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d Here at least We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built Here for his envy; will not drive us hence: 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, Th' associates and co-partners of our loss, Lie thus astonishid on th’ 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 ? »

So Satan spake, and him Beëlzebub Thus answer'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 rag'd, 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, As we erewhile, astounded and amaz’d; No wonder, fall’n such a pernicious height !

He scarce had ceas'd, 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 Al evening from the top of Fesolé,

Qual noi testè insensati: e maraviglia
Non fia, da tal caduti altezza orrenda ! »

Finiva appena e già il demonio primo
Ver la spiaggia movea: gittossi indietro
Lo scudo ponderoso, eterea tempra,
Massiccio, ampio, rotondo; a tergo il vasto
Orbe pendea, qual luna a cui la sfera
Di lenti armato il Toscan sofo a notte
Sludia del colle fiesolano in cima

Qui almeno
Franchi sarem; qui nulla oprò quel grande
Da invidiar, nè cen vorrà cacciati:
Regniam securi qui; bella è, credio ,
Ambizion, regnar, benchè in inferno:
Meglio in inferno re che servo in cielo!
Ma perchè dunque i nostri fidi amici
Soci e consorti di ruina nostra
Lasciam confusi in l'obbliato stagno,
Nè li appelliam pigliar, con noi lor parte
In questa mansion misera , o di nuovo
Con raccolte armi osar se nulla in cielo
Più aver si può o più perder in inferno? »

Parlò Satan, e Belzebube a lui
Cosi : « Duce di queste schiere illustri,
Cui vincer sol potea l'onnipossente,
Se odon tua voce ancor, lor vivo pegno

speme in rischi e ambasce, in casi estremi
Si spesso udita , e nel dubbiar tremendo
Quando fervea la pugna , in ogni assalto
Loro certo segnal, novel coraggio
Piglieran tosto e vita benchè or giacciano
Là rovescioni e stesi in ligneo gorgo

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 ammiral, 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 callid
His legions, angel-forms, who lay intranc'd,
Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks
In Vallombrosa, where th' Etrurian shades,
High over-archid, imbower; or scatter'd sedge
Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion arm'd
Hath vex'd 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 carcases
And broken chariot-wheels: so thick bestrown,
Abject and lost, lay these, covering 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 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 case you find
To slumber here, as in the vales of Heaven?

Mentre incalzavan con odiar fellone
Vide dal salvo lido errar per l' onde
stupiti in sè mirar si guasti e orrendi.
Si alto chiamò ahe tutto il cavo abisso
D' inferno rimbombò.
Guerrieri, onor del ciel, già vostro or perso,
E stupor tanto può colpire eterni
A riposar dopo il sudor di pugna
Vostra stanca virtù, a trovar piacente
Sonno qui, come in le vallée del cielo?

Od in Valdarno a scorger nuove terre
Nel maculato disco o laghi o monti.
Sua lancia, al cui pareggio altero pino
Sulle norvegie alture anciso a antenna
Di almirante vascel, fia verga esile ,
L'aiuta ad ir mutando inquieti passi
Sulla rovente mota, (ben diversi
Dai passi fatti in ciel) e l' aer torrido
Che fier percote in lui gli è ignita volta.
Tutto sostiene intanto finchè al margo
D' esto fiammante mar sostè e chiamava
Sue schiere, forme angeliche , ammontate
Quali in autunno foglie spesse coprono
Di Vallombrosa i rivi, à l'ombre etrusche
In alte volte archeggian; o alga ondante
Quando di feri venti Orione armato
Batte le spiagge all Eritreo che everse
Busir co' flutti ed i cavai di Memfi,
Di Goshen lo stranier che le lor salme

rotti carri. Elli cosi prostesi
e perduti stean negl' ignei gorghi

Prenci, potenti,
Spirti, od avete questo loco eletto

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Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
T'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 gull
Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n!

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 Pharaon 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 up-listed 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

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