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Round their metropolis; and now expecting
440 Each hour their great adventurer from the search

Of foreign worlds. He through the midst unmark’d,
In show plebeian angel militant
Of lowest order, pass'd ; and from the door

Of that Plutonian hall, invisible
445 Ascended his high throne; which, under state

Of richest texture spread, at the upper end
Was plac'd in regal lustre. Down a while
He sat, and round about him saw, unseen:

At last, as from a cloud, his fulgent head,
450 And shape star-bright, appear'd, or brighter; clad

With what permissive glory since his fall
Was left him, or false glitter. All amaz'd
At that so sudden blaze, the Stygian throng

Bent their aspect, and whom they wish'd beheld, 455 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,
“I cail ye, and declare ye now; return’d,
“Successful beyond hope, to lead ye forth

“Triumphant out of this infernal pit,
465 “ 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 achiev'd. Long were to tell 470 “ What I have done—what suffer'd; with what pain

Voyaged the 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
475 “ Toil'd out my uncouth passage, forc'd to ride

“ The untractable abyss, plung'd in the womb

460

495

Of unoriginal Night, and Chaos wild ;
“ That, jealous of their secrets, fiercely oppos'd

“My journey strange, with clamorous uproar 480 “ 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 exíle
485 “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 given up

“ Both his beloved man, and all his world, 490 “ 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 ruld.
“ 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. 500 “ A world who would not purchase with a bruise,

“ Or much more grievous pain ? Ye have the account “ Of my performance: what remains, ye Gods!

up,

and enter now into full bliss ?"
So having said, a while he stood, expecting
505 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 510 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 entwining
Each other, till supplanted down he fell
A monstrous serpent, on his belly prone,

“ But

515 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 520 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, 525 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 530 Ingender'd in the Pythian vale or slime

Huge Python; and his power no less he seem'd
Above the rest still to retain. They all
Him followed, issuing forth to the open field,

Where all yet left of that revolted rout,
535 Heaven-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,
540 And horrid sympathy; for, what they saw,

They felt themselves now changing: down their arms
Down fell the spear and shield-down they as fast;
And the dire hiss renew'd, and the dire form

Catch'd by contagion ; like in punishment, 545 As in their crime. Thus was the applause they meant

Turn’d to exploding hiss,-triumph to shame,
Cast on themselves from their own mouths.

There
stood
A grove hard by, sprung up with this their change,

(His will who reigns above!) to aggravate 550 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
555 Now risen, 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 560 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 565 Their appetite with gust, instead of fruit

Chew'd bitter ashes, which the offended taste
With spatt'ring noise rejected : oft they assay'd,
Hunger and thirst constraining; drugg'd as oft,

With hatefullest disrelish writh'd their jaws, 570 With soot and cinders fill’d: so oft they fell

Into the same illusion, not as man
Whom they triumphed-once laps'd. Thus were they

plagued
And worn with famine, long and ceaseless hiss,

Till their lost shape, permitted, they resum'd: 575 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;
580 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 driv’n,
And Ops, ere yet Dictæan Jove was born.

Meanwhile, in Paradise the hellish pair
Too soon arriv’d: Sin, there in power before,
Once actual ; now in body, and to dwell
Habitual habitant; behind her Death,

585

600

Close following, pace for pace, not mounted yet 590 On his pale horse; to whom Sin thus began:

"Second of Satan sprung, all-conquering 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, 595 “Unnam'd, undreaded, and thyself half-starv'd ?”

Whom 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 “ To stuff this maw—this vast un-hidebound corpse.”

To whom the incestuous mother thus replied: “ Thou therefore on these herbs, and fruits, and flowers,

“Feed first; on each beast next, and fish, and fowl605 “No homely morsels: and whatever thing

“ The scythe 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."
610 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 the Almighty seeing,

From his transcendent seat the Saints among, 615 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 620 “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 heavenly; and, conniving seem 625

“ To gratify my scornful enemies,
" That laugh, as if, transported with some fit

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