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“ In search of this new world ? whom shall we find
“Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandering feet 405 “ The dark, unbottom'd, infinite abyss,
" And through the palpable obscure find out
Upborne with indefatigable wings,
“Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive 410 “ The happy isle? What strength, what art, can then
“Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
"All circumspection, and we now no less
“ The weight of all, and our last hope, relies.”
This said, he sat; and expectation held
To second, or oppose, or undertake,
Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each
Of those heaven-warring champions, could be found 425 So hardy as to proffer, or accept
Alone, the dreadful voyage; till at last
“O progeny of heaven, empyreal Thrones !
“Our prison strong, this huge convex of fire,
Wide-gaping, and with utter loss of being
“ Threatens him, plung’d in that abortive gulf.
“ Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape ? 445 “ But I should ill become this throne, O peers,
“ And this imperial sov'reignty, adorn'd
“Of difficulty, or danger, could deter
“ 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 honour'd sits ? Go, therefore, mighty powers, “ Terror of heaven, though fall’n ! 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
Thus saying, rose
Others among the chief might offer now
And, so refus'd, might in opinion stand
Dreaded not more the adventure, than his voice 475 Forbidding; and at once with him they rose.
Their rising all at once was as the sound
With awful reverence prone; and as a god
Extol him equal to the Highest in heaven: 480 Nor fail'd they to express how much they prais'd
That for the general safety he despis'd
Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites, 485 Or close ambition varnish'd o'er with zeal.
Thus they their doubtful consultations dark
Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread 490 Heaven's cheerful face, the lowering element
Scowls o'er the darken'd landscape snow, or shower;
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds 495 Attest their joy, that hill and valley ring.
O shame to men! devil with devil damn'd
Of heavenly grace; and, God proclaiming peace, 500 Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
Man had not hellish foes enow besides,
The Stygian council thus dissolv'd; and forth
Alone the antagonist of heaven, nor less
And god-like imitated state: him round
Then of their session ended they bid cry
Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim
Heard far and wide, and all the host of hell
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat rais'd By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers Disband, and wandering each his several way
Pursues, as inclination, or sad choice,
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
Upon the wing, or in swift race, contend,
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush 535 To battle in the clouds; before each van
Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their spears,
Others, with vast Typhæan rage, more fell,
In whirlwind : hell scarce holds the wild uproar:
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines, 545 And Lichas from the top of ta threw
Into the Euboic sea. Others, more mild,
Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall
Free virtue should inthral to force or chance.
Suspended hell, and took with ravishment 555 The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet,
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense,)
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate 560 Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute;
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.
Passion and apathy, and glory and shame; 565 Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy!
Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm
With stubborn patience, as with triple steel. 570 Another part, in squadrons and gross bands,
On bold adventure to discover wide
Four ways their flying march, along the banks 575 Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge
Into the burning lake their baleful streams;
Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Her watery labyrinth; whereof who drinks, 585 Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land 590 Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
Of ancient pile, or else deep snow and ice;