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Their mighty chief return'd: loud was th' acclaim: Forth rush'd in haste the great consulting peers, Rais'd from their dark Divan, and with like joy Congratulant approach'd him, who with hand


Silence, and with these words attention won.

THRONES, Dominations, Princedoms,Virtues, Powers,

For in possession such, not only' of right,


1 call ye and declare ye now, return'd
Successful beyond hope, to lead ye forth
Triumphant out of this infernal pit
Abominable, accurs'd, the house of woe,
And dungeon of our tyrant; now possess,


As Lords, a spacious world, to' our native Heaven

Little inferior, by my adventure hard

With peril great atchiev'd. Long were to tell

What I have done, what suffer'd, with what pain 470 Voyag'd th' unreal, vast, unbounded deep

Of horrible confusion, over which

By Sin and Death a broad way now is pav'd
To expedite your glorious march; but I
Toil'd out my uncouth passage, forc'd to ride
Th' untractable abyss, plung'd in the womb
Of unoriginal Night and Chaos wild,
That jealous of their secrets fiercely' oppos'd
My journey strange, with clamorous uproar
Protesting Fate supreme; thence how I found
The new-created world, which fame in Heaven
Long had foretold, a fabric wonderful
Of absolute perfection, therein Man

Plac'd in a Paradise, by our exile



Made happy: Him by fraud I have seduc'd
From his Creator, and the more to' increase
Your wonder, with an apple; he thereat
Offended, worth your laughter, hath giv'n up
Both his beloved Man and all his world,
To Sin and Death a prey, and so to us,
Without our hazard, labour, or alarm,



To range in, and to dwell, and over Man
To rule, as over all he should have rul❜d.
True is, me also he hath judg'd, or rather
Me not, but the brute serpent in whose shape
Man I deceiv'd: that which to me belongs,
Is enmity, which he will put between


Me and mankind; I am to bruise his heel;

His seed, when is not set, shall bruise my head;
A world who would not purchase with a bruise,
Or much more grievous pain? Ye have th' account


Of my performance: What remains, ye Gods,
But up and enter now into full bliss?

So having said, a while he stood, expecting

Their universal shout and high applause
To fill his ear, when contrary he hears
On all sides, from innumerable tongues
A dismal universal hiss, the sound

Of public scorn; he wonder'd, but not long
Had leisure, wond'ring at himself now more';
His visage drawn he felt to sharp and spare,
His arms clung to his ribs, his legs intwining
Each other, till supplanted down he fell
A monstrous serpent on his belly prone,



Reluctant, but in vain, a greater power

Now rul'd him, punish'd in the shape he sinn'd
According to his doom: he would have spoke,
But hiss for hiss return'd with forked tongue

To forked tongue, for now were all transform'd
Alike, to serpents all as accessories



To his bold riot; dreadful was the din

Of hissing through the hall, thick swarming now
With complicated monsters head and tail,
Scorpion, and Asp, and Amphisbæna dire,

Cerastes horn'd, Hydrus, and Elops drear,


And Dipsas (not so thick swarm'd once the soil
Bedropt with blood of Gorgon, or the isle
Ophiusa) but still greatest he the midst,
Now Dragon grown, larger than whom the sun
Engender'd in the Pythian vale on slime,
Huge Python, and his pow'r no less he seem'd
Above the rest still to retain; they all
Him follow'd issuing forth to th' open field,
Where all yet left of that revolted rout
Heav'n-fall'n, in station stood or just array,



Sublime with expectation when to see

In triumph issuing forth their glorious chief;

They saw, but other sight instead, a crowd

Of ugly serpents; horror on them fell,

And horrid sympathy; for what they saw,


They felt themselves now changing; down their arms,

Down fell both spear and shield, down they as fast,

And the dire hiss renew'd, and the dire form

Catch'd by contagion, like in punishment,

As in their crime. Thus was th' applause they meant, Turn'd to exploding hiss, triumph to shame


Cast on themselves from their own mouths. There


A grove hard by, sprung up with this their change,
His will who reigns above, to aggravate

Their penance, laden with fair fruit, like that grew in Paradise, the bait of Eve



Us'd by the Tempter: on that prospect strange
Their earnest eyes they fix'd, imagining

For one forbidden tree a multitude

Now ris'n, to work them further woe or shame ;
Yet parch'd with scalding thirst and hunger fierce,
Though to delude them sent, could not abstain,
But on they roll'd in heaps, and up the trees
Climbing, sat thicker than the snaky locks
That curl'd Megæra: greedily they pluck'd
The fruitage fair to sight, like that which grew
Near that bituminous lake where Sodom flam'd;
This more delusive, not the touch, but taste
Deceiv'd; they fondly thinking to allay
Their appetite with gust, instead of fruit




Chew'd bitter ashes, which th' offended taste

With spattering noise rejected: oft they' assay'd,
Hunger and thirst constraining, drugg'd as oft,
With hatefullest disrelish writh'd their jaws
With soot and cinders fill'd; so oft they fell
Into the same illusion, not as Man,
Whom they triumph'd once laps'd.


Thus were they


And worn with famine, long and ceaseless hiss,
Till their lost shape, permitted, they resum'd,
Yearly enjoin'd, some say, to undergo

This annual humbling certain number'd days,
To dash their pride, and joy for Man seduc'd.
However some tradition they dispers'd
Among the Heathen of their purchase got,
And fabled how the Serpent, whom they call'd
Ophion with Eurynome, the wide

Encroaching Eve perhaps, had first the rule
Of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driven
And Ops, ere yet Dictæan Jove was born.




MEANWHILE in Paradise the hellish pair Too soon arriv'd, Sin there in pow'r before, Once actual, now in body, and to dwell Habitual habitant; behind her Death Close following pace for pace, not mounted yet On his pale horse; to whom Sin thus began. Second of Satan sprung, all-conqu❜ring Death, What think'st thou of our empire now, though earn'd With travel difficult, not better far


Than still at Hell's dark threshold to' have sat watch,

Unnam'd, undreaded, and thyself half starv'd?

WHOм thus the Sin-born monster answer'd soon.

To me, who with eternal famine pine,

Alike is Hell, or Paradise, or Heaven,


There best, where most with ravine I may meet;
Which here, though plenteous, all too little seems 600
To stuff this maw,
this vast unhide-bound corpse.

To whom th' incestuous mother thus reply'd.

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