Paradise Lost: Book II (1674)

Original Text: 
John Milton, Paradise Lost, 2nd edn. (London: Samuel Simmons, 1674). A transcription by Roy Flannagan of the second (1674) edition in John Milton's Complete Poetical Works Reproduced in Photographic Facsimile. A Critical Text Edition, ed. Harris Francis Fletcher, III (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1948). PR 3551 F52 Robarts Library. As published in Ian Lancashire, in collaboration with John Bradley, Willard McCarty, Michael Stairs, and T. R. Wooldridge, Using TACT and Electronic Texts: Text-Analysis Computing Tools Vers. 2.1 for MS-DOS and PC DOS (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1996). CD-ROM.
The Consultation begun, Satan debates whether another Battel to be hazarded for the recovery of Heaven: some advise it, others dissuade: A third proposal is prefer'd, mention'd before by Satan to search the truth of that Prophesie or Tradition in Heaven concerning another world, and another kind of creature equal or not much inferiour to themselves, about this time to be created: Thir doubt who shall be sent on this difficult search: Satan thir chief undertakes alone the voyage, is honourd and applauded. The Councel thus ended, the rest betake them several wayes and to several imployments, as thir inclinations lead them, to entertain the time till Satan return. He passes on his Journey to Hell Gates, finds them shut, and who sat there to guard them, by whom at length they are op'nd, and discover to him the great Gulf between Hell and Heaven; with what difficulty he passes through, directed by Chaos, the Power of that place, to the sight of this new World which he sought.
1HIgh on a Throne of Royal State, which far
2Outshon the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,
3Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand
4Showrs on her Kings Barbaric Pearl and Gold,
5Satan exalted sat, by merit rais'd
6To that bad eminence; and from despair
7Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
8Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue
9Vain Warr with Heav'n, and by success untaught
10His proud imaginations thus displaid.
11Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heav'n,
12For since no deep within her gulf can hold
13Immortal vigor, though opprest and fall'n,
14I give not Heav'n for lost. From this descent
15Celestial vertues rising, will appear
16More glorious and more dread then from no fall,
17And trust themselves to fear no second fate:
18Mee though just right, and the fixt Laws of Heav'n
19Did first create your Leader, next free choice,
20With what besides, in Counsel or in Fight,
21Hath bin achievd of merit, yet this loss
22Thus farr at least recover'd, hath much more
23Establisht in a safe unenvied Throne
24Yielded with full consent. The happier state
25In Heav'n, which follows dignity, might draw
26Envy from each inferior; but who here
27Will envy whom the highest place exposes
28Formost to stand against the Thunderers aim
29Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share
30Of endless pain? where there is then no good
31For which to strive, no strife can grow up there
32From Faction; for none sure will claim in Hell
33Precedence, none, whose portion is so small
34Of present pain, that with ambitious mind
35Will covet more. With this advantage then
36To union, and firm Faith, and firm accord,
37More then can be in Heav'n, we now return
38To claim our just inheritance of old,
39Surer to prosper then prosperity
40Could have assur'd us; and by what best way,
41Whether of open Warr or covert guile,
42We now debate; who can advise, may speak.
43He ceas'd, and next him Moloc, Scepter'd King
44Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest Spirit
45That fought in Heav'n; now fiercer by despair:
46His trust was with th' Eternal to be deem'd
47Equal in strength, and rather then be less
48Car'd not to be at all; with that care lost
49Went all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse
50He reck'd not, and these words thereafter spake.
51My sentence is for open Warr: Of Wiles,
52More unexpert, I boast not: them let those
53Contrive who need, or when they need, not now.
54For while they sit contriving, shall the rest,
55Millions that stand in Arms, and longing wait
56The Signal to ascend, sit lingring here
57Heav'ns fugitives, and for thir dwelling place
58Accept this dark opprobrious Den of shame,
59The Prison of his Tyranny who Reigns
60By our delay? no, let us rather choose
61Arm'd with Hell flames and fury all at once
62O're Heav'ns high Towrs to force resistless way,
63Turning our Tortures into horrid Arms
64Against the Torturer; when to meet the noise
65Of his Almighty Engin he shall hear
66Infernal Thunder, and for Lightning see
67Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
68Among his Angels; and his Throne it self
69Mixt with Tartarean Sulphur, and strange fire,
70His own invented Torments. But perhaps
71The way seems difficult and steep to scale
72With upright wing against a higher foe.
73Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
74Of that forgetful Lake benumm not still,
75That in our proper motion we ascend
76Up to our native seat: descent and fall
77To us is adverse. Who but felt of late
78When the fierce Foe hung on our brok'n Rear
79Insulting, and pursu'd us through the Deep,
80With what compulsion and laborious flight
81We sunk thus low? Th' ascent is easie then;
82Th' event is fear'd; should we again provoke
83Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find
84To our destruction: if there be in Hell
85Fear to be worse destroy'd: what can be worse
86Then to dwell here, driv'n out from bliss, condemn'd
87In this abhorred deep to utter woe;
88Where pain of unextinguishable fire
89Must exercise us without hope of end
90The Vassals of his anger, when the Scourge
91Inexorably, and the torturing hour
92Calls us to Penance? More destroy'd then thus
93We should be quite abolisht and expire.
94What fear we then? what doubt we to incense
95His utmost ire? which to the highth enrag'd,
96Will either quite consume us, and reduce
97To nothing this essential, happier farr
98Then miserable to have eternal being:
99Or if our substance be indeed Divine,
100And cannot cease to be, we are at worst
101On this side nothing; and by proof we feel
102Our power sufficient to disturb his Heav'n,
103And with perpetual inrodes to Allarme,
104Though inaccessible, his fatal Throne:
105Which if not Victory is yet Revenge.
