Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Ascended ; at his right hand Victory
Sat eagle-wing'd ; beside him hung his bow
And quiver with three-bolted thunder stored ;
And from about him fierce effusion roli'd
Of smoke, and bickering flame, and sparkles dire.
Attended with ten thousand thousand saints,
Ile onward came ; far off his coming shone,
And twenty thousand, I their number heard,
Chariots of God, half on each hand were seen.
He on the wings of cherub rode sublime,
On the crystalline sky, in sapphire throned,
Illustrious far and wide ; but by his own
First seen, them unexpected joy surprised,
When the great ensign of Messiah blazed,
Aloft by angels borne, his sign in heaven ;
Under whose conduct Michael soon reduced
His army, circumfused on either wing,
Under their Head embodied all in one.
Before him Power Divine his way prepared ;
At his command the uprooted hills retired
Each to his place, they heard his voice and went
Obsequious; heaven his wonted face renew'd,
And with fresh flowerets hill and valley smiled.

This saw his hapless foes, but stood obdured,
And to rebellious fight rallied their powers
Insensate, hope conceiving from despair.
In heavenly spirits could such perverseness dwell?
But to convince the proud what signs avail,
Or wonders move the obdurate to relent?
They, harden'd more by what might most reclaim,
Grieving to see his glory, at the sight
Took envy, and, aspiring to his height,
Stood re-embattled fierce, by force or fraud
Weening to prosper, and at length prevail
Against God and Messiah, or to fall
In universal ruin last; and now
To final battle drew, disdaining flight,
Or faint retreat; when the great Son of Gud
To all his host on either hand thus spake :
Stand still in bright array, ye saints

, here stand, Ye angels arm'd, this day from battle rest ; Faithful hath been your warsare, and of God Accepted, fearless in his righteous cause ; And as ye have received, so have ye done Invincibly; but of this cursed crew The punishment to other hand belongs ; Vengeance is his, or whose he sole appoints; Number to this day's work is not ordain'd, Nor multitude ; stand only and behold God's indignation on these godless pour'd By me; not you, but me they have despised, Yet envied ; against me is all their rage,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Because the Father, to whom in heaven supreme
Kingdom, and power, and glory appertain,
Hath honour'd me according to his will

.
Therefore to me their doom he hath assign'd ;
That they may have their wish, to try with me
In battle which the stronger proves, they all,
Or I alone against them ; since by strength
They measure all, of other excellence
Not emulous, nor care who them excels;
Nor other strife with them do I vouchsafe.

So spake the Son, and into terror changed
His countenance, too severe to be beheld,
And full of wrath bent on his enemies.
At once the four spread out their starry wings
With dreadful shade contiguous, and the orbs
Of his fierce chariot roll’d, as with the sound
Of torrent foods, or of a numerous host.
He on his impious foes right onward drove,
Gloomy as night; under his burning wheels
The steadfast empyrean shook throughout,
All but the throne itself of God. Full soon
Among them he arrived ; in his right hand
Grasping ten thousand thunders, which he sent
Before him, such as in their souls infix'd
Plagues : they astonish'd all resistance lost,
All courage ; down their idle weapons dropp'd ;
O'er shields, and helms, and helmed heads he rode
Of thrones and mighty seraphim prostrate,
That wish'd the mountains now might be again
Thrown on them as a shelter from his ire.
Nor less on either side tempestuous fell
His arrows, from the fourfold visaged four,
Distinct with eyes, and from the living wheels
Distinct alike with multitude of eyes ;
One spirit in them ruled, and every eye.
Glared lightning, and shot forth pernicious fire
Among the accurst, that wither'd all their strength,
And of their wonted vigour left them drain’d,
Exhausted, spiritless, altlicted, fallen.
Yet half his strength he put not forth, but check'd
His thunder in mid volley; for he meant
Not to destroy, but root them out of heaven.
The overthrow he raised, and as a herd
Of goats or timorous flock together throng'd
Drove them before him thunder-struck, pursued
With terrors and with furies to the bounds
And crystal wall of heaven, which opening wille
Roll’d inward, and a spacious gap disclosed
Into the wasteful deep; the monstrous sight
Struck them with horror backward ; but far wor :c
Urged them behind ; headlong themselves they threw
Down from the verge of heaven ; eternal wrath

[ocr errors]

Burn'd after them to the bottoniless pit.
Hell heard the unsufferable noise ; hell saw
Heaven ruining from heaven, and would have fled
Affrighted ; but strict fate had cast too deep
Her dark foundations, and too fast had bound.
Nine days they fell ; confounded Chaos roar'd,
And felt tenfold confusion in their fall
Through his wild anarchy; so huge a rout
Encumber'd him with ruin : hell at last
Yawning received them whole, and on them closed,
Hell their fit habitation, fraught with fire
Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain.
Disburden'd heaven rejoiced, and soon repair’d
Her mural breach, returning whence it rollid.

