Page images

Serv'd only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace

And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsum'd:
Such place eternal Justice had prepar'd

70 For those rebellious; here their pris'on ordain'd In utter darkness, and their portion set As far remov'd from God and light of Heav'n, As from the centre thrice to th' utmost pole. O how unlike the place from whence they fell ! 75 There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelm'd With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire, He soon discerns; and welt'ring by his side One next himself in pow'r, and next in crime, Long after known in Palestine, and nam’d 80 Beëlzebub. To whom th' arch-enemy, And thence in Heav'n calld Satan, with bold words Breaking the horrid silence, thus began.

“ If thou beest he; but O how fall’n! how chang'd From him, who, in the happy realms of light, 85 Cloth'd with transcendent brightness, didst outshine Myriads though bright! If he whom mutual league, United thoughts and counsels, equal hope And hazard in the glorious enterprize, Join'd with me once, now misery hath join'd 90 In equal ruin ! into what pit thou seest, From what height fallin; so much the stronger prov'd He with his thunder: and till then who knew The force of those dire arms ? yet not for those, Nor what the potent victor in his rage

95 Can else inflict, do I repent or change, Though chang'd in outward lustre, that fix'd mind, And high disdain from sense of injurd merit, That with tbe mightiest rais'd me to contend, And to the fierce contention brought along 100 Innumerable force of spirits armid, That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring,

His utmost pow'r with adverse pow'r oppos'd
In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven,
And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; th' unconquerable will,

And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield,
And what is else not to be overcome;
That glory never shall his wrath or might- 110
Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace
With suppliant knee, and deify his power,
Who from the terror of this arm so late
Doubted his empire; that were low indeed,
That were an ignominy', and shame beneath 115
This downfall; since, by fate, the strength of Gods
And this empyreal substance cannot fail;
Since, through experience of this great event,
In arms not worse, in foresight much advanc'd,

with more successful hope resolve 120 To wage, by force or guile, eternal war, Irreconcileable to our grand foe, Who now triumphs, and, in th' excess of joy Sole reigning, holds the tyranny of Heaven."

So spake th' apostate angel, though in pain, 125 Vaunting aloud, but rack'd with deep despair : And him thus answer'd soon his bold compeer.

“O prince, O chief of many throned powers, That led th'embattled seraphim to war Under thy conduct, and, in dreadful deeds 130 Fearless, endanger'd Heavin's perpetual King, And put to proof his high supremacy, Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate; Too well I see and rue the dire event, Tbat with sad overthrow and foul defeat

135 Hath lost us Heav'n, and all this mighty host In horrible destruction laid thus low, As far as Gods and heav'nly essences Can perish: for the mind and spi'rit remains Invincible, and vigour soon returns,

140 Though all our glory' extinct, and happy state

Here swallow'd up in endless misery.
But what if he our Conqu’ror (whom I now
Of force believe almighty, since no less
Than such could have o'erpow'r'd such force as ours)
Have left us this our spi'rit and strength entire 146
Strongly to suffer and support our pains,
That we may so suffice his vengeful ire,
Or do him mightier service as his thralls
By right of war, whate'er his business be, 150
Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire,
Or do his errands in the gloomy deep;
What can it then avail, though yet we feel
Strength undiminishd, or eternal being,
To undergo eternal punishment ?"

155 Whereto with speedy words th'arch-fiend replied.

“Fall'p Cherub! to be weak is miserable
Doing or suffering; but of this be sure,
To do ought good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,

As be'ing the contrary to his high will
Whom we resist. If then his providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labour must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil;
Which oft-times may succeed, so as perhaps
Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost counsels from their destin'd aim.
But see! the angry victor hath recall'd
His ministers of vengeance and pursuit

170 Back to the gates of Heav'n: the sulphurous hail, Shot after us in storm, o'erblown, hath laid The fiery surge, that from the precipice of Heav'n receiv'd us falling; and the thunder, Wing'd with red lightning and impetuous rage, 175 Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now To bellow through the vast and boundless deep. Let us not slip th' occasion, whether scorn, Or satiate fury, yield it from our foe. Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,



The seat of desolation, void of light,
Save what the glimmering of these livid flames
Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend
From off the tossing of these fiery waves ;
There rest, if any rest can harbour there; 185
And, re-assembling our afflicted powers,
Consult how we may henceforth most offend
Our enemy; our own loss how repair;
How overcome this dire calamity;
What reinforcement we may gain from hope;

'190 If not, what resolution from despair."

Thus Satan talking to his nearest mate With head up-lift above the wave, and eyes That sparkling blaz'd, his other parts besides Prone on the flood, extended long and large, 195 Lay floating many a rood; in bulk as huge As whom the fables name of monstrous size, Titanian, or Earth-born, that warrd on Jove; Briareos or Typhon, whom the den By ancient Tarsus held; or that sea beast 200 Leviathan, which God of all his works Created hugest that swim th' ocean stream: Him, haply, slumb'ring on the Norway foam, The pilot of some small night-founder'd skiff 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 arch-fiend lay, Chain'd on the burning lake: nor ever thence 210 Had ris'n or heav'd 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, enrag'd, might see How all his malice serv'd but to bring forth Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shown On mad by kim seduc'd, but on binsell

Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance pour'd. 220
Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
His mighty stature; on each hand the flames,
Driv'n backward, slope their pointing spires, and, rolld
In billows, leave i' th' 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 the lake with liquid fire;
And such appeard in hue, as when the force 230
Of subterranean wind transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shatter'd side
of thund'ring Ætna, whose combustible
And fuel'd entrails thence conceiving fire,
Sublim'd with mineral fury, aid the winds, 235
And leave a singed bottom all involv'd
With stench and smoke: such resting found the sole
Of unblest feet. Him follow'd his next mate,
Both glorying to have 'scap'd 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 arch-angel, " this the seat That we must change for Heav'n; this mournful gloom For that celestial light? Be' it so! since he 245 Who now is sov'reign can dispose and bid What shall be right: farthest from him is best, Whom reas'on hath equall'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 chang'd by place or time: The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n. 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

« PreviousContinue »