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Paradise Lost: Book 01

Written by: John Milton | Biography
 | Quotes (101) |
 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 transprots 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 reigh 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 fraoud 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 nigntly 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 proch 
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 eteranl 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' Almighth!--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 aviled 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.



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