Imágenes de página
PDF

Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
Through the strict senteries and stations thick
Of angels watching round? Here he had need
All circumspection, and we now no less
Choice in our suffrage; for, on whom we send,
The weight of all and our last hope relies.”
This said, he sat; and expectation held
His look suspense, awaiting who appear'd
To second, or oppose, or undertake
The perilous attempt: but all sat mute,
Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and
each

In other's countenance read his own dismay
Astonish'd: none among the choice and prime
Of those Heaven-warring champions could be
found
So hardy, as to proffer or accept,
Alone, the dreadful voyage; till at last
Satan, whom now transcendent glory rais'd
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride,
Conscious of highest worth, unmov'd thus spake.
“O progeny of Heaven, empyreal thrones,
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seiz'd us, though undismay’d. Long is the way
And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light:
Our prison strong; this huge convex of fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round
Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant,
Barr'd over us, prohibit all egress.
These pass'd, if any pass, the void profound
Of unessential Night receives him next
Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being
Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf.
If thence he 'scape into whatever world,
Or unknown region, what remains him less
Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape?
But I should ill become this throne, O peers,
And this imperial sovranty, adorn'd
With splendour, arm'd with power, if aught pro-
'd

And judg’d of public moment, in the shape
f difficulty, or danger, could deter
Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume
These royalties, and not refuse to reign,
Refusing to accept as great a share
Of hazard as of honour, due alike
To him who reigns, and so much to him due
Of hazard more, as he above the rest
High honour’d sits? Go therefore, mighty powers,
Terrour of Heaven, though fall'n; intend at
home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present misery, and render Hell
More tolerable; if there be cure or charm
To respite, or deceive, or slack the pain
Of this ill mansion: intermit no watch
Against a wakeful foe, while I abroad
Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek
Deliverance for us all: this enterprise
None shall partake with me.” Thus saying rose
The monarch, and prevented all reply; .
Prudent, lest, from his resolution rais'd,
Others among the chief might offer now
(Certain to be refus'd) what erst they fear'd ;
And, so refus'd, might in opinion stand
His rivals; winning cheap the high repute,
Which he through hazard huge must earn. But
they
Dreaded not more the adventure, than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rose:

Their rising all at once, was as the sound
Of thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend
With awful reverence prone; and as a god
Extol him equal to the Highest in Heaven:
Nor fail'd they to express how much they prais'd,
That for the general safety he despis'd
His own: for neither do the spirits damn'd
Lose all their virtue; lest bad men should boast
Their specious deeds on Earth which glory excites,
Or close ambition, varnish'd o'er with zeal.
Thus they their doubtful consultations dark
Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief:
As when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds
Ascending, while the north-wind sleeps, o'erspread
Heaven's cheerful face, the louring element
Scowls o'er the darken'd landskip snow, or shower;
If chance the radiant Sun with farewell sweet
Extend his evening-beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
O shame to men devil with devil damn'd
Firm concord holds, men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope
Of heavenly grace; and, God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife,
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
Wasting the Earth, each other to destroy :
As if (which might induce us to accord)
Man had not hellish foes enow besides,
That, day and night, for his destruction wait.
The Stygian council thus dissolv’d ; and forth
In order came the grand infernal peers;
Midst came their mighty paramount, and seem'd
Alone the antagonist of Heaven, nor less
Than Hell's dread emperor, with pomp supreme,
And God-like imitated state: him round
A globe of fiery seraphim enclos'd,
With bright imblazonry, and horrent arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets' regal sound the great result:
Towards the four winds four speedy cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,
By herald's voice explain'd ; the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell
With deafening shout return'd them loud acclaim.
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat
rais'd
By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers
Disband, and, wandering, each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
Leads him, perplex'd where he may likeliest find
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
The irksome hours, till his great chief return.
Part on the plain, or in the air sublime,
Upon the wing, or in swift race contend,
As at the Olympian games or Pythian fields;
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brigades form.
As when, to warn proud cities, war appears
Wag'd in the troubled sky, and armies rush
To battle in the clouds, before each van
Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their spears
Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms
From either end of Heaven the welkin burns.
Others, with vast Typhoean rage more fell,
Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air
In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar
As when Alcides, from Oechalia crown'd
With conquest, felt the envenom'd robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines,

