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Before their eyes in sudden view appear

The secrets of the hoary deep; a dark

Illimitable ocean, without bound,

Without dimension, where length, breadth, and height, 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.

Chance governs all.

Next him, high arbitér,

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 material to create more worlds;
Into this wild abyss, the wary fiend

Stood on the brink of Hell, and looked awhile,
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 raze
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. Behooves 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.
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 Hades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon; Rumor next, and Chance,
And Tumult, and Confusion, all embroiled,
And Discord, with a thousand various mouths.

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
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 'gainst 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,
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.

He ceased; and Satan stayed not to reply,
But, glad that now his sea should find a shore,
With fresh alacrity and force renewed,

Springs upward, like a pyramid of fire,

Into the wild expanse, and, through the shock
Of fighting elements, on all sides round
Environed, wins his way; harder beset
And more endangered, than when Argo passed
Through Bosphorus, betwixt the justling rocks;
Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunned
Charybdis, and by the other whirlpool steered.
So he with difficulty and labor hard
Moved on, with difficulty and labor he;

But he once passed, soon after, when man fell—
Strange alteration!-Sin and Death amain
Following his track, such was the will of Heaven,
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 the 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.

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