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Torn from Pelorus 1, or the shattered side
Of thundering Etna, whose combustible
And fuelled entrails thence conceiving fire,
Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds,
And leave a singèd bottom all involved
With stench and smoke: such resting found the sole
Of unblest feet. Him followed his next mate,
Both glorying to have 'scaped the Stygian2 flood
As gods, and by their own recovered strength,
Not by the sufferance of supernal Power.
"Is this the region, this the soil, the clime," Said then the lost Arch-Angel, "this the seat
That we must change for heaven; this mournful gloom For that celestial light? Be it so, since he
Who now is Sovran3, can dispose and bid
What shall be right: farthest from Him is best,
Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme
Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields,
Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail,
Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell,
Receive thy new possessor! one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time:
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be; all but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; the Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, —will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and, in my choice,
To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven!
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
The associates and co-partners of our loss,
Lie thus astonished on the oblivious pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
In this unhappy mansion; or once more
1 The ancient name of Cape Faro in Sicily.
2 Stygian-infernal; from Styx, the river of hate, which, according to
the poets, flowed nine times round the infernal regions.
5 The Italian form of the word "Sovereign."
With rallied arms to try what may be yet
Regained in Heaven, or what more lost in Hell?"
So Satan spake; and him Beëlzebub
Thus answered. "Leader of those armies bright,
Which but the Omnipotent none could have foiled!
If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge
Of hope in fears and dangers, heard so oft
In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge
Of battle when it raged, in all assaults
Their surest signal, they will soon resume
New courage and revive; though now they lie
Grovelling and prostrate on yon lake of fire,
As we erewhile, astounded and amazed,
No wonder, fallen such a pernicious height."
He scarce had ceased, when the superior Fiend
Was moving towards the shore: his ponderous shield,
Ethereal temper, massy, large and round,
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist1 views
At evening from the top of Fesolé 2
Or in Valdarno3, to descry new lands,
Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.
His spear, to equal which the tallest pine
Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast
Of some great ammiral', were but a wand
He walked with, to support uneasy steps
Over the burning marle, not like those steps
On Heaven's azure; and the torrid clime
Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire:
Nathless he so endured, till on the beach
Of that inflamèd sea he stood, and called
His legion, Angel forms, who lay entranced
Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks
In Vallambrosa 6, where the Eturian shades
High over-arched, embower; or scattered sedge
2 A town of Tuscany, near Flo
3 Valdarno, or Val d'Arno; the valley of the Arno.
4 Ammiral; any large ship.
5 Nathless for na-the-less, or not the less; i. e. nevertheless.
6 Now the Val d'Ombrone, or of Pistoja, one of the numerous valleys which follow the course of the rivers that flow into the Arno.
Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion1 armed
Hath vexed the Red-Sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew
Busiris and his Memphian chivalry2,
While with perfidious hatred they pursued
The sojourners of Goshen3, who beheld
From the safe shore their floating carcases
And broken chariot-wheels; so thick bestrown,
Abject and lost lay these, covering the flood,
Under amazement of their hideous change.
He called so loud, that all the hollow deep
Of Hell resounded.
Warriors, the flower of Heaven! once yours, now lost, If such astonishment as this can seize
Eternal spirits; or have ye chosen this place
After the toil of battle to repose
Your wearied virtue 4, for the ease you find
To slumber here, as in the vales of Heaven?
Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
To adore the Conqueror? who now beholds
Cherub and Seraph rolling in the flood,
With scattered arms and ensigns; till anon 5
His swift pursuers from Heaven-gates discern
The advantage, and, descending, tread us down.
Thus drooping, or with linkèd thunderbolts
Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf.
Awake! arise! or be for ever fallen!"
They heard, and were abashed, and up they sprung
Upon the wing; as when men wont to watch
On duty, sleeping found by whom they dread,
Rouse and bestir themselves ere well awake.
Nor did they not perceive the evil plight
In which they were, or the fierce pains not feel 7;
Yet to their General's voice they soon obeyed,
Innumerable. As when the potent rod
1 A constellation, whose rising and setting was believed to be accompanied by storms and rain.
2 Pharaoh, and his Egyptian host. 3 The Israelites.
4 Virtue is here used in its Latin sense- valour, courage.
- in one (moment), soon. 6 Accustomed, or used.
7 "Nor did they not," &c., i. e. they did perceive; a double negative -a Latin idiom.
Of Amram's son1, in Egypt's evil day,
Waved round the coast, up called a pitchy cloud
Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind
That o'er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung
Like night, and darkened all the land of Nile :
So numberless were those bad Angels seen
Hovering on wing under the cope of Hell
'Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires;
Till, as a signal given, the uplifted spear
Of their great Sultan2 waving to direct
Their course, in even balance down they light
On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain;
A multitude, like which the populous North
Poured never from her frozen loins, to pass
Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons
Came like a deluge on the South, and spread
Beneath Gibraltar to the Lybian sands.
Forthwith from every squadron, and each band,
The heads and leaders thither haste, where stood
Their great Commander; Godlike shapes, and forms
Excelling human; princely Dignities
And Powers that erst3 in Heaven sat on thrones;
Though of their names in heavenly records now
Be no memorial; blotted out and rased
By their rebellion from the books of life.
Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve
Got them new names; till, wandering o'er the earth,
Through God's high sufferance for the trial of man,
By falsities and lies the greatest part
Of mankind they corrupted to forsake
God their Creator, and the invisible
Glory of him that made them to transform
Oft to the image of a brute, adorned
With gay religions 4 full of pomp and gold,
And Devils to adore for Deities:
Then were they known to men by various names,
And various idols through the Heathen world."
All these and more came flocking; but with looks
Downcast and damp; (yet such wherein appeared
Obscure some glimpse of joy, to have found their Chief
Not in despair, to have found themselves not lost
In loss itself;) which1 on his countenance cast
Líke doubtful hue; but he, his wonted pride
Soon re-collecting, with high words, that bore
Semblance of worth, not substance, gently raised
Their fainting courage, and dispelled their fears.
Then straight commands, that at the warlike sound
Of trumpets loud and clarions be upreared
His mighty standard: that proud honour claimed
Azazel as his right, a Cherub tall;
Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurled
The imperial ensign; which, full high advanced,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind,
With gems and golden lustre rich emblazed,
Seraphic arms and trophies; all the while
Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds:
At which the universal host up sent
A shout that tore Hell's concave, and beyond
Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.
All in a moment through the gloom were seen
Ten thousand banners rise into the air,
With orient colours waving: with them rose
A forest huge of spears; and thronging helms
Appeared, and serried shields in thick array
Of depth immeasurable: anon they move
In perfect phalanx to the Dorian mood2
Of flutes and soft recorders; such as raised
To height of noblest temper heroes old
Arming to battle; and instead of rage
Deliberate valour breathed, firm and unmoved
With dread of death to flight or foul retreat;
Nor wanting power to mitigate and 'suage
With solemn touches troubled thoughts, and chase
Anguish, and doubt, and fear, and sorrow, and pain,
From mortal or immortal minds. Thus they,
1 The antecedent to "which" is the word "looks," in line 377.
2 There were several kinds of musical scales, or modes, in use among the ancients, supposed to differ from
each other in pitch and interval. The principal of these were, the Lydian, used at funerals; the Phrygian, on festive occasions; and the Dorian, in solemn processions.