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And digged out ribs of gold. Let none admire

190 That riches grow in hell: that soil may best Deserve the precious bane. And here let those Who boast in mortal things, and, wondering, tell Of Babelo and the works of Memphian kings, Learn how their greatest monuments of fame, And strength, and art, are easily outdone By spirits reprobate, and in an hour What in an age they, with incessant toil And hands innumerable, scarce perform. Nigh on the plain, in many cells prepared, 700 That underneath had veins of liquid fire Sluiced from the lake, a second multitude With wondrous art founded the massy ore, Severing each kind, and scummedo the bullion dross. A third as soon had formed within the ground A various mold, and from the boiling cells By strange conveyance filled each hollow nook; As in an organ, from one blast of wind, To many a row of pipes the sound-board breathes. Anon out of the earth a fabric huge

710 Rose like an exhalation, with the sound Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet, Built like a temple, where pilasters round Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid

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With golden architrave; nor did there want
Cornice or frieze, with bossy sculptures graven:
The roof was fretted gold. Not Babylon
Nor great Alcairo such magnificence
Equaled in all their glories, to enshrine
Belus or Serapis their gods, or seat

720
Their kings, when Egypt with Assyria strove
In wealth and luxury. The ascending pile
Stood fixed her stately highth; and straight the doors,
Opening their brazen folds, discover, wide
Within, her ample spaces, o'er the smooth
And level pavement. From the arched roof,
Pendent by subtle magic, many a row
Of starry lamps and blazing cressets, fed
With naphtha and asphaltus, yielded light
As from a sky. The hasty multitude

730 Admiring entered; and the work some praise, And some the architect. His hand was known In heaven by many a towered structure high, Where sceptered angels held their residence, And sat as princes, whom the supreme King Exalted to such power, and gave to rule, Eacho in his hierarchy, the orders bright. Nor was his name unheard or unadored In ancient Greece; and in Ausoniano land

Men called him Mulciber°; and how he fell

740 From heaven they fabled, thrown by angry Jove Sheer o'er the crystal battlements: from morn To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve, A summer's day, and with the setting sun Dropt from the zenith like a falling star, On Lemnoso the Ægean isle. Thus they relate, Erring; for he with his rebellious rout Fell long before; nor aught availed him now To have built in heaven high towers; nor did he scape By all his engines, but was headlong sent

750 With his industrious crew to build in hell.

Meanwhile the winged heralds by command Of sovran power, with awful ceremony And trumpets' sound, throughout the host proclaim A solemn council forthwith to be held At Pandemonium, the high capital Of Satan and his peers. Their summons called From every band and squarèd regiment By place or choice the worthiest: they anon With hundreds and with thousands trooping came 760 Attended. All access was thronged: the gates And porches wide, but chief the spacious hall (Though like a covered field, where championso bold Wont ride in armed, and at the soldan's chair

Defied the best of Paynimo chivalry
To mortal combat or career with lance)
Thick swarmed, both on the ground and in the air,
Brushed with the hiss of rustling wings. As bees
In springtime, when the Sun with Taurus rides,
Pour forth their populous youth about the hive 770
In clusters, they among fresh dews and flowers
Fly to and fro, or on the smoothèd plank,
The suburb of their straw-built citadel,
New rubbed with balm, expatiate, and confer
Their state affairs: so thick the aery crowd
Swarmed and were straitened; till, the signal given,
Behold a wonder! they but now who seemed
In bigness to surpass Earth's giant sons,
Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room
Throng numberless, like that pygmeanorace 786
Beyond the Indian mount; or faeryo elves,
Whose midnight revels, by a forest side
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,
Or dreams he sees, while overhead the Moon
Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth
Wheels her pale course: they, on their mirth and dance
Intent, with jocund music charm his ear:
At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds.
Thus incorporeal spirits to smallest forms

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Reduced their shapes immense, and were at large, 790
Though without number still, amidst the hall
Of that infernal court. But far within,
And in their own dimensions like themselves,
The great seraphic lords and cherubim
In close recess and secret conclave sat,
A thousand demigods on golden seats,
Frequent and full. After short silence then,
And summons read, the great consult began.

END OF BOOK I

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