall yeildTo fickle Chance and Chaos judge the strife:The former vain to hope argues as vainThe latter: for what place can be for usWithin Heav'ns bound, unless Heav'ns Lord supreamWe overpower? Suppose he should relentAnd publish Grace to all, on promise madeOf new Subjection; with what eyes could weStand in his presence humble, and receiveStrict Laws impos'd, to celebrate his ThroneWith warbl'd Hymns, and to his God head singForc't Halleluia's; while he Lordly sitsOur envied Sovran, and his Altar breathesAmbrosial Odours and Ambrosial Flowers,Our servile offerings. This must be our taskIn Heav'n this our delight; how wearisomEternity so spent in worship paidTo whom we hate. Let us not then pursueBy force impossible, by leave obtain'dUnacceptable, though in Heav'n, our stateOf splendid vassalage, but rather seekOur own good from our selves, and from our ownLive to our selves, though in this vast recess,Free, and to none accountable, preferringHard liberty before the easie yokeOf servile Pomp. Our greatness will appeerThen most conspicuous, when great things of small,Useful of hurtful, prosperous of adverseWe can create, and in what place so e'reThrive under evil, and work ease out of painThrough labour and indurance. This deep worldOf darkness do we dread? How oft amidstThick clouds and dark doth Heav'ns all-ruling SireChoose to reside, his Glory unobscur'd,And with the Majesty of darkness roundCovers his Throne; from whence deep thunders roarMust'ring thir rage, and Heav'n resembles Hell?As he our darkness, cannot we his LightImitate when we please? This Desart soileWants not her hidden lustre, Gemms and Gold;Nor want we skill or Art, from whence to raiseMagnificence; and what can Heav'n shew more?Our torments also may in length of timeBecome our Elements, these piercing FiresAs soft as now severe, our temper chang'dInto their temper; which must needs removeThe sensible of pain. All things inviteTo peaceful Counsels, and the settl'd StateOf order, how in safety best we mayCompose our present evils, with regardOf what we are and were, dismissing quiteAll thoughts of warr: ye have what I advise.

He scarce had finisht, when such murmur filldTh' Assembly, as when hollow Rocks retainThe sound of blustring winds, which all night longHad rous'd the Sea, now with hoarse cadence lullSea-faring men orewatcht, whose Bark by chanceOr Pinnace anchors in a craggy BayAfter the Tempest: Such applause was heardAs Mammon ended, and his Sentence pleas'd,Advising peace: for such another FieldThey dreaded worse then Hell: so much the fearOf Thunder and the Sword of MichaelWrought still within them; and no less desireTo found this nether Empire, which might riseBy pollicy, and long process of time,In emulation opposite to Heav'n.Which when Beelzebub perceiv'd, then whom,Satan except, none higher sat, with graveAspect he rose, and in his rising seem'dA Pillar of State; deep on his Front engravenDeliberation sat and public care;And Princely counsel in his face yet shon,Majestic though in ruin: sage he stoodWith Atlantean shoulders fit to bearThe weight of mightiest Monarchies; his lookDrew audience and attention still as NightOr Summers Noon-tide air, while thus he spake.

