Imatges de pÓgina
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By living streams among the trees of life,
Pavilions numberless, and sudden rear'd,
Celestial tabernacles, where they slept
Fann'd with cool winds, save those who in their course

Melodious hymns about the sovereign throne
Alternate all night long. But not so waked
Satan, so call him now, his former name
Is heard no more in heaven; he of the first,
If not the first archangel, great in power,
In favour and pre-eminence, yet fraught
With envy against the Son of God, that day
Honour'd by his great Father, and proclaim'd
Messiah King anointed, could not bear

Through pride that sight, and thought himself impair'd.
Deep malice thence conceiving and disdain,
Soon as midnight brought on the dusky hour,
Friendliest to sleep and silence, he resolved
With all his legions to dislodge, and leave
Unworshipp'd, unobey'd, the throne supreme,
Contemptuous, and his next subordinate
Awakening, thus to him in secret spake :

Sleep'st thou, companion dear? What sleep can close
Thy eyelids? and rememberest what decree
Of yesterday so late hath pass'd the lips

Of heaven's Almighty? Thou to me thy thoughts
Was wont, I mine to thee was wont to impart ;
Both waking we were one; how then can now
Thy sleep dissent? New laws thou seest imposed;
New laws from him who reigns new minds may raise
In us who serve, new counsels, to debate

What doubtful may ensue; more in this place
To utter is not safe. Assemble thou,
Of all those myriads which we lead, the chief;
Tell them, that by command, ere yet dim night
Her shadowy clouds withdraws, I am to haste,
And all who under me their banners wave,
Homeward with flying march, where we possess
The quarters of the north, there to prepare
Fit entertainment to receive our King,
The Great Messiah, and his new commands,
Who speedily through all the hierarchies
Intends to pass triumphant, and give laws.

So spake the false archangel, and infused
Bad influence into the unwary breast
Of his associate; he together calls,
Or several one by one, the regent powers,
Under him regent; tells, as he was taught,
That the Most High commanding, now ere night,
Now ere dim night had disencumber'd heaven,
The great hierarchal standard was to move;
Tells the suggested cause, and casts between
Ambiguous words and jealousies, to sound

Or taint integrity: but all obey'd
The wonted signal and superior voice

Of their great potentate; for great indeed
His name, and high was his degree in heaven;
His countenance, as the morning-star that guides
The starry flock, allured them, and with lies
Drew after him the third part of heaven's host.
Meanwhile the Eternal Eye, whose sight discerns
Abstrusest thoughts, from forth his holy mount,
And from within the golden lamps that burn
Nightly before him, saw without their light
Rebellion rising; saw in whom, how spread
Among the sons of morn, what multitudes
Were banded to oppose his high decree;
And, smiling, to his only Son thus said:

Son, thou in whom my glory I behold
In full resplendence, heir of all my might,
Nearly it now concerns us to be sure
Of our omnipotence, and with what arms
We mean to hold what anciently we claim
Of deity or empire; such a foe

Is rising, who intends to erect his throne
Equal to ours, throughout the spacious north;
Nor so content, hath in his thought to try
In battle, what our power is, or our right.
Let us advise, and to this hazard draw
With speed what force is left, and all employ
In our defence; lest unawares we lose
This our high place, our sanctuary, our hill.

To whom the Son, with calm aspect and clear Light'ning divine, ineffable, serene,

Made answer: Mighty Father, thou thy foes
Justly hast in derision, and secure

Laugh'st at their vain designs and tumults vain,
Matter to me of glory, whom their hate
Illustrates, when they see all regal power
Given me to quell their pride, and in event
Know whether I be dextrous to subdue

Thy rebels, or be found the worst in heaven.
So spake the Son: but Satan, with his powers,
Far was advanced on winged speed; a host
Innumerable as the stars of night,

Or stars of morning, dew-drops, which the sun
Impearls on every leaf and every flower.
Regions they pass'd, the mighty regencies
Of seraphim, and potentates, and thrones,
In their triple degrees; regions to which
All thy dominion, Adam, is no more
Than what this garden is to all the earth,
And all the sea, from one entire globose
Stretch'd into longitude; which having pass'd,
At length into the limits of the north

They came, and Satan to his royal scat

High on a hill, far blazing, as a mount
Raised on a mount, with pyramids and towers
From diamond quarries hewn, and rocks of gold,
The palace of great Lucifer; so call
That structure in the dialect of men
Interpreted, which not long after he,
Affecting all equality with God,

In imitation of that mount whereon
Messiah was declared in sight of heaven,
The Mountain of the Congregation call'd;
For thither he assembled all his train,
Pretending, so commanded to consult
About the great reception of their King,
Thither to come, and with calumnious art
Of counterfeited truth thus held their cars:
Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues,
powers,

