Paradise Lost by John Milton
Introduction (one page)
To give you an estimation of the difference in the original and what we have today: the original was probably entered on cards commonly known at the time as "IBM cards" (Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate) and probably took in excess of 100,000 of them. A single card could hold 80 characters (hence 80 characters is an accepted standard for so many computer margins), and the entire original edition we received in all caps was over 800,000 chars in length, including line enumeration, symbols for caps and the punctuation marks, etc., since they were not available keyboard characters at the time (probably the keyboards operated at baud rates of around 113, meaning the typists had to type slowly for the keyboard to keep up).
Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste Brought death into the World, and all our woe, With loss of Eden, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful seat, Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed In the beginning how the heavens and earth Rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed Fast by the oracle of God, I thence Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above th' Aonian mount, while it pursues Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme. And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer Before all temples th' upright heart and pure, Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from the first Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread, Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast Abyss, And mad'st it pregnant: what in me is dark Illumine, what is low raise and support; That, to the height of this great argument, I may assert Eternal Providence, And justify the ways of God to men. Say first—for Heaven hides nothing from thy view, Nor the deep tract of Hell—say first what cause Moved our grand parents, in that happy state, Favoured of Heaven so highly, to fall off From their Creator, and transgress his will For one restraint, lords of the World besides. Who first seduced them to that foul revolt? Th' infernal Serpent; he it was whose guile, Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived The mother of mankind, what time his pride Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host Of rebel Angels, by whose aid, aspiring To set himself in glory above his peers, He trusted to have equalled the Most High, If he opposed, and with ambitious aim Against the throne and monarchy of God, Raised impious war in Heaven and battle proud, With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power Hurled headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky, With hideous ruin and combustion, down To bottomless perdition, there to dwell In adamantine chains and penal fire, Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms. Nine times the space that measures day and night To mortal men, he, with his horrid crew, Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf, Confounded, though immortal. But his doom Reserved him to more wrath; for now the thought Both of lost happiness and lasting pain Torments him: round he throws his baleful eyes, That witnessed huge affliction and dismay, Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate. At once, as far as Angels ken, he views The dismal situation waste and wild. A dungeon horrible, on all sides round, As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames No light; but rather darkness visible Served only to discover sights of woe, Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace And rest can never dwell, hope never comes That comes to all, but torture without end Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed. Such place Eternal Justice has prepared For those rebellious; here their prison ordained In utter darkness, and their portion set, As far removed from God and light of Heaven As from the centre thrice to th' utmost pole. Oh how unlike the place from whence they fell! There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelmed With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire, He soon discerns; and, weltering by his side, One next himself in power, and next in crime, Long after known in Palestine, and named Beelzebub. To whom th' Arch-Enemy, And thence in Heaven called Satan, with bold words Breaking the horrid silence, thus began:— "If thou beest he—but O how fallen! how changed From him who, in the happy realms of light Clothed with transcendent brightness, didst outshine Myriads, though bright!—if he whom mutual league, United thoughts and counsels, equal hope And hazard in the glorious enterprise Joined with me once, now misery hath joined In equal ruin; into what pit thou seest From what height fallen: so much the stronger proved He with his thunder; and till then who knew The force of those dire arms? Yet not for those, Nor what the potent Victor in his rage Can else inflict, do I repent, or change, Though changed in outward lustre, that fixed mind, And high disdain from sense of injured merit, That with the Mightiest raised me to contend, And to the fierce contentions brought along Innumerable force of Spirits armed, That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring, His utmost power with adverse power opposed In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven, And shook his throne. What though the field be lost? All is not lost—the unconquerable will, And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield: And what is else not to be overcome? That glory never shall his wrath or might Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace With suppliant knee, and deify his power Who, from the terror of this arm, so late Doubted his empire—that were low indeed; That were an ignominy and shame beneath This downfall; since, by fate, the strength of Gods, And this empyreal sybstance, cannot fail; Since, through experience of this great event, In arms not worse, in foresight much advanced, We may with more successful hope resolve To wage by force or guile eternal war, Irreconcilable to our grand Foe, Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joy Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heaven." So spake th' apostate Angel, though in pain, Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair; And him thus answered soon his bold compeer:— "O Prince, O Chief of many throned Powers That led th' embattled Seraphim to war Under thy conduct, and, in dreadful deeds Fearless, endangered Heaven's perpetual King, And put to proof his high supremacy, Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate, Too well I see and rue the dire event That, with sad overthrow and foul defeat, Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty host In horrible destruction laid thus low, As far as Gods and heavenly Essences Can perish: for the mind and spirit remains Invincible, and vigour soon returns, Though all our glory extinct, and happy state Here swallowed up in endless misery. But what if he our Conqueror (whom I now Of force believe almighty, since no less Than such could have o'erpowered such force as ours) Have left us this our spirit and strength entire, Strongly to suffer and support our pains, That we may so suffice his vengeful ire, Or do him mightier service as his thralls By right of war, whate'er his business be, Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire, Or do his errands in the gloomy Deep? What can it the avail though yet we feel Strength undiminished, or eternal being To undergo eternal punishment?" Whereto with speedy words th' Arch-Fiend replied:— "Fallen Cherub, to be weak is miserable, Doing or suffering: but of this be sure— To do aught good never will be our task, But ever to do ill our sole delight, As being the contrary to his high will Whom we resist. If then his providence Out of our evil seek to bring forth good, Our labour must be to pervert that end, And out of good still to find means of evil; Which ofttimes may succeed so as perhaps Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb His inmost counsels from their destined aim. But see! the angry Victor hath recalled His ministers of vengeance and pursuit Back to the gates of Heaven: the sulphurous hail, Shot after us in storm, o'erblown hath laid The fiery surge that from the precipice Of Heaven received us falling; and the thunder, Winged with red lightning and impetuous rage, Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now To bellow through the vast and boundless Deep. Let us not slip th' occasion, whether scorn Or satiate fury yield it from our Foe. Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild, The seat of desolation, void of light, Save what the glimmering of these livid flames Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend From off the tossing of these fiery waves; There rest, if any rest can harbour there; And, re-assembling our afflicted powers, Consult how we may henceforth most offend Our enemy, our own loss how repair, How overcome this dire calamity, What reinforcement we may gain from hope, If not, what resolution from despair." Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate, With head uplift above the wave, and eyes That sparkling blazed; his other parts besides Prone on the flood, extended long and large, Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge As whom the fables name of monstrous size, Titanian or Earth-born, that warred on Jove, Briareos or Typhon, whom the den By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast Leviathan, which God of all his works Created hugest that swim th' ocean-stream. Him, haply slumbering on the Norway foam, The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff, Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell, With fixed anchor in his scaly rind, Moors by his side under the lee, while night Invests the sea, and wished morn delays. So stretched out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay, Chained on the burning lake; nor ever thence Had risen, or heaved his head, but that the will And high permission of all-ruling Heaven Left him at large to his own dark designs, That with reiterated crimes he might Heap on himself damnation, while he sought Evil to others, and enraged might see How all his malice served but to bring forth Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shewn On Man by him seduced, but on himself Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance poured. Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool His mighty stature; on each hand the flames Driven backward slope their pointing spires, and rolled In billows, leave i' th' midst a horrid vale. Then with expanded wings he steers his flight Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air, That felt unusual weight; till on dry land He lights—if it were land that ever burned With solid, as the lake with liquid fire, And such appeared in hue as when the force Of subterranean wind transports a hill Torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side Of thundering Etna, whose combustible And fuelled entrails, thence conceiving fire, Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds, And leave a singed bottom all involved With stench and smoke. Such resting found the sole Of unblest feet. Him followed his next mate; Both glorying to have scaped the Stygian flood As gods, and by their own recovered strength, Not by the sufferance of supernal Power. "Is this the region, this the soil, the clime," Said then the lost Archangel, "this the seat That we must change for Heaven?