Paradise Lost, by John Milton

Book II

The Argument

The Consultation begun, Satan debates whether another Battel be 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.

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High on a Throne of Royal State, which far
Outshon the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,

HIGH on a Throne of Royal State, which far

Outshon the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,

Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand

Showrs on her Kings Barbaric Pearl & Gold,

Satan exalted sat, by merit rais’d

To that bad eminence; and from despair

Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires

Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue

Vain Warr with Heav’n, and by success untaught

His proud imaginations thus displaid.

Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heav’n,

For since no deep within her gulf can hold

Immortal vigor, though opprest and fall’n,

I give not Heav’n for lost. From this descent

Celestial vertues rising, will appear

More 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’n

Did first create your Leader, next, free choice,

With what besides, in Counsel or in Fight,

Hath bin achievd of merit, yet this loss

Thus farr at least recover’d, hath much more

Establisht in a safe unenvied Throne

Yielded with full consent. The happier state

In Heav’n, which follows dignity, might draw

Envy from each inferior; but who here

Will envy whom the highest place exposes

Formost to stand against the Thunderers aime

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 then can be in Heav’n, we now return

To claim our just inheritance of old,

Surer to prosper then prosperity

Could 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 King

Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest Spirit

That fought in Heav’n; now fiercer by despair:

His trust was with th’ Eternal to be deem’d

Equal in strength, and rather then be less

Car’d not to be at all; with that care lost

Went all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse

He reckd not, and these words thereafter spake.

My sentence is for open Warr: 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 lingring here

Heav’ns fugitives, and for thir dwelling place

Accept this dark opprobrious Den of shame,

The Prison of his Tyranny who Reigns

By our delay? no, let us rather choose

Arm’d with Hell flames and fury all at once

O’re Heav’ns high Towrs to force resistless way,

Turning our Tortures into horrid Arms

Against the Torturer; when to meet the noise

Of his Almighty Engin he shall hear

Infernal Thunder, and for Lightning see

Black fire and horror shot with equal rage

Among his Angels; and his Throne it self

Mixt 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 benumme not still,

That in our proper 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 brok’n Rear

Insulting, and pursu’d us through the Deep,

With what compulsion and laborious flight

We sunk thus low? Th’ ascent is easie then;

Th’ event is fear’d; 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 destroy’d: what can be worse

Then to dwell here, driv’n out from bliss, condemn’d

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 houre

Calls us to Penance? More destroy’d then thus

We should be quite abolisht and expire.

What fear we then? what doubt we to incense

His utmost ire? which to the highth enrag’d,

Will either quite consume us, and reduce

To nothing this essential, happier farr

Then 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 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’d

Desperate revenge, and Battel dangerous

To less then Gods. On th’ other side up rose

Belial, in act more graceful and humane;

A fairer person lost not Heav’n; he seemd

For dignity compos’d and high exploit:

But all was false and hollow; though his Tongue

Dropt 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 pleas’d the eare,

And with perswasive accent thus began.

I should be much for open Warr, O Peers,

As not behind in hate; if what was urg’d

Main reason to perswade immediate Warr,

Did not disswade 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 Towrs of Heav’n are fill’d

With Armed watch, that render all access

Impregnable; oft on the bordering Deep

Encamp thir Legions, or with obscure wing

Scout farr and wide into the Realm of night,

Scorning surprize. Or could we break our way

By force, and at our heels all Hell should rise

With blackest Insurrection, to confound

Heav’ns purest Light, yet our great Enemie

All incorruptible would on his Throne

Sit unpolluted, and th’ Ethereal mould

Incapible of stain would soon expel

Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire

Victorious. Thus repurs’d, 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 loose,

Though full of pain, this intellectual being,

Those thoughts that wander through Eternity,

To perish rather, swallowd 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 thir wish, and end

Them in his anger, whom his anger saves

To 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 strook

With Heav’ns afflicting Thunder, and besought

The Deep to shelter us? this Hell then seem’d

A refuge from those wounds: or when we lay

Chain’d on the burning Lake? that sure was worse.