106He ended frowning, and his look denounc'd
107Desperate revenge, and Battel dangerous
108To less then Gods. On th' other side up rose
109Belial, in act more graceful and humane;
110A fairer person lost not Heav'n; he seemd
111For dignity compos'd and high exploit:
112But all was false and hollow; though his Tongue
113Dropt Manna, and could make the worse appear
114The better reason, to perplex and dash
115Maturest Counsels: for his thoughts were low;
116To vice industrious, but to Nobler deeds
117Timorous and slothful: yet he pleas'd the ear,
118And with perswasive accent thus began.
119I should be much for open Warr, O Peers,
120As not behind in hate; if what was urg'd
121Main reason to perswade immediate Warr,
122Did not disswade me most, and seem to cast
123Ominous conjecture on the whole success:
124When he who most excels in fact of Arms,
125In what he counsels and in what excels
126Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair
127And utter dissolution, as the scope
128Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
129First, what Revenge? the Towrs of Heav'n are fill'd
130With Armed watch, that render all access
131Impregnable; oft on the bordering Deep
132Encamp thir Legions, or with obscure wing
133Scout farr and wide into the Realm of night,
134Scorning surprize. Or could we break our way
135By force, and at our heels all Hell should rise
136With blackest Insurrection, to confound
137Heav'ns purest Light, yet our great Enemy
138All incorruptible would on his Throne
139Sit unpolluted, and th' Ethereal mould
140Incapable of stain would soon expel
141Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire
142Victorious. Thus repuls'd, our final hope
143Is flat despair: we must exasperate
144Th' Almighty Victor to spend all his rage,
145And that must end us, that must be our cure,
146To be no more; sad cure; for who would loose,
147Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
148Those thoughts that wander through Eternity,
149To perish rather, swallowd up and lost
150In the wide womb of uncreated night,
151Devoid of sense and motion? and who knows,
152Let this be good, whether our angry Foe
153Can give it, or will ever? how he can
154Is doubtful; that he never will is sure.
155Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,
156Belike through impotence, or unaware,
157To give his Enemies thir wish, and end
158Them in his anger, whom his anger saves
159To punish endless? wherefore cease we then?
160Say they who counsel Warr, we are decreed,
161Reserv'd and destin'd to Eternal woe;
162Whatever doing, what can we suffer more,
163What can we suffer worse? is this then worst,
164Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in Arms?
165What when we fled amain, pursu'd and strook
166With Heav'ns afflicting Thunder, and besought
167The Deep to shelter us? this Hell then seem'd
168A refuge from those wounds: or when we lay
169Chain'd on the burning Lake? that sure was worse.
170What if the breath that kindl'd those grim fires
171Awak'd should blow them into sevenfold rage
172And plunge us in the flames? or from above
173Should intermitted vengeance arm again
174His red right hand to plague us? what if all
175Her stores were open'd, and this Firmament
176Of Hell should spout her Cataracts of Fire
177Impendent horrors, threatning hideous fall
178One day upon our heads; while we perhaps
179Designing or exhorting glorious warr,
180Caught in a fierie Tempest shall be hurl'd
181Each on his rock transfixt, the sport and prey
182Of racking whirlwinds, or for ever sunk
183Under yon boyling Ocean, wrapt in Chains;
184There to converse with everlasting groans,
185Unrespited, unpitied, unrepreevd,
186Ages of hopeless end; this would be worse.
187Warr therefore, open or conceal'd, alike
188My voice disswades; for what can force or guile
189With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye
190Views all things at one view? he from heav'ns highth
191All these our motions vain, sees and derides;
192Not more Almighty to resist our might
193Then wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.
194Shall we then live thus vile, the Race of Heav'n
195Thus trampl'd, thus expell'd to suffer here
196Chains and these Torments? better these then worse
197By my advice; since fate inevitable
198Subdues us, and Omnipotent Decree,
199The Victors will. To suffer, as to doe,
200Our strength is equal, nor the Law unjust
201That so ordains: this was at first resolv'd,
202If we were wise, against so great a foe
203Contending, and so doubtful what might fall.
204I laugh, when those who at the Spear are bold
205And vent'rous, if that fail them, shrink and fear
206What yet they know must follow, to endure
207Exile, or ignominy, or bonds, or pain,
208The sentence of thir Conquerour: This is now
209Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear,
210Our Supream Foe in time may much remit
211His anger, and perhaps thus farr remov'd
212Not mind us not offending, satisfi'd
213With what is punish't; whence these raging fires
214Will slack'n, if his breath stir not thir flames.
215Our purer essence then will overcome
216Thir noxious vapour, or enur'd not feel,
217Or chang'd at length, and to the place conformd
218In temper and in nature, will receive
219Familiar the fierce heat, and void of pain;
220This horror will grow milde, this darkness light,
221Besides what hope the never-ending flight
222Of future dayes may bring, what chance, what change
223Worth waiting, since our present lot appeers
224For happy though but ill, for ill not worst,
225If we procure not to our selves more woe.
226Thus Belial with words cloath'd in reasons garb
227Counsel'd ignoble ease, and peaceful sloath,
228Not peace: and after him thus Mammon spake.
