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(What could it less when Spi'rits immortal sing!)
Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet 555
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense,)
Others apart sat on a hill retir'd,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason’d high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate,
Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute, 560
And found no end, in wand'ring mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy, and glory' and shame,
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy ;

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Yet with a pleasing sorcery could charm
Pain for a while or anguish, and excite
Fallacious hope, or arm th' obdured breast
With stubborn patience as with triple steel.
Another part in squadrons and gross bands, 570
On bold adventure to discover wide
That dismal world, if any clime perhaps
Might yield them easier habitation, bend
Four

ways their flying march, along the banks Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge

575 Into the burning lake their baleful streams; Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate ; Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and decp; Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud Heard on the ryeful stream; fierce Phlegethon, 580 Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage. Far off from these a slow and silent stream,

Lethe the river of oblivion rolls
Her wat’ry labyrinth, whereof who drinks,
Forthwith his former state and be'ing forgets, 585
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
Beyond this flood a frozen continent
Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land
Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems 590
Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice,
A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and mount Casius old,
Where armies whole have sunk : the parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of fire. 595
Thither by harpy-footed furies hal'd
At certain revolutions all the damn'd
Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,
From beds of raging fire to starve in ice

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Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine
Immoveable, infix'd, and frozen round,
Periods of time, thence hurried back to fire.
They ferry over this Lethean sound
Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment,
And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach
The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,
All in one moment, and so near the brink;
But fate withstands, and to oppose

610 Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards The ford, and of itself the water flies

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All taste of living wight, as once it fled
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on
In confus'd march forlorn, th' advent’rous bands
With shudd'ring horror pale, and eyes aghast,
View'd first their lamentable lot, and found
No rest; through many a dark and dreary vale
They pass’d, and many a region dolorous,
O’er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp,

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Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death,
A universe of death, which God by curse
Created ev'il, for evil only good,
Where all life dies, death lives, and nature breeds,
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Abominable, inutterable, and worse
Than fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceiv'd,
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimæras dire.

MEANWHILE the Adversary' of God and Man, Satan with thoughts inflam'd of high'est design, 630 Puts on swift wings, and towards the gates of Hell Explores his solitary flight; sometimes He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left, Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars Up to the fiery concave tow'ring high. As when far off at sea a fleet descry'd Pangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring Their spicy drugs: they on the trading flood 640 Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape Ply stemming nightly tow’ard the pole So seem'd

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Far off the Aying Fiend': at last appear
Hell bounds high reaching to the horrid roof,
And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass,
Three iron, three of adamantine rock,

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Impenetrable, impal'd with circling fire,.
Yet unconsum'd. Before the gates there sat
On either side a formidable shape;
The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair, 650
But ended foul in many a scaly fold
Voluminous and vast, a serpent arm'd
With mortal sting : about her middle round
A cry of Hell-hounds never ceasing bark'd
With wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous peal : yet, when they list, would creep,
If ought disturb'd their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there, yet there still bark'd and howld,
Within unseen.

Far less abhorr'd than these Vex'd Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts 660 Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore : Nor uglier follow the night hag, when callid In secret, riding through the air she comes, Lur'd with the smell of infant blood, to dance With Lapland witches, while the lab'ring moon

665 Eclipses at their charms. The other shape, If shape it might be call'd that shape had none Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb, Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd, For each seem'd either; black it stood as Night, 670 Fierce as ten furies, terrible as Hell, And shook a dreadful dart; what seem'd his hcad pri

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The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
The monster moving onward came as fast
With horrid strides, Hell trembled as he strode.
Th’undaunted Fiend what this might be admir'd,
Admir'd, not fear'd; God and his Son except,
Created thing nought valued he nor shunn'd;
And with disdainful look thus first began.

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Whence and what art thou, execrable shape,
That dar’st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated front athwart my way
To yonder gates? Through them I mean to pass,
That be assur’d, without leave ask'd of thee :
Retire, or taste thy folly', and learn by proof,
Hell born, not to contend with Spi'rits of Heaven.

To whom the goblin full of wrath reply'd.
Art thou that traitor Angel, art thou He,
Who first broke peace in Heav'n and faith, till then
Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms

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Drew after him the third part of Heav'n's sons
Conjur'd against the High'est, for which both thou
And they, outcast from God, are here condemn'd
To waste eternal days in woe and pain?

695 And reckon’st thou thyself with Spi'rits of Heav'n, Hell doom'd, and breath'st defiance here and scorn Where I reign king, and to enrage thee more, Thy king and lord ? Back to thy punishment, False fugitive, and to thy speed add wings,

700 Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue Thy ling'ring, or with one stroke of this dart

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