Obrázky na stránke

So saying he took (for still he knew his power Not yet expired), and to the wilderness Brought back the Son of God, and left him there, Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose, As daylight sunk, and brought in louring night, Her shadowy offspring, unsubstantial both, Privation mere of light and absent day. Our Saviour meek, and with untroubled mind After his airy jaunt, though hurried sore, Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest, Wherever, under some concourse of shades, Whose branching arms, thick intertwined, might shield From dews and damps of night his sheltered head, But sheltered slept in vain, for at his head The tempter watched, and soon with ugly dreams Disturbed his sleep; and either tropic now 'Gan thunder, and both ends of Heaven, the clouds From many a horrid rift abortive poured Fierce rain with lightning mixed, water with fire In ruin reconciled: nor slept the winds Within their stony caves, but rushed abroad From the four hinges of the world, and fell On the vexed wilderness, whose tallest pines, Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest oaks Bowed their stiff necks, loaden with stormy blasts, Or torn up sheer: ill wast thou shrouded then, O patient Son of God, yet only stood'st Unshaken; nor yet stayed the terror there, Infernal ghosts, and hellish furies, round Environed thee, some howled, some yelled, some shrieked, Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou Sat'st unappalled in calm and sinless peace. Thus passed the night so foul, till morning fair Came forth with pilgrim steps in amicel gray, Who with her radiant finger stilled the roar Of thunder, chased the clouds, and laid the winds And grisly spectres, which the fiend had raised To tempt the Son of God with terrors dire. And now the sun, with more effectual beams, Had cheered the face of earth, and dried the wet From drooping plant, or dropping tree; the birds, Who all things now behold? more fresh and green, After a night of storm so ruinous. i Clothing, from amicis.

2 Probaoly“ beheid.”



their choicest notes in bush and spray
To gratulate the sweet return of morn;
Nor yet amidst this joy and brightest morn
Was absent, after all his mischief done,
The prince of darkness, glad would also seem
Of this fair change, and to our Saviour came,
Yet with no new device, they all were spent,
Rather by this his last affront resolved,
Desperate of better course, to vent his rage,
And mad despite to be so oft repelled.
Him walking on a sunny hill he found,
Backed on the north and west by a thick wood;
Out of the wood he starts in wonted shape,
And in a careless mood thus to him said:

· Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God,
After a dismal night; I heard the wrack
As earth and sky would mingle ; but myself
Was distant; and these flaws, though mortals fear them
As dangerous to the pillared fra of Heaven,
Or to the earth's dark basis underneath,
Are to the main as inconsiderable,
And harmless, if not wholesome, as a sneeze
To man's less universe, and soon are gone;
Yet as being oft-times noxious where they light
On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent,
Like turbulencies in the affairs of men,
Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point,
They oft fore-signify and threaten ill:
This tempest at this desert most was bent;
Of men at thee, for only thou here dwell'st.
Did I not tell thee, if thou didst reject
The perfect season offered with my aid
To win thy destined seat, but wilt prolong
All to the push of fate, pursue thy way
Of gaining David's throne no man knows when,
For both the when and how is no where told,
Thou shalt be what thou art ordained, no doubt;
For angels have proclaimed it, but concealing
The time and means: each act is rightliest done,
Not when it must, but when it may be best.
If thou observe not this, be sure to find,
What I foretold thee, many a hard assay

1 This sentence is, as Newton obseryes, “ dark and perplexed, having no proper exit."

Of dangers, and adversities, and pains,
Ere thou of Israel's sceptre get fast hold;
Whereof this ominous night that closed thee round,
So many terrors, voices, prodigies,
May warn thee, as a sure foregoing sign.”

So talked he; while the Son of God went on
And stayed not, but in brief him answered thus:

“ Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other harm Those terrors which thou speak’st of did me none; I never feared they could, though noising loud And threatening nigh; what they can do as signs Betokening, or ill boding, I contemn As false portents, not sent from God, but thee; Who knowing I shall reign past thy preventiug, Obtrud'st thy offered aid, that I accepting, At least might seem to hold all power of thee, Ambitious spirit, and wouldst be thought my God, And storm'st refused, thinking to terrify Me to thy will. Desist, thou art discerned, And toil'st in vain, nor me in vain molest."

