Imatges de pÓgina
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Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each
In other's countenance read his own dismay,
Astonish'd; none among the choice and prime
Of those heaven-warring champions could be found
So hardy, as to proffer or accept

Alone the dreadful voyage; till at last

Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride,
Conscious of highest worth, unmoved thus spake :
O progeny of heaven, empyreal thrones,
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seized us, though undismay'd: long is the way
And hard, that out of hell leads up to light;
Our prison strong; this huge convex of fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round
Ninefold, and gates of burning adamant
Barr'd over us prohibit all egress.
These pass'd, if any pass, the void profound
Of unessential night receives him next
Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being
Threatens him, plunged in that abortive gulf.
If thence he 'scape into whatever world,
Or unknown region, what remains him less
Than unknown dangers and as hard escape?
But I should ill become this throne, O peers,
And this imperial sovereignty, adorn'd

With splendour, arm'd with power, if aught proposed
And judged of public moment, in the shape

Of difficulty or danger, could deter

Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume
These royalties, and not refuse to reign.
Refusing to accept as great a share

Of hazard as of honour, due alike

To him who reigns, and so much to him due

Of hazard more, as he above the rest

High honour'd sits? Go, therefore, mighty powers,
Terror of heaven, though fallen, intend at home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present misery, and render hell

More tolerable; if there be cure or charm
To respite, or deceive, or slack the pain
Of this ill mansion; intermit no watch
Against a wakeful foe, while I abroad

Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek
Deliverance for us all: this enterprise

None shall partake with me. Thus saying, rose
The monarch, and prevented all reply;
Prudent, lest from his resolution raised
Others among the chief might offer now,
Certain to be refused, what erst they fear'd;
And so refused might in opinion stand
His rivals, winning cheap the high repute,

But they

Which he through hazard huge must earn.
Dreaded not more the adventure, than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rose:
Their rising all at once was as the sound

Of thunder heard remote. Toward him they bend
With awful reverence prone; and as a god
Extol him equal to the Highest in heaven:
Nor fail'd they to express how much they praised,
That for the general safety he despised

His own; for neither do the spirits damn'd
Lose all their virtue, lest bad men should boast
Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,
Or close ambition varnish'd o'er with zeal.
Thus they their doubtful consultations dark
Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief:
As when from mountain tops the dusky clouds
Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread
Heaven's cheerful face, the lowering element
Scowls o'er the darken'd landscape snow, or shower;
If chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet
Extend his evening beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
O shame to men! devil with devil damn'd
Firm concord holds, men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope
Of heavenly grace; and, God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
Wasting the earth, each other to destroy:
As if, which might induce us to accord,
Man had not hellish foes enow besides,
That day and night for his destruction wait.

The Stygian council thus dissolved, and forth
In order came the grand infernal peers;

Midst came their mighty paramount, and seem'd
Alone the antagonist of heaven, nor less
Than hell's dread emperor, with pomp supreme
And god-like imitated state: him round
A globe of fiery seraphim enclosed
With bright emblazonry and horrent arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets' regal sound the great result:
Toward the four winds four speedy cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,
By herald's voice explain'd: the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of hell
With deafening shout return'd them loud acclaim.

Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised

By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers
Disband, and wandering each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice

Leads him perplex'd, where he may likeliest find
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
The irksome hours, till his great chief return.
Part, on the plain or in the air sublime,
Upon the wing or in swift race contend,
As at the Olympian games, or Pythian fields;
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brigades form.
As when to warn proud cities war appears
Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush
To battle in the clouds, before each van

Prick forth the aëry knights, and couch their spears
Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms
From either end of heaven the welkin burns.
Others with vast Typhoean rage more fell
Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air
In whirlwind hell scarce holds the wild uproar
As when Alcides from Echalia crown'd
With conquest felt the envenom'd robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines,
And Lichas from the top of Eta threw
Into the Euboic sea. Others, more mild,
Retreated in a silent valley, sing
With notes angelical to many a harp
Their own heroic deeds and hapless fall
By doom of battle; and complain that fate
Free virtue should enthral to force or chance.
Their song was partial; but the harmony,
What could it less when spirits immortal sing?
Suspended hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet,
For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense,
Others apart sat on a hill retired,

In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate,
Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute.
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,

Passion and apathy, and glory and shame,
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy:
Yet with a pleasing sorcery could charm
Pain for a while or anguish, and excite
Fallacious hope, or arm the obdured breast
With stubborn patience as with triple steel.
Another part, in squadrons and gross bands,
On bold adventure to discover wide
That dismal world, if any clime perhaps
Might yield them easier habitation, bend
Four ways their flying march, along the banks
Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge
Into the burning lake their baleful streams;

Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, named of lamentation loud

Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon,
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these a slow and silent stream,

Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls

Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks,
Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
Beyond this flood a frozen continent

Lies, dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail; which on firm land
Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice;
A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and mount Casius old,

Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs the effect of fire.
Thither by harpy-footed furies haled,

At certain revolutions all the damn'd

Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,
From beds of raging fire to starve in ice

Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine
Immovable, infix'd, and frozen round,
Periods of time; thence hurried back to fire.
They ferry over this Lethean sound

Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment,
And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach
The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,

All in one moment, and so near the brink :
But fate withstands, and to oppose the attempt
Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards
The ford, and of itself the water flies
All taste of living wight, as once it fled
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on

In confused march forlorn, the adventurous bands,
With shuddering horror pale, and eyes aghast,

View'd first their lamentable lot, and found

No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale

They pass'd, and many a region dolorous,

O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp,

Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death,

A universe of death, which God by curse

Created evil, for evil only good,

Where all life dies, death lives, and nature breeds,

Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,

Abominable, unutterable, and worse

Than fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceived,
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.

Meanwhile the adversary of God and man, Satan, with thoughts inflamed of highest design, Puts on swift wings, and towards the gates of hell Explores his solitary flight; sometimes

He scours the right-hand coast, sometimes the left;
Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars
Up to the fiery concave towering high.

As when far off at sea a fleet descried
Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds
Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles

Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs: they on the trading flood
Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape

Ply, stemming nightly toward the pole: so seem'd
Far off the flying fiend. At last appear

Hell-bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof,

And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass, Three iron, three of adamantine rock,

Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire,

Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat
On either side a formidable shape;

The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair,
But ended foul in many a scaly fold,
Voluminous and vast, a serpent arm'd

With mortal sting: about her middle round
A cry of hell-hounds never ceasing bark'd

With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturb'd their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there; yet there still bark'd and howl'd
Within unseen. Far less abhorr'd than these
Vex'd Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore :
Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when call'd
In secret riding through the air she comes,
Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance
With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon
Eclipses at their charms. The other shape,
If shape it might be call'd, that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb,

Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either; black it stood as night,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,

And shook a dreadful dart; what seem'd his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
The monster moving onward came as fast,
With horrid strides; hell trembled as he strode.
The undaunted fiend what this might be admired;
Admired, not fear'd; God and his Son except,
Created thing nought valued he, nor shunn'd:
And with disdainful look thus first began:

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