What if the breath that kindl’d those grim fires

Awak’d should blow them into sevenfold rage

And plunge us in the Flames? or from above

Should intermitted vengeance Arme again

His red right hand to plague us? what if all

Her stores were op’n’d, and this Firmament

Of Hell should spout her Cataracts of Fire,

Impendent horrors, threatning hideous fall

One day upon our heads; while we perhaps

Designing or exhorting glorious Warr,

Caught in a fierie Tempest shall be hurl’d

Each on his rock transfixt, the sport and prey

Of racking whirlwinds, or for ever sunk

Under 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, alike

My voice disswades; for what can force or guile

With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye

Views all things at one view, he from heav’ns highth

All these our motions vain, sees and derides;

Not more Almighty to resist our might

Then wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.

Shall we then live thus vile, the race of Heav’n

Thus trampl’d, thus expell’d to suffer here

Chains and these Torments? better these then worse

By my advice; since fate inevitable

Subdues us, and Omnipotent Decree

The Victors will. To suffer, as to doe,

Our strength is equal, nor the Law unjust

That so ordains: this was at first resolv’d,

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 vent’rous, if that fail them, shrink and fear

What yet they know must follow, to endure

Exile, or ignominy, or bonds, or pain,

The sentence of thir Conquerour: This is now

Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear,

Our Supream Foe in time may much remit

His anger, and perhaps thus farr remov’d

Not mind us not offending, satisfi’d

With what is punish’t; whence these raging fires

Will slack’n, if his breath stir not thir flames.

Our purer essence then will overcome

Thir noxious vapour, or enur’d not feel,

Or chang’d at length, and to the place conformd

In temper and in nature, will receive

Familiar the fierce heat, and void of pain;

This horror will grow milde, 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 appeers

For 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 garb

Counsel’d ignoble ease, and peaceful sloath,

Not peace: and after him thus Mammon spake.

Either to disinthrone the King of Heav’n

We warr, if warr be best, or to regain

Our own right lost: him to unthrone we then

May hope, when everlasting Fate shall yeild

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 Heav’ns bound, unless Heav’ns Lord supream

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 impos’d, to celebrate his Throne

With warbl’d Hymns, and to his Godhead sing

Forc’t Halleluiahs; while he Lordly sits

Our envied Sovran, and his Altar breathes

Ambrosial Odours and Ambrosial Flowers,

Our servile offerings. This must be our task

In Heav’n, this our delight; how wearisom

Eternity so spent in worship paid

To whom we hate. Let us not then pursue

By force impossible, by leave obtain’d

Unacceptable, though in Heav’n, our state

Of splendid vassalage, but rather seek

Our own good from our selves, and from our own

Live to our selves, though in this vast recess,

Free, and to none accountable, preferring

Hard liberty before the easie 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 so e’re

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 Heav’ns all-ruling Sire

Choose to reside, his Glory unobscur’d,

And with the Majesty of darkness round

Covers his Throne; from whence deep thunders roar

Must’ring thir rage, and Heav’n resembles Hell?

As he our Darkness, cannot we his Light

Imitate when we please? This Desart soile

Wants not her hidden lustre, Gemms and Gold;

Nor want we skill or art, from whence to raise

Magnificence; and what can Heav’n shew more?

Our torments also may in length of time

Become our Elements, these piercing Fires

As soft as now severe, our temper chang’d

Into their temper; which must needs remove

The sensible of pain. All things invite

To peaceful Counsels, and the settl’d 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 Warr; ye have what advise.

He scarce had finisht, when such murmur filld

Th’ Assembly, as when hollow Rocks retain

The sound of blustring winds, which all night long

Had rous’d the Sea, now with hoarse cadence lull

Sea-faring men orewatcht, whose Bark by chance

Or Pinnace anchors in a craggy Bay

After the Tempest: Such applause was heard

As Mammon ended, and his Sentence pleas’d,

Advising peace: for such another Field

They dreaded worse then 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 Heav’n.

Which when Beelzebub perceiv’d, then whom,

Satan except, none higher sat, with grave

Aspect he rose, and in his rising seem’d

A Pillar of State; deep on his Front engraven

Deliberation sat and publick care;

And Princely counsel in his face yet shon,

Majestick 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 Summers Noon-tide air, while thus he spake.