Thrones and Imperial Powers, off-spring of heav'nEthereal Vertues; or these Titles nowMust we renounce, and changing stile be call'dPrinces of Hell? for so the popular voteInclines, here to continue, and build up hereA growing Empire; doubtless; while we dream,And know not that the King of Heav'n hath doom'dThis place our dungeon, not our safe retreatBeyond his Potent arm, to live exemptFrom Heav'ns high jurisdiction, in new LeagueBanded against his Throne, but to remaineIn strictest bondage, though thus far remov'd,Under th' inevitable curb, reserv'dHis captive multitude: For he, be sureIn heighth or depth, still first and last will ReignSole King, and of his Kingdom loose no partBy our revolt, but over Hell extendHis Empire, and with Iron Scepter ruleUs here, as with his Golden those in Heav'n.What sit we then projecting peace and Warr?Warr hath determin'd us, and foild with lossIrreparable; tearms of peace yet noneVoutsaf't or sought; for what peace will be giv'nTo us enslav'd, but custody severe,And stripes, and arbitrary punishmentInflicted? and what peace can we return,But to our power hostility and hate,Untam'd reluctance, and revenge though slow,Yet ever plotting how the Conqueror leastMay reap his conquest, and may least rejoyceIn doing what we most in suffering feel?Nor will occasion want, nor shall we needWith dangerous expedition to invadeHeav'n, whose high walls fear no assault or Siege,Or ambush from the Deep. What if we findSome easier enterprize? There is a place(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heav'nErr not) another World, the happy seatOf some new Race call'd Man, about this timeTo be created like to us, though lessIn power and excellence, but favour'd moreOf him who rules above; so was his willPronounc'd among the Gods, and by an Oath,That shook Heav'ns whol circumference, confirm'd.Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learnWhat creatures there inhabit, of what mould,Or substance, how endu'd, and what thir Power,And where thir weakness, how attempted best,By force or suttlety: Though Heav'n be shut,And Heav'ns high Arbitrator sit secureIn his own strength, this place may lye expos'dThe utmost border of his Kingdom, leftTo their defence who hold it: here perhapsSom advantagious act may be achiev'dBy sudden onset, either with Hell fireTo waste his whole Creation, or possessAll as our own, and drive as we were driven,The punie habitants, or if not drive,Seduce them to our Party, that thir GodMay prove thir foe, and with repenting handAbolish his own works. This would surpassCommon revenge, and interrupt his joyIn our Confusion, and our joy upraiseIn his disturbance; when his darling SonsHurI'd headlong to partake with us, shall curseThir frail Original, and faded bliss,Faded so soon. Advise if this be worthAttempting, or to sit in darkness hereHatching vain Empires. Thus BeelzebubPleaded his devilish Counsel, first devis'dBy Satan, and in part propos'd: for whence,But from the Author of all ill could SpringSo deep a malice, to confound the raceOf mankind in one root, and Earth with HellTo mingle and involve, done all to spiteThe great Creatour? But thir spite still servesHis glory to augment. The bold designPleas'd highly those infernal States, and joySparkl'd in all thir eyes; with full assentThey vote: whereat his speech he thus renews.

Well have ye judg'd, well ended long debate,Synod of Gods, and like to what ye are,Great things resolv'd; which from the lowest deepWill once more lift us up, in spight of Fate,Neerer our ancient Seat; perhaps in viewOf those bright confines, whence with neighbouring ArmsAnd opportune excursion we may chanceRe-enter Heav'n; or else in some milde ZoneDwell not unvisited of Heav'ns fair LightSecure, and at the brightning Orient beamPurge off this gloom; the soft delicious Air,To heal the scarr of these corrosive FiresShall breathe her balme. But first whom shall we sendIn search of this new world, whom shall we findSufficient? who shall tempt with wandring feetThe dark unbottom'd infinite AbyssAnd through the palpable obscure find outHis uncouth way, or spread his aerie flightUpborn with indefatigable wingsOver the vast abrupt, ere he arriveThe happy Ile; what strength, what art can thenSuffice, or what evasion bear him safeThrough the strict Senteries and Stations thickOf Angels watching round? Here he had needAll circumspection, and we now no lessChoice in our suffrage; for on whom we send,The weight of all and our last hope relies.

This said, he sat; and expectation heldHis look suspence, awaiting who appeer'dTo second, or oppose, or undertakeThe perilous attempt: but all sat mute,Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and eachIn others count'nance read his own dismayAstonisht: none among the choice and primeOf those Heav'n-warring Champions could be foundSo hardie as to proffer or acceptAlone the dreadful voyage; till at lastSatan, whom now transcendent glory rais'dAbove his fellows, with Monarchal prideConscious of highest worth, unmov'd thus spake.

