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Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
Say first, for Heaven hides nothing from thy view, Nor the deep tract of Hell; say first, what cause Moved our grand Parents, in that happy state, Favor'd of Heaven so highly, to fall off
30 From their Creator, and transgress his will For one restraint, lords of the world besides? Who first seduced them to that foul revolt? The infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile, Stirråd up with envy and revenge, deceived 35 The mother of mankind, what time his pride Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host Of rebel Angels; by whose aid, aspiring To set himself in glory above his peers, He trusted to have equal'd the Most High, 40 If he opposed; and, with ambitious aim Against the throne and monarchy of God, Raised impious war in Heaven, and battle proud With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power Hurld headlong flaming from the ethereal sky, 45 With hideous ruin and combustion, down To bottomless perdition; there to dwell In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.
60 A dungeon horrible on all sides round As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames No light; but rather darkness visible Served only to discover sights of woe, Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace 65 And rest can never dwell; hope never comes That comes to all; but torture without end Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed With ever burning sulphur unconsumed: Such place Eternal Justice had prepared
70 For those rebellious; here their prison ordain'd In utter darkness, and their portion set As far removed from God and light of Heaven As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole. O, how unlike the place from whence they fell! 75 There the companions of his fall, o’erwhelm’d With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire, He soon discerns; and weltering by his side One next himself in power, and next in crime, Long after known in Palestine, and named 80 Beelzebub. To whom the Archenemy, And thence in Heaven call'd Satan, with bold words Breaking the horrid silence, thus began. If thou be he ; but 0, how fallen! how changed
From him, who, in the happy realms of light, 85
To wage, by force or guile, eternal war
So spake the apostate Angel, though in pain, 125
O Prince, O Chief of many throned Powers,
140 Though all our glory extinct, and happy state Here swallow'd up in endless misery. But what if he our Conqueror (whom I now Of force believe Almighty, since no less Than such could have o’erpower'd such force as ours) Have left us this our spirit and strength entire 146 Strongly to suffer and support our pains, That we may so suffice his vengeful ire, Or do him mightier service as his thralls By right of war, whate'er his business be, 150 Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire, Or do his errands in the gloomy deep; What can it then avail, though yet we feel Strength undiminish'd, or eternal being, To undergo eternal punishment?
155 Whereto with speedy words the Archfiend replied.
Fallen cherub: to be weak is miserable,
170 Back to the gates of Heaven: the sulphurous hail, Shot after us in storm, o'erblown, hath laid The fiery surge, that from the precipice Of Heaven received us falling; and the thunder, Wing'd with red lightning and impetuous 175 Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now To bellow through the vast and boundless deep; Let us not slip the occasion, whether scorn Or satiate fury yield it from our Foe. Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild, 180 The seat of desolation, void of light, Save what the glimmering of these livid flames Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend From off the tossing of these fiery waves; There rest, if any rest can harbor there;
185 And reassembling our afflicted Powers, Consult how we may henceforth most offend Our Enemy; our own loss how repair; How overcome this dire calamity; What reinforcement we may gain from hope; 190 If not, what resolution from despair.
Thus Satan talking to his nearest mate