Thrones and imperial Powers, off-spring of heav’n,

Ethereal Vertues; or these Titles now

Must we renounce, and changing stile be call’d

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 Heav’n hath doom’d

This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat

Beyond his Potent arm, to live exempt

From Heav’ns high jurisdiction, in new League

Banded against his Throne, but to remaine

In strictest bondage, though thus far remov’d,

Under th’ inevitable curb, reserv’d

His captive multitude: For he, be sure,

In highth or depth, still first and last will Reign

Sole King, and of his Kingdom loose no part

By our revolt, but over Hell extend

His Empire, and with Iron Scepter rule

Us 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 loss

Irreparable; tearms of peace yet none

Voutsaf’t or sought; for what peace will be giv’n

To us enslav’d, but custody severe,

And stripes, and arbitrary punishment

Inflicted? 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 Conquerour least

May reap his conquest, and may least rejoyce

In doing what we most in suffering feel?

Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need

With dangerous expedition to invade

Heav’n, whose high walls fear no assault or Siege,

Or ambush from the Deep. What if we find

Some easier enterprize? There is a place

(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heav’n

Err not) another World, the happy seat

Of som new Race call’d Man, about this time

To be created like to us, though less

In power and excellence, but favour’d more

Of him who rules above; so was his will

Pronounc’d among the Gods, and by an Oath,

That shook Heav’ns whol circumference, confirm’d.

Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn

What 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 secure

In his own strength, this place may lye expos’d

The utmost border of his Kingdom, left

To their defence who hold it: here perhaps

Som advantagious act may be achiev’d

By sudden onset, either Hell fire

To waste his whole Creation, or posses

All as our own, and drive as we were driven,

The punie habitants, or if not drive,

Seduce them to our Party, that thir God

May prove thir 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

Hurl’d headlong to partake with us, shall curse

Thir frail Originals, and and faded bliss,

Faded so soon. Advise if this be worth

Attempting, or to sit in darkness here

Hatching or Empires. Thus Beelzebub

Pleaded his devilish Counsel, first devis’d

By Satan, and in part propos’d: 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 Creatour? But thir spite still serves

His glory to augment. The bold design

Pleas’d highly those infernal States, and joy

Sparkl’d in all thir eyes; with full assent

They 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 deep

Will once more lift us up, in spight of Fate,

Neerer our ancient Seat; perhaps in view

Of those bright confines, whence with neighbouring Arms

And opportune excursion we may chance

Re-enter Heav’n; or else in some milde Zone

Dwell not unvisited of Heav’ns fair Light

Secure, and at the brightning Orient beam

Purge off this gloom; the soft delicious Air,

To heal the scarr of these corrosive Fires

Shall breath her balme. But first whom shall we send

In search of this new world, whom shall we find

Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandring feet

The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss

And through the palpable obscure find out

His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight

Upborn with indefatigable wings

Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive

The happy Ile; 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 wee 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 suspence, awaiting who appeer’d

To second, or oppose, or undertake

The perilous attempt; but all sat mute,

Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each

In others count’nance red his own dismay

Astonisht: none among the choice and prime

Of those Heav’n-warring Champions could be found

So hardie as to proffer or accept

Alone the dreadful voyage; till at last

Satan, whom now transcendent glory rais’d

Above his fellows, with Monarchal pride

Conscious of highest worth, unmov’d thus spake.

O Progeny of Heav’n, Empyreal Thrones,

With reason hath deep silence and demur

Seis’d us, though undismaid: 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

Barr’d over us prohibit all egress.

These past, if any pass, the void profound

Of unessential Night receives him next

Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being

Threatens him, plung’d in that abortive gulf.

If thence he scape into what ever world,

Or unknown Region, what remains him less

Then unknown dangers and as hard escape.

But I should ill become this Throne, O Peers,

And this Imperial Sov’ranty, adorn’d

With splendor, arm’d with power, if aught propos’d

And judg’d of public moment, in the shape

Of difficulty or danger could deterre

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 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 ease

The present misery, and render Hell

More tollerable; 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 enterprize

None shall partake with me. Thus saying rose

The Monarch, and prevented all reply,

Prudent, least from his resolution rais’d

Others among the chief might offer now

(Certain to be refus’d) what erst they feard;

And so refus’d 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 then his voice

Forbidding; and at once with him they rose;

Thir rising all at once was as the sound

Of Thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend

With awful reverence prone; and as a God

Extoll 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’d

His own: for neither do the Spirits damn’d

Loose all thir vertue; least bad men should boast

Thir specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,

Or close ambition varnisht o’re with zeal.