O Progeny of Heav'n, Empyreal Thrones,With reason hath deep silence and demurrSeis'd us, though undismaid: long is the wayAnd hard, that out of Hell leads up to light;Our prison strong, this huge convex of Fire,Outrageous to devour, immures us roundNinefold, and gates of burning AdamantBarr'd over us prohibit all egress.These past, if any pass, the void profoundOf unessential Night receives him nextWide gaping, and with utter loss of beingThreatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf.If thence he scape into whatever world,Or unknown Region, what remains him lessThen unknown dangers and as hard escape.But I should ill become this Throne, O Peers,And this Imperial Sov'ranty, adorn'dWith splendor, arm'd with power, if aught propos'dAnd judg'd of public moment, in the shapeOf difficulty or danger could deterrMee from attempting. Wherefore do I assumeThese Royalties, and not refuse to Reign,Refusing to accept as great a shareOf hazard as of honour, due alikeTo him who Reigns, and so much to him dueOf hazard more, as he above the restHigh honourd sits? Go therfore mighty Powers,Terror of Heav'n, though fall'n; intend at home,While here shall be our home, what best may easeThe present misery, and render HellMore tollerable; if there be cure or charmTo respite or deceive, or slack the painOf this ill Mansion: intermit no watchAgainst a wakeful Foe, while I abroadThrough all the Coasts of dark destruction seekDeliverance for us all: this enterprizeNone shall partake with me. Thus saying roseThe Monarch, and prevented all reply,Prudent, least from his resolution rais'dOthers among the chief might offer now(Certain to be refus'd) what erst they feard;And so refus'd might in opinion standHis Rivals, winning cheap the high reputeWhich he through hazard huge must earn. But theyDreaded not more th' adventure then his voiceForbidding; and at once with him they rose;Thir rising all at once was as the soundOf Thunder heard remote. Towards him they bendWith awful reverence prone; and as a GodExtoll him equal to the highest in Heav'n:Nor fail'd they to express how much they prais'd,That for the general safety he despis'dHis own: for neither do the Spirits damn'dLoose all thir virtue; least bad men should boastThir specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,Or clos ambition varnisht o're with zeal.Thus they thir doubtful consultations darkEnded rejoycing in thir matchless Chief:As when from mountain tops the dusky cloudsAscending, while the North wind sleeps, o'respreadHeav'ns chearful face, the lowring ElementScowls ore the dark'nd lantskip Snow, or showre;If chance the radiant Sun with farewell sweetExtend his ev'ning beam, the fields revive,The birds thir notes renew, and bleating herdsAttest thir joy, that hill and valley rings.O shame to men! Devil with Devil damn'dFirm concord holds, men onely disagreeOf Creatures rational, though under hopeOf heavenly Grace: and God proclaiming peace,Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strifeAmong themselves, and levie cruel warres,Wasting the Earth, each other to destroy:As if (which might induce us to accord)Man had not hellish foes anow besides,That day and night for his destruction waite.

