Obrázky na stránke



So stretched out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay
Chained on the burning lake; nor ever thence
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
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 poured.
Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
His mighty stature; on each hand the flames,
Driven backward, slope their pointing spires, and, rolled
In billows, leave in the midst a horrid vale.
Then with expanded wings he steers his flight
Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air,
That felt unusual height; till on dry land
He lights; if it were land, that ever burned
With solid, as the lake with liquid fire;
And such appeared in hue, as when the force 230
Of subterranean wind transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side
Of thundering Ætna, whose combustible
And fuelled entrails thence conceiving fire,
Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds,
And leaves a singèd bottom all involved
With stench and smoke: such resting found the sole
Of unblest feet! Him followed his next mate;
Both glorying to have 'scaped the Stygian flood,
As gods, and by their own recovered 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, “ Who now is Sovereign, can dispose and bid' “ What shall be right: furthest from him is best, " Whom reason hath equalled, 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 is its own place, and in itself “ Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. “ 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 “Regained in Heaven, or what more lost in Hell?" 270

So Satan spake, and him Beëlzebub Thus answered:

“ Leader of those armies bright, Which, but the Omnipotent, none could have foiled, “ If once they hear that voice,-their liveliest pledge “Of hope in fear 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

Grovelling 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,
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 Fesolè,
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 amiral, were but a wand, -
He walked with to support uneasy steps
()ver 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 inflamèd sea he stood, and called

300 His legions, angel forms, who lay entranced, Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades High overarched imbower; or scattered sedge Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion armed Hath vexed the Red Sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew Busiris and his Memphian chivalry, While with perfidious hatred they pursued The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld From the safe shore their floating carcasses

310 And broken chariot-wheels: so thick bestrewn, Abjéct and lost, lay these, covering the flood, Under amazement of their hideous change. He called so loud, that all the hollow deep Of Hell resounded:

Princes, Potentates, Warriors, the flower of Heaven, once yours, now lost, “If such astonishment 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 scattered arms and ensigns; till anon “ His swist pursuers from Heaven-gates discern

[ocr errors]

“ 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 abashed, 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 obeyed,
Innumerable. As when the potent rod
Of Amram's son, in Egypt's evil day,
Waved round the coast, up called a pitchy cloud 340
Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind,
That o'er the realm of impious Pharoah hung
Like night, and darkened 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 :- 350
A multitude, like which the populous north
Poured 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 forms
Excelling human, princely dignities,
And Powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones;
Though of their names in heavenly records now
Be no memorial, blotted out and razed
By their rebellion from the books 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

Oft to the image of a brute, adorned
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 through the heathen world.
Say, Muse, their names then known, who first, 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 Jehovah thundering out of Sion, throned Between the Cherubim: yea, often placed Within his sanctuary itself, their shrinesAbominations; and with cursed things His holy rites and solemn feasts profaned,

390 And with their darkness durst affront his light.

First Moloch, horrid king, besmeared with blood Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears; Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud, Their children's cries unheard, that passed through fire To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite Worshipped in Rabba and her watery plain, In Argob, and in Basan, to the stream Of utmost Arnon. Nor content with such Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart 400 Of Solomon he led, by fraud, to build His temple right against the temple of God On that opprobrious hill; and made his grove The pleasant va

of Hi om,—Tophet thence And black Gehenna called, ---the type of Hell.

« PredošláPokračovať »