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To whom Satan, turning boldly, thus : “ Ye Powers, “ And Spirits of this nethermost abyss, “ Chaos and ancient Night! I come no spy, “ With purpose to explore, or to disturb “The secrets of your realm ; but, by constraint “ Wandering this darksome desert, as my way

“ Lies through your spacious empire up to light, 975 Alone, and without guide, half lost, I seek

“ What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds
“ Confine with heaven; or if some other place,
“From your dominion won, the ethereal King

"Possesses lately, thither to arrive
980 “ I travel this profound : direct my course :

“ Directed, no mean recompense it brings
To your behoof, if I that region lost,
“ All usurpation thence expell’d, reduce

“ To her original darkness, and your sway;
985 "(Which is my present journey ;) and once more

“Erect the standard there of ancient Night :
“ Yours be the advantage all, mine the revenge!"

Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old,

With faltering speech, and visage incompos’d,
990 Answer'd: “ I know thee, stranger, who thou art ;-

That mighty leading angel, who of late
“Made head against heaven's King, though overthrown.

and heard ; for such a numerous host
“ Fled not in silence through the frighted deep,
995 “ With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,

“ Confusion worse confounded ; and heaven-gates
“ Pour'd out by millions her victorious bands

Pursuing. I upon my frontiers here

“Keep residence; if all I can will serve 1000 “ That little which is left so to defend,

“ Encroach'd on still through your intestine broils

Weak’ning the sceptre of old Night: first hell,
“ Your dungeon, stretching far and wide beneath;

“ Now lately heaven and earth, another world, 1005 “ Hung o'er my realm, link'd in a golden chain

I saw,

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“ To that side heaven from whence your legions fell.
If that way be your walk, you have not far ;
“ So much the nearer danger: go, and speed !

Havoc, and spoil, and ruin, are my gain." 1010 He ceas'd ; and Satan staid not to reply,

But, glad that now his sea should find a shore,
With fresh alacrity, and force renew'd,
Springs upward, like a pyramid of fire,

Into the wild expanse ; and, through the shock 1015 Of fighting elements, on all sides round

Environ'd, wins his way: harder beset,
And more endanger'd, than when Argo pass'd
Through Bosphorus, betwixt the justling rocks :

Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunn'd
1020 Charybdis, and by the other whirlpool steer'd.

So he with difficulty and labour hard
Mov'd on ; with difficulty and labour he.
But, he once past, soon after, when man fell,

Strange alteration ! Sin and Death amain
1025 Following his track, such was the will of Heav'n,-

Pay'd after him a broad and beaten way
Over the dark abyss, whose boiling gulf
Tamely endur'd a bridge of wondrous length,

From hell continued, reaching the utmost orb
1030 Of this frail world; by which the spirits perverse,

With easy intercourse, pass to and fro
To tempt or punish mortals, except whom
God and good angels guard by special grace.

But now at last the sacred influence
1035 Of light appears, and from the walls of heaven

Shoots far into the bosom of dim Night
A glimmering dawn : here Nature first begins
Her farthest verge, and Chaos to retire,

As from her outmost works, a broken foe, 1040 With tumult less, and with less hostile din ; That Satan with less toil, and

now with

ease, Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light, And, like a weather-beaten vessel, holds

Gladly the port, though shrouds and tackle torn; 1045 Or in the emptier waste resembling air

Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold
Far off the empyreal heaven, extended wide
In circuit, (undetermin'd square or round,

With opal towers and battlements adorn'd 1050 Of living sapphire, once his native seat !

And fast by, hanging in a golden chain,
This pendent world, in bigness as a star
Of smallest magnitude close by the moon.

Thither, full fraught with mischievous revenge, 1055 Accurs'd, and in a cursed hour, he hies.

BOOK III.

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