229Either to disinthrone the King of Heav'n
230We warr, if warr be best, or to regain
231Our own right lost: him to unthrone we then
232May hope when everlasting Fathe shall yeild
233To fickle Chance and Chaos judge the strife:
234The former vain to hope argues as vain
235The latter: for what place can be for us
236Within Heav'ns bound, unless Heav'ns Lord supream
237We overpower? Suppose he should relent
238And publish Grace to all, on promise made
239Of new Subjection; with what eyes could we
240Stand in his presence humble, and receive
241Strict Laws impos'd, to celebrate his Throne
242With warbl'd Hymns, and to his God head sing
243Forc't Halleluia's; while he Lordly sits
244Our envied Sovran, and his Altar breathes
245Ambrosial Odours and Ambrosial Flowers,
246Our servile offerings. This must be our task
247In Heav'n this our delight; how wearisom
248Eternity so spent in worship paid
249To whom we hate. Let us not then pursue
250By force impossible, by leave obtain'd
251Unacceptable, though in Heav'n, our state
252Of splendid vassalage, but rather seek
253Our own good from our selves, and from our own
254Live to our selves, though in this vast recess,
255Free, and to none accountable, preferring
256Hard liberty before the easie yoke
257Of servile Pomp. Our greatness will appeer
258Then most conspicuous, when great things of small,
259Useful of hurtful, prosperous of adverse
260We can create, and in what place so e're
261Thrive under evil, and work ease out of pain
262Through labour and indurance. This deep world
263Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst
264Thick clouds and dark doth Heav'ns all-ruling Sire
265Choose to reside, his Glory unobscur'd,
266And with the Majesty of darkness round
267Covers his Throne; from whence deep thunders roar
268Must'ring thir rage, and Heav'n resembles Hell?
269As he our darkness, cannot we his Light
270Imitate when we please? This Desart soile
271Wants not her hidden lustre, Gemms and Gold;
272Nor want we skill or Art, from whence to raise
273Magnificence; and what can Heav'n shew more?
274Our torments also may in length of time
275Become our Elements, these piercing Fires
276As soft as now severe, our temper chang'd
277Into their temper; which must needs remove
278The sensible of pain. All things invite
279To peaceful Counsels, and the settl'd State
280Of order, how in safety best we may
281Compose our present evils, with regard
282Of what we are and were, dismissing quite
283All thoughts of warr: ye have what I advise.
284He scarce had finisht, when such murmur filld
285Th' Assembly, as when hollow Rocks retain
286The sound of blustring winds, which all night long
287Had rous'd the Sea, now with hoarse cadence lull
288Sea-faring men orewatcht, whose Bark by chance
289Or Pinnace anchors in a craggy Bay
290After the Tempest: Such applause was heard
291As Mammon ended, and his Sentence pleas'd,
292Advising peace: for such another Field
293They dreaded worse then Hell: so much the fear
294Of Thunder and the Sword of Michael
295Wrought still within them; and no less desire
296To found this nether Empire, which might rise
297By pollicy, and long process of time,
298In emulation opposite to Heav'n.
299Which when Beelzebub perceiv'd, then whom,
300Satan except, none higher sat, with grave
301Aspect he rose, and in his rising seem'd
302A Pillar of State; deep on his Front engraven
303Deliberation sat and public care;
304And Princely counsel in his face yet shon,
305Majestic though in ruin: sage he stood
306With Atlantean shoulders fit to bear
307The weight of mightiest Monarchies; his look
308Drew audience and attention still as Night
309Or Summers Noon-tide air, while thus he spake.
310Thrones and Imperial Powers, off-spring of heav'n
311Ethereal Vertues; or these Titles now
312Must we renounce, and changing stile be call'd
313Princes of Hell? for so the popular vote
314Inclines, here to continue, and build up here
315A growing Empire; doubtless; while we dream,
316And know not that the King of Heav'n hath doom'd
317This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat
318Beyond his Potent arm, to live exempt
319From Heav'ns high jurisdiction, in new League
320Banded against his Throne, but to remaine
321In strictest bondage, though thus far remov'd,
322Under th' inevitable curb, reserv'd
323His captive multitude: For he, be sure
324In heighth or depth, still first and last will Reign
325Sole King, and of his Kingdom loose no part
326By our revolt, but over Hell extend
327His Empire, and with Iron Scepter rule
328Us here, as with his Golden those in Heav'n.
329What sit we then projecting peace and Warr?
330Warr hath determin'd us, and foild with loss
331Irreparable; tearms of peace yet none
332Voutsaf't or sought; for what peace will be giv'n
333To us enslav'd, but custody severe,
334And stripes, and arbitrary punishment
335Inflicted? and what peace can we return,
336But to our power hostility and hate,
337Untam'd reluctance, and revenge though slow,
338Yet ever plotting how the Conqueror least
339May reap his conquest, and may least rejoyce
340In doing what we most in suffering feel?
341Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need
342With dangerous expedition to invade
343Heav'n, whose high walls fear no assault or Siege,
344Or ambush from the Deep. What if we find
345Some easier enterprize? There is a place
346(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heav'n
347Err not) another World, the happy seat
348Of some new Race call'd Man, about this time
349To be created like to us, though less
350In power and excellence, but favour'd more
351Of him who rules above; so was his will
352Pronounc'd among the Gods, and by an Oath,
353That shook Heav'ns whol circumference, confirm'd.
354Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
355What creatures there inhabit, of what mould,
356Or substance, how endu'd, and what thir Power,
357And where thir weakness, how attempted best,
358By force or suttlety: Though Heav'n be shut,
359And Heav'ns high Arbitrator sit secure
360In his own strength, this place may lye expos'd
361The utmost border of his Kingdom, left
362To their defence who hold it: here perhaps
363Som advantagious act may be achiev'd
364By sudden onset, either with Hell fire
365To waste his whole Creation, or possess
366All as our own, and drive as we were driven,
367The punie habitants, or if not drive,
368Seduce them to our Party, that thir God
369May prove thir foe, and with repenting hand
370Abolish his own works. This would surpass
371Common revenge, and interrupt his joy
372In our Confusion, and our joy upraise
373In his disturbance; when his darling Sons
374HurI'd headlong to partake with us, shall curse
375Thir frail Original, and faded bliss,
376Faded so soon. Advise if this be worth
377Attempting, or to sit in darkness here
378Hatching vain Empires. Thus Beelzebub
379Pleaded his devilish Counsel, first devis'd
380By Satan, and in part propos'd: for whence,
381But from the Author of all ill could Spring
382So deep a malice, to confound the race
383Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell
384To mingle and involve, done all to spite
385The great Creatour? But thir spite still serves
386His glory to augment. The bold design
387Pleas'd highly those infernal States, and joy
388Sparkl'd in all thir eyes; with full assent
389They vote: whereat his speech he thus renews.