—this mournful gloom For that celestial light? Be it so, since he Who now is sovereign can dispose and bid What shall be right: farthest from him is best Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields, Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail, Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell, Receive thy new possessor—one who brings A mind not to be changed by place or time. The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. What matter where, if I be still the same, And what I should be, all but less than he Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure; and, in my choice, To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. But wherefore let we then our faithful friends, Th' associates and co-partners of our loss, Lie thus astonished on th' oblivious pool, And call them not to share with us their part In this unhappy mansion, or once more With rallied arms to try what may be yet Regained in Heaven, or what more lost in Hell?" So Satan spake; and him Beelzebub Thus answered:—"Leader of those armies bright Which, but th' Omnipotent, none could have foiled! If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge Of hope in fears and dangers—heard so oft In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge Of battle, when it raged, in all assaults Their surest signal—they will soon resume New courage and revive, though now they lie Grovelling and prostrate on yon lake of fire, As we erewhile, astounded and amazed; No wonder, fallen such a pernicious height!" He scare had ceased when the superior Fiend Was moving toward the shore; his ponderous shield, Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round, Behind him cast. The broad circumference Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views At evening, from the top of Fesole, Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands, Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe. His spear—to equal which the tallest pine Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast Of some great ammiral, were but a wand— He walked with, to support uneasy steps Over the burning marl, not like those steps On Heaven's azure; and the torrid clime Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire. Nathless he so endured, till on the beach Of that inflamed sea he stood, and called His legions—Angel Forms, who lay entranced Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks In Vallombrosa, where th' Etrurian shades High over-arched embower; or scattered sedge Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion armed Hath vexed the Red-Sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew Busiris and his Memphian chivalry, While with perfidious hatred they pursued The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld From the safe shore their floating carcases And broken chariot-wheels. So thick bestrown, Abject and lost, lay these, covering the flood, Under amazement of their hideous change. He called so loud that all the hollow deep Of Hell resounded:—"Princes, Potentates, Warriors, the Flower of Heaven—once yours; now lost, If such astonishment as this can seize Eternal Spirits! Or have ye chosen this place After the toil of battle to repose Your wearied virtue, for the ease you find To slumber here, as in the vales of Heaven? Or in this abject posture have ye sworn To adore the Conqueror, who now beholds Cherub and Seraph rolling in the flood With scattered arms and ensigns, till anon His swift pursuers from Heaven-gates discern Th' advantage, and, descending, tread us down Thus drooping, or with linked thunderbolts Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf? Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen!" They heard, and were abashed, and up they sprung Upon the wing, as when men wont to watch On duty, sleeping found by whom they dread, Rouse and bestir themselves ere well awake. Nor did they not perceive the evil plight In which they were, or the fierce pains not feel; Yet to their General's voice they soon obeyed Innumerable. As when the potent rod Of Amram's son, in Egypt's evil day, Waved round the coast, up-called a pitchy cloud Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind, That o'er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung Like Night, and darkened all the land of Nile; So numberless were those bad Angels seen Hovering on wing under the cope of Hell, 'Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires; Till, as a signal given, th' uplifted spear Of their great Sultan waving to direct Their course, in even balance down they light On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain: A multitude like which the populous North Poured never from her frozen loins to pass Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons Came like a deluge on the South, and spread Beneath Gibraltar to the Libyan sands. Forthwith, form every squadron and each band, The heads and leaders thither haste where stood Their great Commander—godlike Shapes, and Forms Excelling human; princely Dignities; And Powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones, Though on their names in Heavenly records now Be no memorial, blotted out and rased By their rebellion from the Books of Life. Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve Got them new names, till, wandering o'er the earth, Through God's high sufferance for the trial of man, By falsities and lies the greatest part Of mankind they corrupted to forsake God their Creator, and th' invisible Glory of him that made them to transform Oft to the image of a brute, adorned With gay religions full of pomp and gold, And devils to adore for deities: Then were they known to men by various names, And various idols through the heathen world. Say, Muse, their names then known, who first, who last, Roused from the slumber on that fiery couch, At their great Emperor's call, as next in worth Came singly where he stood on the bare strand, While the promiscuous crowd stood yet aloof? The chief were those who, from the pit of Hell Roaming to seek their prey on Earth, durst fix Their seats, long after, next the seat of God, Their altars by his altar, gods adored Among the nations round, and durst abide Jehovah thundering out of Sion, throned Between the Cherubim; yea, often placed Within his sanctuary itself their shrines, Abominations; and with cursed things His holy rites and solemn feasts profaned, And with their darkness durst affront his light. First, Moloch, horrid king, besmeared with blood Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears; Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud, Their children's cries unheard that passed through fire To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite Worshiped in Rabba and her watery plain, In Argob and in Basan, to the stream Of utmost Arnon. Nor content with such Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart Of Solomon he led by fraud to build His temple right against the temple of God On that opprobrious hill, and made his grove The pleasant valley of Hinnom, Tophet thence And black Gehenna called, the type of Hell. Next Chemos, th' obscene dread of Moab's sons, From Aroar to Nebo and the wild Of southmost Abarim; in Hesebon And Horonaim, Seon's real, beyond The flowery dale of Sibma clad with vines, And Eleale to th' Asphaltic Pool: Peor his other name, when he enticed Israel in Sittim, on their march from Nile, To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe. Yet thence his lustful orgies he enlarged Even to that hill of scandal, by the grove Of Moloch homicide, lust hard by hate, Till good Josiah drove them thence to Hell. With these came they who, from the bordering flood Of old Euphrates to the brook that parts Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names Of Baalim and Ashtaroth—those male, These feminine. For Spirits, when they please, Can either sex assume, or both; so soft And uncompounded is their essence pure, Not tried or manacled with joint or limb, Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones, Like cumbrous flesh; but, in what shape they choose, Dilated or condensed, bright or obscure, Can execute their airy purposes, And works of love or enmity fulfil. For those the race of Israel oft forsook Their Living Strength, and unfrequented left His righteous altar, bowing lowly down To bestial gods; for which their heads as low Bowed down in battle, sunk before the spear Of despicable foes. With these in troop Came Astoreth, whom the Phoenicians called Astarte, queen of heaven, with crescent horns; To whose bright image nightly by the moon Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs; In Sion also not unsung, where stood Her temple on th' offensive mountain, built By that uxorious king whose heart, though large, Beguiled by fair idolatresses, fell To idols foul. Thammuz came next behind, Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured The Syrian damsels to lament his fate In amorous ditties all a summer's day, While smooth Adonis from his native rock Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood Of Thammuz yearly wounded: the love-tale Infected Sion's daughters with like heat, Whose wanton passions in the sacred porch Ezekiel saw, when, by the vision led, His eye surveyed the dark idolatries Of alienated Judah. Next came one Who mourned in earnest, when the captive ark Maimed his brute image, head and hands lopt off, In his own temple, on the grunsel-edge, Where he fell flat and shamed his worshippers: Dagon his name, sea-monster, upward man And downward fish; yet had his temple high Reared in Azotus, dreaded through the coast Of Palestine, in Gath and Ascalon, And Accaron and Gaza's frontier bounds. Him followed Rimmon, whose delightful seat Was fair Damascus, on the fertile banks Of Abbana and Pharphar, lucid streams. He also against the house of God was bold: A leper once he lost, and gained a king— Ahaz, his sottish conqueror, whom he drew God's altar to disparage and displace For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn His odious offerings, and adore the gods Whom he had vanquished. After these appeared A crew who, under names of old renown— Osiris, Isis, Orus, and their train— With monstrous shapes and sorceries abused Fanatic Egypt and her priests to seek Their wandering gods disguised in brutish forms Rather than human. Nor did Israel scape Th' infection, when their borrowed gold composed The calf in Oreb; and the rebel king Doubled that sin in Bethel and in Dan, Likening his Maker to the grazed ox— Jehovah, who, in one night, when he passed From Egypt marching, equalled with one stroke Both her first-born and all her bleating gods. Belial came last; than whom a Spirit more lewd Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love Vice for itself. To him no temple stood Or altar smoked; yet who more oft than he In temples and at altars, when the priest Turns atheist, as did Eli's sons, who filled With lust and violence the house of God? In courts and palaces he also reigns, And in luxurious cities, where the noise Of riot ascends above their loftiest towers, And injury and outrage; and, when night Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine. Witness the streets of Sodom, and that night In Gibeah, when the hospitable door Exposed a matron, to avoid worse rape. These were the prime in order and in might: The rest were long to tell; though far renowned Th' Ionian gods—of Javan's issue held Gods, yet confessed later than Heaven and Earth, Their boasted parents;—Titan, Heaven's first-born, With his enormous brood, and birthright seized By younger Saturn: he from mightier Jove, His own and Rhea's son, like measure found; So Jove usurping reigned. These, first in Crete And Ida known, thence on the snowy top Of cold Olympus ruled the middle air, Their highest heaven; or on the Delphian cliff, Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds Of Doric land; or who with Saturn old Fled over Adria to th' Hesperian fields, And o'er the Celtic roamed the utmost Isles. All these and more came flocking; but with looks Downcast and damp; yet such wherein appeared Obscure some glimpse of joy to have found their Chief Not in despair, to have found themselves not lost In loss itself; which on his countenance cast Like doubtful hue. But he, his wonted pride Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore Semblance of worth, not substance, gently raised Their fainting courage, and dispelled their fears. Then straight commands that, at the warlike sound Of trumpets loud and clarions, be upreared His mighty standard. That proud honour claimed Azazel as his right, a Cherub tall: Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurled Th' imperial ensign; which, full high advanced, Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind, With gems and golden lustre rich emblazed, Seraphic arms and trophies; all the while Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds: At which the universal host up-sent A shout that tore Hell's concave, and beyond Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night. All