And Lichns from the top of Oeta threw Into th' Euboic sea. Others more mild, Retreated in a silent valley, sing With notes angelical to many a harp Their own heroic deeds and hapless fall By doom of battle; and complain that sate Free virtue should enthral to force or chance. Their song was partial; but the harmony (What could it less when spirits immortal sing?) Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet (For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense,) Others apart sat on a hill retir’d, In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate, Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute, And found no end, in wandering mazes lost. Of good and evil much they argued then, Of happiness and final misery, Passion and apathy, and glory and shame, Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy: Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm Pain for a while or anguish, and excite Fallacious hope, or arm th’ obdured breast With stubborn patience, as with triple steel. Another part, in squadrons and gross bands, On bold adventure to discover wide That dismal world, if any clime perhaps Might yield them easier habitation, bend Four ways their flying march, along the banks Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge Into the burning lake their baleful streams: Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate; Sad Acheron, of sorrow, black and deep; Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud Heard on the rueful stream ; fierce Phlegethon, Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage. Far off from these, a slow and silent stream, Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks, Forthwith his former state and being forgets, Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain. Beyond this flood a frozen continent Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems Of ancient pile; or else deep snow and ice. A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog Betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old, Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air Burns frone, and cold performs the effect of fire. Thither by harpy-footed furies hal’d, At certain revolutions, all the damn'd Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce, From beds of raging fire, to starve in ice Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine Immoveable, infix'd, and frozen round, Periods of time, thence hurried back to fire. They ferry over this Lethcan sound Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment, And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe, All in one moment, and so near the brink; But Fate withstands, and to oppose the attempt Medusa with Gorgonian terrour guards The ford, and of itself the water flies All taste of living wight, as once it fled

The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on In confus'd march forlorn, the adventurous bands With shuddering horrour pale, and eyes aghast, View'd first their lamentable lot, and found No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale They pass'd, and many a region dolorous, O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp, Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death, A universe of death; which God by curse Created evil, for evil only good, Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds, Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things, Abominable, inutterable, and worse Than fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceiv'd, Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire. Meanwhile, the adversary of God and man, Satan, with thoughts inflam'd of highest design, Puts on swift wings, and towards the gates of Hicll Explores his solitary flight: sometimes He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left; Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars Up to the fiery concave towering high. As when far off at sea a fleet descried Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring Their spicy drugs; they, on the trading flood, Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape, Ply stemming nighly toward the pole: so seem'd Far off the flying fiend. At last appear Hell bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof, And thrice three-fold the gates; three-folds were brass, Three iron, three of adamantine rock Impenetrable, impal'd with circling fire, Yet unconsum’d. Before the gates there sat On either side a formidable shape; The one seem'd woman to the waist and fair; But ended foul in many a scaly fold Voluminous and vast; a serpent arm'd With mortal sting: About her middle round A cry of Hell-hounds never ceasing bark'd With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep, If aught disturb’d their noise, into her womb, And kennel there; yet there still bark'd and howl'd, Within unseen. Far less abhorr'd than these Vex'd Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore: Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, call’d In secret, riding through the air she comes, Lur'd with the smell of infant blood, to dance With Lapland witches, while the labouring Moon Eclipses at their charms. The other shape, If shape it might be call'd that shape had none Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb; Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem’d, 'or cach seem'd either: black it stood as night, Fierce as ten furies, terrible as Hell, And shook a dreadful dart; what seem'd his head The likeness of a kingly crown had on. Satan was now at hand, and from his seat The monster moving onward came as fast With horrid strides; Hell trembled as he strode. The undaunted fiend what this might be admir’d, Admir’d, not fear'd; God and his Son except, Created thing naught valued he, nor shunn'd ; And with disdainful look thus first began. “Whence and what art thou, cacciable shape,