390Well have ye judg'd, well ended long debate,
391Synod of Gods, and like to what ye are,
392Great things resolv'd; which from the lowest deep
393Will once more lift us up, in spight of Fate,
394Neerer our ancient Seat; perhaps in view
395Of those bright confines, whence with neighbouring Arms
396And opportune excursion we may chance
397Re-enter Heav'n; or else in some milde Zone
398Dwell not unvisited of Heav'ns fair Light
399Secure, and at the brightning Orient beam
400Purge off this gloom; the soft delicious Air,
401To heal the scarr of these corrosive Fires
402Shall breathe her balme. But first whom shall we send
403In search of this new world, whom shall we find
404Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandring feet
405The dark unbottom'd infinite Abyss
406And through the palpable obscure find out
407His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight
408Upborn with indefatigable wings
409Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
410The happy Ile; what strength, what art can then
411Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
412Through the strict Senteries and Stations thick
413Of Angels watching round? Here he had need
414All circumspection, and we now no less
415Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send,
416The weight of all and our last hope relies.
417This said, he sat; and expectation held
418His look suspence, awaiting who appeer'd
419To second, or oppose, or undertake
420The perilous attempt: but all sat mute,
421Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each
422In others count'nance read his own dismay
423Astonisht: none among the choice and prime
424Of those Heav'n-warring Champions could be found
425So hardie as to proffer or accept
426Alone the dreadful voyage; till at last
427Satan, whom now transcendent glory rais'd
428Above his fellows, with Monarchal pride
429Conscious of highest worth, unmov'd thus spake.
430O Progeny of Heav'n, Empyreal Thrones,
431With reason hath deep silence and demurr
432Seis'd us, though undismaid: long is the way
433And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light;
434Our prison strong, this huge convex of Fire,
435Outrageous to devour, immures us round
436Ninefold, and gates of burning Adamant
437Barr'd over us prohibit all egress.
438These past, if any pass, the void profound
439Of unessential Night receives him next
440Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being
441Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf.
442If thence he scape into whatever world,
443Or unknown Region, what remains him less
444Then unknown dangers and as hard escape.
445But I should ill become this Throne, O Peers,
446And this Imperial Sov'ranty, adorn'd
447With splendor, arm'd with power, if aught propos'd
448And judg'd of public moment, in the shape
449Of difficulty or danger could deterr
450Mee from attempting. Wherefore do I assume
451These Royalties, and not refuse to Reign,
452Refusing to accept as great a share
453Of hazard as of honour, due alike
454To him who Reigns, and so much to him due
455Of hazard more, as he above the rest
456High honourd sits? Go therfore mighty Powers,
457Terror of Heav'n, though fall'n; intend at home,
458While here shall be our home, what best may ease
459The present misery, and render Hell
460More tollerable; if there be cure or charm
461To respite or deceive, or slack the pain
462Of this ill Mansion: intermit no watch
463Against a wakeful Foe, while I abroad
464Through all the Coasts of dark destruction seek
465Deliverance for us all: this enterprize
466None shall partake with me. Thus saying rose
467The Monarch, and prevented all reply,
468Prudent, least from his resolution rais'd
469Others among the chief might offer now
470(Certain to be refus'd) what erst they feard;
471And so refus'd might in opinion stand
472His Rivals, winning cheap the high repute
473Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they
474Dreaded not more th' adventure then his voice
475Forbidding; and at once with him they rose;
476Thir rising all at once was as the sound
477Of Thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend
478With awful reverence prone; and as a God
479Extoll him equal to the highest in Heav'n:
480Nor fail'd they to express how much they prais'd,
481That for the general safety he despis'd
482His own: for neither do the Spirits damn'd
484Thir specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,
485Or clos ambition varnisht o're with zeal.
486Thus they thir doubtful consultations dark
487Ended rejoycing in thir matchless Chief:
488As when from mountain tops the dusky clouds
489Ascending, while the North wind sleeps, o'respread
490Heav'ns chearful face, the lowring Element
491Scowls ore the dark'nd lantskip Snow, or showre;
492If chance the radiant Sun with farewell sweet
493Extend his ev'ning beam, the fields revive,
494The birds thir notes renew, and bleating herds
495Attest thir joy, that hill and valley rings.
496O shame to men! Devil with Devil damn'd
497Firm concord holds, men onely disagree
498Of Creatures rational, though under hope
499Of heavenly Grace: and God proclaiming peace,
500Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
501Among themselves, and levie cruel warres,
502Wasting the Earth, each other to destroy:
503As if (which might induce us to accord)
504Man had not hellish foes anow besides,
505That day and night for his destruction waite.
506The Stygian Counsel thus dissolv'd; and forth
507In order came the grand infernal Peers,
508Midst came thir mighty Paramount, and seemd
509Alone th' Antagonist of Heav'n, nor less
510Than Hells dread Emperour with pomp Supream,
511And God-like imitated State; him round
512A Globe of fierie Seraphim inclos'd
513With bright imblazonrie, and horrent Arms.
514Then of thir Session ended they bid cry
515With Trumpets regal sound the great result:
516Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim
517Put to thir mouths the sounding Alchymie
518By Haralds voice explain'd: the hollow Abyss
519Heard farr and wide, and all the host of Hell
520With deafning shout, return'd them loud acclaim.