Thus they thir doubtful consultations dark

Ended rejoycing in thir matchless Chief:

As when from mountain tops the dusky clouds

Ascending, while the North wind sleeps, o’respread

Heavn’s chearful face, the lowring Element

Scowls ore the dark’nd lantskip Snow, or showre;

If chance the radiant Sun with farewell sweet

Extend his ev’ning beam, the fields revive,

The birds thir notes renew, and bleating herds

Attest thir joy, that hill and valley rings.

O shame to men! Devil with Devil damn’d

Firm concord holds, men onely disagree

Of Creatures rational, though under hope

Of heavenly Grace; and God proclaiming peace,

Yet live in hatred, enmitie, and strife

Among 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 Councel thus dissolv’d; and forth

In order came the grand infernal Peers,

Midst came thir mighty Paramount, and seemd

Alone th’ Antagonist of Heav’n, nor less

Then Hells dread Emperour with pomp Supream,

And God-like imitated State; him round

A Globe of fierie Seraphim inclos’d

With bright imblazonrie, and horrent Arms.

Then of thir Session ended they bid cry

With Trumpets regal sound the great result:

Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim

Put to thir mouths the sounding Alchymie

By Haralds voice explain’d: the hollow Abyss

Heard farr and wide, and all the host of Hell

With deafning shout, return’d them loud acclaim.

Thence more at ease thir minds and somwhat rais’d

By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers

Disband, and wandring, each his several way

Pursues, as inclination or sad choice

Leads him perplext, 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 thir fierie Steeds, or shun the Goal

With rapid wheels, or fronted Brigads form.

As when to warn proud Cities warr appears

Wag’d in the troubl’d Skie, and Armies rush

To Battel in the Clouds, before each Van

Pric forth the Aerie Knights, and couch thir spears

Till thickest Legions close; with feats of Arms

From either end of Heav’n 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 wilde uproar.

As when Alcides from Oealia Crown’d

With conquest, felt th’ envenom’d 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 milde,

Retreated in a silent valley, sing

With notes Angelical to many a Harp

Thir own Heroic deeds and hapless fall

By doom of Battel; and complain that Fate

Free 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 ravishment

The 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 high

Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate,

Fixt Fate, free will, foreknowledge 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 charm

Pain for a while or anguish, and excite

Fallacious hope, or arm th’ obdured brest

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 yeild them easier habitation, bend

Four ways thir flying March, along the Banks

Of four infernal Rivers that disgorge

Into 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 loud

Heard on the ruful stream; fierce Phlegeton

Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.

Farr off from these a slow and silent stream,

Lethe the River of Oblivion roules

Her 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 Continent

Lies dark and wilde, 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 hail’d,

At certain revolutions all the damn’d

Are brought: and feel by turns the bitter change

Of fierce extreams, extreams by change more fierce,

From Beds of raging Fire to starve in Ice

Thir soft Ethereal warmth, and there to pine

Immovable, infixt, and frozen round,

Periods of time, thence hurried back to fire.

They ferry over this Lethean Sound

Both to and fro, thir sorrow to augment,

And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach

The tempting stream, with one small drop to loose

In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,

All in one moment, and so neer the brink;

But fate withstands, and to oppose th’ attempt

Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards

The Ford, and of it self the water flies

All taste of living wight, as once it fled

The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on

In confus’d march forlorn, th’ adventrous Bands

With shuddring horror pale, and eyes agast

View’d first thir lamentable lot, and found

No rest: through many a dark and drearie Vaile

They 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 curse

Created evil, for evil only good,

Where all life dies, death lives, and nature breeds,

Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,

Abominable, inutterable, and worse

Then Fables yet have feign’d, or fear conceiv’d,

Gorgons and Hydra’s, and Chimera’s dire.

plate07
Gorgons and Hydra’s, and Chimera’s dire.

plate08
Before the Gates there sat
On either side a formidable shape;

Mean while the Adversary of God and Man,

Satan with thoughts inflam’d of highest design,

Puts on swift wings, and toward the Gates of Hell

Explores his solitary flight; som times

He scours the right hand coast, som times the left,

Now shaves with level wing the Deep, then soares

Up to the fiery concave touring high.