The Stygian Counsel thus dissolv'd; and forthIn order came the grand infernal Peers,Midst came thir mighty Paramount, and seemdAlone th' Antagonist of Heav'n, nor lessThan Hells dread Emperour with pomp Supream,And God-like imitated State; him roundA Globe of fierie Seraphim inclos'dWith bright imblazonrie, and horrent Arms.Then of thir Session ended they bid cryWith Trumpets regal sound the great result:Toward the four winds four speedy CherubimPut to thir mouths the sounding AlchymieBy Haralds voice explain'd: the hollow AbyssHeard farr and wide, and all the host of HellWith deafning shout, return'd them loud acclaim.Thence more at ease thir minds and somwhat rais'dBy false presumptuous hope, the ranged powersDisband, and wandring, each his several wayPursues, as inclination or sad choiceLeads him perplext, where he may likeliest findTruce to his restless thoughts, and entertainThe irksom hours, till this great Chief return.Part on the Plain, or in the Air sublimeUpon the wing, or in swift Race contend,As at th' Olympian Games or Pythian fields;Part curb thir fierie Steeds, or shun the GoalWith rapid wheels, or fronted Brigads form.As when to warn proud Cities warr appearsWag'd in the troubl'd Skie, and Armies rushTo Battel in the Clouds, before each VanPrick forth the Aerie Knights, and couch thir SpearsTill thickest Legions close; with feats of ArmsFrom either end of Heav'n the welkin burns.Others with vast Typhoean rage more fellRend up both Rocks and Hills, and ride the AirIn whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wilde uproar.As when Alcides from Oechalia Crown'dWith conquest, felt th' envenom'd robe, and toreThrough pain up by the roots Thessalian Pines,And Lichas from the top of Oeta threwInto th' Euboic Sea. Others more milde,Retreated in a silent valley, singWith notes Angelical to many a HarpThir own Heroic deeds and hapless fallBy doom of Battel; and complain that FateFree Vertue should enthrall to Force or Chance.Thir Song was partial, but the harmony(What could it less when Spirits immortal sing?)Suspended Hell, and took with ravishmentThe 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 highOf Providence, Foreknowledge, Will and Fate,Fixt Fate, free will, foreknowledg absolute,And found no end, in wandring mazes lost.Of good and evil much they argu'd then,Of happiness and final misery,Passion and Apathie, and glory and shame,Vain wisdom all, and false Philosophie:Yet with a pleasing sorcerie could charmPain for a while or anguish, and exciteFallacious hope, or arm th' obdured brestWith stubborn patience as with triple steel.Another part in Squadrons and gross Bands,On bold adventure to discover wideThat dismal world, if any Clime perhapsMight yield them easier habitation, bendFour ways thir flying March, along the BanksOf four infernal Rivers that disgorgeInto the burning Lake thir baleful streams;Abhorred Styx the flood of deadly hate,Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loudHeard on the ruful stream; fierce PhlegetonWhose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.Farr off from these a slow and silent stream,Lethe the River of Oblivion roulesHer watrie Labyrinth, whereof who drinks,Forthwith his former state and being forgets,Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.Beyond this flood a frozen ContinentLies dark and wilde, beat with perpetual stormsOf Whirlwind and dire Hail, which on firm landThaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seemsOf ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice,A gulf profound as that Serbonian BogBetwixt Damiata and mount Casius old,Where Armies whole have sunk: the parching AirBurns frore, and cold performs th' effect of Fire.Thither by harpy-footed Furies hail'd,At certain revolutions all the damn'dAre brought: and feel by turns the bitter changeOf fierce extreams, extreams by change more fierce,From Beds of raging Fire to starve in IceThir soft Ethereal warmth, and there to pineImmovable, infixt, and frozen round,Periods of time, thence hurried back to fire.They ferry over this Lethean SoundBoth to and fro, thir sorrow to augment,And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reachThe tempting stream, with one small drop to looseIn sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,All in one moment, and so neer the brink;But Fate withstands, and to oppose th' attemptMedusa with Gorgonian terror guardsThe Ford, and of it self the water fliesAll taste of living wight, as once it fledThe lip of Tantalus. Thus roving onIn confus'd march forlorn, th' adventrous BandsWith shuddring horror pale, and eyes agastView'd first thir lamentable lot, and foundNo rest: through many a dark and drearie VaileThey pass'd, and many a Region dolorous,O're many a Frozen, many a fierie Alpe,Rocks, Caves, Lakes, Fens, Bogs, Dens, and shades of death,A Universe of death, which God by curseCreated evil, for evil only good,Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds,Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,Abominable, inutterable, and worseThan Fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceiv'd,Gorgons and Hydra's, and Chimera's dire.

