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Each other, till supplanted down he fell
A monstrous serpent on his belly prone,
Reluctant, but in vain; a greater Pow'r 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 transformid
Alike; to serpents all as accessories 520
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 seein'd
Above the rest still to retain. They all
Him follow'd, issuing forth to th’
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,

open field,

1

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,
As in their crime. Thus was th’applause they
meant

545 Turn'd to exploding hiss ; triumph to shame, Cast on themselves from their own mouths.

There stood
Agrove hard by,sprung up with this their change,
His will who reigns above, to aggravate
Their penance, laden with fair fruit, like that
Which grew in Paradise, the bait of Eve

551
Us’d by the Tempter. On that prospect strange
Their earnest eyes they fix'd, imagining
For one forbidden tree a multitude

554
Now ris'n, to work them further woe or shame;
Yet parch'd with scalding thirst and hunger fierce,
Though to delude them sent, could not abstain,
But on they rollid 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 spatt'ring 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
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 callid
Ophion with Eurynome, the wide

581 Encroaching Eve perhaps, had first the rule Of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driv'n And Ops, ere yet Dictæan Jove was born.

Mean while, 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 :

Second of Satan sprung, all-conqu’ring Death, What think'st thou of our empire now, tho'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?

Whom thus the Sin-born monster answer'd

soon:

To me, who with eternal famine pine,
Alike is Hell, or Paradise, or Heav'n;
There best, where most with ravine I may meet;
Which here, tho'plenteous, all too little seems
To stuff this maw, this vast unhide-bound corpsé.
To whom th' incestuous mother thus reply'd :
Thou therefore on these herbs, and fruits, and

flow'rs,

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Feed first, on each beast next, and fish, and fowl,
No homely morsels; and whatever thing 605
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 sev'ral ways,
Both to destroy, or unimmortal make 611
All kinds, and for destruction to mature
Sooner or later; which th' Almighty sceing,
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 620
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,

625

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
With suck'd and glutted offal, at one sling
Of thy victorious arm, well-pleasing Son, 634
Both Sin, and Death, and yawning Grave at last
Thro’ Chaos hurl'd, obstruct the mouth of Hell
For ever, and seal up his rav'nous 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.

He ended, and the heav'nly audience loud Sung Halleluiah, as the sound of seas, Thro' 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 646 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 sev'ral charge, As sorted best with present things. The sun Had first his precept so to move, so shine,

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