521Thence more at ease thir minds and somwhat rais'd
522By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers
523Disband, and wandring, each his several way
524Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
525Leads him perplext, where he may likeliest find
526Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
528Part on the Plain, or in the Air sublime
529Upon the wing, or in swift Race contend,
530As at th' Olympian Games or Pythian fields;
531Part curb thir fierie Steeds, or shun the Goal
532With rapid wheels, or fronted Brigads form.
533As when to warn proud Cities warr appears
534Wag'd in the troubl'd Skie, and Armies rush
535To Battel in the Clouds, before each Van
536Prick forth the Aerie Knights, and couch thir Spears
537Till thickest Legions close; with feats of Arms
538From either end of Heav'n the welkin burns.
539Others with vast Typhoean rage more fell
540Rend up both Rocks and Hills, and ride the Air
541In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wilde uproar.
542As when Alcides from Oechalia Crown'd
543With conquest, felt th' envenom'd robe, and tore
544Through pain up by the roots Thessalian Pines,
545And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw
546Into th' Euboic Sea. Others more milde,
547Retreated in a silent valley, sing
548With notes Angelical to many a Harp
549Thir own Heroic deeds and hapless fall
550By doom of Battel; and complain that Fate
551Free Vertue should enthrall to Force or Chance.
552Thir Song was partial, but the harmony
553(What could it less when Spirits immortal sing?)
554Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
555The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet
556(For Eloquence the Soul, Song charms the Sense,)
557Others apart sat on a Hill retir'd,
558In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
559Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will and Fate,
560Fixt Fate, free will, foreknowledg absolute,
561And found no end, in wandring mazes lost.
562Of good and evil much they argu'd then,
563Of happiness and final misery,
564Passion and Apathie, and glory and shame,
565Vain wisdom all, and false Philosophie:
566Yet with a pleasing sorcerie could charm
567Pain for a while or anguish, and excite
568Fallacious hope, or arm th' obdured brest
569With stubborn patience as with triple steel.
570Another part in Squadrons and gross Bands,
571On bold adventure to discover wide
572That dismal world, if any Clime perhaps
573Might yield them easier habitation, bend
574Four ways thir flying March, along the Banks
575Of four infernal Rivers that disgorge
576Into the burning Lake thir baleful streams;
577Abhorred Styx the flood of deadly hate,
578Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;
579Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud
580Heard on the ruful stream; fierce Phlegeton
581Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
582Farr off from these a slow and silent stream,
583Lethe the River of Oblivion roules
584Her watrie Labyrinth, whereof who drinks,
585Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
586Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
587Beyond this flood a frozen Continent
588Lies dark and wilde, beat with perpetual storms
589Of Whirlwind and dire Hail, which on firm land
590Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
591Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice,
592A gulf profound as that Serbonian Bog
593Betwixt Damiata and mount Casius old,
594Where Armies whole have sunk: the parching Air
595Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of Fire.
596Thither by harpy-footed Furies hail'd,
597At certain revolutions all the damn'd
598Are brought: and feel by turns the bitter change
599Of fierce extreams, extreams by change more fierce,
600From Beds of raging Fire to starve in Ice
601Thir soft Ethereal warmth, and there to pine
602Immovable, infixt, and frozen round,
603Periods of time, thence hurried back to fire.
604They ferry over this Lethean Sound
605Both to and fro, thir sorrow to augment,
606And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach
607The tempting stream, with one small drop to loose
608In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,
609All in one moment, and so neer the brink;
610But Fate withstands, and to oppose th' attempt
611Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards
612The Ford, and of it self the water flies
613All taste of living wight, as once it fled
614The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on
615In confus'd march forlorn, th' adventrous Bands
616With shuddring horror pale, and eyes agast
617View'd first thir lamentable lot, and found
618No rest: through many a dark and drearie Vaile
619They pass'd, and many a Region dolorous,
620O're many a Frozen, many a fierie Alpe,
621Rocks, Caves, Lakes, Fens, Bogs, Dens, and shades of death,
622A Universe of death, which God by curse
623Created evil, for evil only good,
624Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds,
625Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
626Abominable, inutterable, and worse
627Than Fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceiv'd,
628Gorgons and Hydra's, and Chimera's dire.
629Mean while the Adversary of God and Man,
630Satan with thoughts inflam'd of highest design,
631Puts on swift wings, and towards the Gates of Hell
632Explores his solitary flight; som times
633He scours the right hand coast, som times the left,
634Now shaves with level wing the Deep, then soares
635Up to the fiery Concave touring high.
636As when farr off at Sea a Fleet descri'd
637Hangs in the Clouds, by Aequinoctial Winds
638Close sailing from Bengala, or the Iles
639Of Ternate and Tidore, whence Merchants bring
640Thir spicie Drugs: they on the Trading Flood
641Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape
642Ply stemming nightly toward the Pole. So seem'd
643Farr off the flying Fiend: at last appeer
644Hell bounds high reaching to the horrid Roof,
645And thrice threefold the Gates; three folds were Brass,
646Three Iron, three of Adamantine Rock,
647Impenetrable, impal'd with circling fire,
648Yet unconsum'd. Before the Gates there sat
649On either side a formidable shape;
650The one seem'd Woman to the waste, and fair,
651But ended foul in many a scaly fould
652Voluminous and vast, a Serpent arm'd
653With mortal sting: about her middle round
654A cry of Hell Hounds never ceasing bark'd
655With wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rung
656A hideous Peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
657If aught disturb'd thir noyse, into her woomb,
658And kennel there, yet there still bark'd and howl'd,
659Within unseen. Farr less abhorrd than these
660Vex'd Scylla bathing in the Sea that parts
661Calabria from the hoarce Trinacrian shore:
662Nor uglier follow the Night-Hag, when call'd
663In secret, riding through the Air she comes
664Lur'd with the smell of infant blood, to dance
665With Lapland Witches, while the labouring Moon
666Eclipses at thir charms. The other shape,
667If shape it might be call'd that shape had none
668Distinguishable in member, joynt, or limb,
669Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
670For each seem'd either; black it stood as Night,
671Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,
672And shook a dreadful Dart; what seem'd his head
673The likeness of a Kingly Crown had on.
674Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
675The Monster moving onward came as fast
676With horrid strides, Hell trembled as he strode.
677Th' undaunted Fiend what this might be admir'd,
678Admir'd, not fear'd; God and his Son except,
679Created thing naught valu'd he nor shun'd;
680And with disdainful look thus first began.
681Whence and what art thou, execrable shape,
682That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
683Thy miscreated Front athwart my way
684To yonder Gates? through them I mean to pass,
685That be assur'd, without leave askt of thee:
686Retire, or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,
687Hell-born, not to contend with Spirits of Heav'n.
688To whom the Goblin full of wrauth reply'd,
689Art thou that Traitor Angel, art thou hee,
690Who first broke peace in Heav'n and Faith, till then
691Unbrok'n, and in proud rebellious Arms
692Drew after him the third part of Heav'ns Sons
693Conjur'd against the highest, for which both Thou
694And they outcast from God, are here condemn'd
695To waste Eternal dayes in woe and pain?
696And reck'n'st thou thy self with Spirits of Heav'n,
697Hell-doom'd, and breath'st defiance here and scorn
698Where I reign King, and to enrage thee more,
699Thy King and Lord? Back to thy punishment,
700False fugitive, and to thy speed add wings,
701Least with a whip of Scorpions I pursue
702Thy lingring, or with one stroke of this Dart
703Strange horror seise thee, and pangs unfelt before.
704So spake the grieslie terrour, and in shape,
705So speaking and so threatning, grew tenfold
706More dreadful and deform: on th' other side
707Incenst with indignation Satan stood
708Unterrifi'd, and like a Comet burn'd,
709That fires the length of Ophiucus huge
710In th' Artick Sky, and from his horrid hair
711Shakes Pestilence and Warr. Each at the Head
712Level'd his deadly aime; thir fatall hands
713No second stroke intend, and such a frown
714Each cast at th' other, as when two black Clouds
715With Heav'ns Artillery fraught, come rattling on
716Over the Caspian, then stand front to front
717Hov'ring a space, till Winds the signal blow
718To joyn thir dark Encounter in mid air:
719So frownd the mighty Combatants, that Hell
720Grew darker at thir frown, so matcht they stood;
721For never but once more was either like
722To meet so great a foe: and now great deeds
723Had been achiev'd, whereof all Hell had rung,
724Had not the Snakie Sorceress that sat
725Fast by Hell Gate, and kept the fatal Key,
726Ris'n, and with hideous outcry rush'd between.
727O Father, what intends thy hand, she cry'd,
728Against thy only Son? What fury O Son,
729Possesses thee to bend that mortal Dart
730Against thy Fathers head? and know'st for whom;
731For him who sits above and laughs the while
732At thee ordain'd his drudge, to execute
733What e're his wrath, which he calls justice, bids,
734His wrath which one day will destroy ye both.
735She spake, and at her words the hellish Pest
736Forbore, then these to her Satan return'd:
737So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strange
738Thou interposest, that my sudden hand
739Prevented spares to tell thee yet by deeds
740What it intends; till first I know of thee,
741What thing thou art, thus double-form'd, and why
742In this infernal Vaile first met thou call'st
743Me Father, and that Fantasm ca11'st my Son?
744I know thee not, nor ever saw till now
745Sight more detestable then him and thee.
746T' whom thus the Portress of Hell Gate reply'd;
747Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem
748Now in thine eyes so foul, once deemd so fair
749In Heav'n, when at th' Assembly, and in sight
750Of all the Seraphim with thee combin'd
751In bold conspiracy against Heav'ns King,
752All on a sudden miserable pain
753Surpris'd thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzie swumm
754In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast
755Threw forth, till on the left side op'ning wide,
756Likest to thee in shape and count'nance bright,
757Then shining heav'nly fair, a Goddess arm'd
758Out of thy head I sprung: amazement seis'd
759All th' Host of Heav'n; back they recoild affraid
760At first, and call'd me Sin, and for a Sign
761Portentous held me; but familiar grown,
762I pleas'd, and with attractive graces won
763The most averse, thee chiefly, who full oft
764Thy self in me thy perfect image viewing
765Becam'st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'st
766With me in secret, that my womb conceiv'd
767A growing burden. Mean while Warr arose,
768And fields were fought in Heav'n; wherein remaind
769(For what could else) to our Almighty Foe
770Cleer Victory, to our part loss and rout
771Through all the Empyrean: down they fell
772Driv'n headlong from the Pitch of Heaven, down
773Into this Deep, and in the general fall
774I also; at which time this powerful Key
775Into my hand was giv'n, with charge to keep
776These Gates for ever shut, which none can pass
777Without my op'ning. Pensive here I sat
778Alone, but long I sat not, till my womb
779Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown
780Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes.
781At last this odious offspring whom thou seest
782Thine own begotten, breaking violent way
783Tore through my entrails, that with fear and pain
784Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew
785Transform'd: but he my inbred enemie
786Forth issu'd, brandishing his fatal Dart
787Made to destroy: I fled, and cry'd out Death;
788Hell trembl'd at the hideous Name, and sigh'd
789From all her Caves, and back resounded Death.
