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With terrors and with clamours compassed round
Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed?
Thou art my father, thou my author, thou
My being gavest me; whom should I obey
But thee? whom follow? thou wilt bring me soon
To that new world of light and bliss, among
The gods who live at ease, where I shall reign
At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems
Thy daughter and thy darling, without end."
Thus saying, from her side the fatal key,
Sad instrument of all our woe, she took;
And, toward 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
The intricate wards, and every bolt and bar
Of massy iron, or solid rock, with ease
Unfastens. On a sudden open fly,
With impetuous recoil and jarring sound,
The infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
Of Erebus. She opened, but to shut
Excelled her power; the gates wide open stood,
That with extended wings a bannered host,
Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through
With horse and chariots ranked in loose array;
So wide they stood, and, like a furnace-mouth,
Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.
Before their eyes in sudden view appear
The secrets of the hoary Deep, a dark
875. Stygian powers. Stygian used as Tartarean.
883. Erebus. The name is from Greek mythology, in which it stands for the mysterious darkness under the Earth, born of Chaos.
891. We now come to the Deep so often mentioned already. Milton borrowed the word from the Bible, where it is the synonym of Chaos, Gen. i. 2. In Paradise Lost the place is called "the Deep; " Chaos is a personage, ii. 895.
Illimitable ocean, without bound,
Without dimension; where length, breadth, and highth,
And time, and place, are lost; where eldest Night
And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold
Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise.
Of endless wars, and by confusion stand.
For Hot, Cold, Moist, and Dry, four champions fierce,
Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring.
Their embryon atoms; they around the flag
Of each his faction, in their several clans,
Light-armed or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow,
Swarm populous, unnumbered as the sands
Of Barca, or Cyrene's torrid soil,
Levied to side with warring winds, and poise
Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere
He rules a moment: Chaos umpire sits,
And by decision more 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 mixed
Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless the 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 looked a while,
Pondering his voyage; for no narrow frith
He had to cross. Nor was his ear less pealed
With noises loud and ruinous (to compare
Great things with small), than when Bellona storms,
With all her battering engines, bent to rase
895. Ancestors of Nature, for the world had been formed from Chaos. Cf. ii. 911, "the womb of Nature."
904. Barca, Cyrene, cities of northern Africa. 922. Bellona, goddess of war.
Some capital city; or less than if this frame
Of Heaven were falling, and these elements
In mutiny had from her axle torn
The steadfast 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,
Fluttering 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 stayed,
Quenched in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea,
Nor good dry land, nigh foundered on he fares,
Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
Half-flying; behoves him now both oar and sail.
As when a gryphon, through the wilderness
With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale
Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth
Had from his wakeful custody purloined
The guarded gold; so eagerly the fiend
O'er bog, or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,
With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way,
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies.
927. Vans, i. e., fans, here used for wings. The sails of the windmill are still sometimes called vans.
939. Syrtis, a gulf; in fact, there were two places of this name in northern Africa, famous for quicksands.
942. Behoves him, he needs.
943. The gryphon was a mythical creature whom the Arimaspian wronged as in the text. The legend is Greek (Herod. iii. 116), but does not exactly belong to Greek mythology. The Arimaspi were vaguely held to live in the north of Europe; i. e., beyond the parts
known to the ancients.
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 power
Or spirit of the nethermost abyss
Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask
Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies
Bordering on light; when straight 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 embroiled,
And Discord with a thousand various mouths.
954. Plies; to ply means trade," or "to labor at," as would seem a combination of
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, Alone, and without guide, half lost, I seek What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds
to pursue steadily" as in "he plies his he plies the oar." Here the meaning the two.
956. Nethermost, lowest.
964. Orcus and Ades (more commonly Hades) are names for the God of the Underworld in the classic mythology, the former Latin, the latter Greek. Both names were used for the place as well as its ruler.
965. Demogorgon, a vague and terrible being represented by poets and others, fated to be the conqueror of Jove. The ancients avoided even the mention of his name.
Confine with Heaven; or if some other place,
From your dominion won, the 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 expelled, reduce
To her original darkness and your sway,
(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 incomposed,
Answered: "I know thee, stranger, who thou art;
That mighty leading angel, who of late
Made head against Heaven's King, though overthrown.
I saw, and heard; for such a numerous host
Fled not in silence through the frighted Deep,
With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
Confusion worse confounded; and Heaven-gates
Poured 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,
Encroached on still through your intestine broils,
Weakening the sceptre of old Night. First Hell,
Your dungeon, stretching far and wide beneath;
Now lately Heaven and Earth, another world,
Hung o'er my realm, linked in a golden chain
977. Confine, are bounded by. The verb in this sense is obsolete; we still have the noun in the plural. Cf. march, marches.
988. Anarch. The word, coined or borrowed by Milton, is used like Monarch, tetrarch. A ruler over a State whose constitution is such that rule is impossible, is not an easy conception to realize. But the word brings up a strong sentiment.
1002. Hell and the Universe had been successively separated out of the Kingdom of Chaos. See Introd., p. xxvi.-xxxix.