Imatges de pÓgina


A standing fight; then, soaring on main wing,
Tormented all the air; all air seem'd then
Conflicting fire. Long time in even scale
The battle hung; till Satan, who that day
Prodigious power had shown, and met in arms
No equal, ranging through the dire attack
Of fighting seraphim confused, at length
Saw where the sword of Michael smote, and fell'd
Squadrons at once; with huge two-handed sway
Brandish'd aloft, the horrid edge came down
Wide-wasting; such destruction to withstand
He hasted, and opposed the rocky orb
Of tenfold adamant, his ample shield,
A vast circumference.
The great archangel from his warlike toil
Surceased; and glad, as hoping here to end
At his approach
Intestine war in heaven, the arch-foe subdued
Or captive dragg'd in chains, with hostile frown
And visage all inflamed, first thus began:

Author of evil unknown till thy revolt,
Unnamed in heaven, now plenteous, as thou seest
These acts of hateful strife, hateful to all,
Though heaviest by just measure on thyself
And thy adherents: how hast thou disturb'd
Heaven's blessed peace, and into nature brought
Misery, uncreated till the crime

Of thy rebellion? how hast thou instill'd
Thy malice into thousands, once upright
And faithful, now proved false? But think not here
To trouble holy rest; heaven casts thee out
From all her confines. Heaven, the seat of bliss,
Brooks not the works of violence and war.

Hence then, and evil go with thee along,
Thy offspring, to the place of evil, hell;
Thou and thy wicked crew! there mingle broils,
Ere this avenging sword begin thy doom,
Or some more sudden vengeance, wing'd from God,
Precipitate thee with augmented pain.

So spake the prince of angels; to whom thus
The adversary: Nor think thou with wind
Of aëry threats to awe whom yet with deeds
Thou canst not.
To flight? or if to fall, but that they rise
Hast thou turn'd the least of these
Unvanquish'd; easier to transact with me

That thou shouldst hope, imperious, and with threa ́s
To chase me hence? Err not that so shall end
The strife which thou call'st evil, but we style
The strife of glory; which we mean to win,
Or turn this heaven itself into the hell
Thou fablest; here however to dwell free,
If not to reign: meanwhile thy utmost for
And join him named Almighty to thy aid,

I fly not, but have sought thee far and nigh.

They ended parle, and both address'd for fight Unspeakable ; for who, though with the tongue Of angels, can relate, or to what things Liken on earth conspicuous, that may list Human imagination to such height Of godlike power? for likest gods they seem'd, Stood they or moved, in stature, motion, arms, Fit to decide the empire of great heaven Now waved their fiery swords, and in the air Made horrid circles ; two broad suns their shields Blazed opposite, while Expectation stood In horror; from each hand with speed retired Where erst was thickest fight, the angelic throny, And left large field, unsafe within the wind Of such commotion ; such as, to set forth Great things by small, if, Nature's concord broke, Among the constellations war were sprung, Two planets, rushing from aspect malign Of fiercest opposition, in mid sky Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound Together both, with next to almighty arm Uplisted imminent, one stroke they aim'd That might determine, and not need repeat, As not of power, at once ; nor odds appear'd In might or swist prevention ; but the sword Of Michael, from the armoury of God, Was given him temper'd so, that neither keen Nor solid might resist that edge: it met The sword of Satan with steep force to smite Descending, and in half cut sheer; nor stay'd, But with swist wheel reverse, deep entering, shared All his right side ; then Satan first knew pain, And writhed him to and fro convolved ; so sore The griding sword with discontinuous wound Pass'd through him ; but the ethereal substance closed, Not long divisible ; and from the gash

: A stream of nectarous humour issuing flow'd Sanguine, such as celestial spirits may bleed, And all his armour stain’d erewhile so bright. Forthwith on all sides to his aid was run By angels many and strong, who interposed Defence, while others bore him on their shields Back to his chariot ; where it stood retired From off the files of war : there they him laid Gnashing for anguish, and despite, and shame, To find himself not matchless, and his pride Humbled by such rebuke, so far beneath His confidence to equal God in power Yet soon he heal'd; for spirits that live throughout Vital in every part, not as frail man In entrails, heart or head, livar or reins,


[ocr errors]

Cannot but by annihilating die;

Nor in their liquid texture mortal wound
Receive, no more than can the fluid air:
All heart they live, all head, all eye, all ear,
All intellect, all sense; and as they please
They limb themselves, and colour, shape, or size
Assume, as likes them best, condense or rare.

Meanwhile, in other parts, like deeds deserved
Memorial, where the might of Gabriel fought,
And with fierce ensigns pierced the deep array
Of Moloch, furious king, who him defied,
And at his chariot-wheels to drag him bound
Threaten'd, nor from the Holy One of heaven
Refrain'd his tongue blasphemous; but anon,
Down cloven to the waist, with shatter'd arms
And uncouth pain fled bellowing. On each wing,
Uriel and Raphaël, his vaunting foe,

Though huge, and in a rock of diamond arm'd,
Vanquish'd Adramelech and Asmadai,

Two potent thrones, that to be less than gods
Disdain'd, but meaner thoughts learn'd in their flight,
Mangled with ghastly wounds through plate and mail.
Nor stood unmindful Abdiel to annoy

The atheist crew, but with redoubled blow
Ariel, and Arioch, and the violence

Of Ramiel scorch'd and blasted, overthrew.
I might relate of thousands, and their names
Eternise here on earth; but those elect
Angels, contented with their fame in heaven,
Seek not the praise of men; the other sort.
In might though wondrous, and in acts of war,
Nor of renown less eager, yet by doom
Cancell'd from heaven and sacred memory,
Nameless in dark oblivion let them dwell.
For strength from truth divided and from just,
Illaudable, nought merits but dispraise
And ignominy; yet to glory aspires
Vain-glorious, and through infamy seeks fame;
Therefore eternal silence be their doom.

