Page images

Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell, 205
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind,
Moors by his side under the lee, while night
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays:
So stretch'd out huge in length the Archfiend 'ay,
Chain'd on the burning lake: nor ever thence 210
Had risen, or heaved his head; but that the will
And high permission of all-ruling Heaven
Left him at large to his own dark designs ;
That with reiterated crimes he might
Heap on himself damnation, while he sought 215
Evil to others; and, enraged, might see
How all his malice served but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shown
On Man by him seduced; but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance, pour'd. 220
Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
His mighty stature : on each hand the flames,
Driven backward, slope their pointing spires, and rollid
In billows, leave i’ the midst a horrid vale.
Then with expanded wings he steers his flight 225
Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air,
That felt unusual weight; till on dry land
He lights, if it were land that ever burn'd
With solid, as toe lake with liquid fire :
And such appear d in hue, as when the force 230
Of subterranean wind transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shatter'd side
Of thundering Ætna, whose combustible
And fuel'd entrails thence conceiving fire,
Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds,
And leave a singed bottom all involved
With stench and smoke : such resting found the sole
Of unbless'd feet. Him follow'd his next mate :
Both glorying to have scaped the Stygian flood
As Gods, and by their own recover'd strength, 240
Not by the sufferance of supernal Power.

Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,


Said then the lost Archangel, this the seat
That we must change for Heaven; this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so! since he, 245
Who r.ow is Sov'reign, can dispose and bid
What shall be right: furthest from him is best,
Whom reason hath equal'd, force hath made supreme
Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields,
Where joy for ever dwells ! Hail horrors ! hail, 250
Infernal world! And thou, profoundest Hell,
Receive thy new possessor! one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time :
The mind its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. 255
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be; all but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; the Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy; will not drive us hence : 260
Here we may reign secure, and, in my choice,
To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven !
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
The associates and copartners of our loss

Lie thus astonished on the oblivious pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
In this unhappy mansion; or once more
With rallied arms to try what may be yet
Regain'd in Heaven, or what more lost in Hell? 270

So Satan spake; and nin Beelzebub
Thus ànswer'd. Leader of those armies bright,
Which but the Omnipotent none could have foil'd!
If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge
Of hope in fears and dangers, heard so oft

In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge
Of battle when it raged, in all assaults
Their surest signal, they will soon resume
New courage and revive; though now they lie
Groveling and prostrate on yon lake of fire, 280

As we erewhile, astounded and amazed :
No wonder, fallen such a pernicious height.

He scarce had ceased, when the superior Fiend
Was moving toward the shore : his ponderous shield,
Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round, 285
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the nioon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views
At Evening from the top of Fesolé,
Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,

290 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 ammiral, were but a wand, He walk'd with, to support uneasy steps

206 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 endured, till on the beach Of that inflamed sea he stood, and callid

300 His legions, Angel forms, who lay entranced Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks, In Vallambrosa, where the Etrurian shades, High overarch'd, imbower; or scatter'd sedge Anoat, when with fierce winds Orion arm’d 305 Hath vex'd the Red Seacoast, whose waves o'ertlırow Busiris and his Memphian chivalry, While with perfidious hatred they pursued The sojourners of Goshen, who behelà From the safe shore their floating carcasses 310 And broken chariot wheels : so thick bestrown, Abject and lost lay these, covering the flood, Under amazement of their hideous change. He callid so loud, that all the hollow deep Of Hell resounded ! Princes, Potentates,

315 Warriors, the flower of Heaven! once yours, now lost, If such asi.onishment as this can seize Eternal Spirits; or have ye chosen this place

After the toil of battle to repose
Your wearied virtue, for the ease you find 320
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 325
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 for ever fallen!

They heard, and were abash'd, and up they sprumg
Upon the wing; as wh 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, nor 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,
Waved round the coast, up call’d a pitchy cloud 340
Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind,
That o'er the realın 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, 343
'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 briinstone, and fill all the plain ; 350
A multitude, like which the populous North
Pour'd never from her frozen loirs, to pass
Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons

like a deluge on the South, and spread Beneath Gibraltar to the Libyan sands.

365 Forthwith from every squadron, and each band,

[ocr errors]

The heads and leaders thither haste where stood
Their great Commander ; Godlike shapes, and forms
Excelling huinan; princely Dignities;
And Powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones; 360
Though of their names in heavenly records now
Be no memorial; blotted out and rased
By their rebellion from the bock of life.
Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve

Got them new names; till, wandering o'er the earth,
Through God's high sufferance for the trial of man,
By falsities and lies the greatest part
Of mankind they corrupted to forsake
God their creator, and the invisible
Glory of him that made them to transform 370
Oft to the image of a brute, adorn'd
With gay religions full of pomp and gold,
And Devils to adore for Deities :
Then were they known to men by various names
And various idols ihrough the Heathen world. 375
Say, Muse, their names then known; who fust, who last,
Roused from the slumber, on that fiery couch,
At their great Emperor's call, as next in worth
Came singly where he stood on the bare strand,
While the promiscuous crowd stood yet aloof. 380
The chief were those, who from the pit of Hell
Roaming to seek their prey on earth, durst fix
Their seats long after next the seat of God,
Their altars by his altar; Gods adored
Among the nations round: and durst abide 385
Jehovah thundering out of Sion, throned
Between the cherubim; yea, often placed
Within his sanctuary itself their shrines,
Abominations; and with cursed things
His holy rites and solemn feasts profaned, 390
And with their darkness durst affront his light.
First, Moloch, horrid king, besmear'd with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears ;
'l hough, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,

« PreviousContinue »