Mean while the Adversary of God and Man,Satan with thoughts inflam'd of highest design,Puts on swift wings, and towards the Gates of HellExplores his solitary flight; som timesHe scours the right hand coast, som times the left,Now shaves with level wing the Deep, then soaresUp to the fiery Concave touring high.As when farr off at Sea a Fleet descri'dHangs in the Clouds, by Aequinoctial WindsClose sailing from Bengala, or the IlesOf Ternate and Tidore, whence Merchants bringThir spicie Drugs: they on the Trading FloodThrough the wide Ethiopian to the CapePly stemming nightly toward the Pole. So seem'dFarr off the flying Fiend: at last appeerHell bounds high reaching to the horrid Roof,And thrice threefold the Gates; three folds were Brass,Three Iron, three of Adamantine Rock,Impenetrable, impal'd with circling fire,Yet unconsum'd. Before the Gates there satOn either side a formidable shape;The one seem'd Woman to the waste, and fair,But ended foul in many a scaly fouldVoluminous and vast, a Serpent arm'dWith mortal sting: about her middle roundA cry of Hell Hounds never ceasing bark'dWith wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rungA hideous Peal: yet, when they list, would creep,If aught disturb'd thir noyse, into her woomb,And kennel there, yet there still bark'd and howl'd,Within unseen. Farr less abhorrd than theseVex'd Scylla bathing in the Sea that partsCalabria from the hoarce Trinacrian shore:Nor uglier follow the Night-Hag, when call'dIn secret, riding through the Air she comesLur'd with the smell of infant blood, to danceWith Lapland Witches, while the labouring MoonEclipses at thir charms. The other shape,If shape it might be call'd that shape had noneDistinguishable in member, joynt, or limb,Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,For each seem'd either; black it stood as Night,Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,And shook a dreadful Dart; what seem'd his headThe likeness of a Kingly Crown had on.Satan was now at hand, and from his seatThe Monster moving onward came as fastWith horrid strides, Hell trembled as he strode.Th' undaunted Fiend what this might be admir'd,Admir'd, not fear'd; God and his Son except,Created thing naught valu'd he nor shun'd;And with disdainful look thus first began.

Whence and what art thou, execrable shape,That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advanceThy miscreated Front athwart my wayTo yonder Gates? through them I mean to pass,That be assur'd, without leave askt of thee:Retire, or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,Hell-born, not to contend with Spirits of Heav'n.

To whom the Goblin full of wrauth reply'd,Art thou that Traitor Angel, art thou hee,Who first broke peace in Heav'n and Faith, till thenUnbrok'n, and in proud rebellious ArmsDrew after him the third part of Heav'ns SonsConjur'd against the highest, for which both ThouAnd they outcast from God, are here condemn'dTo waste Eternal dayes in woe and pain?And reck'n'st thou thy self with Spirits of Heav'n,Hell-doom'd, and breath'st defiance here and scornWhere I reign King, and to enrage thee more,Thy King and Lord? Back to thy punishment,False fugitive, and to thy speed add wings,Least with a whip of Scorpions I pursueThy lingring, or with one stroke of this DartStrange horror seise thee, and pangs unfelt before.

So spake the grieslie terrour, and in shape,So speaking and so threatning, grew tenfoldMore dreadful and deform: on th' other sideIncenst with indignation Satan stoodUnterrifi'd, and like a Comet burn'd,That fires the length of Ophiucus hugeIn th' Artick Sky, and from his horrid hairShakes Pestilence and Warr. Each at the HeadLevel'd his deadly aime; thir fatall handsNo second stroke intend, and such a frownEach cast at th' other, as when two black CloudsWith Heav'ns Artillery fraught, come rattling onOver the Caspian, then stand front to frontHov'ring a space, till Winds the signal blowTo joyn thir dark Encounter in mid air:So frownd the mighty Combatants, that HellGrew darker at thir frown, so matcht they stood;For never but once more was either likeTo meet so great a foe: and now great deedsHad been achiev'd, whereof all Hell had rung,Had not the Snakie Sorceress that satFast by Hell Gate, and kept the fatal Key,Ris'n, and with hideous outcry rush'd between.

O Father, what intends thy hand, she cry'd,Against thy only Son? What fury O Son,Possesses thee to bend that mortal DartAgainst thy Fathers head? and know'st for whom;For him who sits above and laughs the whileAt thee ordain'd his drudge, to executeWhat e're his wrath, which he calls justice, bids,His wrath which one day will destroy ye both.

She spake, and at her words the hellish PestForbore, then these to her Satan return'd:

So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strangeThou interposest, that my sudden handPrevented spares to tell thee yet by deedsWhat it intends; till first I know of thee,What thing thou art, thus double-form'd, and whyIn this infernal Vaile first met thou call'stMe Father, and that Fantasm ca11'st my Son?I know thee not, nor ever saw till nowSight more detestable then him and thee.