790I fled, but he pursu'd (though more, it seems,
791Inflam'd with lust then rage) and swifter far,
792Mee overtook his mother all dismaid,
793And in embraces forcible and foule
794Ingendring with me, of that rape begot
795These yelling Monsters that with ceasless cry
796Surround me, as thou sawst, hourly conceiv'd
797And hourly born, with sorrow infinite
798To me, for when they list into the womb
799That bred them they return, and howle and gnaw
800My Bowels, thir repast; then bursting forth
801A fresh with conscious terrours vex me round,
802That rest or intermission none I find.
803Before mine eyes in opposition sits
804Grim Death my Son and foe, who sets them on,
805And me his Parent would full soon devour
806For want of other prey, but that he knows
807His end with mine involvd; and knows that I
808Should prove a bitter Morsel, and his bane,
809When ever that shall be; so Fate pronounc'd.
810But thou O Father, I forewarn thee, shun
811His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope
812To be invulnerable in those bright Arms,
813Though temper'd heav'nly, for that mortal dint,
814Save he who reigns above, none can resist.
815She finish'd, and the suttle Fiend his lore
816Soon learnd, now milder, and thus answerd smooth.
817Dear Daughter, since thou claim'st me for thy Sire,
818And my fair Son here showst me, the dear pledge
819Of dalliance had with thee in Heav'n, and joys
820Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change
821Befalln us unforeseen, unthought of, know
822I come no enemie, but to set free
823From out this dark and dismal house of pain,
824Both him and thee, and all the heav'nly Host
825Of Spirits that in our just pretenses arm'd
826Fell with us from on high: from them I go
827This uncouth errand sole, and one for all
828My self expose, with lonely steps to tread
829Th' unfounded deep, and through the void immense
830To search with wandring quest a place foretold
831Should be, and, by concurring signs, ere now
832Created vast and round, a place of bliss
833In the Pourlieues of Heav'n, and therein plac't
834A race of upstart Creatures, to supply
835Perhaps our vacant room, though more remov'd,
836Least Heav'n surcharg'd with potent multitude
837Might hap to move new broiles: Be this or aught
838Then this more secret now design'd, I haste
839To know, and this once known, shall soon return,
840And bring ye to the place where Thou and Death
841Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen
842Wing silently the buxom Air, imbalm'd
843With odours; there ye shall be fed and fill'd
844Immeasurably, all things shall be your prey.
845He ceas'd, for both seemd highly pleasd, and Death
846Grinnd horrible a gastly smile, to hear
847His famine should be fill'd, and blest his mawe
848Destin'd to that good hour: no less rejoyc'd
849His mother bad, and thus bespake her Sire.
850The key of this infernal Pit by due,
851And by command of Heav'ns all-powerful King
852I keep, by him forbidden to unlock
853These Adamantine Gates; against all force
854Death ready stands to interpose his dart,
855Fearless to be o'rmatcht by living might.
856But what ow I to his commands above
857Who hates me, and hath hither thrust me down
858Into this gloom of Tartarus profound,
859To sit in hateful Office here confin'd,
860Inhabitant of Heav'n, and heav'nlie-born,
861Here in perpetual agonie and pain,
862With terrors and with clamors compasst round
863Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed:
864Thou art my Father, thou my Author, thou
865My being gav'st me; whom should I obey
866But thee, whom follow? thou wilt bring me soon
867To that new world of light and bliss, among
868The Gods who live at ease, where I shall Reign
869At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems
870Thy daughter and thy darling, without end.
871Thus saying, from her side the fatal Key,
872Sad instrument of all our woe, she took;
873And towards the Gate rouling her bestial train,
874Forthwith the huge Porcullis high up drew,
875Which but her self not all the Stygian powers
876Could once have mov'd; then in the key-hole turns
877Th' intricate wards, and every Bolt and Bar
878Of massie Iron or sollid Rock with ease
879Unfast'ns: on a sudden op'n flie
880With impetuous recoile and jarring sound
881Th' infernal dores, and on thir hinges grate
882Harsh Thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
883Of Erebus. She op'nd, but to shut
884Excel'd her power; the Gates wide op'n stood,
885That with extended wings a Bannerd Host
886Under spread Ensigns marching might pass through
887With Horse and Chariots rankt in loose array;
888So wide they stood, and like a Furnace mouth
889Cast forth redounding smoak and ruddy flame.
890Before thir eyes in sudden view appear
891The secrets of the hoarie deep, a dark
892Illimitable Ocean without bound,
893Without dimension, where length, breadth, & highth,
894And time and place are lost; where eldest Night
895And Chaos. Ancestors of Nature, hold
896Eternal Anarchie, amidst the noise
897Of endless Warrs, and by confusion stand.
898For hot, cold, moist, and dry, four Champions fierce
899Strive here for Maistrie, and to Battel bring
900Thir embryon Atoms; they around the flag
901Of each his Faction, in thir several Clanns,
902Light-arm'd or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift or slow,
903Swarm populous, unnumber'd as the Sands
904Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil,
905Levied to side with warring Winds, and poise
906Thir lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,
907Hee rules a moment; Chaos Umpire sits,
908And by decision more imbroiles the fray
909By which he Reigns: next him high Arbiter
910Chance governs all. Into this wilde Abyss,
911The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave,
912Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire,
913But all these in thir pregnant causes mixt
914Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight,
915Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain
916His dark materials to create more Worlds,
917Into this wild Abyss the warie fiend
918Stood on the brink of Hell and look'd a while,
919Pondering his Voyage; for no narrow frith
920He had to cross. Nor was his eare less peal'd
921With noises loud and ruinous (to compare
922Great things with small) then when Bellona storms,
923With all her battering Engines bent to rase
924Som Capital City; or less then if this frame
925Of Heav'n were falling, and these Elements
926In mutinie had from her Axle torn
927The stedfast Earth. At last his Sail-broad Vannes
928He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoak
929Uplifted spurns the ground, thence many a League
930As in a cloudy Chair ascending rides
931Audacious, but that seat soon failing, meets
932A vast vacuitie: all unawares
933Fluttring his pennons vain plumb down he drops
934Ten thousand fadom deep, and to this hour
935Down had been falling, had not by ill chance
936The strong rebuff of som tumultuous cloud
937Instinct with Fire and Nitre hurried him
938As many miles aloft: that furie stay'd,
939Quencht in a Boggie Syrtis, neither Sea,
940Nor good dry Land: nigh founderd on he fares,
941Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
942Half flying; behoves him now both Oare and Saile.
