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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, 821
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
The unfounded Deep, and through the void immense
To search, with wandering quest, a place foretold 830
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

840
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

850 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-

860
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." 870

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
The 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,

880
The 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

890
The secrets of the hoary Deep,-a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,
Without dimension ; where length, breadth, and highth,
And time, and place, are lost; where eldest Night
And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold
Eternal 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

900 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 the Almighty Maker them ordain His dark materials to create more worldsInto 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 920 With noises loud and ruinous (to compare Great things with small) than when Bellona storms

910

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 spreads for fight, and, in the surging smoke
Uplifted, spurns the ground ; thence many a league,
As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides

930
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, 940
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. 950
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

960

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.

To whom Satan, turning boldly, thus :-“Ye Powers
And Spirits of this nethermost Abyss,
Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy

970 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, the 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 the 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—990 That mighty leading Angel, who of late Made head against Heaven's King, though overthrown.

Q

980

VOL. II

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