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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 enthron'd Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,

The consort of his reign; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name

960

Of Demogorgon; Rumor next, and Chance,
And Tumult, and Confusion, all imbroil'd,
And Discord with a thousand various mouths.
T'whom Satan turning boldly, thus.-Ye Powers,
And Spirits of this nethermost abyss,
Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy,
With purpose to explore or to disturb
The secrets of your realm; but by constraint
Wand'ring 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 recompence it brings
To your behoof, if I that region lost,
All usurpation. thence expell'd, reduce
To her original darkness and your sway,
Which is my present journey, and once more
Erect the standard there of ancient Night;

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Yours be th' advantage all, mine the revenge.
Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old,
With fault'ring speech and visage incompos'd,
Answer'd. I know thee, stranger, who thou art, 990
That mighty leading angel, who of late [thrown.
Made head against heaven's King, though over-
I saw and heard; for such a numerous host
Fled not in silence through the frighted deep,
With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
Confusion worse confounded; and heaven-gates
Pour'd out by 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,
Encroach'd on still thro' your intestine broils
Weak'ning the sceptre of old Night: first hell,
Your dungeon, stretching far and wide beneath;
Now lately heaven and earth, another world,
Hung o'er my realm, link'd in a golden chain 1005
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;
Havock, and spoil, and ruin are my gain.

He ceas'd; and Satan stay'd not to reply,
But glad that now his sea should find a shore,
With fresh alacrity and force renew'd
Springs upward, like a pyramid of fire,

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1018 a pyramid of fire] Drayton in his David and Goliah 1630.

'He look't like to a piramid on fire.' Todd.

Into the wild expanse, and through the shock
Of fighting elements, on all sides round
Environ'd, wins his way; harder beset
And more endanger'd, than when Argo pass'd
Through Bosporus betwixt the justling rocks:
Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunn'd
Charybdis, and by th' other whirlpool steer❜d. 102
So he with difficulty and labour hard
Mov'd on, with difficulty and labour he;
But he once past, soon after when man fell,
Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain
Following his track, such was the will of Heaven,
Pav'd after him a broad and beaten way
Over the dark abyss, whose boiling gulf
Tamely endur'd a bridge of wond'rous length,
From hell continu'd, 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

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Of light appears, and from the walls of heaven 1035
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

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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, undetermin'd square or round,
With opal towers and battlements adorn'd
Of living sapphire, once his native seat;
And fast by, hanging in a golden chain
This pendant world, in bigness as a star
Of smallest magnitude close by the moon.
Thither full fraught with mischievous revenge,
Accurs'd, and in a cursed hour, he hies.

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1052 This pendant world] Verbatim from Shakespeare's Meas. for Meas. act iii. scene i.

1054 mischievous]

'Thither full fraught, with hope of wished success.'

Bentl. MS.

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PARADISE LOST.

BOOK III.

THE ARGUMENT.

GOD sitting on his throne sees Satan flying towards this world, then newly created; shows him to the Son, who sat at his right hand; foretells the success of Satan in perverting mankind; clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created Man free, and able enough to have withstood his tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him seduced. The Son of God renders praises to his Father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards Man: but God again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards Man without the satisfaction of divine justice; Man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead, and therefore with all his progeny devoted to death must die, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for Man; the Father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all names in heaven and earth; commands all the Angels to adore him; they obey, and, hymning to their harps in full choir, celebrate the Father and the Son. Mean while Satan alights upon the bare convex of this world's outermost orb; where wandering he first finds a place, since called the Limbo of Vanity; what persons and things fly up thither; thence comes to the gate of heaven, described ascending by stairs, and the waters above the firmament that flow about it: his passage thence to the orb of the sun; he finds there Uriel the regent of that orb; but first changes himself into the shape of a meaner angel; and pretending a zealous desire to behold the new creation, and Man whom God had placed here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed; alights first on mount Niphates.

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