Imatges de pÓgina
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To rule, as over all He should have ruled.
True is, me also He hath judged; or rather
Me not, but the brute serpent, in whose shape
Man I deceived. That which to me belongs
Is enmity, which He will put between
Me and mankind : I am to bruise his heel ;
His seed—when is not set-shall bruise my head !
A world who would not purchase with a bruise,
Or much more grievous pain? Ye have the account
Of my performance; what remains, ye gods,
But
up

and enter now into full bliss ?
So having said, a while he stood, expecting
Their universal shout and high applause
To fill his ear; when, contrary, he hears,
On all sides, from innumerable tongues
A dismal universal hiss, the sound
Of public scorn. He wondered, but not long
Had leisure, wondering at himself now more.
His visage drawn he felt to sharp and spare,
His arms clung to his ribs, his legs entwining
Each other, till, supplanted, down he fell,
A monstrous serpent on his belly prone,
Reluctant, but in vain ; a greater Power
Now ruled him, punished in the shape he sinned,
According to his doom. He would have spoke,
But hiss for hiss returned with forked tongue
To forked tongue; for now were all transformed
Alike, to serpents all, as accessories
To his bold riot. Dreadful was the din
Of hissing through the hall, thick-swarming now
With complicated monsters, head and tail-
Scorpion, and asp, and amphisbæna dire,
Cerastes horned, hydrus, and ellops drear,
And dipsas (not so thick swarmed once the soil
Bedropped with blood of Gorgon, or the isle
Ophiusa); but still greatest he the midst,
Now dragon grown, larger than whom the sun

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Ingendered in the Pythian vale on slime,

530 Huge Python; and his power no less he seemed Above the rest still to retain. They all Him followed, issuing forth to the open field, Where all yet left of that revolted rout, Heaven-fallen, in station stood or just array, Sublime with expectation when to see In triumph issuing forth their glorious chief. They saw, but other sight instead-a crowd Of ugly serpents! Horror on them fell, And horrid sympathy; for what they saw

540 They felt themselves now changing. Down their arms, Down fell both spear and shield ; down they as fast, And the dire hiss renewed, and the dire form Catched by contagion, like in punishment As in their crime. Thus was the applause they meant Turned to exploding hiss, triumph to shame Cast on themselves from their own mouths. There stood A grove hard by, sprung up with this their change, His will who reigns above, to aggravate Their penance, laden with fair fruit, like that

550 Which grew in Paradise, the bait of Eve Used by the tempter. On that prospect strange Their earnest eyes they fixed, imagining For one forbidden tree a multitude Now risen, to work them further woe or shame; Yet, parched with scalding thirst and hunger fierce, Though to delude them sent, could not abstain, But on they rolled in heaps, and, up the trees Climbing, sat thicker than the snaky locks That curled Megæra. Greedily they plucked The fruitage fair to sight, like that which grew Near that bituminous lake where Sodom flamed; This, more delusive, not the touch, but taste Deceived ; they, fondly thinking to allay Their appetite with gust, instead of fruit Chewed bitter ashes, which the offended taste

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With spattering noise rejected. Oft they assayed,
Hunger and thirst constraining ; drugged as oft,
With hatefulest disrelish writhed their jaws
With soot and cinders filled ; so oft they fell

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Into the same illusion, not as man
Whom they triumphed once lapsed. Thus were they plagued,
And, worn with famine, long and ceaseless hiss,
Till their lost shape, permitted, they resumed-
Yearly enjoined, some say, to undergo
This annual humbling certain numbered days,
To dash their pride, and joy for man seduced.
However, some tradition they dispersed
Among the heathen of their purchase got,
And fabled how the serpent, whom they called
Ophion, with Eurynome (the wide-
Encroaching Eve perhaps), had first the rule
Of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driven
And Ops, ere yet Dictæan Jove was born.

Meanwhile in Paradise the hellish pair
Too soon arrived—Sin, there in power before
Once actual, now in body, and to dwell
Habitual habitant; behind her Death,
Close following pace for pace, not mounted yet
On his pale horse; to whom Sin thus began :-

590 “Second of Satan sprung, all-conquering Death! What think'st thou of our empire now? though earned With travail difficult, not better far Than still at Hell's dark threshold to have sat watch, Unnamed, undreaded, and thyself half-starved ?”

Whom thus the sin-born monster answered soon :
To me, who with eternal famine pine,
Alike is Hell, or Paradise, or Heaven-
There best where most with ravin I

may

meet : Which here, though plenteous, all too little seems 600 To stuff this maw, this vast unhide-bound corpse."

To whom the incestuous mother thus replied: “Thou, therefore, on these herbs, and fruits, and flowers,

Feed first ; on each beast next, and fish, and fowl-
No homely morsels; and whatever thing
The scythe of Time mows down devour unspared ;
Till I, in man residing through the race,
His thoughts, his looks, words, actions, all infect,
And season him thy last and sweetest prey.
This said, they both betook them several ways,

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Both to destroy, or unimmortal make
All kinds, and for destruction to mature
Sooner or later; which the Almighty seeing,
From His transcendent seat the saints among,
To those bright orders uttered thus His voice :-

“See with what heat these dogs of Hell advance
To waste and havoc yonder world, which I
So fair and good created, and had still
Kept in that state, had not the folly of man
Let in these wasteful furies, who impute

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Folly to Me (so doth the prince of Hell
And his adherents), that with so much ease
I suffer them to enter and possess
A place so heavenly, and, conniving, seem
To gratify My scornful enemies,
That laugh, as if, transported with some fit
Of passion, I to them had quitted all,
At random yielded up to their misrule ;
And know not that I called and drew them thither,
My hell-hounds, to lick up the draff and filth

630 Which man's polluting sin with taint hath shed On what was pure; till, crammed and gorged, nigh burst With sucked and glutted offal, at one sling Of Thy victorious arm, well-pleasing Son, Both Sin and Death, and yawning Grave, at last Through Chaos hurled, obstruct the mouth of Hell and seal

up

his ravenous jaws. Then heaven and earth, renewed, shall be made pure To sanctity that shall receive no stain : Till then the curse pronounced on both precedes. 640

For ever,

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He ended, and the heavenly audience loud
Sung Halleluiah, as the sound of seas,
Through multitude that sung :-"Just are Thy ways,
Righteous are Thy decrees on all Thy works;
Who can extenuate Thee? Next, to the Son,
Destined Restorer of mankind, by whom
New heaven and earth shall to the ages rise,
Or down from Heaven descend." Such was their song,
While the Creator, calling forth by name
His mighty angels, gave them several charge,
As sorted best with present things. The sun
Had first his precept so to move, so shine,
As might affect the earth with cold and heat
Scarce tolerable, and from the north to call
Decrepit winter, from the south to bring
Solstitial summer's heat. To the blank moon
Her office they prescribed ; to the other five
Their planetary motions and aspécts,
In sextile, square, and trine, and opposite,
Of noxious efficacy, and when to join
In synod unbenign; and taught the fixed
Their influence malignant when to shower-
Which of them, rising with the sun or falling,
Should prove tempestuous. To the winds they set
Their corners, when with bluster to confound
Sea, air, and shore; the thunder when to roll
With terror through the dark aerial hall.
Some say He bid His angels turn askance
The poles of earth twice ten degrees and more
From the sun's axle ; they with labour pushed
Oblique the centric globe : some say the sun
Was bid turn reins from the equinoctial road
Like distant breadth-to Taurus with the seven
Atlantic Sisters, and the Spartan Twins,
Up to the Tropic Crab; thence down amain
By Leo, and the Virgin, and the Scales,
As deep as Capricorn; to bring in change

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