Sole Victor, from the expulsion of his foes,
Messiah his triumphal chariot turn'd :
To meet him all his saints, who silent stood
Eye-witnesses of his almighty acts,
With jubilee advanced ; and as they went,
Shaded with branching palm, each order bright
Sung triumph, and him sung victorious King,
Son, Heir, and Lord, to him dominion given,
Worthiest to reign : he celebrated rode
Triumphant through mid heaven, into the courts
And temple of his mighty Father throned
On high ; who into glory him received,
Where now he sits at the right hand of bliss.

Thus measuring things in heaven by things on earth,
At thy request, and that thou mayst beware
By what is past, to thee I have reveal'd
What might have else to human race been hid ;
The discord which befell, and war in heaven
Among the angelic powers, and the deep fall
Of those, too high aspiring, who rebell’d
With Satan; he who envies now thy state,
Who now is plotting how he may seduce
Thee also from obedience, that with him
Bereaved of happiness thou mayst partake
His punishment, eternal misery,
Which would be all his solace and revenge,
As a despite done against the Most High,
Thee once to gain companion of his woe.
But listen not to his temptations, warn
Thy weaker ; let it profit thee to have heard
By terrible example the reward
Of disobedience; firm they might have stood,
Yet fell ; remember, and fear to transgress.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

BOOK VII

THE

ARGUMENT.

Raphael, at the request of Adam, relates how and wheretore this world was

first created; that God, after the expelling of Satan and his angels out of
heaven, declared his pleasure to create another world, and other creatures
to dwell therein; sends his Son with glory and attendance of angels to
the performance thereof, and his reascension into heaven.
perform the work of creation in six days: the angels celebrate with hymns

If rightly thou art call'd, whose voice divine
DESCEND from heaven, Urania, by that name
Following, above the Olympian hill I soar,
Above the flight of Pegasean wing.
The meaning, not the name, I call for thou
Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top

Of old Olympus dwellest, but heavenly-born,
Before the hills appear'd, or fountain flow'd,
Thou with Eternal Wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of the Almighty Father, pleased
With thy celestial song. Up led by thee
Into the heaven of heavens I have presumed,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy tempering. With like safety guided down,
Return me to my native clement;

Lest from this flying steed unrein'd, as once
Bellerophon, though from a lower clime,
Dismounted, on the Alcian field I fall
Erroneous, there to wander and forlorn.
Half yet remains unsung, but narrower bound,
Within the visible diurnal sphere;
Standing on earth, nor rapt above the pole,
More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchanged

To hoarse or mute, though fallen on evil days,

On evil days though fallen and evil tongues,
In darkness, and with dangers compass'd round
And solitude; yet not alone, while thou
Visit'st my slumbers nightly, or when morn
Purples the east. Still govern thou my song,
Urania, and fit audience find, though few.
But drive far off the barbarous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race

Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard
In Rhodopé, where woods and rocks had ears
To rapture, till the savage clamour drown'd
Both harp and voice; nor could the muse defend
So fail not thou, who thee implores;
For thou art heavenly, she an empty dream.
Say, goddess, what ensued when Raphael,
The affable archangel, had forewarn'd
Adam by dire example to beware

Her son.

1

[ocr errors]

Apostasy, by what befell in heaven
To those apostates, lest the like befall
In Paradise to Adam or his race,
Charged not to touch the interdicted tree,
If they transgress, and slight that sole command,
So easily obey'd, amid the choice
Of all tastes else to please their appetite,
Though wandering." He with his consorted Eve
The story heard attentive, and was fill'd
With admiration and deep muse, to hear
Of things so high and strange, things to their thought
So unimaginable as hate in heaven,
And war so near the peace of God in bliss
With such confusion : but the evil soon
Driven back redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung, impossible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repeal'd
The doubts that in his heart arose ; and now
Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know
What nearer might concern him, how this world
Of heaven and earth conspicuous first began,
When and whereof created, for what cause,
What within Eden, or without, was done
Before his memory, as one whose drought
Yet scarce allay'd still eyes the current stream,
Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,
Proceeded thus to ask his heavenly guest :

Great things, and full of wonder in our ears,
Far differing from this world, thou hast reveal'd,
Divine interpreter, by favour sent
Down from the empyrean to forewarn
Us timely of what might else have been our loss,
Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach ;
For which to the infinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive with solemn purpose to observe
Immutably his sovereign will, the end
Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsased
Gently for our instruction to impart
Things above earthly thought, which yet concern'd
Our knowing, as to highest Wisdom seem'd,
Deign to descend now

lower, and relate
What may no less perhaps avail us known,
How first began this heaven which we behold
Distant so high, with moving fires adorn'd
Innumerable, and this which yields or fills
All space, the ambient air wide interfused
Embracing round this florid earth, what cause
Moved the Creator in his holy rest
Through all eternity so late to build
In chaos, and the work begun, how soon
Absolved, if unforbid thou mayest unfold

« AnteriorContinua »