As when farr off at Sea a Fleet descri’d

Hangs in the Clouds, by AEquinoctial Winds

Close sailing from Bengala, or the Iles

Of Ternate and Tidore, whence Merchants bring

Thir spicie Drugs: they on the trading Flood

Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape

Ply stemming nightly toward the Pole. So seem’d

Farr off the flying Fiend: at last appeer

Hell bounds high reaching to the horrid Roof,

And thrice threefold the Gates; three folds were Brass,

Three Iron, three of Adamantine Rock,

Impenitrable, impal’d with circling fire,

Yet unconsum’d. Before the Gates there sat

On either side a formidable shape;

The one seem’d Woman to the waste, and fair,

But ended foul in many a scaly fould

Voluminous and vast, a Serpent arm’d

With mortal sting: about her middle round

A cry of Hell Hounds never ceasing bark’d

With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung

A 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 then these

Vex’d Scylla bathing in the Sea that

Calabria from the hoarce Trinacrian shore:

Nor uglier follow the Night-Hag, when call’d

In secret, riding through the Air she comes

Lur’d with the smell of infant blood, to dance

With Lapland Witches, while the labouring Moon

Eclipses at thir charms. The other shape,

If shape it might be call’d that shape had none

Distinguishable 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 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 admir’d,

Admir’d, not fear’d; God and his Son except,

Created thing naught vallu’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, advance

Thy miscreated Front athwart my way

To yonder Gates? through them I mean to pass,

That be assured, without leave askt of thee:

Retire, or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,

Hell-born, not to contend with 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 then

Unbrok’n, and in proud rebellious Arms

Drew after him the third part of Heav’ns Sons

Conjur’d against the highest, for which both Thou

And they outcast from God, are here condemn’d

To waste Eternal daies in woe and pain?

And reck’n’st thou thy self with Spirits of Heav’n,

Hell-doomd, 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,

Least with a whip of Scorpions I pursue

Thy lingring, or with one stroke of this Dart

Strange horror seise thee, and pangs unfelt before.

So spake the grieslie terrour, and in shape,

So speaking and so threatning, grew ten fold

More dreadful and deform: on th’ other side

Incenc’t with indignation Satan stood

Unterrifi’d, and like a Comet burn’d,

That fires the length of Ophiucus huge

In th’ Artick Sky, and from his horrid hair

Shakes Pestilence and Warr. Each at the Head

Level’d his deadly aime; thir fatall hands

No second stroke intend, and such a frown

Each cast at th’ other, as when two black Clouds

With Heav’ns Artillery fraught, come rattling on

Over the Caspian, then stand front to front

Hov’ring a space, till Winds the signal blow

To joyn thir dark Encounter in mid air:

So frownd the mighty Combatants, that Hell

Grew darker at thir frown, so matcht they stood;

For never but once more was either like

To meet so great a foe: and now great deeds

Had been achiev’d, whereof all Hell had rung,

Had not the Snakie Sorceress that sat

Fast 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 Dart

Against thy Fathers head? and know’st for whom;

For him who sits above and laughs the while

At thee ordain’d his drudge, to execute

What 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 Pest

Forbore, then these to her Satan return’d:

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 know of thee,

What thing thou art, thus double-form’d, and why

In this infernal Vaile first met thou call’st

Me Father, and that Fantasm call’st my Son?

I know thee not, nor ever saw till now

Sight more detestable then him and thee.

T’whom thus the Portress of Hell Gate reply’d;

Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem

Now in thine eye so foul, once deemd so fair

In Heav’n, when at th’ Assembly, and in sight

Of all the Seraphim with thee combin’d

In bold conspiracy against Heav’ns King,

All on a sudden miserable pain

Surpris’d thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzie swum

In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast

Threw 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’d

Out of thy head I sprung; amazement seis’d

All th’ Host of Heav’n; back they recoild affraid

At first, and call’d me Sin, and for a Sign

Portentous held me; but familiar grown,

I pleas’d, and with attractive graces won

The most averse, thee chiefly, who full oft

Thy self in me thy perfect image viewing

Becam’st enamour’d, and such joy thou took’st

With me in secret, that my womb conceiv’d

A growing burden. Mean while Warr arose,

And fields were fought in Heav’n; wherein remaind

(For what could else) to our Almighty Foe

Cleer Victory, to our part loss and rout

Through all the Empyrean: down they fell

Driv’n 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 hand was giv’n, with charge to keep

