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Speak, ye who best can tell, ye sons of light,

Angels; for ye behold him, and with songs

And choral symphonies, day without night,

Circle his throne rejoicing; ye, in Heaven: On Earth join all ye creatures to extol Him first, him last, him midst, and with. out end.

Fairest of stars, last in the train of night, If better thou belong not to the dawn, Sure pledge of day, that crown'st the smiling morn

With thy bright circlet, praise him in thy sphere,

While day arises, that sweet hour of prime.

Thou Sun, of this great world both eye and soul,

Acknowledge him thy greater; sound his praise

In thy eternal course, both when thou climb'st,

And when high noon hast gain'd, and when thou fall'st.

Moon, that now meet'st the orient Sun, now fly'st,

With the fix'd stars, fix'd in their orb that flies;

And ye five other wandering fires, that

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Rising or falling still advance his praise. His praise, ye winds, that from four quarters blow,

Breathe soft or loud; and wave your tops, ye pines,

With every plant, in sign of worship

wave.

Fountains, and ye that warble as ye flow, Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise.

Join voices, all ye living souls: ye birds, That singing up to Heaven-gate ascend, Bear on your wings and in your notes his praise.

Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep;

Witness if I be silent, morn or even,

To hill, or valley, fountain, or fresh shade,

Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise.

Hail, universal Lord, be bounteous still To give us only good; and if the night Have gather'd aught of evil or conceal'd, Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark!

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Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape, Ply stemming nightly toward the pole: so seem'd

Far off the flying 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 Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire, Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there

sat

On either side a formidable shape; The one seem'd woman to the waist and fair;

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 aught disturb'd their noise, into her womb,

And kennel there; yet there still bark'd and howl'd,

Within unseen. Far less abhorr'd than these

Vex'd Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts

Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore;

Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, call'd

In secret, riding through the air she

comes,

Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance

With Lapland witches, while the labouring Moon

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,

Fierce as ten furies, terrible as Hell,

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Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head

Levell'd his deadly aim; their fatal hands No second stroke intend; and such a frown

Each cast at the other, as when two black clouds,

With Heaven's artillery fraught, come rattling on

Over the Caspian, then stand front to front,

Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow

To join their dark encounter in mid air: So frown'd the mighty combatants, that Hell

Grew darker at their frown; so match'd they stood;

For never but once more was either like To meet so great a foe: and now great deeds

Had been achieved, whereof all Hell had rung,

Had not the snaky sorceress that sat
Fast by Hell-gate, and kept the fatal key,
Risen, and with hideous outcry rush'd
between.

From her side the fatal key, Sad instrument of all our woe, she took; And, towards the gate rolling her bestial train,

Forthwith the huge portcullis high up drew,

Which but herself, not all the Stygian powers

Could once have moved; then in the key. hole turns

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