That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated front athwart my way
To yonder gates? through them I mean to pass,
That be assur'd, without leave ask'd of thee:
Retire, or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,
Hell-born, not to contend with spirits of Heaven.”
To whom the goblin full of wrath replied.
“Art thou that traitor-angel, art thou he,
Who first broke peace in Heaven, and faith, till then
Unbroken; and in proud rebellious arms
Drew after him the third part of Heaven's sons
Conjár'd against the Highest; for which both thou
And they, outcast from God are here condemn'd
To waste eternal days in woe and pain?
And reckon'st thou thyself with spirits of Heaven,
Hell-doom'd, and breath'st defiance here and scorn,
Where I reign king, and, to enrage thee more,
Thy king and lord? Back to thy punishment,
False fugitive, and to thy speed add wings,
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart
Strange horrour seize thee, and pangs unfelt before.”
So spake the grisly terrour, and in shape,
So speaking and so threatening, grew ten-fold
More dreadful and deform. On the other side,
Incens'd with indignation, Satan stood
Unterrified, and like a comet burn'd,
That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In the arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head
Levell'd his deadly aim ; their fatal hands
No second stroke intend; and such a frown
Each cast at the other, as when two black clouds,
With Heaven's artillery fraught, come rattling on
Over the Caspian, then stand front to front,
Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow
To join their dark encounter in mid air:
So frown'd the mighty combatants, that Hell
Grew darker at their frown; so match'd they stood;
For never but once more was either like
To meet so great a foe: and now great deeds
Had been achiev'd, whereof all Hell had rung,
Had not the snaky sorceress, that sat
Fast by Hell-gate, and kept the fatal key,
Ris'n, and with hideous outcry rush'd between.
“O father, what intends thy hand,” she cried,
“Against thy only son 2 What fury, O son,
Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart
Against thy father's head? and know'st for whom ;
For him who sits above and laughs the while
At thee ordain’d his drudge, to execute
Whate'er his wrath, which he calls justice, bids;
His wrath, which one day will destroy ye both.”
She spake, and at her words the hellish pest
Forbore; then these to her Satan return'd.
“So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strange
Thou interposest, that my sudden hand,
Prevented, spares to tell thee yet by deeds
What it intends; till first I know of thee,
What thing thou art thus double-form'd; and why
In this infernal vale first met, thou call'st
Me father, and that phantasm call'st my son :
I know thee not, nor ever saw till now
Sight more detestable than him and thee.”
To whom thus the portress of Hell-gate replied.
* Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem
Now in thine eye so foul ? once deem'd so fair
In Heaven, when at the assembly, and in sight
of all the seraphim with thee combin’d
In bold conspiracy against Heaven's King,

All on a sudden miserable pain
Surpris'd thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzy swum
In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast
Threw forth: till, on the left side opening wide,
Likest to thee in shape and countenance bright
Then shining heavenly fair, a goddess arm’d,
Out of thy head I sprung : amazement seiz'd
All the host of Heaven; back they recoil'd afraid
At first, and call'd me Sin, and for a sign
Portentous held me; but, familiar grown,
I pleas'd, and with attractive graces won
The most averse, thee chiefly, who full oft
Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing
Becam'st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'st
With me in secret, that my womb conceiv'd
A growing burden. Meanwhile war arose,
And fields were fought in Heaven; wherein re-
main'd -
(For what could else?) to our Almighty Foe
Clear victory; to our part loss and rout,
Through all the empyréan; down they fell
Driven headlong from the pitch of Heaven, down
Into this deep ! and in the general fall
I also ; at which time, this powerful key
Into my hand was given, with charge to keep
These gates for ever shut, which none can pass
Without my opening. Pensive here I sat
Alone; but long I sat not, till my womb,
Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown,
Prodigious motion felt, and rueful throes.
At last this odious offspring whom thou seest,
Thine own begotten, breaking violent way
Tore through my entrails, that with fear and pain
Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew
Transform'd : but he my inbred enemy
Forth issued, brandishing his fatal dart
Made to destroy I fled and cried out Death /
Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sigh'd
From all her caves, and back resounded Death /
I fled, but he pursued, (though more, it seems,
Inflam'd with lust than rage,) and, swifter far,
Me overtook his mother all dismay’d,
And in embraces forcible and foul
Engendering with me, of that rape begot
These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry
Surround me, as théu saw'st, hourly conceiv'd
And hourly born, with sorrow infinite
To me; for, when they list, into the womb
That bred them they return, and howl and gnaw
My bowels, their repast; then bursting forth
Afresh with conscious terrours vex me round,
That rest or intermission none I find.
Before mine eyes in opposition sits
Grim Death, my son and foe; who sets them on,
And me his parent would full soon devour
For want of other prey, but that he knows
His end with mine involv'd; and knows that I
Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane,
Whenever that shall be; so Fate pronounc'd.
But thou, O father, I forewarn thee, shun
His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope
To be invulnerable in those bright arms,
Though temper'd heavenly; for that mortal dint,
Save he who reigns above, none can resist.”
She finish'd; and the subtle fiend his lore
Soon learn'd, now milder, and thus answer'd smooth.
“Dear daughter, since thou claim'st me for thy
sure,
And my fair son here show'st me, the dear pledge
Of dalliance had with thee in Heaven, and joys