These Gates for ever shut, which none can pass

Without my op’ning. 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

Transform’d: but he my inbred enemie

Forth issu’d, brandishing his fatal Dart

Made to destroy: I fled, and cry’d out Death;

Hell trembl’d at the hideous Name, and sigh’d

From 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,

Me overtook his mother all dismaid,

And in embraces forcible and foule

Ingendring with me, of that rape begot

These yelling Monsters that with ceasless cry

Surround me, as thou sawst, hourly conceiv’d

And hourly born, with sorrow infinite

To me, for when they list into the womb

That bred them they return, and howle and gnaw

My Bowels, their repast; then bursting forth

Afresh with conscious terrours vex me round,

That rest or intermission none I find.

Before mine eyes in opposition sits

Grim Death my Son and foe, who sets them on,

And me his Parent would full soon devour

For want of other prey, but that he knows

His end with mine involvd; and knows that

Should prove a bitter Morsel, and his bane,

When ever that shall be; so Fate pronounc’d.

But thou O Father, I forewarn thee, shun

His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope

To 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 lore

Soon 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 pledge

Of dalliance had with thee in Heav’n, and joys

Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change

Befalln us unforeseen, unthought of, know

I come no enemie, but to set free

From out this dark and dismal house of pain,

Both him and thee, and all the heav’nly Host

Of Spirits that in our just pretenses arm’d

Fell with us from on high: from them I go

This uncouth errand sole, and one for all

My self expose, with lonely steps to tread

Th’ unfounded deep, & through the void immense

To search with wandring quest a place foretold

Should be, and, by concurring signs, ere now

Created vast and round, a place of bliss

In the Pourlieues of Heav’n, and therein plac’t

A race of upstart Creatures, to supply

Perhaps our vacant room, though more remov’d,

Least Heav’n surcharg’d with potent multitude

Might hap to move new broiles: Be this or aught

Then this more secret now design’d, 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, imbalm’d

With odours; there ye shall be fed and fill’d

Immeasurably, all things shall be your prey.

He ceas’d, for both seemd highly pleasd, and Death

Grinnd horrible a gastly smile, to hear

His famine should be fill’d, and blest his mawe

Destin’d to that good hour: no less rejoyc’d

His mother bad, and thus bespake her Sire.

The key of this infernal Pit by due,

And by command of Heav’ns 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’rematcht by living might.

But what ow 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 confin’d,

Inhabitant of Heav’n, and heav’nlie-born,

Here in perpetual agonie and pain,

With terrors and with clamors compasst 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 rouling her bestial train,

Forthwith the huge Portcullis high up drew,

Which but her self not all the Stygian powers

Could once have mov’d; then in the key-hole turns

Th’ intricate wards, and every Bolt and Bar

Of massie Iron or sollid Rock with ease

Unfast’ns: on a sudden op’n flie

With impetuous recoile and jarring sound

Th’ infernal dores, and on thir hinges grate

Harsh Thunder, that the lowest bottom shook

Of Erebus. She op’nd, but to shut

Excel’d her power; the Gates wide op’n stood,

That with extended wings a Bannerd Host

Under spread Ensigns marching might pass through

With Horse and Chariots rankt in loose array;

So wide they stood, and like a Furnace mouth

Cast forth redounding smoak and ruddy flame.

Before thir eyes in sudden view appear

The secrets of the hoarie deep, a dark

Illimitable Ocean without bound,

Without dimension, where length, breadth, and highth,

And time and place are lost; where eldest Night

And Chaos, Ancestors of Nature, hold

Eternal Anarchie, amidst the noise

Of endless warrs, and by confusion stand.