T' whom thus the Portress of Hell Gate reply'd;Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seemNow in thine eyes so foul, once deemd so fairIn Heav'n, when at th' Assembly, and in sightOf all the Seraphim with thee combin'dIn bold conspiracy against Heav'ns King,All on a sudden miserable painSurpris'd thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzie swummIn darkness, while thy head flames thick and fastThrew forth, till on the left side op'ning wide,Likest to thee in shape and count'nance bright,Then shining heav'nly fair, a Goddess arm'dOut of thy head I sprung: amazement seis'dAll th' Host of Heav'n; back they recoild affraidAt first, and call'd me Sin, and for a SignPortentous held me; but familiar grown,I pleas'd, and with attractive graces wonThe most averse, thee chiefly, who full oftThy self in me thy perfect image viewingBecam'st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'stWith me in secret, that my womb conceiv'dA growing burden. Mean while Warr arose,And fields were fought in Heav'n; wherein remaind(For what could else) to our Almighty FoeCleer Victory, to our part loss and routThrough all the Empyrean: down they fellDriv'n headlong from the Pitch of Heaven, downInto this Deep, and in the general fallI also; at which time this powerful KeyInto my hand was giv'n, with charge to keepThese Gates for ever shut, which none can passWithout my op'ning. Pensive here I satAlone, but long I sat not, till my wombPregnant by thee, and now excessive grownProdigious motion felt and rueful throes.At last this odious offspring whom thou seestThine own begotten, breaking violent wayTore through my entrails, that with fear and painDistorted, all my nether shape thus grewTransform'd: but he my inbred enemieForth issu'd, brandishing his fatal DartMade to destroy: I fled, and cry'd out Death;Hell trembl'd at the hideous Name, and sigh'dFrom all her Caves, and back resounded Death.I fled, but he pursu'd (though more, it seems,Inflam'd with lust then rage) and swifter far,Mee overtook his mother all dismaid,And in embraces forcible and fouleIngendring with me, of that rape begotThese yelling Monsters that with ceasless crySurround me, as thou sawst, hourly conceiv'dAnd hourly born, with sorrow infiniteTo me, for when they list into the wombThat bred them they return, and howle and gnawMy Bowels, thir repast; then bursting forthA fresh with conscious terrours vex me round,That rest or intermission none I find.Before mine eyes in opposition sitsGrim Death my Son and foe, who sets them on,And me his Parent would full soon devourFor want of other prey, but that he knowsHis end with mine involvd; and knows that IShould prove a bitter Morsel, and his bane,When ever that shall be; so Fate pronounc'd.But thou O Father, I forewarn thee, shunHis deadly arrow; neither vainly hopeTo be invulnerable in those bright Arms,Though temper'd heav'nly, for that mortal dint,Save he who reigns above, none can resist.

She finish'd, and the suttle Fiend his loreSoon learnd, now milder, and thus answerd smooth.Dear Daughter, since thou claim'st me for thy Sire,And my fair Son here showst me, the dear pledgeOf dalliance had with thee in Heav'n, and joysThen sweet, now sad to mention, through dire changeBefalln us unforeseen, unthought of, knowI come no enemie, but to set freeFrom out this dark and dismal house of pain,Both him and thee, and all the heav'nly HostOf Spirits that in our just pretenses arm'dFell with us from on high: from them I goThis uncouth errand sole, and one for allMy self expose, with lonely steps to treadTh' unfounded deep, and through the void immenseTo search with wandring quest a place foretoldShould be, and, by concurring signs, ere nowCreated vast and round, a place of blissIn the Pourlieues of Heav'n, and therein plac'tA race of upstart Creatures, to supplyPerhaps our vacant room, though more remov'd,Least Heav'n surcharg'd with potent multitudeMight hap to move new broiles: Be this or aughtThen this more secret now design'd, I hasteTo know, and this once known, shall soon return,And bring ye to the place where Thou and DeathShall dwell at ease, and up and down unseenWing silently the buxom Air, imbalm'dWith odours; there ye shall be fed and fill'dImmeasurably, all things shall be your prey.He ceas'd, for both seemd highly pleasd, and DeathGrinnd horrible a gastly smile, to hearHis famine should be fill'd, and blest his maweDestin'd to that good hour: no less rejoyc'dHis mother bad, and thus bespake her Sire.

