Page images
PDF
EPUB

Not to destroy, but root them out of Heaven;
The overthrown he rais'd, and as a herd
Of goats or timorous flock together throng'd
Drove them before him thunderstruck, pursued
With terrors and with furies to the bounds
And crystal wall of Heav'n, which, opening wide,
Rolld inward, and a spacious gap disclos'd
Into the wasteful deep; the monstrous sight
Struck them with horror backward, but far worse
Urged them behind ; headlong themselves they threw
Down from the verge Heav'n; eternal wrath
Burnt after them to the bottomless pit.

SATAN ASSEMBLES HIS INFERNAL LEGIONS AFTER THEIR

FALL FROM HEAVEN.

He scarce had ceas'd, when the superior Fiend
Was moving to'ward the shore; his pond'rous shield,
Ethereal temper, massy, large and round,
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views
At evening from the top of Fesole,
Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,
Rivers or mountains in her spotty globe.
His spear, to equal which the tallest pine
Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast
Of some great admiral, were but a wand,
He walk'd with to support uneasy steps
Over the burning marle, not like those steps
On Heaven's azure, and the torrid clime
Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire :
Nathless he so endur'd, till on the beach
Of that inflamed sea he stood, and call'd
His legions, angel forms, who lay intranc'd
Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks
In Vallombrosa, where th' Etrurian shades
High over-arch'd imbow'r; or scatter'd sedge
Afloat when with fierce winds Orion arm'd
Hath vex'd ihe Red-sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew
Busiris and his Memphian chivalry,
While with perfidious hatred they pursu'd
The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld,
From the safe shore, their floating carcasses
And broken chariot wheels; so thick bestrown
Abject and lost lay these, cov’ring the flood,
Under amazement of their hideous change.
He call'd so loud, that all the hollow deep
Of hell resounded. “ Princes, Potentates,

Warriors, the flow'r of Heaven! once yours, now lost,
If such astonishment as this can seize
Eternal Spirits; or have ye chos'n this place
After the toil of battle to repose
Your wearied virtue, for the ease you find
To slumber here, as in the vales of Heaven?
Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
To'adore the Conqueror, who now beholds
Cherub and Seraph rolling in the flood
With scatter'd arms and ensigns, till anon
His swift pursuers from Heaven-gates discern

The advantage, and, descending, tread us down
Thus drooping; or with linked thunderbolts
Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf?
Awake, arise, or be forever fallin?'

They heard, and were abash'd, and up they sprung Upon the wing; as when men wont to watch On duty, sleeping found by whom they dread, Rouse and bestir themselves ere well awake. Nor did they not perceive the evil plight In which they were, or the fierce pains not feel ; Yet to their general's voice they soon obey'd, Innumerable. As when the potent rod Of Amram's son in Egypt's evil day, Wav'd round the coast, up call'd a pitchy cloud Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind, That o'er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung Like night, and darken'd all the land of Nile: So numberless were those bad angels seen Hovering on wing under the cope of hell, 'Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires; Till, as a signal given, the’ uplifted spear of their great sultan waving to direct Their course, in even balance down they light On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain; A multitude, like which the populous north Pour'd never from her frozen loins to pass Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons Came like a deluge on the south, and spread Beneath Gibraltar to the Lybian sands. Forthwith from every squadron and each band The heads and leaders thither haste, where stood Their great commander; godlike shapes and form Excelling human; princely dignities; And powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones; Though of their names in heavenly records now Be no inemorial; blotted out and ras'd By their rebellion from the book of life.

1

All these and more came flocking; but with looks
Down-cast and damp; yet such wherein appear'd
Obscure some glimpse of joy, to' have found their chief
Not in despair, to' have found themselves not lost
In logs itself'; which on his countenance cast
Like doubtful hue: but he, his wonted pride
Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore
Semblance of worth, not substance, gently rais'd
Their fainting courage, and dispelld their fears.
Then straight commands, that at the warlike sound
Of trumpets loud and clarions be up-rear'd
His mighty standard : that proud honor claim'd
Azazel as his right, a cherub tall;
Who forth with from the glittering staff unfurl'd
The’ imperiai ensign; which, full high advanc'd,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind,
With gems and golden lustre rich imblaz’d,
Seraphic arms and trophies; all the while
Sonoro!is metal blowing martial sounds:
At which the universal host up-sent
A shout, that tore hell's concave, and beyond
Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night:
All in a moment through the gloom were seen
Ten thousand banners rise into the air
With orient colors waving; with them rose
A forest huge of spears; and thronging helms
Appear'd, and serried shields in thick array
Of depth immeasurable: anon they move
In perfect phalanx to the Dorian mood
Of fintes and soft recorders; such as rais'd
To height of noblest terper heroes old
Arming to battle ; and instead of rage
Deliberate valor breath’d, firm and unmov'd
With diead of death to flight or foul retreat;
Nor wanting power to mitigate and 'suage
With solemn touches troubled thoughts, and chase
Anguish, and doubt, and fear, and sorrow', and pain,
From mortal or immortal minds. Thus they
Breathing united force, with fixed thought,
Mov'd on in silence to soft pip-s, that charm’d
Their painful steps o’er the burnt soil: and now
Advanc'd in view they stand: a horrid front
Of dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guise
Of warriors old with order'd spear and shield;
Awaiting what command their mighty chief
Had to impose :-he through the armed files
Darts his experienc'd eye, and soon traverse
The whole battalion views; their order due ;
Their visages and stature as of gods ;
Their nuinber last he sums. And now his heart