And now, their mightiest quell'd, the battle swerved,
With many an inroad gored; deformed rout
Enter'd, and foul disorder; all the ground
With shiver'd armour strown, and on a heap
Chariot and charioteer lay overturn'd,
And fiery foaming steeds; what stood, recoil'd,
O'erwearied, through the faint Satanic host,
Defensive scarce; or with pale fear surprised,
Then first with fear surprised, and sense of pain
Fled ignominious, to such evil brought
By sin of disobedience; till that hour
Not liable to fear, or flight, or pain.
Far otherwise the inviolable saints,

In cubic phalanx firm, advanced entire,
Invulnerable, impenetrally arm'd ;
Such high advantages their innocence
Gave them above their foes, not to have sinn'd,
Not to have disobey'd ; in fight they stood
Unwearied, unobnoxious to be pain'd
By wound, though from their place by violence moved.

Now Night her course legan, and, over hicaven
Inducing darkness, grateful truce imposed,
And silence on the odious din of war :
Under her cloudy covert both retired,
Victor and vanquish’d. On the foughten field
Michaël and his angels prevalent
Encamping placed in guard their watches round
Cherubic waving fires : on the other part,
Satan with his rebellious disappear'd,
Far in the dark dislodged ; and, void of rest,
His potentates to council call’d by night;
And in the midst thus undismayed began :

Oh, now in danger tried, now known in arms
Not to be overpower'd, companions dear,
Found worthy not of liberty alone,
Too mean pretence, but, what we more affect,
Honour, dominion, glory, and renown;
Who have sustain'd one day in doubtful fight,
And if one day, why not eternal days?
What heaven's Lord had powersullest to send
Against us from about his throne, and judged
Sufficient to subdue us to his will,
But proves not so: then fallible, it seems,
Of future we may deem him, though till nowy
Omniscient thought. True is, less firmly arm'il,
Some disadvantage we endured and pain,
Till now not known, but known, as soon contemn'd;
Since now we find this our empyreal form
Incapable of mortal injury,
Imperishable ; and, though pierced with wound,
Soon closing, and by native vigour heal’d.
Of evil then so small as easy think
The remedy ; perhaps more valid arms,
Weapons more violent, when next we meet,
May serve to better us, and worse our foes,
Or equal what between us made the odds,
In nature none : if other hidden cause
Left them superior, while we can preserve
Unhurt our minds and understanding sound,
Due search and consultation will disclose.

He sat; and in the assembly next upstood
Nisroch; of principalities the prime ;
As one he stood escaped from cruel fight,
Sore toil'd, his riven arms to havoc hewn ;
And, cloudy in aspect, thus answering spake :

[ocr errors]

Deliverer from new lords, leader to free
Enjoyment of our rights as gods; yet hard
For gods, and too unequal work we find
Against unequal arms to fight in pain,
Against unpain'd, impassive; from which evil
Ruin must needs ensue, for what avails
Valour or strength, though matchless, quell'd with pain,
Which all subdues, and makes remiss the hands
Of mightiest? Sense of pleasure we may well
Spare out of life perhaps, and not repine,
But live content, which is the calmest life:
But pain is perfect misery, the worst
Of evils, and excessive overturns

All patience. He who therefore can invent
With what more forcible we may offend
Our yet unwounded enemies, or arm
Ourselves with like defence, to me deserves
No less than for deliverance what we owe.

Whereto, with look composed, Satan replied:
Not uninvented that, which thou aright
Believest so main to our success, I bring:
Which of us who beholds the bright surface
Of this ethereous mould whereon we stand,
This continent of spacious heaven, adorn'd
With plant, fruit, flower ambrosial, gems, and gold,
Whose eye so superficially surveys

These things, as not to mind from whence they grow,
Deep under ground, materials dark and crude,
Of spiritous and fiery spume, till touch'd

With heaven's ray, and temper'd, they shoot forth
So beauteons, opening to the ambient light?
These in their dark nativity the deep

Shall yield us pregnant with infernal flame,
Which into hollow engines long and round
Thick-ramm'd, at the other bore with touch of fire
Dilated and infuriate, shall send forth
From far with thundering noise among our foes
Such implements of mischief, as shall dash
To pieces, and o'erwhelm whatever stands
Adverse, that they shall fear we have disarm'd
The Thunderer of his only dreaded bolt.
Nor long shall be our labour; yet, ere dawn,
Effect shall end our wish. Meanwhile revive;
Abandon fear; to strength and counsel join'd
Think nothing hard, much less to be despair'd.

He ended, and his words their drooping cheer
Enlighten'd, and their languish'd hope revived.
The invention all admired, and each, how he
To be the inventor miss'd, so easy it seem'd

Once found, which yet unfound most would have thought
Impossible yet haply of thy race

In future days, if malice should abound,

« AnteriorContinua »