943As when a Gryfon through the Wilderness
944With winged course ore Hill or moarie Dale,
945Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stelth
946Had from his wakeful custody purloind
947The guarded Gold: So eagerly the fiend
948Ore bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,
949With head, hands, wings or feet pursues his way,
950And swims or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flyes:
951At length a universal hubbub wilde
952Of stunning sounds and voices all confus'd
953Born through the hollow dark assaults his eare
954With loudest vehemence: thither he plyes,
955Undaunted to meet there what ever power
956Or Spirit of the nethermost Abyss
957Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask
958Which way the neerest coast of darkness lyes
959Bordering on light; when strait behold the Throne
960Of Chaos, and his dark Pavilion spread
961Wide on the wasteful Deep; with him Enthron'd
962Sat Sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
963The Consort of his Reign; and by them stood
964Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
965Of Demogorgon; Rumor next and Chance,
966And Tumult and Confusion all imbroild,
967And Discord with a thousand various mouths.
968T' whom Satan turning boldly, thus. Ye Powers
969And Spirits of this nethermost Abyss,
970Chaos and ancient Night, I come no Spy,
971With purpose to explore or to disturb
972The secrets of your Realm, but by constraint
973Wandring this darksome Desart, as my way,
974Lies through your spacious Empire up to light,
975Alone, and without guide, half lost, I seek
976What readiest path leads where your gloomie bounds
977Confine with Heav'n; or if som other place
978From your Dominion won, th' Ethereal King
979Possesses lately, thither to arrive
980I travel this profound, direct my course;
981Directed no mean recompence it brings
982To your behoof, if I that Region lost,
983All usurpation thence expell'd, reduce
984To her original darkness and your sway
985(Which is my present journey) and once more
986Erect the Standard there of ancient Night;
987Yours be th' advantage all, mine the revenge.
988Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old
989With faultring speech and visage incompos'd
990Answer'd. I know thee, stranger, who thou art,
991That mighty leading Angel, who of late
992Made head against Heav'ns King, though overthrown.
993I saw and heard, for such a numerous Host
994Fled not in silence through the frighted deep
995With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
996Confusion worse confounded; and Heav'n Gates
997Pourd out by millions her victorious Bands
998Pursuing. I upon my Frontieres here
999Keep residence; if all I can will serve,
1000That little which is left so to defend,
1001Encroacht on still through our intestine broiles
1002Weakning the Scepter of old Night: first Hell
1003Your dungeon stretching far and wide beneath;
1004Now lately Heaven and Earth, another World
1005Hung ore my Realm, link'd in a golden Chain
1006To that side Heav'n from whence your Legions fell:
1007If that way be your walk, you have not farr;
1008So much the neerer danger; go and speed;
1009Havock and spoil and ruin are my gain.
1010He ceas'd; and Satan staid not to reply,
1011But glad that now his Sea should find a shore,
1012With fresh alacritie and force renew'd
1013Springs upward like a Pyramid of fire
1014Into the wilde expanse, and through the shock
1015Of fighting Elements, on all sides round
1016Environ'd wins his way; harder beset
1017And more endanger'd, then when Argo pass'd
1018Through Bosporus betwixt the justling Rocks:
1019Or when Ulysses on the Larbord shunnd
1020Charybdis, and by th' other whirlpool steard.
1021So he with difficulty and labour hard
1022Mov'd on, with difficulty and labour hee;
1023But hee once past, soon after when man fell,
1024Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain
1025Following his track, such was the will of Heav'n,
1026Pav'd after him a broad and beat'n way
1027Over the dark Abyss, whose boiling Gulf
1028Tamely endur'd a Bridge of wondrous length
1029From Hell continu'd reaching th' utmost Orbe
1030Of this frail World; by which the Spirits perverse
1031With easie intercourse pass to and fro
1032To tempt or punish mortals, except whom
1033God and good Angels guard by special grace.
1034But now at last the sacred influence
1035Of light appears, and from the walls of Heav'n
1036Shoots farr into the bosom of dim Night
1037A glimmering dawn; here Nature first begins
1038Her fardest verge, and Chaos to retire
1040With tumult less and with less hostile din,
1041That Satan with less toil, and now with ease
1042Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light
1043And like a weather-beaten Vessel holds
1044Gladly the Port, though Shrouds and Tackle torn;
1045Or in the emptier waste, resembling Air,
1046Weighs his spread wings, at leasure to behold
1047Farr off th' Empyreal Heav'n, extended wide
1048In circuit, undetermind square or round,
1049With Opal Towrs and Battlements adorn'd
1050Of living Saphire, once his native Seat;
1051And fast by hanging in a golden Chain
1052This pendant world, in bigness as a Starr
1053Of smallest Magnitude close by the Moon.
1054Thither full fraught with mischievous revenge,
1055Accurst, and in a cursed hour he hies.


483] thir: the 1667 reading; her (1674). Back to Line
527] this: his in 1667. Back to Line
1039] brok'n: brok'd 1674). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Transcription courtesy of Roy Flannagan.