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Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere. Chaos umpire sits,

He rules a moment

And by decision move embroils the fray

By which he reigns: next him high arbiter
Chance governs all. Into this wild abyss,
The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mix'd
Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain
His dark materials to create more worlds;
Into this wild abyss the wary Fiend




Stood on the brink of Hell and look'd a while,
Pond'ring his voyage; for no narrow frith
He had to cross. Nor was his ear less peal'd
With noises loud and ruinous (to compare
Great things with small) than when Bellona storms
With all her batt'ring engines bent, to raze
Some capital city; or less than it this frame
Of Heav'n were falling, and these elements.
In mutiny had from her axle torn


The stedfast earth. At last his sail-broad vans
He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoke
Uplifted spurns the ground; thence many a league,
As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides
Audacious; but that seat soon failing, meets

A vast vacuity: all unawares


Flutt'ring his pennons vain, plumb down he drops
Ten thousand fathom deep, and to this hour

Down had been falling, had not by ill chance,
The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud,
Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him
As many miles aloft: that fury stay'd,
Quench'd in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea,


Nor good dry land: nigh founder'd on he fares, 940
Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
Half flying; behoves him now both oar and sail.

As when a gryphon through the wilderness

933. Pennons, commonly spelt pinions.

941. There is much in this description similar to that in Spenser of the dragon.

943. A grypho. is a fabulous creature said to guard gold mines, in its upper part it was like an eagle, in its lower like a lion. The Arimaspians were a one-eyed people of Scythia.



With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale,
Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth
Had from his wakeful custody, purloin'd
The guarded gold: so eagerly the Fiend
O'er bog, or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or
With head, hands, wings, or feet pursues his way,
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies:
At length a universal hubbub wild

Of stunning sounds and voices all confused,
Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear
With loudest vehemence: thither he plies,
Undaunted to meet there whatever Pow'r
Or Spirit of the nethermost abyss



Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask
Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies
Bord'ring on light; when strait behold the throne
Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread
Wide on the wasteful deep; with him enthroned
Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
The consort of his reign; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon; Rumour next and Chance,
And Tumult and Confusion, all embroil'd,



And Discord, with a thousand various mouths.

T'whom Satan turning boldly, thus: Ye Pow'rs 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


Wand'ring this darksome desert, as my way
Lies through your spacious empire up to light,
Alone, and without guide, half lost, I seek
What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds
Confine with Heav'n; or if some other place
From your dominion won, th' ethereal King
Possesses lately, thither to arrive

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


964. Orcus or Pluto, so called by the ancients. Ades may be taken for any dark place.

965. A deity among the ancients whose name they supposed capable of producing the most terrible effects.

To her original darkness and your sway

(Which is my present journey), and once more 983
Erect the standard there of ancient Night;
Yours be th' advantage all, mine the revenge.
Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old,
With fault'ring speech and visage incomposed,
Answer'd: I know thee, stranger, who thou art; 998
That mighty leading Angel, who of late

Made head against Heav'n's King, though over


I saw and heard; for such a num'rous host
Fled not in silence through the frighted deep
With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,

Confusion worse confounded; and Heav'n gates
Pour'd out by millions her victorious bands
Pursuing. I upon my frontiers here
Keep residence; if all I can will serve
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 Heav'n and Earth, another world,
Hung o'er my realm, link'd in a golden chain 1005
To that side Heav'n from whence your legions fell:
If that way be your walk, you have not far;
So much the nearer danger; go and speed;
Havock, and spoil, and ruin, are my gain.

He ceased, and Satan stay'd 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
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


1005. Homer mentions a golden chain by which Jupiter could draw up the earth, &c.-See Iliad, book 8.

1011. A metaphor to express his satisfaction at concluding his journey.

1017. Argo was the ship in which Jason and his companions sailed to Colchis, in seach of the golden fleece. Bosphorus is the nane of the Straits of Constantinople, or the channel of the Black Sea.

Charybdis, and by th' other whirlpool steer'd. 1020 So he with difficulty and labour hard

Moved on, with difficulty and labour he;

But he once past, soon after when man fell,
Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain


Following his track, such was the will of Heav'n,
Paved after him a broad and beaten way
Over the dark abyss, whose boiling gulf
Tamely endured a bridge of wondrous length
From Hell continued reaching th' utmost orb
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


Of light appears, and from the walls of Heav'n 1035
Shoots far into the bosom of dim Night

A glimm'ring dawn. Here Nature first begins
Her farthest verge, and Chaos to retire
As from her outmost works a broken foe
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;
Or in the emptier waste, resembling air,
Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold
Far off th' empyreal Heav'n, extended wide
In circuit, undetermined square or round,
With opal tow'rs and battlements adorn'd
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,
Accursed, and in a cursed hour he hies.




1020. Charybdis, a dangerous part of the sea between Messina and Italy.

1023. Dr. Bentley supposes eleven lines to be inserted here by the Editor of Milton; but if the passage be examined, it will be scen they cannot be an interpolation. His strongest objection is, that the bridge is described again in Book X.

1052. By the pendent world is meant the whole new creation of heaven and earth. See verse 1004.



God, sitting on his throne, sees Satan flying towards this world, then newly created; shews him to the Son who sat at his right hand; foretells the success of Satan in perverting mankind; clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created Man free and able enough to have withstood his tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by hím seduced. The Son of God renders praises to his Father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards Man; but God again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards Man without the satisfaction of divine justice: Man hath offended the Majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead, and therefore, with all his progeny, devoted to death, must die, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for Man: the Father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaitation above all names in Heaven and Earth; commands all the Angels to adore him: they obey, and hymning to their harps in full choir, celebrate the Father and the Son. Meanwhile Satan alights upon the bare convex of this world's outermost orb; where wandering he first finds a place, since called the Limbo of Vanity: what persons and things fly up thither: thence comes to the gate of Heaven, described ascending by stairs, and the waters above the firmament that flow about it: His passage thence to the orb of the Sun; he finds there Uriel, the regent of that orb, but first changes himself into the shape of a meaner Angel; and pretending a zealous desire to behold the new creation, and Man whom God had placed here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed: alights first on Mount Niphates.

HAIL, holy Light, offspring of Heav'n first-born,
Or of th' Eternal coeternal beam,

May I express thee unblamed? since God is Light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear'st thou rather, pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the Sun,
Before the Heav'ns thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,



1. This transition from the fearful gloom and confusion of Hell and Chaos to the worlds of light has a magnificent effect upon the mind. The touch of sweet and holy feeling with which the Author alludes to his own personal sorrow heightens, rather than diminishes, the impression of awe and delight.

3. See John i. 5. and 1 Tim. vi. 16.
6. See Book of Wisdom, vii. 25, 26.
12. Void, not empty, but chaos-like

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