To whom the fiend, now swollen with rage, replied: “ Then hear, O Son of David, virgin-born; For Son of God to me is yet in doubt: Of the Messiah I have heard foretold By all the prophets; of thy birth at length Announced by Gabriel with

the first I knew, And of the angelic song in Bethlehem field, On thy birth-night, that sung thee Saviour born. From that time seldom have I ceased to eye Thy infancy, thy childhood, and thy youth, Thy manhood last, though yet in private bred; Till at the ford of Jordan, whither all Flocked to the Baptist, I among the rest, Though not to be baptized, by voice from Heaven Heard thee pronounced the Son of God beloved. Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer view And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn In what degree or meaning thou art called The Son of God, which bears no single sense; The son of God I also am, or was, And if I was, I am ; relation stands; All men are sons of God; yet thee I thought In some respect far higher so declared. Therefore I watched thy footsteps from that hour,

And followed thee still on to this waste wild;
Where by all best conjectures I collect
Thou art to be my fatal enemy.
Good reason then, if I beforehand seek
To understand my adversary, who
And what he is; his wisdom, power, intent;
By parle, or composition, truce, or league
To win him, or win from him what I can.
And opportunity I here have had
To try thee, sift thee, and confess have found thee
Proof against all temptation, as a rock
Of adamant, and as a centre, firm,
To the utmost of mere man both wise and good,
Not more; for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory,
Have been before contemned, and may again :
Therefore to know what more thou art than man,
Worth naming Son of God by voice from Heaven,
Another method I must now begin.”

So saying, he caught him up, and, without wing
Of hippogrif," bore through the air sublime
Over the wilderness and o'er the plain;
Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,
The holy city, lifted high her towers,
And higher yet the glorious temple reared
Her pile, far off appearing like a mount
Of alabaster, topped with golden spires:
There on the highest pinnacle he set
The Son of God, and added thus in scorn :

“ There stand, if thou wilt stand ; to stand upright
Will ask thee skill; I to thy Father's house
Have brought thee, and highest placed, highest is best;
Now show thy progeny; if not to stand,
Cast thyself down; safely, if Son of God;
For it is written, · He will give command
Concerning thee to his angels, in their hands
They shall up-lift thee, lest at any time
Thou chance to dash thy foot against a stone.""

To whom thus Jesus: “ Also it is written,
Tempt not the Lord thy God:” he said and stood :
But Satan, smitten with amazement, fell.
As when earth's son, Antæus (to compare

[ocr errors]

1 A quiz upon Ariosto, with whom this horse-griffin monster is a great favourite.

Small things with greatest) in Irassa - strove
With Jove's Alcides, and oft foiled still rose,
Receiving from his mother earth new strength,
Fresh from his fall, and fiercer grapple joined,
Throttled at length in the air, expired and fell;
So after many a foil the tempter proud,
Renewing fresh assaults, amidst his pride
Fell whence he stood to see his victor fall.
And as that Theban monster? that proposed
Her riddle, and him who solved it not devoured,
That once found out and solved, for grief and spite
Cast herself headlong from the Ismeniano steep;
So struck with dread and anguish fell the fiend,
And to his crew, that sat consulting, brought
Joyless triumphals of his hoped success,
Ruin, and desperation, and dismay,
Who durst so proudly tempt the Son of God.
So Satan fell; and straight a fiery globe
Of angels on full sail of wing flew nigh,
Who on their plumy vans received him soft
From his uneasy station, and upbore,
As on a floating couch, through the blithe air,
Then in a flowery valley set him down
On a green bank, and set before him spread
A table of celestial food, divine,
Ambrosial fruits, fetched from the tree of life,
And from the fount of life ambrosial drink,
That soon refreshed him wearied, and repaired
What hunger, if aught hunger had impaired,
Or thirst; and as he fed, angelic quires
Sung heavenly anthems of his victory
Over temptation, and the tempter proud.

“ True image of the Father, whether throned
In the bosom of bliss, and light of light
Conceiving, or remote from Heaven, enshrined
In fleshly tabernacle, and human form,
Wandering the wilderness, whatever place,
Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing
The Son of God, with godlike force endued
Against the attempter of thy Father's throne,
And thief of Paradise; him long of old
Thou didst debel,4 and down from Heaven cast
1 A city in Libya.

2 The Sphinx.

3 Theban. 4 War down, subdue, from the Latin debellare,

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PredošláPokračovať »