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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 or 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


Revenge pu God.



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 aery 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!



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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 sovranty, 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 case
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.
Dreaded not more the adventure than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rose.
Their rising all at once was as the sound

But they

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 landskip snow or shower,
If chance the radiant sun, with farewell sweet,


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Salam Superior


men who act like



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to be

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,

tet live in hatred, enmity, and strife

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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!

Sports during The Stygian council thus dissolved; and forth

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In order came the grand Infernal Peers:

Midst came their mighty Paramount, and seemed
Alone the antagonist of Heaven, nor less

Than Hell's dread Emperor, with pomp supreme,

And god-like imitated state him round
A globe of fiery Seraphim 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 alchymy,
By harald's voice explained; the hollow Abyss
Heard far and 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 rangèd Powers
Disband; and, wandering, each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice




Lowest sider in

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 the Olympian games or Pythian fields;
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brigads 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 aery knights, and couch their spears,
Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms
From either end of heaven the welkin burns.
Others, with vast Typhoan rage, more fell,


Book II.]



other groups in which they

Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air
In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar :--
As when Alcides, from (Echalia crowned
With conquest, felt the envenomed robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines,
And Lichas from the top of Eta threw

Into the Euboic sea. Others, more mild,
Retreated in a silent valley, sing


getrid ! of anger. singing

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 the obdurèd 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-
Abhorrèd 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.



4 rivers




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