Page images



This said unanimous, and other rites
Observing none, but adoration pure
Which God likes best, into their inmost bower
Handed they went.

Now had night measured with her shadowy cone
Half-way up hill this vast sublunar vault,
And from their ivory port the Cherubim,
Forth issuing at the accustomed hour, stood armed
To their night watches in warlike parade;
When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake :-



“ Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south With strictest watch ; these other wheel the north ; Our circuit meets full west.” As flame they part, Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear. From these, two strong and subtle spirits he called 615 That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge :

“Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed Search through this garden, leave unsearched no nook ; But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge, Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm.

620 This evening from the sun's decline arrived, Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen Hitherward bent (who could have thought?) escaped The bars of Hell, on errand bad no doubt : Such, where ye find, seize fast, and hither bring.” 625

So saying, on he led his radiant files, Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct In search of whom they sought: Him there they found Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve, Assaying by his devilish art to reach The organs of her fancy, and with them forge Illusions, as he list, phantasms and dreams.




Him, thus intent, Ithuriel with his spear
Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness: Up he starts
Discovered and surprised. As when a spark
Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid
Fit for the tun some magazine to store


Against a rumoured war, the smutty' grain,
With sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air;
So started up in his own shape the Fiend.
Back stepped those two fair Angels, half amazed
So sudden to behold the grisly? king ;
Yet thus, unmoved with fear, accost him soon :- 645

“ Which of those rebel Spirits adjudged to Hell
Com'st thou, escaped thy prison? and, transformed,
Why sat'st thou, like an enemy in wait,
Here watching at the head of these that sleep?"

“Know ye not then, said Satan, filled with scorn, 650
Know ye not me? ye knew me once no mate

you, there sitting where ye durst not soar: Not to know me argues yourselves unknown, The lowest of your throng; or,


ye Why ask ye, and superfluous begin Your message, like to end as much in vain ?" To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn :






“ Think not, revolted Spirit, thy shape the same,
Or undiminished brightness to be known,
As when thou stood'st in Heaven upright and pure ;
That glory then, when thou no more wast good,
Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now
Thy sin and place of doom obscure and foul.”
So spake the Cherub; and his grave

Severe in youthful beauty, added grace
Invincible: Abashed the Devil stood,
And felt how awful goodness is, and saw
Virtue in her shape how lovely ; saw, and pined
His loss; but chiefly to find here observed
His lustre visibly impaired; yet seemed

Undaunted :-“If I must con end,” said he,
“ Best with the best, the sender, not the sent,
Or all at once ; more glory will be won,
Or less be lost."- Thy fear,” said Zephon bold,
1 Dirty, black.-Germ. schmuzig.

% Ugly, hideous.



“ Will save us trial what the least can do
Single against thee wicked, and thence weak.”

The Fiend replied not, overcome with rage;
But, like a proud steed reined, went haughty on,
Champing his iron curb: to strive or fly
He held it vain ; awe from above had quelled
His heart, not else dismayed. Now drew they nigh
The western point, where those half-rounding guards
Just met, and closing stood in squadron joined,
Awaiting next command. To whom their Chief,
Gabriel, from the front thus called aloud :-





66 O friends! I hear the tread of nimble feet
Hasting this way; and now by glimpse discern
Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade ;
And with them comes a third of regal port,
But faded splendour wan; who by his gait

And fierce demeanour seems the Prince of Hell,
Not likely to part hence without contest ;
Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours.”

He scarce had ended, when those two approached,
And brief related whom they brought, where found,
How busied, in what form and posture couched.
To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake :-

“Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescribed
To thy transgressions, and disturbed the charge
Of others, who approve not to transgress

By thy example, but have power and right
To question thy bold entrance on this place;
Employed, it seems, to violate sleep, and those
Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss ?

To whom thus Satan with contemptuous brow :- 705


6 Gabriel! thou hadst in Heaven the esteem of wise,
And such I held thee ; but this question asked
Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain ?
Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,
Though thither doomed? - Let him surer bar

710 His iron gates, if he intends our stay

In that dark durance : Thus much what was asked.
The rest is true, they found me where they say;
But that implies not violence or harm.”
Thus he in scorn. The warlike Angel moved,
Disdainfully half smiling, thus replied :-




“O loss of one in Heaven to judge of wise,
Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew,
And now returns him from his prison 'scaped,
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither
Unlicensed from his bounds in Hell prescribed ;
So wise he judges it to fly from pain
However, and to 'scape his punishment!






But wherefore thou alone? wherefore with thee
Came not all Hell broke loose? is pain to them
Less pain, less to be fled; or thou than they
Less hardy to endure? Courageous Chief!
The first in flight from pain! hadst thou alleged
To thy deserted host this cause of flight,

730 Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive.”

To which the Fiend thus answered, frowning stern:




“Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain,
Insulting Angel! well thou knowest I stood
Thy fiercest, when in battle to thy aid
The blasting vollied thunder made all speed,
And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.
But still thy words at random, as before,
Argue thy inexperience what behoves
From hard assays and ill successes past
A faithful leader, not to hazard all
Through ways of danger by himself untried :
I, therefore, I alone first undertook
To wing the desolate abyss, and spy
This new created world, whereof in Hell
Fame is not silent, here in hope to find
Better abode, and my afflicted Powers
To settle here on earth, or in mid air.”

To whom the warrior Angel soon replied:





“ To say and straight unsay, pretending first
Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy,
Argues no leader, but a liar traced,
Satan, and couldst thou faithful add ? O name,
O sacred name of faithfulness profaned !
Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew ?
Army of Fiends, fit body to fit head.
Was this your discipline and faith engaged,
Your military obedience, to dissolve
Allegiance to the acknowledged Power Supreme?
And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem

Patron of liberty, who more than thou
Once fawned, and cringed, and servilely adored
Heaven's awful Monarch? wherefore, but in hope
To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?
But mark what I arreed' thee now, avaunt;

Fly thither whence thou fledst! If from this hour
Within these hallowed limits thou appear,
Back to the infernal pit I drag thee chained,

And seal thee so, as henceforth not to scorn
The facile gates of Hell too slightly barred.”

So threatened he; but Satan to no threats
Gave heed, but waxing more in rage replied :

“ Then, when I am thy captive, talk of chains,
Proud limitary Cherub! but ere then
Far heavier load thyself expect to feel

From my prevailing arm, though Heaven's King
Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy compeers,
Used to the yoke, drawist his triumphant wheels
In progress through the road of Heaven star-paved.”

While thus he spake, the angelic squadron bright 780 Turned fiery red, sharpening in moonèd horns Their phalanx, and began to hem him round With ported spears.

On the other side, Satan, alarmed, Collecting all his might, dilated stood,

785 Like Teneriffe or Atlas, unremoved : His stature reached the sky, and on his crest Sat Horror plumed ; nor wanted in his grasp What seemed both spear and shield : Now dreadful deeds

1 Award.




« PreviousContinue »