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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


Which 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 Megara: 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 Dictaan 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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Thou therefore on these herbs, and fruits, and flowers
Feed first, on each beast next, and fish, and fowl,
No homely morsels; and whatever thing
The sithe of Time mows down, devour unspar'd;
Till I in Man residing through the race,

His thoughts, his looks, words, actions, all infect,
And season him thy last and sweetest prey.

THIS said, they both betook them several ways,
Both to destroy, or unimmortal make

All kinds, and for destruction to mature

Sooner or later; which th' Almighty seeing,
From his transcendent seat the Saints among,
To those bright Orders utter'd thus his voice.



SEE with what heat these dogs of Hell advance
To waste and havoc yonder world, which I
So fair and good created, and had still

Kept in that state, had not the folly' of Man
Let in these wasteful furies, who impute

Folly to me, so doth the prince of Hell


And his adherents, that with so much ease


I suffer them to enter and possess

A place so heav'nly, and conniving seem

To gratify my scornful enemies,

That laugh, as if transported with some fit

Of passion, I to them had quitted all,

At random yielded up to their misrule;

And know not that I call'd and drew them thither

My Hell-hounds, to lick up the draff and filth


Which Man's polluting sin with taint hath shed

On what was pure, till cramm'd and gorg'd, nigh burst

With suck'd and glutted offal, at one sling

Of thy victorious arm, well pleasing Son,

Both Sin, and Death, and yawning Grave at last
Through Chaos hurl'd, obstruct the mouth of Hell
For ever, and seal up his ravenous jaws.


Then Heav'n and Earth renew'd shall be made pure

To sanctity that shall receive no stain :

Till then the curse pronounc'd on both precedes. 640
He ended, and the heav'nly audience loud
Sung Halleluiah, as the sound of seas,

Through multitude that sung: Just are thy ways,
Righteous are thy decrees on all thy works;
Who can extenuate thee? Next, to the Son,

Destin'd restorer of mankind, by whom

New Heav'n and Earth shall to the ages rise,


Or down from Heav'n descend. Such was their song,
While the Creator calling forth by name

His mighty Angels gave them several charge,
As sorted best with present things. The sun
Had first his precept so to move, so shine,
As might affect the earth with cold and heat
Scarce tolerable, and from the north to call
Decrepit winter, from the south to bring
Solstitial summer's heat. To the blank moon

Her office they prescrib'd, to th' other five
Their planetary motions and aspécts

In sextile, square, and trine, and opposite
Of noxious efficacy, and when to join
In synod unbenign; and taught the fix'd
Their influence malignant when to shower,





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