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Reluctant, but in vain, a greater power

515 Now ruld him, punish'd in the shape he sinn'd According to his doom : he would have spoke, But hiss for hiss return’d with forked tongue To forked tongue, for now were all transform’d Alike, to serpents all as accessories To his bold riot: dreadful was the din Of hissing through the hall, thick swarming now With complicated monsters head and tail, Scorpion, and Asp, and Amphisbæna dire, Cerastes horn'd, Hydrus, and Elops drear,

525 And Dipsas (not so thick swarm'd once the soil Bedropt with blood of Gorgon, or the isle Ophiusa) but still greatest he the midst, Now Dragon grown, larger than whom the sun Engender'd in the Pythian vale on slime,

530
Huge Python, and his pow'r no less he seem'd
Above the rest still to retain; they all
Him follow'd issuing forth to th' open field,
Where all yet left of that revolted rout
Heav'n-fall'n, in station stood or just array, 535
Sublime with expectation when to see
In triumph issuing forth their glorious chief;
They saw,

but other sight instead, a crowd
Of ugly serpents ; horror on them fell,
And horrid sympathy; for what they saw, 540
They felt themselves now changing; down their arms,
Down fell both spear and shield, down they as fast,
And the dire hiss renew'd, and the dire form
Catch'd by contagion, like in punishment,

546

As in their crime. Thus was th' applause they meant,
Turn'd to exploding hiss, triumph to shame
Cast on themselves from their own mouths. There

stood 4 grove hard by, sprung up with this their change, His will who reigns above, to aggravate Their penance, laden with fair fruit, like that

550 Which

grew

in Paradise, the bait of Eve Us'd by the Tempter : on that prospect strange Their earnest eyes they fix'd, imagining For one forbidden tree a multitude Now ris'n, to work them further woe or shame; 555 Yet parch'd with scalding thirst and hunger fierce, Though to delude them sent, could not abstain, But on they roll'd in heaps, and up the trees Climbing, sat thicker than the snaky locks That' curl'd Megæra: greedily they pluck'd The fruitage fair to sight, like that which grew Near that bituminous lake where Sodom flam'd; This more delusive, not the touch, but taste Deceiv'd; they fondly thinking to allay Their appetite with gust, instead of fruit

565 Chew'd bitter ashes, which th' offended taste With spattering noise rejected : oft they' assay'd, Hunger and thirst constraining, drugg'd as oft, With hatefullest disrelish writh'd their jaws With soot and cinders fill’d; so oft they fell 570 Into the same illusion, not as Man, Whom they triumph'd once laps'd. Thus were they

plagu'd

560

And worn with famine, long and ceaseless hiss,
Till their lost shape, permitted, they resum’d,
Yearly enjoin'd, some say, to undergo

575
This annual humbling certain number'd days,
To dash their pride, and joy for Man seduc'd.
However some tradition they dispers’d
Among the Heathen of their purchase got,
And fabled how the Serpent, whom they call'd

580 Ophion with Eurynome, the wide Encroaching Eve perhaps, had first the rule Of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driven And Ops, ere yet Dictæan Jove was born.

Meanwhile in Paradise the hellish pair 585 Too soon arriv’d, Sin there in pow'r before, Once actual, now in body, and to dwell Habitual habitant; behind her Death Close following pace for pace, not mounted yet On his pale horse ; to whom Sin thus began.

59.0 Second of Satan sprung, all-conqu’ring Death, What think'st thou of our empire now, though earn'd With travel difficult, not better far Than still at Hell's dark threshold to have sat watch, Unnam’d, undreaded, and thyself half starv'd ?

595 WHOM thus the Sin-born monster answer'd soon. To me, who with eternal famine pine, Alike is Hell, or Paradise, or Heaven, There best, where most with ravine I may meet; Which here, though plenteons, all too little seems 600 To stuff this maw, this vast unhide-bound corpse.

To whom th' incestuous mother thus reply'd.

605

615

Thou therefore on these herbs, and fruits, and flowers
Feed first, on each beast next, and fish, and fowl,
No homely morsels; and whatever thing
The sithe of Time mows down, devour unspar'd;
Till I in Man residing through the race,
His thoughts, his looks, words, actions, all infect,
And season him thy last and sweetest prey.

This said, they both betook them several ways,
Both to destroy, or unimmortal make

611
All kinds, and for destruction to mature
Sooner or later; which th' Almighty seeing,
From his transcendent seat the Saints among,
To those bright Orders utter'd thus his voice.

See with what heat these dogs of Hell advance
To waste and havoc yonder world, which I
So fair and good created, and had still
Kept in that state, had not the folly' of Man
Let in these wasteful furies, who impute

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Folly to me, so doth the prince of Hell
And his adherents, that with so much ease
I suffer them to enter and possess
A place so heav'nly, and conniving seem
To gratify my scornful enemies,
That laugh, as if transported with some fit
Of passion, I to them had quitted all,
At random yielded up to their misrule;
And know not that I call'd and drew them thither
My Hell-hounds, to lick up the draff and filth
Which Man's polluting sin with taint hath shed
On what was pure, till cramm'd and gorg'd, nigh burst

625

630

645

With suck'd and glutted offal, at one sling
Of thy victorious arm, well pleasing Son,
Both Sin, and Death, and yawning Grave at last 635
Through Chaos hurl'd, obstruct the mouth of Hell
For ever, and seal up his ravenous jaws.
Then Heav'n and Earth renew'd shall be made pure
To sanctity that shall receive no stain :
Till then the curse pronounc'd on both precedes. 640

He ended, and the heav'nly audience loud
Sung Halleluiah, as the sound of seas,
Through multitude that sung : Just are thy ways,
Righteous are thy decrees on all thy works;
Who can extenuate thee? Next, to the Son,
Destin'd restorer of mankind, by whom
New Heav'n and Earth shall to the ages rise,
Or down from Heav'n descend. Such was their song,
While the Creator calling forth by name
His mighty Angels gave them several charge,
As sorted best with present things. The sun
Had first his precept so to move, so shine,
As might affect the earth with cold and heat
Scarce tolerable, and from the north to call
Decrepit winter, from the south to bring
Solstitial summer's heat. To the blank moon
Her office they prescrib’d, to th' other five
Their planetary motions and aspécts
In sextile, square, and trine, and opposite
Of noxious efficacy, and when to join

660 In synod unbenign; and taught the fix’d Their influence malignant when to shower,

650

655

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