For hot, cold, moist, and dry, four Champions fierce

Strive here for Maistrie, and to Battel bring

Thir embryon Atoms; they around the flag

Of each his faction, in thir several Clanns,

Light-arm’d or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift or slow,

Swarm populous, unnumber’d as the Sands

Of Barca or Cyrene’s torrid soil,

Levied to side with warring Winds, and poise

Thir lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,

Hee rules a moment; Chaos Umpire sits,

And by decision more imbroiles the fray

By which he Reigns: next him high Arbiter

Chance 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 mixt

Confus’dly, and which thus must ever fight,

Unless th’ Almighty Maker them ordain

His dark materials to create more Worlds,

Into this wild Abyss the warie fiend

Stood on the brink of Hell and look’d a while,

Pondering his Voyage: for no narrow frith

He had to cross. Nor was his eare less peal’d

With noises loud and ruinous (to compare

Great things with small) then when Bellona storms,

With all her battering Engines bent to rase

Som Capital City, or less then if this frame

Of Heav’n were falling, and these Elements

In mutinie had from her Axle torn

The stedfast Earth. At last his Sail-broad Vannes

He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoak

Uplifted spurns the ground, thence many a League

As in a cloudy Chair ascending rides

Audacious, but that seat soon failing, meets

A vast vacuitie: all unawares

Fluttring his pennons vain plumb down he drops

Ten thousand fadom deep, and to this hour

Down had been falling, had not by ill chance

The strong rebuff of som tumultuous cloud

Instinct with Fire and Nitre hurried him

As 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 on consistence, half on foot,

Half both behoves him now both Oare and Saile.

As when a Gryfon through the Wilderness

With winged course ore Hill or moarie Dale,

Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stelth

Had from his wakeful custody purloind

The guarded Gold: So eagerly the fiend

Ore 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 wilde

Of stunning sounds and voices all confus’d

Born through the hollow dark assaults his eare

With loudest vehemence: thither he plyes,

Undaunted to meet there what ever power

Or Spirit of the nethermost Abyss

Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask

Which way the neerest coast of darkness lyes

Bordering on light; when strait 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

Of Demogorgon; Rumor next and Chance,

And Tumult and Confusion all imbroild,

And Discord with a thousand various mouths.

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With head, hands, wings, or feet pursues his way,
And swims or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flyes

T’ whom Satan turning boldly, thus. Ye Powers

And Spirits of this nethermost Abyss,

Chaos and ancient Night, I come no Spie,

With purpose to explore or to disturb

The secrets of Realm, but by constraint

Wandring this darksome desart, 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 gloomie bounds

Confine with Heav’n; or if som 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 Standerd there of ancient Night;

Yours be th’ advantage all, mine the revenge.

Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old

With faultring speech and visage incompos’d

Answer’d. I know thee, stranger, who thou art,

That mighty leading Angel, who of late

Made head against Heav’ns 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 Heav’n Gates

Pourd out by millions her victorious Bands

Pursuing. I upon my Frontieres here

Keep residence; if all I can will serve,

That little which is left so to defend

Encroacht on still through our intestine broiles

Weakning the Scepter of old Night: first Hell

Your wide stretching far and wide beneath;

Now another World and Earth, another World

Hung ore my Realm, link’d in a golden Chain

To that side Heav’n from whence your Legions fell:

If that way be your walk, you have not farr;

So much the neerer danger; goe 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’d

Springs upward like a Pyramid of fire

Into the wilde Expanse, and through the shock

Of fighting Elements, on all sides round

Environ’d wins his way; harder beset

And more endanger’d, then when Argo pass’d

Through Bosporus betwixt the justling Rocks:

Or when Ulysses on the Larbord shunnd

Charybdis, and by th’ other whirlpool steard.

So he with difficulty and labour hard

Mov’d on, with difficulty and labour hee;

But hee once past, soon after when man fell,

Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain

Following his track, such was the will of Heav’n,

Pav’d after him a broad and beat’n way

Over the dark Abyss, whose boiling Gulf

Tamely endur’d Bridge of wondrous length

From Hell continu’d reaching th’ utmost Orbe

Of this frail World; by which the Spirits perverse

With easie 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 Heav’n

Shoots farr into the bosom of dim Night

A glimmering dawn; here Nature first begins

Her fardest verge, and Chaos to retire

As from her outmost works a brok’n 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 leasure to behold

Farr off th’ Empyreal extended wide

In circuit, undetermind square or round,

With Opal Towrs and Battlements adorn’d

Of living Saphire, once his native Seat;

And fast by hanging in a golden Chain

This pendant world, in bigness as a Starr

Of smallest Magnitude close by the Moon.

Thither full fraught with mischievous revenge,

Accurst, and in a cursed hour he hies.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:09