Then sweet, now sad to mention, through direchange
Befall'n us, unforeseen, unthought of; know,
I come no enemy, but to set free
From out this dark and dismal house of pain
Both him and thee, and all the heavenly host
Of spirits, that, in our just pretences arm’d,
Fell with us from on high: from them I go
This uncouth errand sole; and one for all
Myself expose, with lonely steps to tread
The unsounded deep, and through the void immense
To search with wondering quest a place foretold
Should be, and, by concurring signs, ere now
Created vast and round, a place of bliss
In the pourlieus of Heaven, and therein plac'd
A race of upstart creatures, to supply
Perhaps our vacant room; though more remov’d,
Lest Heaven, surcharg'd with potent multitude,
Might hap to move new broils. Be this or aught
Than this more secret now design'd, I haste
To know ; and, this once known, shall soon return,
And bring ye to the place where thou and Death
Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen
Wing silently the buxom air, imbalm'd
With odours: there ye shall be fed and fill’d
Immeasurably; all things shall be your prey.”
He ceas'd, for both seem'd highly pleas'd, and
Death
Grinn'd horrible a ghastly smile, to hear
His famine should he fill'd ; and blest his maw
Destin'd to that good hour: no less rejoic'd
His mother bad, and thus bespake her sire.
“The key of this infernal pit by due,
And by command of Heaven's all-powerful King,
I keep, by him forbidden to unlock
These adamantine gates; against all force
Death ready stands to interpose his dart,
Fearless to be o'ermatch'd by living might.
But what owe I to his commands above
Who hates me, and hath hither thrust me down
Into this gloom of Tartarus profound,
To sit in hateful office here confin'd,
Inhabitant of Heaven, and heavenly-born,
Here in perpetual agony and pain,
With terrours and with clamours compass'd round
Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed 2
Thou art my father, thou my author, thou
My being gav'st me; whom should I obey
But thee? whom follow 2 thou wilt bring me soon
To that new world of light and bliss, among
The gods who live at ease, where I shall reign
At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems
Thy daughter and thy darling, without end.”
Thus saying, from her side the fatal key,
Sad instrument of all our woe, she took ;
And, towards the gate rolling her bestial train,
Forthwith the huge portcullis high up drew,
Which but herself, not all the Stygian powers
Could once have mov’d; then in the key-hole
turns
The intricate wards, and every bolt and bar
Of massy iron or solid rock with ease
Unfastens. On a sudden open fly
With impetuous recoil and jarring sound
The infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
Of Erebus. She open'd, but to shut
Excell'd her power; the gates wide open stood,
That with extended wings a banner'd host,
Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through
With horse and chariots rank'd in loose array;

So wide they stood, and like a surnace mouth Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame. Before their eyes in sudden view appear The secrets of the hoary deep; a dark Illimitable ocean, without bound, Without dimension, where length, breadth, and height, And time, and place, are lost; where eldest Night And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise Of endless wars, and by confusion stand. For Hot, Cold, Moist, and Dry, four champions fierce, Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring Their embryon atoms; they around the flag Of each his faction, in their several clans, Light-arm'd or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow, Swarm populous, unnumber'd as the sands Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil, Levied to side with warring winds, and poise Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere, He rules a moment: Chaos umpire sits, And by decision more embroils the fray, By which he reigns: next him high arbiter Chance governs all. Into this wild abyss, The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave, Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire, But all these in their pregnant causes mix'd Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight, Unless the Almighty Maker them ordain His dark materials to create more worlds; Into this wild abyss the wary fiend Stood on the brink of Hell, and look'd a while, Pondering his voyage : for no narrow frith He had to cross. Nor was his ear less peal’d With noises loud and ruinous, (to compare Great things with small,) than when Bellona storms, With all her battering engines bent to rase Some capital city; or less than if this frame Of Heaven were falling, and these elements In mutiny had from her axle torn The stedfast Earth. At last his sail-broad vans He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoke Uplifted spurns the ground; thence many a league, As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides Audacious; but, that seat soon failing, meets A vast vacuity: all unawares Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb down he drops Ten thousand fathom deep; and to this hour Down had been falling, had not by ill chance The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud, Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him As many miles aloft: that fury staid, Quench'd in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea, Nor good dry land: nigh founder'd on he fares, Treading the crude consistence, half on foot, Half flying; behoves him now both oar and sail. As when a gryphon, through the wilderness With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale, Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth Had from his wakeful custody purloin'd The guarded gold: so eagerly the fiend Oer bog, or steep, through strait, rough, dense or rare, With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way, And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies; At length a universal hubbub wild Of stunning sounds, and voices all confus'd, Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear With loudest vehemence: thither he plies,

