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These adamantine gates; against all force
Death ready stands to-interpose his dart,
Fearless to be o'ermatch'd by living might.
But what owe I to his commands above
Who hates me, and had hither thrust me down
Into this gloom of Tartarus profound,
To sit in hateful office here confin'd,
Inhabitant of Heav'n, and heav'nly born,

860
Here in perpetual agony and pain,
With terrors and with clamours compass'd round
Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed?
Thou art my father, thou my author, thou
My being gavst 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 tow'ards the gate rolling her bestial train,
Forthwith the huge portcullis high up drew,
Which but herself, not all the Stygian powers
Could once have mov'd; then in the key-hole turns
Th' intricate wards, and every bolt and bar
Of massy ir'on or solid rock with ease
Unfastens : : on a sudden open fly
With impetuous recoil and jarring sound

880 Th’ infernal doors, and on their hinges grate Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook

875

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Of Erebus. · She open'd, but to shut
Excell'd her pow'r, the gates wide open stood,
That with extended wings a banner'd host 885
Under spread ensigns marching might pass through
With horse and chariots rank'd 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

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The secrets of the hoary deep, a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,
Without dimension, where length, breadth, and height,
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 mast’ry, and to battle bring
Their embryon atoms, they around the flag

900 Of each his faction, in their several clans, Light-arm’d or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift or slow, Swarm populous, un-number'd as the sands Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil, Levied to side with warring winds, and poise

905 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, ncr fire,

910

But all these in their pregnant causes mix'd
Confus’dly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th' almighty maker them ordain

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His dark materials to create more worlds ;
Into this wild abyss the wary Fiend
Stood on the brink of Hell and look'd a while,
Pond'ring his voyage; foi no narrow frith
He had to cross. Nor was his ear less peal'd 920
With noises loud and ruinous (to compare
Great things with small) than when Bellona storms,
With all her battering engines bent to raze
Some capital city'; or less than if this frame
Of Heav'n were falling, and these elements 925
In mutiny had from her axle torn
The steadfast earth. At last his sail-broad vans
He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoke
Uplifted spurns the ground; thence many a league,
As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides
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 935
The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud,
Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him
As many miles aloft : that fury stay'd,
Quench'd in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea,
Nor good dry land : nigh founder'd on he fares, 940
Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
Half flying ; behoves him now both oar and sail.

930 955

As when a gryphon through the wilderness
With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale,
Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth

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Had from his wakeful custody purloin'd
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 confus'd,
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
Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies
Bord'ring on light; when straight behold the throne
Of Chaos, and his dark pavillion spread

960 Wide on the wasteful deep; with him enthron'd Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things, The consort of his reign; and by them stood Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name Of Lemogorgon; Rumour next and Chance, 965 And Tumult and Confusion all embroil'd, And Discord with a thousand various mouths.

T'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

980

Wand'ring this darksome desert, as my way
Lies through your spacious empire up to light,
Alone, and without guide, half lost, I seek 975
What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds
Confine with Heav'n; or if some other place,
From your dominion won, th' ethereal king
Possesses lately, thither to arrive
I travel this profound; direct my course;
Directed no mean recompence it brings
To your behoof, if I that region lost,
All usurpation thence expellid, reduce
To her original darkness and your sway
(Which is my present journey), and once more

985 Erect the standard there of ancient Night; Yours be th' advantage all, mine the revenge.

Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old, With falt'ring speech and visage incompos’d, Answer'd. I know thee, stranger, who thou art, 990 That mighty leading Angel who of late Made head against Heav'n's king, though overthrown. I saw and heard, for such a numerous host Fled not in silence through the frighted deep With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,

995 Confusion worse confounded; and Heav'n gates Pour'd out by millions her victorious bands Pursuing. I upon my frontiers here Keep residence; if all I can will serve That little which is left so to defend, Encroach'd on still through your intestine broils, Weak’ning the sceptre of old Night : first Hell

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