in a moment through the gloom were seen Ten thousand banners rise into the air, With orient colours waving: with them rose A forest huge of spears; and thronging helms Appeared, and serried shields in thick array Of depth immeasurable. Anon they move In perfect phalanx to the Dorian mood Of flutes and soft recorders—such as raised To height of noblest temper heroes old Arming to battle, and instead of rage Deliberate valour breathed, firm, and unmoved With dread of death to flight or foul retreat; Nor wanting power to mitigate and swage With solemn touches troubled thoughts, and chase Anguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and pain From mortal or immortal minds. Thus they, Breathing united force with fixed thought, Moved on in silence to soft pipes that charmed Their painful steps o'er the burnt soil. And now Advanced in view they stand—a horrid front Of dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guise Of warriors old, with ordered spear and shield, Awaiting what command their mighty Chief Had to impose. He through the armed files Darts his experienced eye, and soon traverse The whole battalion views—their order due, Their visages and stature as of gods; Their number last he sums. And now his heart Distends with pride, and, hardening in his strength, Glories: for never, since created Man, Met such embodied force as, named with these, Could merit more than that small infantry Warred on by cranes—though all the giant brood Of Phlegra with th' heroic race were joined That fought at Thebes and Ilium, on each side Mixed with auxiliar gods; and what resounds In fable or romance of Uther's son, Begirt with British and Armoric knights; And all who since, baptized or infidel, Jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban, Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond, Or whom Biserta sent from Afric shore When Charlemain with all his peerage fell By Fontarabbia. Thus far these beyond Compare of mortal prowess, yet observed Their dread Commander. He, above the rest In shape and gesture proudly eminent, Stood like a tower. His form had yet not lost All her original brightness, nor appeared Less than Archangel ruined, and th' excess Of glory obscured: as when the sun new-risen Looks through the horizontal misty air Shorn of his beams, or, from behind the moon, In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds On half the nations, and with fear of change Perplexes monarchs. Darkened so, yet shone Above them all th' Archangel: but his face Deep scars of thunder had intrenched, and care Sat on his faded cheek, but under brows Of dauntless courage, and considerate pride Waiting revenge. Cruel his eye, but cast Signs of remorse and passion, to behold The fellows of his crime, the followers rather (Far other once beheld in bliss), condemned For ever now to have their lot in pain— Millions of Spirits for his fault amerced Of Heaven, and from eternal splendours flung For his revolt—yet faithful how they stood, Their glory withered; as, when heaven's fire Hath scathed the forest oaks or mountain pines, With singed top their stately growth, though bare, Stands on the blasted heath. He now prepared To speak; whereat their doubled ranks they bend From wing to wing, and half enclose him round With all his peers: attention held them mute. Thrice he assayed, and thrice, in spite of scorn, Tears, such as Angels weep, burst forth: at last Words interwove with sighs found out their way:— "O myriads of immortal Spirits! O Powers Matchless, but with th' Almighty!—and that strife Was not inglorious, though th' event was dire, As this place testifies, and this dire change, Hateful to utter. But what power of mind, Forseeing or presaging, from the depth Of knowledge past or present, could have feared How such united force of gods, how such As stood like these, could ever know repulse? For who can yet believe, though after loss, That all these puissant legions, whose exile Hath emptied Heaven, shall fail to re-ascend, Self-raised, and repossess their native seat? For me, be witness all the host of Heaven, If counsels different, or danger shunned By me, have lost our hopes. But he who reigns Monarch in Heaven till then as one secure Sat on his throne, upheld by old repute, Consent or custom, and his regal state Put forth at full, but still his strength concealed— Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall. Henceforth his might we know, and know our own, So as not either to provoke, or dread New war provoked: our better part remains To work in close design, by fraud or guile, What force effected not; that he no less At length from us may find, who overcomes By force hath overcome but half his foe. Space may produce new Worlds; whereof so rife There went a fame in Heaven that he ere long Intended to create, and therein plant A generation whom his choice regard Should favour equal to the Sons of Heaven. Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps Our first eruption—thither, or elsewhere; For this infernal pit shall never hold Celestial Spirits in bondage, nor th' Abyss Long under darkness cover. But these thoughts Full counsel must mature. Peace is despaired; For who can think submission? War, then, war Open or understood, must be resolved." He spake; and, to confirm his words, outflew Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs Of mighty Cherubim; the sudden blaze Far round illumined Hell. Highly they raged Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms Clashed on their sounding shields the din of war, Hurling defiance toward the vault of Heaven. There stood a hill not far, whose grisly top Belched fire and rolling smoke; the rest entire Shone with a glossy scurf—undoubted sign That in his womb was hid metallic ore, The work of sulphur. Thither, winged with speed, A numerous brigade hastened: as when bands Of pioneers, with spade and pickaxe armed, Forerun the royal camp, to trench a field, Or cast a rampart. Mammon led them on— Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell From Heaven; for even in Heaven his looks and thoughts Were always downward bent, admiring more The riches of heaven's pavement, trodden gold, Than aught divine or holy else enjoyed In vision beatific. By him first Men also, and by his suggestion taught, Ransacked the centre, and with impious hands Rifled the bowels of their mother Earth For treasures better hid. Soon had his crew Opened into the hill a spacious wound, And digged out ribs of gold. Let none admire That riches grow in Hell; that soil may best Deserve the precious bane. And here let those Who boast in mortal things, and wondering tell Of Babel, and the works of Memphian kings, Learn how their greatest monuments of fame And strength, and art, are easily outdone By Spirits reprobate, and in an hour What in an age they, with incessant toil And hands innumerable, scarce perform. Nigh on the plain, in many cells prepared, That underneath had veins of liquid fire Sluiced from the lake, a second multitude With wondrous art founded the massy ore, Severing each kind, and scummed the bullion-dross. A third as soon had formed within the ground A various mould, and from the boiling cells By strange conveyance filled each hollow nook; As in an organ, from one blast of wind, To many a row of pipes the sound-board breathes. Anon out of the earth a fabric huge Rose like an exhalation, with the sound Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet— Built like a temple, where pilasters round Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid With golden architrave; nor did there want Cornice or frieze, with bossy sculptures graven; The roof was fretted gold. Not Babylon Nor great Alcairo such magnificence Equalled in all their glories, to enshrine Belus or Serapis their gods, or seat Their kings, when Egypt with Assyria strove In wealth and luxury. Th' ascending pile Stood fixed her stately height, and straight the doors, Opening their brazen folds, discover, wide Within, her ample spaces o'er the smooth And level pavement: from the arched roof, Pendent by subtle magic, many a row Of starry lamps and blazing cressets, fed With naptha and asphaltus, yielded light As from a sky. The hasty multitude Admiring entered; and the work some praise, And some the architect. His hand was known In Heaven by many a towered structure high, Where sceptred Angels held their residence, And sat as Princes, whom the supreme King Exalted to such power, and gave to rule, Each in his Hierarchy, the Orders bright. Nor was his name unheard or unadored In ancient Greece; and in Ausonian land Men called him Mulciber; and how he fell From Heaven they fabled, thrown by angry Jove Sheer o'er the crystal battlements: from morn To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve, A summer's day, and with the setting sun Dropt from the zenith, like a falling star, On Lemnos, th' Aegaean isle. Thus they relate, Erring; for he with this rebellious rout Fell long before; nor aught availed him now To have built in Heaven high towers; nor did he scape By all his engines, but was headlong sent, With his industrious crew, to build in Hell. Meanwhile the winged Heralds, by command Of sovereign power, with awful ceremony And trumpet's sound, throughout the host proclaim A solemn council forthwith to be held At Pandemonium, the high capital Of Satan and his peers. Their summons called From every band and squared regiment By place or choice the worthiest: they anon With hundreds and with thousands trooping came Attended. All access was thronged; the gates And porches wide, but chief the spacious hall (Though like a covered field, where champions bold Wont ride in armed, and at the Soldan's chair Defied the best of Paynim chivalry To mortal combat, or career with lance), Thick swarmed, both on the ground and in the air, Brushed with the hiss of rustling wings. As bees In spring-time, when the Sun with Taurus rides. Pour forth their populous youth about the hive In clusters; they among fresh dews and flowers Fly to and fro, or on the smoothed plank, The suburb of their straw-built citadel, New rubbed with balm, expatiate, and confer Their state-affairs: so thick the airy crowd Swarmed and were straitened; till, the signal given, Behold a wonder! They but now who seemed In bigness to surpass Earth's giant sons, Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room Throng numberless—like that pygmean race Beyond the Indian mount; or faery elves, Whose midnight revels, by a forest-side Or fountain, some belated peasant sees, Or dreams he sees, while overhead the Moon Sits arbitress, and nearer to the Earth Wheels her pale course: they, on their mirth and dance Intent, with jocund music charm his ear; At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds. Thus incorporeal Spirits to smallest forms Reduced their shapes immense, and were at large, Though without number still, amidst the hall Of that infernal court. But far within, And in their own dimensions like themselves, The great Seraphic Lords and Cherubim In close recess and secret conclave sat, A thousand demi-gods on golden seats, Frequent and full. After short silence then, And summons read, the great consult began.