Nistends with pride, and hardening in his strength
Gluries : for never since created man
Niet such imbodied force, as nain'd with these
Could merit more than that small infantry
Warr'd on by cranes.

Thus far these beyond
Compare of mortal prowess, yet observ'd
Their dread commander: he, avove the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tower: his form had yet not lost
All her original brightness; nor appear'd
Less than archangel ruin'd and the excess
Of glory obscur’u; as when ihe sun, new risen,
Looks through the horizontal misty air
Shorn of his beams : or from behind the moon,
In dim eciipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs. Darken'd so, yet shone
Above them all the archangel: but his face
Deep scars of thunder had intrench’d; and care
Sat on his faded cheek, but under brow's
Of dauntless courage, and considerate pride
Waiting r venge: cruel his eye, but cast
Signs of remorse and passion, to behold
The fellows of his crime, the followers rather,
(Far other once beheld in bliss, condemn'd
For ever now to have their lot in pain ;
Millions of spirits for his fault amerc'd
Of Heaven, and from eternal splendors flung
For his revolt, yet faithful how they stood,
Their glory wither'd: as when heaven's fire
Hath scath'd the forest oaks, or mountain pines,
With singed top to their stately growth, though bare,
Stands on the blasted heath. He now prepard
To speak: whereat, their doubled ranks they bend
From wing to wing, and half cnclose him round
With all his peers: attention held them mute.
Thrice he essay'd, and thrice, in spite of scorn,
Tears, such as angels wecp, burst forth : at last,
Words, interwove with sighs, found out their way.

ADAM AND EVE COMMANDED BY THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL

TO DEPART FROM PARADISE.

Meanwhile,
To re-salute the world with sacred light,
Leucothea wak'd and with fresh dews embalm'd

The earth, when Adam and first matron Eve
Had ended now their orisons, and found
Strength added from above, new hope to spring
Out of despair, jpy, but with fear yet link'd;
Which thus to Eve his welcome words renew'd:

“ Eve, easily may faith admit that all The good which we enjoy from heaven descends ; But that from us ought should ascend to heaven So prevalent as to concern the inind Of God high-bless’d, or to incline his will Hard to believe may seem ; yet this will prayer Or one short sigh of human breath, upborne Even to the seat of God. For since I sought By prayer th' offended Deity t appease, Kneeld, and before him humbled all my heart; Methought I saw him placable and mild, Bending his ear; persuasion in me grew That I was heard with favour; peace return'd Home to my breast and to my memory His promise, that thy seed shall bruise our foe;' Which then not minded in dismay, yet now Assures me that the bitterness of death Is past, and we shall live. Whence hail to thee, Eve rightly call’d, mother of all mankind, Mother of all things living, since by thee, Man is to live, and all things live for man.”

To whom thus Eve with sad demeanour meek: “ Ill worthy I such title should belong To me transgressor, who, for thee ordain'd A help, becaine thy snare; to me reproach Rather belongs, distrust and all dispraise : But infinite in pardon was my Judge, That I, who first brought death on all, am grac'd The source of life ; next favourable thou, Who highly thus to' entitle me vouchsaf'st, Far other name deserving. But the field To labour calls us now, with sweat impos'd Though after sleepless night; for, see! the morn, All unconcern'd with our unrest, begins Her rosy progress smiling; let us forth, I never îrom thy side henceforth to stray, Where'er our day's work lies, though now enjoin'd Laborious, till day droop; while here we dwell, What can be toilsome in these pleasant walks ? Here let us live, though in fallen state, content.”

So spake, so wish'd much humbled Eve, but fate Subscrib'd not; nature first gave signs, impress'd

« PreviousContinue »