Page images

Exalted to such pow'r, and gave to rule,
Each in his hierarchy, the orders bright.
Nor was his name unheard, or unador'd,

In ancient Greece; and in Ausonian land 740 Men call'd him Mulciber; and how he fell

From heav'n they fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o'er the crystal battlements : from morn
To noon he fell—from noon to dewy eve-

A summer's day; and with the setting sun 745 Dropt from the zenith like a falling star,

On Lemnos, the Ægean isle : thus they relate,
Erring ; for he with this rebellious rout
Fell long before ; nor aught availed him now

To have built in heaven high towers; nor did he 'scape 750 By all his engines, but was headlong sent With his industrious crew to build in hell.

Meanwhile, the winged heralds, by command
Of sov'reign power, with awful ceremony

And trumpets' sound, throughout the host proclaim 755 A solemn council, forthwith to be held

At Pandemonium, the high capital
Of Satan and his peers: their summons call’d,
From every band and squared regiment,

By place or choice the worthiest ; they anon,
760 With hundreds and with thousands, trooping came,

Attended : all access was throng'd: the gates
And porches wide, but chief the spacious hall,
(Though like a cover'd field, where champions bold

Wont ride in arm'd, and at the Soldan's chair 765 Defied the best of Panim chivalry

To mortal combat, or career with lance,)
Thick swarm'd, both on the ground, and in the air,
Brush'd with the hiss of rustling wings. As bees

In spring-time, when the sun with Taurus rides, 770 Pour forth their populous youth about the hive,

In clusters; they among fresh dews and flowers,
Fly to and fro; or on the smoothed plank,
The suburb of their straw-built citadel,



New rubb'd with balm, expatiate, and confer 775 Their state affairs : so thick the


Swarm’d, and were straiten'd; till, the signal giv'n,
Behold a wonder! They but now who seem'd
In bigness to surpass earth's giant sons,

Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room 780 Throng numberless, like that pygmean race

Beyond the Indian mount; or faery elves,
Whose midnight revels, by a forest-side
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,

Or dreams he sees; while over head the moon 785 Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth

Wheels her pale course; they, on their mirth and dance
Intent, with jocund music charm his ear:
At once with joy, and fear, his heart rebounds.

Thus incorporeal spirits to smallest forms
790 Reduc'd their shapes immense, and were at large,

Though without number still, amidst the hall
Of that infernal court. But far within,
And in their own dimensions like themselves,

The great Seraphic lords, and Cherubim, 795 In close recess, and secret conclave sat;

A thousand demigods on golden seats,
Frequent and full. After short silence then,
And summons read, the great consult began.



The consultation begun, Satan debates whether another battle be to be

hazarded for the recovery of heaven : some advise it, others dissuade : a third proposal is preferred, mentioned before by Satan, to search the truth of that prophecy or tradition in heaven concerning another world, and another kind of creature, equal, or not much inferior, to themselves, about this time to be created. Their doubt, who shall be sent on this difficult search: Satan their chief undertakes alone the voyage; is honoured and applauded. The council thus ended, the rest betake them several ways, and to several employments, as their inclinations lead them, to entertain the time till Satan return. He passes on his journey to hell-gates: finds them shut, and who sat there to guard them; by whom at length they are opened, and discover to him the great gulf between hell and heaven ; with what difficulty he passes through, directed by Chaos, the Power of that place, to the sight of this new world which he sought.

[blocks in formation]

High on a throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth of Ormus, and of Ind;
Or where the gorgeous East, with richest hand,

Show'rs on her kings barbaric pearl and gold, 5 Satan exalted sat, by merit rais'd

To that bad eminence : and, from despair
Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue

Vain war with Heav'n; and, by success untaught, 10 His proud imaginations thus display'd.

“ Pow'rs and Dominions, Deities of heav'n!
For, since no deep within her gulf can hold
“ Immortal vigour, though oppress'd and fall’n,

“I give not heav'n for lost. From this descent 15 “ Celestial virtues rising will appear

“More glorious and more dread than from no fall,
" And trust themselves to fear no second fate.
“Me, though just right, and the fix'd laws of heav'n,

“ Did first create your Leader; next, free choice; 20 “ With what besides, in council or in fight,

“ Hath been achiev'd of merit; yet this loss,
“ Thus far at least recover'd, hath much more


« PreviousContinue »