Paradise Lost "Sable-vested Night, Eldest Of Things"

John Milton

"Sable-vested Night, Eldest Of Things"

Context: At the great council of the devils in their newly built hall, Pandemonium, ways of evening scores with God are considered. Finally the devils agree that the fittest revenge would not be the physical destruction of man, but the moral destruction of God's newest and dearest creation. Satan, wanting all the credit for the enterprise, points out the dangers, volunteers to go on the mission, and then immediately adjourns the meeting. He makes his way towards the gates of hell, where he meets the two monsters, Sin and Death. Sin is his daughter, having issued from his head while he was plotting against God; Death is their son, the result of their incestuous intercourse. Satan flatters Sin into opening the gates of hell, which she had been commanded to keep closed. She unlocks the gates, and she and Satan look out into the wild wilderness of chaos. Finally Satan plunges into it and begins to fight his way upward towards the earth; sometimes he rises and sometimes he falls, but he continues to struggle upward. "Black Night" is the oldest of things because created first.

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 Ades, and the dreadful name
Of Demogorgon; Rumor next and Chance,
And Tumult and Confusion all imbroiled,
And Discord with a thousand various mouths.