High on a throne of royal state, which far Outshone the wealth or Ormus and of Ind, Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold, Satan exalted sat, by merit raised To that bad eminence; and, from despair Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue Vain war with Heaven; and, by success untaught, His proud imaginations thus displayed:— "Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heaven!— For, since no deep within her gulf can hold Immortal vigour, though oppressed and fallen, I give not Heaven for lost: from this descent Celestial Virtues rising will appear More glorious and more dread than from no fall, And trust themselves to fear no second fate!— Me though just right, and the fixed laws of Heaven, Did first create your leader—next, free choice With what besides in council or in fight Hath been achieved of merit—yet this loss, Thus far at least recovered, hath much more Established in a safe, unenvied throne, Yielded with full consent. The happier state In Heaven, which follows dignity, might draw Envy from each inferior; but who here Will envy whom the highest place exposes Foremost to stand against the Thunderer's aim Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share Of endless pain? Where there is, then, no good For which to strive, no strife can grow up there From faction: for none sure will claim in Hell Precedence; none whose portion is so small Of present pain that with ambitious mind Will covet more! With this advantage, then, To union, and firm faith, and firm accord, More than can be in Heaven, we now return To claim our just inheritance of old, Surer to prosper than prosperity Could have assured us; and by what best way, Whether of open war or covert guile, We now debate. Who can advise may speak." He ceased; and next him Moloch, sceptred king, Stood up—the strongest and the fiercest Spirit That fought in Heaven, now fiercer by despair. His trust was with th' Eternal to be deemed Equal in strength, and rather than be less Cared not to be at all; with that care lost Went all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse, He recked not, and these words thereafter spake:— "My sentence is for open war. Of wiles, More unexpert, I boast not: them let those Contrive who need, or when they need; not now. For, while they sit contriving, shall the rest— Millions that stand in arms, and longing wait The signal to ascend—sit lingering here, Heaven's fugitives, and for their dwelling-place Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame, The prison of his tyranny who reigns By our delay? No! let us rather choose, Armed with Hell-flames and fury, all at once O'er Heaven's high towers to force resistless way, Turning our tortures into horrid arms Against the Torturer; when, to meet the noise Of his almighty engine, he shall hear Infernal thunder, and, for lightning, see Black fire and horror shot with equal rage Among his Angels, and his throne itself Mixed with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire, His own invented torments. But perhaps The way seems difficult, and steep to scale With upright wing against a higher foe! Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench Of that forgetful lake benumb not still, That in our 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 broken rear Insulting, and pursued us through the Deep, With what compulsion and laborious flight We sunk thus low? Th' ascent is easy, then; Th' event is feared! Should we again provoke Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find To our destruction, if there be in Hell Fear to be worse destroyed! What can be worse Than to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemned In this abhorred deep to utter woe! Where pain of unextinguishable fire Must exercise us without hope of end The vassals of his anger, when the scourge Inexorably, and the torturing hour, Calls us to penance? More destroyed than thus, We should be quite abolished, and expire. What fear we then? what doubt we to incense His utmost ire? which, to the height enraged, Will either quite consume us, and reduce To nothing this essential—happier far Than miserable to have eternal being!— Or, if our substance be indeed divine, And cannot cease to be, we are at worst On this side nothing; and by proof we feel Our power sufficient to disturb his Heaven, And with perpetual inroads to alarm, Though inaccessible, his fatal throne: Which, if not victory, is yet revenge." He ended frowning, and his look denounced Desperate revenge, and battle dangerous To less than gods. On th' other side up rose Belial, in act more graceful and humane. A fairer person lost not Heaven; he seemed For dignity composed, and high exploit. But all was false and hollow; though his tongue Dropped manna, and could make the worse appear The better reason, to perplex and dash Maturest counsels: for his thoughts were low— To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds Timorous and slothful. Yet he pleased the ear, And with persuasive accent thus began:— "I should be much for open war, O Peers, As not behind in hate, if what was urged Main reason to persuade immediate war Did not dissuade me most, and seem to cast Ominous conjecture on the whole success; When he who most excels in fact of arms, In what he counsels and in what excels Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair And utter dissolution, as the scope Of all his aim, after some dire revenge. First, what revenge? The towers of Heaven are filled With armed watch, that render all access Impregnable: oft on the bordering Deep Encamp their legions, or with obscure wing Scout far and wide into the realm of Night, Scorning surprise. Or, could we break our way By force, and at our heels all Hell should rise With blackest insurrection to confound Heaven's purest light, yet our great Enemy, All incorruptible, would on his throne Sit unpolluted, and th' ethereal mould, Incapable of stain, would soon expel Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire, Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hope Is flat despair: we must exasperate Th' Almighty Victor to spend all his rage; And that must end us; that must be our cure— To be no more. Sad cure! for who would lose, Though full of pain, this intellectual being, Those thoughts that wander through eternity, To perish rather, swallowed up and lost In the wide womb of uncreated Night, Devoid of sense and motion? And who knows, Let this be good, whether our angry Foe Can give it, or will ever? How he can Is doubtful; that he never will is sure. Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire, Belike through impotence or unaware, To give his enemies their wish, and end Them in his anger whom his anger saves To punish endless? "Wherefore cease we, then?" Say they who counsel war; "we are decreed, Reserved, and destined to eternal woe; Whatever doing, what can we suffer more, What can we suffer worse?" Is this, then, worst— Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms? What when we fled amain, pursued and struck With Heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought The Deep to shelter us? This Hell then seemed A refuge from those wounds. Or when we lay Chained on the burning lake? That sure was worse. What if the breath that kindled those grim fires, Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold rage, And plunge us in the flames; or from above Should intermitted vengeance arm again His red right hand to plague us? What if all Her stores were opened, and this firmament Of Hell should spout her cataracts of fire, Impendent horrors, threatening hideous fall One day upon our heads; while we perhaps, Designing or exhorting glorious war, Caught in a fiery tempest, shall be hurled, Each on his rock transfixed, the sport and prey Or racking whirlwinds, or for ever sunk Under yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains, There to converse with everlasting groans, Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved, Ages of hopeless end? This would be worse. War, therefore, open or concealed, alike My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye Views all things at one view? He from Heaven's height All these our motions vain sees and derides, Not more almighty to resist our might Than wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles. Shall we, then, live thus vile—the race of Heaven Thus trampled, thus expelled, to suffer here Chains and these torments? Better these than worse, By my advice; since fate inevitable Subdues us, and omnipotent decree, The Victor's will. To suffer, as to do, Our strength is equal; nor the law unjust That so ordains. This was at first resolved, If we were wise, against so great a foe Contending, and so doubtful what might fall. I laugh when those who at the spear are bold And venturous, if that fail them, shrink, and fear What yet they know must follow—to endure Exile, or igominy, or bonds, or pain, The sentence of their Conqueror. This is now Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear, Our Supreme Foe in time may much remit His anger, and perhaps, thus far removed, Not mind us not offending, satisfied With what is punished; whence these raging fires Will slacken, if his breath stir not their flames. Our purer essence then will overcome Their noxious vapour; or, inured, not feel; Or, changed at length, and to the place conformed In temper and in nature, will receive Familiar the fierce heat; and, void of pain, This horror will grow mild, this darkness light; Besides what hope the never-ending flight Of future days may bring, what chance, what change Worth waiting—since our present lot appears For happy though but ill, for ill not worst, If we procure not to ourselves more woe." Thus Belial, with words clothed in reason's garb, Counselled ignoble ease and peaceful sloth, Not peace; and after him thus Mammon spake:— "Either to disenthrone the King of Heaven We war, if war be best, or to regain Our own right lost. Him to unthrone we then May hope, when everlasting Fate shall yield To fickle Chance, and Chaos judge the strife. The former, vain to hope, argues as vain The latter; for what place can be for us Within Heaven's bound, unless Heaven's Lord supreme We overpower? Suppose he should relent And publish grace to all, on promise made Of new subjection; with what eyes could we Stand in his presence humble, and receive Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne With warbled hymns, and to his Godhead sing Forced hallelujahs, while he lordly sits Our envied sovereign, and his altar breathes Ambrosial odours and ambrosial flowers, Our servile offerings? This must be our task In Heaven, this our delight. How wearisome Eternity so spent in worship paid To whom we hate! Let us not then pursue, By force impossible, by leave obtained Unacceptable, though in Heaven, our state Of splendid vassalage; but rather seek Our own good from ourselves, and from our own Live to ourselves, though in this vast recess, Free and to none accountable, preferring Hard liberty before the easy yoke Of servile pomp. Our greatness will appear Then most conspicuous when great things of small, Useful of hurtful, prosperous of adverse, We can create, and in what place soe'er Thrive under evil, and work ease out of pain Through labour and endurance. This deep world Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst Thick clouds and dark doth Heaven's all-ruling Sire Choose to reside, his glory unobscured, And with the majesty of darkness round Covers his throne, from whence deep thunders roar. Mustering their rage, and Heaven resembles Hell! As he our darkness, cannot we his light Imitate when we please? This desert soil Wants not her hidden lustre, gems and gold; Nor want we skill or art from whence to raise Magnificence; and what can Heaven show more? Our torments also may, in length of time, Become our elements, these piercing fires As soft as now severe, our temper changed Into their temper; which must needs remove The sensible of pain. All things invite To peaceful counsels, and the settled state Of order, how in safety best we may Compose our present evils, with regard Of what we are and where, dismissing quite All thoughts of war. Ye have what I advise." He scarce had finished, when such murmur filled Th' assembly as when hollow rocks retain The sound of blustering winds, which all night long Had roused the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull Seafaring men o'erwatched, whose bark by chance Or pinnace, anchors in a craggy bay After the tempest. Such applause was heard As Mammon ended, and his sentence pleased, Advising peace: for such another field They dreaded worse than Hell; so much the fear Of thunder and the sword of Michael Wrought still within them; and no less desire To found this nether empire, which might rise, By policy and long process of time, In emulation opposite to Heaven. Which when Beelzebub perceived—than whom, Satan except, none higher sat—with grave Aspect he rose, and in his rising seemed A pillar of state. Deep on his front engraven Deliberation sat, and public care; And princely counsel in his face yet shone, Majestic, though in ruin. Sage he stood With Atlantean shoulders, fit to bear The weight of mightiest monarchies; his look Drew audience and attention still as night Or summer's noontide air, while thus he spake:— "Thrones and Imperial Powers, Offspring of Heaven, Ethereal Virtues! or these titles now Must we renounce, and, changing style, be called Princes of Hell? for so the popular vote Inclines—here to continue, and build up here A growing empire; doubtless! while we dream, And know not that the King of Heaven hath doomed This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt From Heaven's high jurisdiction, in new league Banded against his throne, but to remain In strictest bondage, though thus far removed, Under th' inevitable curb, reserved His captive multitude. For he, to be sure, In height or depth, still first and last will reign Sole king, and of his kingdom lose no part By our revolt, but over Hell extend His empire, and with iron sceptre rule Us here, as with his golden those in Heaven. What sit we then projecting peace and war? War hath determined us and foiled with loss Irreparable; terms of peace yet none Vouchsafed or sought; for what peace will be given To us enslaved, but custody severe, And stripes and arbitrary punishment Inflicted? and what peace can we return, But, to our power, hostility and hate, Untamed reluctance, and revenge, though slow, Yet ever plotting how the Conqueror least May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice In doing what we most in suffering feel? Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need With dangerous expedition to invade Heaven, whose high walls fear no assault or siege, Or ambush from the Deep. What if we find Some easier enterprise? There is a place (If ancient and prophetic fame in Heaven Err not)—another World, the happy seat Of some new race, called Man, about this time To be created like to us, though less In power and excellence, but favoured more Of him who rules above; so was his will Pronounced among the Gods, and by an oath That shook Heaven's whole circumference confirmed. Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn What creatures there inhabit, of what mould Or substance, how endued, and what their power And where their weakness: how attempted best, By force of subtlety. Though Heaven be shut, And Heaven's high Arbitrator sit secure In his own strength, this place may lie exposed, The utmost border of his kingdom, left To their defence who hold it: here, perhaps, Some advantageous act may be achieved By sudden onset—either with Hell-fire To waste his whole creation, or possess All as our own, and drive, as we were driven, The puny habitants; or, if not drive, Seduce them to our party, that their God May prove their foe, and with repenting hand Abolish his own works. This would surpass Common revenge, and interrupt his joy In our confusion, and our joy upraise In his disturbance; when his darling sons, Hurled headlong to partake with us, shall curse Their frail original, and faded bliss— Faded so soon! Advise if this be worth Attempting, or to sit in darkness here Hatching vain empires." Thus Beelzebub Pleaded his devilish counsel—first devised By Satan, and in part proposed: for whence, But from the author of all ill, could spring So deep a malice, to confound the race Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell To mingle and involve, done all to spite The great Creator? But their spite still serves His glory to augment. The bold design Pleased highly those infernal States, and joy Sparkled in all their eyes: with full assent They vote: whereat his speech he thus renews:— "Well have ye judged, well ended long debate, Synod of Gods, and, like to what ye are, Great things resolved, which from the lowest deep Will once more lift us up, in spite of fate, Nearer our ancient seat—perhaps in view Of those bright confines, whence, with neighbouring arms, And opportune excursion, we may chance Re-enter Heaven; or else in some mild zone Dwell, not unvisited of Heaven's fair light, Secure, and at the brightening orient beam Purge off this gloom: the soft delicious air, To heal the scar of these corrosive fires, Shall breathe her balm. But, first, whom shall we send In search of this new World? whom shall we find Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandering feet The dark, unbottomed, infinite Abyss, And through the palpable obscure find out His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight, Upborne with indefatigable wings Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive The happy Isle? What strength, what art, can then Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe, Through the strict senteries and stations thick Of Angels watching round? Here he had need All circumspection: and we now no less Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send The weight of all, and our last hope, relies." This said, he sat; and expectation held His look suspense, awaiting who appeared To second, or oppose, or undertake The perilous attempt. But all sat mute, Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each In other's countenance read his own dismay, Astonished. None among the choice and prime Of those Heaven-warring champions could be found So hardy as to proffer or accept, Alone, the dreadful voyage; till, at last, Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised Above his fellows, with monarchal pride Conscious of highest worth, unmoved thus spake:— "O Progeny of Heaven! Empyreal Thrones! With reason hath deep silence and demur Seized us, though undismayed. Long is the way And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light. Our prison strong, this huge convex of fire, Outrageous to devour, immures us round Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant, Barred over us, prohibit all egress. These passed, if any pass, the void profound Of unessential Night receives him next, Wide-gaping, and with utter loss of being Threatens him, plunged in that abortive gulf. If thence he scape, into whatever world, Or unknown region, what remains him less Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape? But I should ill become this throne, O Peers, And this imperial sovereignty, adorned With splendour, armed with power, if aught proposed And judged of public moment in the shape Of difficulty or danger, could deter Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume These royalties, and not refuse to reign, Refusing to accept as great a share Of hazard as of honour, due alike To him who reigns, and so much to him due Of hazard more as he above the rest High honoured sits? Go, therefore, mighty Powers, Terror of Heaven, though fallen; intend at home, While here shall be our home, what best may ease The present misery, and render Hell More tolerable; if there be cure or charm To respite, or deceive, or slack the pain Of this ill mansion: intermit no watch Against a wakeful foe, while I abroad Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek Deliverance for us all. This enterprise None shall partake with me." Thus saying, rose The Monarch, and prevented all reply; Prudent lest, from his resolution raised, Others among the chief might offer now, Certain to be refused, what erst they feared, And, so refused, might in opinion stand His rivals, winning cheap the high repute Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they Dreaded not more th' adventure than his voice Forbidding; and at once with him they rose. Their rising all at once was as the sound Of thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend With awful reverence prone, and as a God Extol him equal to the Highest in Heaven. Nor failed they to express how much they praised That for the general safety he despised His own: for neither do the Spirits damned Lose all their virtue; lest bad men should boast Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites, Or close ambition varnished o'er with zeal. Thus they their doubtful consultations dark Ended, rejoicing in their matchless Chief: As, when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread Heaven's cheerful face, the louring element Scowls o'er the darkened landscape snow or shower, If chance the radiant sun, with farewell sweet, Extend his evening beam, the fields revive, The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings. O shame to men! Devil with devil damned Firm concord holds; men only disagree Of creatures rational, though under hope Of heavenly grace, and, God proclaiming peace, Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife Among themselves, and levy cruel wars Wasting the earth, each other to destroy: As if (which might induce us to accord) Man had not hellish foes enow besides, That day and night for his destruction wait! The Stygian council thus dissolved; and forth In order came the grand infernal Peers: Midst came their mighty Paramount, and seemed Alone th' antagonist of Heaven, nor less Than Hell's dread Emperor, with pomp supreme, And god-like imitated state: him round A globe of fiery Seraphim enclosed With bright emblazonry, and horrent arms. Then of their session ended they bid cry With trumpet's regal sound the great result: Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy, By herald's voice explained; the hollow Abyss Heard far 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 ranged Powers Disband; and, wandering, each his several way Pursues, as inclination or sad choice Leads him perplexed, where he may likeliest find Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain The irksome hours, till his great Chief return. Part on the plain, or in the air sublime, Upon the wing or in swift race contend, As at th' Olympian games or Pythian fields; Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal With rapid wheels, or fronted brigades form: As when, to warn proud cities, war appears Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush To battle in the clouds; before each van Prick forth the airy knights, and couch their spears, Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms From either end of heaven the welkin burns. Others, with vast Typhoean rage, more fell, Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar:— As when Alcides, from Oechalia crowned With conquest, felt th' envenomed robe, and tore Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines, And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw Into th' Euboic sea. Others, more mild, Retreated in a silent valley, sing With notes angelical to many a harp Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall By doom of battle, and complain that Fate Free Virtue should enthrall to Force or Chance. Their song was partial; but the harmony (What could it less when Spirits immortal sing?) Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet (For Eloquence the Soul, Song charms the Sense) Others apart sat on a hill retired, In thoughts more elevate, and reasoned high Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate— Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute, And found no end, in wandering mazes lost. Of good and evil much they argued then, Of happiness and final misery, Passion and apathy, and glory and shame: Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy!— Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm Pain for a while or anguish, and excite Fallacious hope, or arm th' obdured breast With stubborn patience as with triple steel. Another part, in squadrons and gross bands, On bold adventure to discover wide That dismal world, if any clime perhaps Might yield them easier habitation, bend Four ways their flying march, along the banks Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge Into the burning lake their baleful streams— Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate; Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep; Cocytus, named of lamentation loud Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegeton, Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage. Far off from these, a slow and silent stream, Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks Forthwith his former state and being forgets— Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain. Beyond this flood a frozen continent Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice, A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog Betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old, Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of fire. Thither, by harpy-footed Furies haled, At certain revolutions all the damned Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce, From beds of raging fire to starve in ice Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine Immovable, infixed, and frozen round Periods of time,—thence hurried back to fire. They ferry over this Lethean sound Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment, And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe, All in one moment, and so near the brink; But Fate withstands, and, to oppose th' attempt, Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards The ford, and of itself the water flies All taste of living wight, as once it fled The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on In confused march forlorn, th' adventurous bands, With shuddering horror pale, and eyes aghast, Viewed first their lamentable lot, and found No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale They passed, and many a region dolorous, O'er many a frozen, many a fiery alp, Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death— A universe of death, which God by curse Created evil, for evil only good; Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds, Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things, Obominable, inutterable, and worse Than fables yet have feigned or fear conceived, Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire. Meanwhile the Adversary of God and Man, Satan, with thoughts inflamed of highest design, Puts on swift wings, and toward the gates of Hell Explores his solitary flight: sometimes He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left; Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars Up to the fiery concave towering high. As when far off at sea a fleet descried Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring Their spicy drugs; they on the trading flood, Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape, Ply stemming nightly toward the pole: so seemed Far off the flying Fiend. At last appear Hell-bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof, And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass, Three iron, three of adamantine rock, Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire, Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat On either side a formidable Shape. The one seemed woman to the waist, and fair, But ended foul in many a scaly fold, Voluminous and vast—a serpent armed With mortal sting. About her middle round A cry of Hell-hounds never-ceasing barked With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep, If aught disturbed their noise, into her womb, And kennel there; yet there still barked and howled Within unseen. Far less abhorred than these Vexed Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore; Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, called In secret, riding through the air she comes, Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon Eclipses at their charms. The other Shape— If shape it might be called that shape had none Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb; Or substance might be called that shadow seemed, For each seemed either—black it stood as Night, Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell, And shook a dreadful dart: what seemed his head The likeness of a kingly crown had on. Satan was now at hand, and from his seat The monster moving onward came as fast With horrid strides; Hell trembled as he strode. Th' undaunted Fiend what this might be admired— Admired, not feared (God and his Son except, Created thing naught valued he nor shunned), And with disdainful look thus first began:— "Whence and what art thou, execrable Shape, That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance Thy miscreated front athwart my way To yonder gates? Through them I mean to pass, That be assured, without leave asked of thee. Retire; or taste thy folly, and learn by proof, Hell-born, not to contend with Spirits of Heaven." To whom the Goblin, full of wrath, replied:— "Art thou that traitor Angel? art thou he, Who first broke peace in Heaven and faith, till then Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms Drew after him the third part of Heaven's sons, Conjured against the Highest—for which both thou And they, outcast from God, are here condemned To waste eternal days in woe and pain? And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits of Heaven Hell-doomed, and breath'st defiance here and scorn, Where I reign king, and, to enrage thee more, Thy king and lord? Back to thy punishment, False fugitive; and to thy speed add wings, Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before." So spake the grisly Terror, and in shape, So speaking and so threatening, grew tenfold, More dreadful and deform. On th' other side, Incensed with indignation, Satan stood Unterrified, and like a comet burned, That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge In th' arctic sky, and from his horrid hair Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head Levelled his deadly aim; their fatal hands No second stroke intend; and such a frown Each cast at th' other as when two black clouds, With heaven's artillery fraught, came rattling on Over the Caspian,—then stand front to front Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow To join their dark encounter in mid-air. So frowned the mighty combatants that Hell Grew darker at their frown; so matched they stood; For never but once more was wither like To meet so great a foe. And now great deeds Had been achieved, whereof all Hell had rung, Had not the snaky Sorceress, that sat Fast by Hell-gate and kept the fatal key, Risen, and with hideous outcry rushed between. "O father, what intends thy hand," she cried, "Against thy only son? What fury, O son, Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart Against thy father's head? And know'st for whom? For him who sits above, and laughs the while At thee, ordained his drudge to execute Whate'er his wrath, which he calls justice, bids— His wrath, which one day will destroy ye both!" She spake, and at her words the hellish Pest Forbore: then these to her Satan returned:— "So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strange Thou interposest, that my sudden hand, Prevented, spares to tell thee yet by deeds What it intends, till first I know of thee What thing thou art, thus double-formed, and why, In this infernal vale first met, thou call'st Me father, and that phantasm call'st my son. I know thee not, nor ever saw till now Sight more detestable than him and thee." T' whom thus the Portress of Hell-gate replied:— "Hast thou forgot me, then; and do I seem Now in thine eye so foul?—once deemed so fair In Heaven, when at th' assembly, and in sight Of all the Seraphim with thee combined In bold conspiracy against Heaven's King, All on a sudden miserable pain Surprised thee, dim thine eyes and dizzy swum In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast Threw forth, till on the left side opening wide, Likest to thee in shape and countenance bright, Then shining heavenly fair, a goddess armed, Out of thy head I sprung. Amazement seized All th' host of Heaven; back they recoiled afraid At first, and called me Sin, and for a sign Portentous held me; but, familiar grown, I pleased, and with attractive graces won The most averse—thee chiefly, who, full oft Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing, Becam'st enamoured; and such joy thou took'st With me in secret that my womb conceived A growing burden. Meanwhile war arose, And fields were fought in Heaven: wherein remained (For what could else?) to our Almighty Foe Clear victory; to our part loss and rout Through all the Empyrean. Down they fell, Driven headlong from the pitch of Heaven, down Into this Deep; and in the general fall I also: at which time this powerful key Into my hands was given, with charge to keep These gates for ever shut, which none can pass Without my opening. Pensive here I sat Alone; but long I sat not, till my womb, Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown, Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes. At last this odious offspring whom thou seest, Thine own begotten, breaking violent way, Tore through my entrails, that, with fear and pain Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew Transformed: but he my inbred enemy Forth issued, brandishing his fatal dart, Made to destroy. I fled, and cried out Death! Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sighed From all her caves, and back resounded Death! I fled; but he pursued (though more, it seems, Inflamed with lust than rage), and, swifter far, Me overtook, his mother, all dismayed, And, in embraces forcible and foul Engendering with me, of that rape begot These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry Surround me, as thou saw'st—hourly conceived And hourly born, with sorrow infinite To me; for, when they list, into the womb That bred them they return, and howl, and gnaw My bowels, their repast; then, bursting forth Afresh, with conscious terrors vex me round, That rest or intermission none I find. Before mine eyes in opposition sits Grim Death, my son and foe, who set them on, And me, his parent, would full soon devour For want of other prey, but that he knows His end with mine involved, and knows that I Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane, Whenever that shall be: so Fate pronounced. But thou, O father, I forewarn thee, shun His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope To be invulnerable in those bright arms, Through tempered heavenly; for that mortal dint, Save he who reigns above, none can resist." She finished; and the subtle Fiend his lore Soon learned, now milder, and thus answered smooth:— "Dear daughter—since thou claim'st me for thy sire, And my fair son here show'st me, the dear pledge Of dalliance had with thee in Heaven, and joys Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change Befallen us unforeseen, unthought-of—know, I come no enemy, but to set free From out this dark and dismal house of pain Both him and thee, and all the heavenly host Of Spirits that, in our just pretences armed, Fell with us from on high. From them I go This uncouth errand sole, and one for all Myself expose, with lonely steps to tread Th' unfounded Deep, and through the void immense To search, with wandering quest, a place foretold Should be—and, by concurring signs, ere now Created vast and round—a place of bliss In the purlieus of Heaven; and therein placed A race of upstart creatures, to supply Perhaps our vacant room, though more removed, Lest Heaven, surcharged with potent multitude, Might hap to move new broils. Be this, or aught Than this more secret, now designed, I haste To know; and, this once known, shall soon return, And bring ye to the place where thou and Death Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen Wing silently the buxom air, embalmed With odours. There ye shall be fed and filled Immeasurably; all things shall be your prey." He ceased; for both seemed highly pleased, and Death Grinned horrible a ghastly smile, to hear His famine should be filled, and blessed his maw Destined to that good hour. No less rejoiced His mother bad, and thus bespake her sire:— "The key of this infernal Pit, by due And by command of Heaven's all-powerful King, I keep, by him forbidden to unlock These adamantine gates; against all force Death ready stands to interpose his dart, Fearless to be o'ermatched by living might. But what owe I to his commands above, Who hates me, and hath hither thrust me down Into this gloom of Tartarus profound, To sit in hateful office here confined, Inhabitant of Heaven and heavenly born— Here in perpetual agony and pain, With terrors and with clamours compassed round Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed? Thou art my father, thou my author, thou My being gav'st me; whom should I obey But thee? whom follow? Thou wilt bring me soon To that new world of light and bliss, among The gods who live at ease, where I shall reign At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems Thy daughter and thy darling, without end." Thus saying, from her side the fatal key, Sad instrument of all our woe, she took; And, towards the gate rolling her bestial train, Forthwith the huge portcullis high up-drew, Which, but herself, not all the Stygian Powers Could once have moved; then in the key-hole turns Th' intricate wards, and every bolt and