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When prophecies of thee are best fulfill'd.
Now contrary, if I read aught in heaven,
Or heaven write aught of fate, by what the stars
Voluminous, or single characters,
In their conjunction met, give me to spell,
Sorrows and labours, opposition, hate,
Attend thee; scorns, reproaches, injuries,
Violence and stripes, and, lastly, cruel death ;
A kingdom they portend thee, but what kingdom,
Real or allegoric, I discern not ;
Nor when ; eternal sure, as without end,
Without beginning; for no date prefix'd
Directs me in the starry rubric set.”

So saying, he took (for still he knew his power
Not yet expired), and to the wilderness
Brought back the Son of God, and left him there,
Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose,
As daylight sunk, and brought in louring night,
Her shadowy offspring, unsubstantial both,
Privation mere of light, and absent day.
Our Saviour meek, and with untroubled mind
After his aëry jaunt, though hurried sore,
Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest,
Wherever, under some concourse of shades,
Whose branching arms thick intertwined might shield
From dews and damps of night his shelter'd head,
But, shelter'd, slept in vain; for at his head
The tempter watch’d, and soon with ugly dreams
Disturb’d his sleep: and either tropic now
'Gan thunder, and both ends of heaven; the clouds,
From many a horrid rift, abortive pour'd

411 Fierce rain with lightning mix’d, water with fire In ruin reconciled: nor slept the winds Within their stony caves, but rush'd abroad

400

From the four hinges of the world, and fell
On the vex'd wilderness, whose tallest pines,
Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest oaks,
Bow'd their stiff necks, loaden with stormy blasts,
Or torn up sheer. Ill wast thou shrouded then,
O patient Son of God, yet only stood'st

420 Unshaken! Nor yet staid the terror there ;

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Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round
Environ'd thee, some howl'd, some yell’d, some shriek'd,
Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou
Sat’st unappallid in calm and sinless peace!
Thus pass'd the night so foul, till morning fair
Came forth with pilgrim steps, in amice gray,
Who, with her radiant finger, still’d the roar
Of thunder, chased the clouds, and laid the winds,
And grisly spectres, which the fiend had raised 430
To tempt the Son of God with terrors dire.
And now the sun with more effectual beams
Had cheer'd the face of earth, and dried the wet
From drooping plant, or dropping tree; the birds,
Who all things now behold more fresh and green,
After a night of storm so ruinous,
Clear'd up their choicest notes in bush and spray,
To gratulate the sweet return of morn.
Nor yet, amidst this joy and brightest morn,
Was absent, after all his mischief done,
The prince of darkness; glad would also seem
Of this fair change, and to our Saviour came;
Yet with no new device (they all were spent),
Rather by this his last affront resolved,
Desperate of better course, to vent his rage
And mad despite to be so oft repell’d.
Him walking on a sunny hill he found,
Back'd on the north and west by a thick wood;
Out of the wood he starts in wonted shape,
And in a careless mood thus to him said: 450

“Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God,
After a dismal night: I heard the wrack,
As earth and sky would mingle; but myself
Was distant; and these flaws, though mortals fear them,
As dangerous to the pillar'd frame of heaven,

440

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Or to the earth's dark basis underneath,
Are to the main as inconsiderable
And harmless, if not wholesome, as a sneeze
To man's less un:verse, and soon are gone;
Yet, as being ofttimes noxious where they light 460
On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent,
Like turbulencies in the affairs of men,
Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point,
They oft fore-signify and threaten ill:
This tempest at this desert most was bent;
Of men at thee, for only thou here dwell'st.
Did I not tell thee, if thou didst reject
The perfect season offer'd with my aid
To win thy destined seat, but wilt prolong
All to the push of fate, pursue thy way
Of gaining David's throne, no man knows when
(For both the when and how is nowhere told),
Thou shalt be what thou art ordain'd, no doubt ?
For angels have proclaim'd it, but concealing
The time and means. Each act is rightliest done
Not when it must, but when it may be best:
If thou observe not this, be sure to find,
What I foretold thee, many a hard assay
Of dangers, and adversities, and pains,
Ere thou of Israel's sceptre get fast hold; 480
Whereof this ominous night, that closed thee round,
So many terrors, voices, prodigies,
May warn thee, as a sure foregoing sign."

So talk'd he, while the Son of God went on,
And staid not, but in brief him answer'd thus :

“Me worse than wet thou find’st not: other harm Those terrors, which thou speak’st of, did me none; I never fear'd they could, though noising loud And threatening nigh : what they can do, as signs

490

Betokening, or ill-boding, I contemn
As false portents, not sent from God, but thee;
Who, knowing I shall reign past thy preventing,
Obtrudest thy offer'd aid, that I, accepting,
At least might seem to hold all power of thee,
Ambitious spirit! and wouldst be thought my god;
And storm'st, refused, thinking to terrify
Me to thy will! Desist (thou art discern'd,
And toil'st in vain), nor me in vain molest."

To whom the fiend, now swoln with rage, replied:
“ Then hear, 0 Son of David, virgin-born, 500
For Son of God to me is yet in doubt;
Of the Messiah I had heard foretold
By all the prophets ; of thy birth at length,
Announced by Gabriel, with the first I knew,
And of the angelic song in Bethlehem field,
On thy birth night, that sung thee Saviour born.
From that time seldom have I ceased to eye
Thy infancy, thy childhood, and thy youth,
Thy manhood last, though yet in private bred;
Till, at the ford of Jordan, whither all

510 Flock to the Baptist, I, among the rest (Though not to be baptized), by voice from heaven Heard thee pronounced the Son of God beloved. Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer view And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn In what degree or meaning thou art call'd The Son of God, which bears no single sense. The son of God I also am, or was; And if I was, I am ; relation stands; All men are sons of God; yet thee I thought 520 In some respect far higher so declared : Therefore I watch'd thy footsteps from that hour, And follow'd thee still on to this waste wild,

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