The key of this infernal Pit by due,And by command of Heav'ns all-powerful KingI keep, by him forbidden to unlockThese Adamantine Gates; against all forceDeath ready stands to interpose his dart,Fearless to be o'rmatcht by living might.But what ow I to his commands aboveWho hates me, and hath hither thrust me downInto this gloom of Tartarus profound,To sit in hateful Office here confin'd,Inhabitant of Heav'n, and heav'nlie-born,Here in perpetual agonie and pain,With terrors and with clamors compasst roundOf mine own brood, that on my bowels feed:Thou art my Father, thou my Author, thouMy being gav'st me; whom should I obeyBut thee, whom follow? thou wilt bring me soonTo that new world of light and bliss, amongThe Gods who live at ease, where I shall ReignAt thy right hand voluptuous, as beseemsThy 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 rouling her bestial train,Forthwith the huge Porcullis high up drew,Which but her self not all the Stygian powersCould once have mov'd; then in the key-hole turnsTh' intricate wards, and every Bolt and BarOf massie Iron or sollid Rock with easeUnfast'ns: on a sudden op'n flieWith impetuous recoile and jarring soundTh' infernal dores, and on thir hinges grateHarsh Thunder, that the lowest bottom shookOf Erebus. She op'nd, but to shutExcel'd her power; the Gates wide op'n stood,That with extended wings a Bannerd HostUnder spread Ensigns marching might pass throughWith Horse and Chariots rankt in loose array;So wide they stood, and like a Furnace mouthCast forth redounding smoak and ruddy flame.Before thir eyes in sudden view appearThe secrets of the hoarie deep, a darkIllimitable Ocean without bound,Without dimension, where length, breadth, & highth,And time and place are lost; where eldest NightAnd Chaos. Ancestors of Nature, holdEternal Anarchie, amidst the noiseOf endless Warrs, and by confusion stand.For hot, cold, moist, and dry, four Champions fierceStrive here for Maistrie, and to Battel bringThir embryon Atoms; they around the flagOf each his Faction, in thir several Clanns,Light-arm'd or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift or slow,Swarm populous, unnumber'd as the SandsOf Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil,Levied to side with warring Winds, and poiseThir lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,Hee rules a moment; Chaos Umpire sits,And by decision more imbroiles the frayBy which he Reigns: next him high ArbiterChance governs all. Into this wilde Abyss,The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave,Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire,But all these in thir pregnant causes mixtConfus'dly, and which thus must ever fight,Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordainHis dark materials to create more Worlds,Into this wild Abyss the warie fiendStood on the brink of Hell and look'd a while,Pondering his Voyage; for no narrow frithHe had to cross. Nor was his eare less peal'dWith noises loud and ruinous (to compareGreat things with small) then when Bellona storms,With all her battering Engines bent to raseSom Capital City; or less then if this frameOf Heav'n were falling, and these ElementsIn mutinie had from her Axle tornThe stedfast Earth. At last his Sail-broad VannesHe spreads for flight, and in the surging smoakUplifted spurns the ground, thence many a LeagueAs in a cloudy Chair ascending ridesAudacious, but that seat soon failing, meetsA vast vacuitie: all unawaresFluttring his pennons vain plumb down he dropsTen thousand fadom deep, and to this hourDown had been falling, had not by ill chanceThe strong rebuff of som tumultuous cloudInstinct with Fire and Nitre hurried himAs many miles aloft: that furie stay'd,Quencht in a Boggie Syrtis, neither Sea,Nor good dry Land: nigh founderd on he fares,Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,Half flying; behoves him now both Oare and Saile.As when a Gryfon through the WildernessWith winged course ore Hill or moarie Dale,Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stelthHad from his wakeful custody purloindThe guarded Gold: So eagerly the fiendOre 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 flyes:At length a universal hubbub wildeOf stunning sounds and voices all confus'dBorn through the hollow dark assaults his eareWith loudest vehemence: thither he plyes,Undaunted to meet there what ever powerOr Spirit of the nethermost AbyssMight in that noise reside, of whom to askWhich way the neerest coast of darkness lyesBordering on light; when strait behold the ThroneOf Chaos, and his dark Pavilion spreadWide on the wasteful Deep; with him Enthron'dSat Sable-vested Night, eldest of things,The Consort of his Reign; and by them stoodOrcus and Ades, and the dreaded nameOf Demogorgon; Rumor next and Chance,And Tumult and Confusion all imbroild,And Discord with a thousand various mouths.