bar Of massy iron or solid rock with ease Unfastens. On a sudden open fly, With impetuous recoil and jarring sound, Th' infernal doors, and on their hinges grate Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook Of Erebus. She opened; but to shut Excelled her power: the gates wide open stood, That with extended wings a bannered host, Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through With horse and chariots ranked in loose array; So wide they stood, and like a furnace-mouth Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame. Before their eyes in sudden view appear The secrets of the hoary Deep—a dark Illimitable ocean, without bound, Without dimension; where length, breadth, and height, And time, and place, are lost; where eldest Night And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise Of endless wars, and by confusion stand. For Hot, Cold, Moist, and Dry, four champions fierce, Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring Their embryon atoms: they around the flag Of each his faction, in their several clans, Light-armed or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow, Swarm populous, unnumbered as the sands Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil, Levied to side with warring winds, and poise Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere He rules a moment: Chaos umpire sits, And by decision more embroils the fray By which he reigns: next him, high arbiter, Chance governs all. Into this wild Abyss, The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave, Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire, But all these in their pregnant causes mixed Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight, Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain His dark materials to create more worlds— Into this wild Abyss the wary Fiend Stood on the brink of Hell and looked a while, Pondering his voyage; for no narrow frith He had to cross. Nor was his ear less pealed With noises loud and ruinous (to compare Great things with small) than when Bellona storms With all her battering engines, bent to rase Some capital city; or less than if this frame Of Heaven were falling, and these elements In mutiny had from her axle torn The steadfast Earth. At last his sail-broad vans He spread for flight, and, in the surging smoke Uplifted, spurns the ground; thence many a league, As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides Audacious; but, that seat soon failing, meets A vast vacuity. All unawares, Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb-down he drops Ten thousand fathom deep, and to this hour Down had been falling, had not, by ill chance, The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud, Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him As many miles aloft. That fury stayed— Quenched in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea, Nor good dry land—nigh foundered, on he fares, Treading the crude consistence, half on foot, Half flying; behoves him now both oar and sail. As when a gryphon through the wilderness With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale, Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth Had from his wakeful custody purloined The guarded gold; so eagerly the Fiend O'er bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare, With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way, And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies. At length a universal hubbub wild Of stunning sounds, and voices all confused, Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear With loudest vehemence. Thither he plies Undaunted, to meet there whatever Power Or Spirit of the nethermost Abyss Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies Bordering on light; when straight behold the throne Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread Wide on the wasteful Deep! With him enthroned Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things, The consort of his reign; and by them stood Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name Of Demogorgon; Rumour next, and Chance, And Tumult, and Confusion, all embroiled, And Discord with a thousand various mouths. T' whom Satan, turning boldly, thus:—"Ye Powers And 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 Wandering this darksome desert, as my way Lies through your spacious empire up to light, Alone and without guide, half lost, I seek, What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds Confine with Heaven; or, if some other place, From your dominion won, th' Ethereal King Possesses lately, thither to arrive I travel this profound. Direct my course: Directed, no mean recompense it brings To your behoof, if I that region lost, All usurpation thence expelled, reduce To her original darkness and your sway (Which is my present journey), and once more Erect the standard there of ancient Night. Yours be th' advantage all, mine the revenge!" Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old, With faltering speech and visage incomposed, Answered: "I know thee, stranger, who thou art— That mighty leading Angel, who of late Made head against Heaven's King, though overthrown. I saw and heard; for such a numerous host Fled not in silence through the frighted Deep, With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout, Confusion worse confounded; and Heaven-gates Poured out by millions her victorious bands, Pursuing. I upon my frontiers here Keep residence; if all I can will serve That little which is left so to defend, Encroached on still through our intestine broils Weakening the sceptre of old Night: first, Hell, Your dungeon, stretching far and wide beneath; Now lately Heaven and Earth, another world Hung o'er my realm, linked in a golden chain To that side Heaven from whence your legions fell! If that way be your walk, you have not far; So much the nearer danger. Go, and speed; Havoc, and spoil, and ruin, are my gain." He ceased; and Satan stayed not to reply, But, glad that now his sea should find a shore, With fresh alacrity and force renewed Springs upward, like a pyramid of fire, Into the wild expanse, and through the shock Of fighting elements, on all sides round Environed, wins his way; harder beset And more endangered than when Argo passed Through Bosporus betwixt the justling rocks, Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunned Charybdis, and by th' other whirlpool steered. So he with difficulty and labour hard Moved on, with difficulty and labour he; But, he once passed, soon after, when Man fell, Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain, Following his track (such was the will of Heaven) Paved after him a broad and beaten way Over the dark Abyss, whose boiling gulf Tamely endured a bridge of wondrous length, From Hell continued, reaching th' utmost orb Of this frail World; by which the Spirits perverse With easy intercourse pass to and fro To tempt or punish mortals, except whom God and good Angels guard by special grace. But now at last the sacred influence Of light appears, and from the walls of Heaven Shoots far into the bosom of dim Night A glimmering dawn. Here Nature first begins Her farthest verge, and Chaos to retire, As from her outmost works, a broken foe, With tumult less and with less hostile din; That Satan with less toil, and now with ease, Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light, And, like a weather-beaten vessel, holds Gladly the port, though shrouds and tackle torn; Or in the emptier waste, resembling air, Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold Far off th' empyreal Heaven, extended wide In circuit, undetermined square or round, With opal towers and battlements adorned Of living sapphire, once his native seat; And, fast by, hanging in a golden chain, This pendent World, in bigness as a star Of smallest magnitude close by the moon. Thither, full fraught with mischievous revenge, Accursed, and in a cursed hour, he hies.
Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heaven firstborn, Or of the Eternal coeternal beam May I express thee unblam'd? since God is light, And never but in unapproached light Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee Bright effluence of bright essence increate. Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream, Whose fountain who shall tell? before the sun, Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest The rising world of waters dark and deep, Won from the void and formless infinite. Thee I re-visit now with bolder wing, Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight Through utter and through middle darkness borne, With other notes than to the Orphean lyre I sung of Chaos and eternal Night; Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down The dark descent, and up to re-ascend, Though hard and rare: Thee I revisit safe, And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn; So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs, Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more Cease I to wander, where the Muses haunt, Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill, Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath, That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow, Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget So were I equall'd with them in renown, Thy sovran command, that Man should find grace; Blind Thamyris, and blind Maeonides, And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old: Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year Seasons return; but not to me returns Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn, Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose, Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine; But cloud instead, and ever-during dark Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair Presented with a universal blank Of nature's works to me expung'd and ras'd, And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out. So much the rather thou, celestial Light, Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell Of things invisible to mortal sight. Now had the Almighty Father from above, From the pure empyrean where he sits High thron'd above all highth, bent down his eye His own works and their works at once to view: About him all the Sanctities of Heaven Stood thick as stars, and from his sight receiv'd Beatitude past utterance; on his right The radiant image of his glory sat, His only son; on earth he first beheld Our two first parents, yet the only two Of mankind in the happy garden plac'd Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love, Uninterrupted joy, unrivall'd love, In blissful solitude; he then survey'd Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there Coasting the wall of Heaven on this side Night In the dun air sublime, and ready now To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet, On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd Firm land imbosom'd, without firmament, Uncertain which, in ocean or in air. Him God beholding from his prospect high, Wherein past, present, future, he beholds, Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake. Only begotten Son, seest thou what rage Transports our Adversary? whom no bounds Prescrib'd no bars of Hell, nor all the chains Heap'd on him there, nor yet the main abyss Wide interrupt, can hold; so bent he seems On desperate revenge, that shall redound Upon his own rebellious head. And now, Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way Not far off Heaven, in the precincts of light, Directly towards the new created world, And man there plac'd, with purpose to assay If him by force he can destroy, or, worse, By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert; For man will hearken to his glozing lies, And easily transgress the sole command, Sole pledge of his obedience: So will fall He and his faithless progeny: Whose fault? Whose but his own? ingrate, he had of me All he could have; I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall. Such I created all the ethereal Powers And Spirits, both them who stood, and them who fail'd; Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell. Not free, what proof could they have given sincere Of true allegiance, constant faith or love, Where only what they needs must do appear'd, Not what they would? what praise could they receive? What pleasure I from such obedience paid, When will and reason (reason also is choice) Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd, Made passive both, had serv'd necessity, Not me. They therefore, as to right belong'd, So were created, nor can justly accuse Their Maker, or their making, or their fate, As if predestination over-rul'd Their will dispos'd by absolute decree Or high foreknowledge they themselves decreed Their own revolt, not I; if I foreknew, Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault, Which had no less proved certain unforeknown. So without least impulse or shadow of fate, Or aught by me immutably foreseen, They trespass, authors to themselves in all Both what they judge, and what they choose; for so I form'd them free: and free they must remain, Till they enthrall themselves; I else must change Their nature, and revoke the high decree Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd Their freedom: they themselves ordain'd their fall. The first sort by their own suggestion fell, Self-tempted, self-deprav'd: Man falls, deceiv'd By the other first: Man therefore shall find grace, The other none: In mercy and justice both, Through Heaven and Earth, so shall my glory excel; But Mercy, first and last, shall brightest shine. Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fill'd All Heaven, and in the blessed Spirits elect Sense of new joy ineffable diffus'd. Beyond compare the Son of God was seen Most glorious; in him all his Father shone Substantially express'd; and in his face Divine compassion visibly appear'd, Love without end, and without measure grace, Which uttering, thus he to his Father spake. O Father, gracious was that word which clos'd Thy sovran command, that Man should find grace; For which both Heaven and earth shall high extol Thy praises, with the innumerable sound Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne Encompass'd shall resound thee ever blest. For should Man finally be lost, should Man, Thy creature late so lov'd, thy youngest son, Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though join'd With his own folly? that be from thee far, That far be from thee, Father, who art judge Of all things made, and judgest only right. Or shall the Adversary thus obtain His end, and frustrate thine? shall he fulfill His malice, and thy goodness bring to nought, Or proud return, though to his heavier doom, Yet with revenge accomplish'd, and to Hell Draw after him the whole race of mankind, By him corrupted? or wilt thou thyself Abolish thy creation, and unmake For him, what for thy glory thou hast made? So should thy goodness and thy greatness both Be question'd and blasphem'd without defence. To whom the great Creator thus replied. O son, in whom my soul hath chief delight, Son of my bosom, Son who art alone. My word, my wisdom, and effectual might, All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all As my eternal purpose hath decreed; Man shall not quite be lost, but sav'd who will; Yet not of will in him, but grace in me Freely vouchsaf'd; once more I will renew His lapsed powers, though forfeit; and enthrall'd By sin to foul exorbitant desires; Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand On even ground against his mortal foe; By me upheld, that he may know how frail His fallen condition is, and to me owe All his deliverance, and to none but me. Some I have chosen of peculiar grace, Elect above the rest; so is my will: The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warn'd Their sinful state, and to appease betimes The incensed Deity, while offer'd grace Invites; for I will clear their senses dark, What may suffice, and soften stony hearts To pray, repent, and bring obedience due. To prayer, repentance, and obedience due, Though but endeavour'd with sincere intent, Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut. And I will place within them as a guide, My umpire Conscience; whom if they will hear, Light after light, well us'd, they shall attain, And to the end, persisting, safe arrive. This my long sufferance, and my day of grace, They who neglect and scorn, shall never taste; But hard be harden'd, blind be blinded more, That they may stumble on, and deeper fall; And none but such from mercy I exclude. But yet all is not done; Man disobeying, Disloyal, breaks his fealty, and sins Against the high supremacy of Heaven, Affecting God-head, and, so losing all, To expiate his treason hath nought left, But to destruction sacred and devote, He, with his whole posterity, must die, Die he or justice must; unless for him Some other able, and as willing, pay The rigid satisfaction, death for death. Say, heavenly Powers, where shall we find such love? Which of you will be mortal, to redeem Man's mortal crime, and just the unjust to save? Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear? He ask'd, but all the heavenly quire stood mute, And silence was in Heaven: on Man's behalf Patron or intercessour none appear'd, Much less that durst upon his own head draw The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set. And now without redemption all mankind Must have been lost, adjudg'd to Death and Hell By doom severe, had not the Son of God, In whom the fulness dwells of love divine, His dearest mediation thus renew'd. Father, thy word is past, Man shall find grace; And shall grace not find means, that finds her way, The speediest of thy winged messengers, To visit all thy creatures, and to all Comes unprevented, unimplor'd, unsought? Happy for Man, so coming; he her aid Can never seek, once dead in sins, and lost; Atonement for himself, or offering meet, Indebted and undone, hath none to bring; Behold me then: me for him, life for life I offer: on me let thine anger fall; Account me Man; I for his sake will leave Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee Freely put off, and for him lastly die Well pleased; on me let Death wreak all his rage. Under his gloomy power I shall not long Lie vanquished. Thou hast given me to possess Life in myself for ever; by thee I live; Though now to Death I yield, and am his due, All that of me can die, yet, that debt paid, Thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul For ever with corruption there to dwell; But I shall rise victorious, and subdue My vanquisher, spoiled of his vaunted spoil. Death his death's wound shall then receive, and stoop Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarmed; I through the ample air in triumph high Shall lead Hell captive maugre Hell, and show The powers of darkness bound. Thou, at the sight Pleased, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile, While, by thee raised, I ruin all my foes; Death last, and with his carcase glut the grave; Then, with the multitude of my redeemed, Shall enter Heaven, long absent, and return, Father, to see thy face, wherein no cloud Of anger shall remain, but peace assured And reconcilement: wrath shall be no more Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire. His words here ended; but his meek aspect Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love To mortal men, above which only shone Filial obedience: as a sacrifice Glad to be offered, he attends the will Of his great Father. Admiration seized All Heaven, what this might mean, and whither tend, Wondering; but soon th' Almighty thus replied: O thou in Heaven and Earth the only peace Found out for mankind under wrath, O thou My sole complacence! Well thou know'st how dear To me are all my works; nor Man the least, Though last created, that for him I spare Thee from my bosom and right hand, to save, By losing thee a while, the whole race lost. Thou, therefore, whom thou only canst redeem, Their nature also to thy nature join; And be thyself Man among men on Earth, Made flesh, when time shall be, of virgin seed, By wondrous birth; be thou in Adam's room The head of all mankind, though Adam's son. As in him perish all men, so in thee, As from a second root, shall be restored As many as are restored, without thee none. His crime makes guilty all his sons; thy merit, Imputed, shall absolve them who renounce Their own both righteous and unrighteous deeds, And live in thee transplanted, and from thee Receive new life. So Man, as is most just, Shall satisfy for Man, be judged and die, And dying rise, and rising with him raise His brethren, ransomed with his own dear life. So heavenly love shall outdo hellish hate, Giving to death, and dying to redeem, So dearly to redeem what hellish hate So easily destroyed, and still destroys In those who, when they may, accept not grace. Nor shalt thou, by descending to assume Man's nature, lessen or degrade thine own. Because thou hast, though throned in highest bliss Equal to God, and equally enjoying God-like fruition, quitted all, to save A world from utter loss, and hast been found By merit more than birthright Son of God, Found worthiest to be so by being good, Far more than great or high; because in thee Love hath abounded more than glory abounds; Therefore thy humiliation shall exalt With thee thy manhood also to this throne: Here shalt thou sit incarnate, here shalt reign Both God and Man, Son both of God and Man, Anointed universal King; all power I give thee; reign for ever, and assume Thy merits; under thee, as head supreme, Thrones, Princedoms, Powers, Dominions, I reduce: All knees to thee shall bow, of them that bide In Heaven, or Earth, or under Earth in Hell. When thou, attended gloriously from Heaven, Shalt in the sky appear, and from thee send The summoning Arch-Angels to proclaim Thy dread tribunal; forthwith from all winds, The living, and forthwith the cited dead Of all past ages, to the general doom Shall hasten; such a peal shall rouse their sleep. Then, all thy saints assembled, thou shalt judge Bad Men and Angels; they, arraigned, shall sink Beneath thy sentence; Hell, her numbers full, Thenceforth shall be for ever shut. Mean while The world shall burn, and from her ashes spring New Heaven and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell, And, after all their tribulations long, See golden days, fruitful of golden deeds, With joy and peace triumphing, and fair truth. Then thou thy regal scepter shalt lay by, For regal scepter then no more shall need, God shall be all in all. But, all ye Gods, Adore him, who to compass all this dies; Adore the Son, and honour him as me. No sooner had the Almighty ceased, but all The multitude of Angels, with a shout Loud as from numbers without number, sweet As from blest voices, uttering joy, Heaven rung With jubilee, and loud Hosannas filled The eternal regions: Lowly reverent Towards either throne they bow, and to the ground With solemn adoration down they cast Their crowns inwove with amarant and gold; Immortal amarant, a flower which once In Paradise, fast by the tree of life, Began to bloom; but soon for man's offence To Heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows, And flowers aloft shading the fount of life, And where the river of bliss through midst of Heaven Rolls o'er Elysian flowers her amber stream; With these that never fade the Spirits elect Bind their resplendent locks inwreathed with beams; Now in loose garlands thick thrown off, the bright Pavement, that like a sea of jasper shone, Impurpled with celestial roses smiled. Then, crowned again, their golden harps they took, Harps ever tuned, that glittering by their side Like quivers hung, and with preamble sweet Of charming symphony they introduce Their sacred song, and waken raptures high; No voice exempt, no voice but well could join Melodious part, such concord is in Heaven. Thee, Father, first they sung Omnipotent, Immutable, Immortal, Infinite, Eternal King; the Author of all being, Fountain of light, thyself invisible Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sit'st Throned inaccessible, but when thou shadest The full blaze of thy beams, and, through a cloud Drawn round about thee like a radiant shrine, Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear, Yet dazzle Heaven, that brightest Seraphim Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes. Thee next they sang of all creation first, Begotten Son, Divine Similitude, In whose conspicuous countenance, without cloud Made visible, the Almighty Father shines, Whom else no creature