[ocr errors]

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 enthron'd
Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
The consort of his reign; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon! Rumour next and Chance,
And Tumult and Confusion all embroil'd,
And Discord with a thousand various mouths.
To whom Satan turning boldly, thus: “Ye powers
And spirits of this nethermost abyss,
Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy,
With purpose to explore or to disturb
The secrets of your realm ; but, by constraint
Wandering this darksome desert, as my way
Lies through your spacious empire up to light,
Alone, and without guide, half lost, I seek
What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds
Confine with Heaven; or if some other place,
From your dominion won, the etherial King
Possesses lately, thither to arrive
I travel this profound; direct my course;
Directed, no mean recompense it brings
To your behoof, if I that region lost,
All usurpation thence expell'd, reduce
To her original darkness, and your sway,
(Which is my present journey) and once more
Erect the standard there of ancient Night:
Yours be the advantage all, mine the revenge.”
Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old,
With faltering speech and visage incompos'd,
Answer'd. “I know thee, stranger, who thou art,
That mighty leading angel, who of late
Made head against Heaven's King, though over-
thrown.
I saw and heard: for such a numerous host
Fled not in silence through the frighted deep,
With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
Confusion worse confounded; and Heaven-gates
Pour’d out by millions her victorious bands
Pursuing. I upon my frontiers here
Keep residence: if all I can will serve
That little which is left so to defend,
Encroach'd on still through your intestine broils
Weakening the sceptre of old Night: first Hell,
Your dungeon, stretching far and wide beneath;
Now lately Heaven and Earth, another world,
Hung o'er my realm, link'd in a golden chain
To that side Heaven from whence your legions
fell .
If that way be your walk, you have not far;
So much the nearer danger; go, and speed;
Havoc, and spoil, and ruin, are my gain.”
He ceas'd ; and Satan staid not to reply,
But, glad that now his sea should find a shore,
With fresh alacrity, and force renew'd,
Springs upward, like a pyramid of fire,
Into the wild expanse, and, through the shock
Of fighting elements, on all sides round
Environ'd, wins his way; harder beset
And more endanger'd, than when Argo pass'd
Through Bosporus, betwixt the justling rocks!
Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunn'd
Charybdis, and by the other whirlpool steer'd.
So he with difficulty and labour hard

Mov'd on, with difficulty and labour he ;
But, he once past, soon after, when man fell,
Strange alteration' Sin and Death amain
Following his track, such was the will of Heaven,
Pav'd after him a broad and beaten way
Over the dark abyss, whose boiling gulf
Tamely endur'd a bridge of wondrous length,
From Hell continued reaching the utmost orb
Of this frail world; by which the spirits perverse
With easy intercourse pass to and fro
To tempt or punish mortals, except whom
God, and good angels, guard by special grace.
But now at last the sacred influence
Of light appears, and from the walls of Heaven
Shoots far into the bosom of dim Night
A glimmering dawn: here Nature first begins
Her farthest verge, and Chaos to retire
As from her outmost works a broken foe
With tumult less, and with less hostile din,
That Satan with less toil, and now with ease
Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light,
And, like a weather-beaten vessel, holds
Gladly the port through shrouds and tackle torn;
Or in the emptier waste, resembling air,
Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold
'ar off the empyreal Heaven, extended wide
In circuit, undetermin'd square or round,
With opal towers and battlements adorn'd
Of living sapphire, once his native seat;
And fast by, hanging in a golden chain,
This pendant world, in bigness as a star
Of smallest magnitude close by the Moon.
Thither, full fraught with mischievous revenge,
Accurs'd, and in a cursed hour he hies.

Book III.

The Argument.

God, sitting on his throne, sees Satan flying towards this world, then newly created: shows him to the Son, who sat at his right hand; foretels the success of Satan in perverting mankind, clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created Man free, and able enough to have withstood his tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him seduced. The Son of God renders praises to his Father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards Man: but God again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards Man without the satisfaction of divine justice: Man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to godhead, and therefore, with all his progeny, devoted to death, must die, unless some can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for Man: the Father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all names in Heaven and Earth; commands all the angels to adore him: They obey, and hymning to their harps in full quire, celebrate the Father and the Son. Meanwhile Satan alights upon the bare convex of this world's outermost orb; where wandering, he first finds a place, since called the Limbo of Vanity: what persons and things fly up thither: thence comes

« AnteriorContinuar »