T' whom Satan turning boldly, thus. Ye PowersAnd Spirits of this nethermost Abyss,Chaos and ancient Night, I come no Spy,With purpose to explore or to disturbThe secrets of your Realm, but by constraintWandring this darksome Desart, as my way,Lies through your spacious Empire up to light,Alone, and without guide, half lost, I seekWhat readiest path leads where your gloomie boundsConfine with Heav'n; or if som other placeFrom your Dominion won, th' Ethereal KingPossesses lately, thither to arriveI travel this profound, direct my course;Directed no mean recompence it bringsTo your behoof, if I that Region lost,All usurpation thence expell'd, reduceTo her original darkness and your sway(Which is my present journey) and once moreErect the Standard there of ancient Night;Yours be th' advantage all, mine the revenge.

Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch oldWith faultring speech and visage incompos'dAnswer'd. I know thee, stranger, who thou art,That mighty leading Angel, who of lateMade head against Heav'ns King, though overthrown.I saw and heard, for such a numerous HostFled not in silence through the frighted deepWith ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,Confusion worse confounded; and Heav'n GatesPourd out by millions her victorious BandsPursuing. I upon my Frontieres hereKeep residence; if all I can will serve,That little which is left so to defend,Encroacht on still through our intestine broilesWeakning the Scepter of old Night: first HellYour dungeon stretching far and wide beneath;Now lately Heaven and Earth, another WorldHung ore my Realm, link'd in a golden ChainTo that side Heav'n from whence your Legions fell:If that way be your walk, you have not farr;So much the neerer danger; go and speed;Havock and spoil and ruin are my gain.

He ceas'd; and Satan staid not to reply,But glad that now his Sea should find a shore,With fresh alacritie and force renew'dSprings upward like a Pyramid of fireInto the wilde expanse, and through the shockOf fighting Elements, on all sides roundEnviron'd wins his way; harder besetAnd more endanger'd, then when Argo pass'dThrough Bosporus betwixt the justling Rocks:Or when Ulysses on the Larbord shunndCharybdis, and by th' other whirlpool steard.So he with difficulty and labour hardMov'd on, with difficulty and labour hee;But hee once past, soon after when man fell,Strange alteration! Sin and Death amainFollowing his track, such was the will of Heav'n,Pav'd after him a broad and beat'n wayOver the dark Abyss, whose boiling GulfTamely endur'd a Bridge of wondrous lengthFrom Hell continu'd reaching th' utmost OrbeOf this frail World; by which the Spirits perverseWith easie intercourse pass to and froTo tempt or punish mortals, except whomGod and good Angels guard by special grace.But now at last the sacred influenceOf light appears, and from the walls of Heav'nShoots farr into the bosom of dim NightA glimmering dawn; here Nature first beginsHer fardest verge, and Chaos to retireAs from her outmost works a brok'd foeWith tumult less and with less hostile din,That Satan with less toil, and now with easeWafts on the calmer wave by dubious lightAnd like a weather-beaten Vessel holdsGladly the Port, though Shrouds and Tackle torn;Or in the emptier waste, resembling Air,Weighs his spread wings, at leasure to beholdFarr off th' Empyreal Heav'n, extended wideIn circuit, undetermind square or round,With Opal Towrs and Battlements adorn'dOf living Saphire, once his native Seat;And fast by hanging in a golden ChainThis pendant world, in bigness as a StarrOf smallest Magnitude close by the Moon.Thither full fraught with mischievous revenge,Accurst, and in a cursed hour he hies.

© John Milton