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With stubborn patience as with triple steel. Another part in squadrons and gross bands, 570 On bold adventure to discover wide

That dismal world, if any

clime perhaps

Might yield them easier habitation, bend

Four ways their flying march, along the banks
Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge

Into the burning lake their baleful streams;
Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud

575

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Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon,
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls
Her wat'ry labyrinth; whereof who drinks,
Forthwith his former state and b'ing forgets, 585
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
Beyond this flood a frozen continent

Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land
Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems 590
Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice,
A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and mount Casius old,

Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of fire.
Thither, by harpy-footed furies hal'd,

At certain revolutions, all the damn'd

596

Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more

fierce,

From beds of raging fire to starve in ice

боо

Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine Immoveable, infix'd, and frozen round, Periods of time, thence hurry'd back to fire. They ferry over this Lethean sound

Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment, 605 And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,

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All in one moment, and so near the brink;
But Fate withstands, and to oppose
th' attempt
Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards
The ford, and of itself the water flies
All taste of living wight, as once it fled
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on

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In confus'd march forlorn, th' advent'rous bands
With shudd'ring horror pale, and eyes aghast,
View'd first their lamentable lot, and found
No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale
They pass'd, and many a region dolorous,
O'er many frozen, many a fiery Alp,

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Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades

of death,

A universe of death, which God by curse
Created ev❜l, for evil only good,

Where all life dies, death lives, and nature breeds,

P

all monstrous, all prodigious things, 625

Abominable, inutterable, and worse

Than fables

yet have feign'd, or fear conceiv'd, Gorgons and Hydras, and Chimæras dire. Meanwhile th' Adversary of God and Man, Satan, with thoughts inflam'd of high'st design, Puts on swift wings, and tow'rds the gates of

Hell
Explores his solitary flight.

Sometimes

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He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left, Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars Up to the fiery concave tow'ring high.

As when far off at sea a fleet descry'd

Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds
Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles

635

Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs; they on the trading flood 640
Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape
Ply stemming nightly pole. So seem'd
Far off the flying Fiend: at last appear

Hell bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof,
And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were

brass,

Three iron, three of adamantine rock,

Impenetrable, impal'd with circling fire,

Yet unconsum'd. Before the

Before the gates there sat

On either side a formidable shape;

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The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair,

But ended foul in many a scaly fold

Voluminous and vast, a serpent arm'd

With mortal sting: about her middle round

651

A cry
of Hell-hounds never ceasing, bark'd 654
With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturb'd their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there, yet there still bark'd and howl'd,
Within unseen. Far less abhorr'd than these
Vex'd Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts 660
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore:
Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when call'd
In secret, riding through the air she comes,
Lur'd with the smell of infant blood, to dance
With Lapland witches, while the labʼring moon
Eclipses at their charms. The other shape, 666
If shape it might be call'd that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb,
Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either; black it stood as Night,
Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,

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And shook a dreadful dart. What seem'd his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand, and from his seat,
The monster moving onward, came as fast 675
With horrid strides, Hell trembled as he strode.
Th' undaunted Fiend what this might be admir'd,
Admir'd, not fear'd: God and his Son except,
Created thing nought valued he nor shunn'd;
And with disdainful look thus first began: 680

Whence and what art thou, execrable shape, That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance Thy miscreated front athwart my way

[graphic][subsumed][merged small][subsumed]

fast.

With horrid strides; Hell trembled as he strode.

Printed for J. Parsons, 21, Paternoster Row. May 11795

IL L 675

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