If these magnific titles yet remain

Not merely titular, since by decree
Another now hath to himself engross'd

All power, and us eclipsed under the name
Of King anointed, for whom all this haste
Of midnight march and hurried meeting here,
This only to consult how we may best,
With what may be devised of honours new,
Receive him, coming to receive from us
Knee-tribute yet unpaid, prostration vile!
Too much to one, but double how endured,
To one, and to his image now proclaim'd?
But what if better counsels might erect
Our minds, and teach us to cast off this yoke?
Will ye submit your necks, and choose to bend
The supple knee? Ye will not, if I trust
To know ye right, or if ye know yourselves
Natives and sons of heaven, possess'd before
By none; and if not equal all, yet free,
Equally free; for orders and degrees
Jar not with liberty, but well consist.
Who can in reason then or right assume
Monarchy over such as live by right
His equals, if in power and splendour less,
In freedom equal? or can introduce
Law and edict on us, who without law
Err not? much less for this to be our Lord,
And look for adoration to the abuse

Of those imperial titles, which assert

Our being ordain'd to govern, not to serve? Thus far his bold discourse without control Had audience, when among the seraphim Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal adored The Deity, and divine commands cbey'd,

[graphic]

Stood up, and in a flame of zeal severe
The current of his fury thus opposed:
Oh, argument blasphemous, false, and proud!
Words which no ear ever to hear in heaven
Expected, least of all from thee, ingrate,
In place thyself so high above thy peers.
Canst thou with impious obloquy condemn
The just decree of God, pronounced and sworn,
That to his only Son, by right endued
With regal sceptre, every soul in heaven
Shall bend the knee, and in that honour due
Confess him rightful king? Unjust, thou say'st,
Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free,
And equal
One over all with unsucceeded power.
Over equals to let reign,
With him the points of liberty, who made
Shalt thou give law to God? shalt thou dispute
Thee what thou art, and form'd the powers of heaven
Such as he pleased, and circumscribed their being?

Yet, by experience taught, we know how good,

And of our

good, and of our dignity

To make us less, bent rather to exalt
How provident he is; how far from thought

Our happy state, under one head more near
United. But to grant it thee unjust,

That equal

over equals monarch reign:

Thyself, though great and glorious, dost thou count,
Or all angelic nature join'd in one,
Equal to him begotten Son? by whom
As by his word the mighty Father made

All

things,

even thee, and all the spirits of heaven

By him created in their bright degrees,
Crown'd them with glory, and to their glory named
Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers,

Essential

powers, nor by his reign obscured,

But more illustrious made, since he the head

One of

number thus reduced becomes,

Ilis laws our laws, all honour to him done

Returns

Cease then this impious rage,

Our own.

And tempt not these; but hasten to appease
The incensed Father, and the incensed Son,

While

Pardon may be found in time besought.

None

So spake the fervent angel; but his zeal

seconded,

as out of season judged,

Or singular and rash; whereat rejoiced

Our

we were form'd then say'st thou? and the work

Of secondary hands, by task transferr'd
Doctrine which we would know whence learn'd: who saw
From Father to his Son? strange point and new!

When

this creation was? rememberest thou

Thy making, while the Maker gave thee being?

[graphic]

90

We know no time when we were not as now;
Know none before us, self-begot, self-raised
By our own quickening power, when fatal course
Had circled his full orb, the birth mature
Of this our native heaven, ethereal sons.
Our puissance is our own; our own right hand
Shall teach us highest deeds, by proof to try
Who is our equal: then thou shalt behold
Whether by supplication we intend
Address, and to begird the Almighty throne
Beseeching or besieging. This report,
These tidings carry to the anointed King;
And fly, ere eyil intercept thy flight.

He said, and, as the sound of waters deep,
Hoarse murmur echoed to his words applause
Through the infinite host; nor less for that
The flaming seraph fearless, though alone
Encompass'd round with foes, thus answer'd bold:

O alienate from God, O spirit accursed,
Forsaken of all good, I see thy fall
Determined, and thy hapless crew involved
In this perfidious fraud, contagion spread
Both of thy crime and punishment. Henceforth
No more be troubled how to quit the yoke
Of God's Messiah; those indulgent laws
Will not be now vouchsafed; other decrees
Against thee are gone forth without recall ;
That golden sceptre which thou didst reject
Is now an iron rod, to bruise and break
Thy disobedience. Well thou didst advise ;
Yet not for thy advice or threats I fly
These wicked tents devoted; lest the wrath
Impendent, raging into sudden flame,
Distinguish not; for soon expect to feel
His thunder on thy head, devouring fire.
Then who created thee lamenting learn,
When who can uncreate thee thou shalt know.
So spake the seraph Abdiel, faithful found,
Among the faithless faithful only he;
Among innumerable false unmoved,
Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal;
Nor number nor example with him wrought

To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind,
Though single. From amidst them forth he pass'd,
Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustain'd
Superior, nor of violence fear'd aught;

And with retorted scorn his back he turn'd

On those proud towers to swift destruction doom'd.

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