Page images

Climate, or years, damp my intended wing
Depressed ; and much they may if all be mine,
Not hers who brings it nightly to my ear.

The Sun was sunk, and after him the Star
Of Hesperus, whose office is to bring
Twilight upon the Earth, short arbiter

50 'Twixt day and night, and now from end to end Night's hemisphere had veiled the horizon round, When Satan, who late fled before the threats Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improved In meditated fraud and malice, bent On Man's destruction, maugre what might hap Of heavier on himself, fearless returned. By night he fled, and at midnight returned From compassing the Earth-cautious of day Since Uriel, Regent of the Sun, descried

60 His entrance, and forewarned the Cherubim That kept their watch. Thence, full of anguish, driven, The space of seven continued nights he rode With darkness—thrice the equinoctial line He circled, four times crossed the car of Night From pole to pole, traversing each colure ; On the eighth returned, and on the coast averse From entrance or cherubic watch by stealth Found unsuspected way.

There was a place (Now not, though Sin, not Time, first wrought the change)

70 Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise, Into a gulf shot under ground, till part Rose up a fountain by the Tree of Life. In with the river sunk, and with it rose, Satan, involved in rising mist; then sought Where to lie hid. Sea he had searched and land, From Eden over Pontus, and the Pool Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob; Downward as far antarctic; and, in length,


West from Orontes to the ocean barred

80 At Darien, thence to the land where flows Ganges and Indus. Thus the orb he roamed With narrow search, and with inspection deep Considered every creature, which of all Most opportune might serve his wiles, and found The Serpent subtlest beast of all the field. Him, after long debate, irresolute Of thoughts revolved, his final sentence chose Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom To enter, and his dark suggestions hide From sharpest sight ; for in the wily snake Whatever sleights none would suspicious mark, As from his wit and native subtlety Proceeding, which, in other beasts observed, Doubt might beget of diabolic power Active within beyond the sense of brute. Thus he resolved, but first from inward grief His bursting passion into plaints thus poured :

“O Earth, how like to Heaven, if not preferred More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as built With second thoughts, reforming what was old ! For what God, after better, worse would build ? Terrestrial Heaven, danced round by other Heavens, That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps, Light above light, for thee alone, as seems, In thee concentring all their precious beams Of sacred influence! As God in Heaven Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou Centring receiv'st from all those orbs; in thee, Not in themselves, all their known virtue appears, 110 Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth Of creatures animate with gradual life Of growth, sense, reason, all summed up in Man. With what delight could I have walked thee round, If I could joy in aught-sweet interchange

[ocr errors]

I 20

Of hill and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crowned,
Rocks, dens, and caves ! But I in none of these
Find place or refuge ; and, the more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me, as from the hateful siege
Of contraries; all good to me becomes
Bane, and in Heaven much worse would be ny state.
But neither here seek I, no, nor in Heaven,
To dwell, unless by mastering Heaven's Supreme ;
Nor hope to be myself less miserable
By what I seek, but others to make such
As I, though thereby worse to me redound.
For only in destroying I find ease
To my relentless thoughts ; and him destroyed,

Or won to what may work his utter loss,
For whom all this was made, all this will soon
Follow, as to him linked in weal or woe :
In woe then, that destruction wide may range !
To me shall be the glory sole among
The Infernal Powers, in one day to have marred
What he, Almighty styled, six nights and days
Continued making, and who knows how long
Before had been contriving? though perhaps
Not longer than since I in one night freed

140 From servitude inglorious well nigh half The Angelic Name, and thinner left the throng Of his adorers. He, to be avenged, And to repair his numbers thus impairedWhether such virtue, spent of old, now failed More Angels to create (if they at least Are his created), or to spite us moreDetermined to advance into our room A creature formed of earth, and him endow, Exalted from so base original,

150 With Heavenly spoils, our spoils. What he decreed

He effected ; Man he made, and for him built
Magnificent this World, and Earth his seat,
Him Lord pronounced, and, O indignity!
Subjected to his service Angel-wings
And flaming ministers, to watch and tend
Their earthy charge. Of these the vigilance
I dread, and to elude, thus wrapt in mist
Of midnight vapour, glide obscure, and pry
In every bush and brake, where hap may find 160
The Serpent sleeping, in whose mazy folds
To hide me, and the dark intent I bring.
O foul descent! that I, who erst contended
With Gods to sit the highest, am now constrained
Into a beast, and, mixed with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the highth of deity aspired !
But what will not ambition and revenge
Descend to ? Who aspires must down as low
As high he soared, obnoxious, first or last, 170
To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long back on itself recoils.
Let it ; I reck not, so it light well aimed,
Since higher I fall short, on him who next
Provokes my envy, this new favourite
Of Heaven, this Man of Clay, son of despite,
Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raised
From dust : spite then with spite is best repaid."

So saying, through each thicket, dank or dry,
Like a black mist low-creeping, he held on
His midnight search, where soonest he might find
The Serpent. Him fast sleeping soon he found,
In labyrinth of many a round self-rolled,
His head the midst, well stored with subtle wiles :
Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,
Nor nocent yet, but on the grassy herb,
Fearless, unfeared, he slept. In at his mouth

[ocr errors]

180 200

The Devil entered, and his brutal sense,
In heart or head, possessing soon inspired
With act intelligential; but his sleep

190 Disturbed not, waiting close the approach of morn.

Now, whenas sacred light began to dawn In Eden on the humid flowers, that breathed Their morning incense, when all things that breathe From the Earth's great altar send up silent praise To the Creator, and his nostrils fill With grateful smell, forth came the human pair, And joined their vocal worship to the quire Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs ; Then commune how that day they best may ply Their growing work--for much their work outgrew The hands' dispatch of two gardening so wide : And Eve first to her husband thus began :

“ Adam, well may we labour still to dress This Garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower, Our pleasant task enjoined ; but, till more hands Aid us, the work under our labour grows, Luxurious by restraint : what we by day Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind, One night or two with wanton growth derides, Tending to wild. Thou, therefore, now advise, Or hear what to my mind first thoughts present. Let us divide our labours—thou where choice Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind The woodbine round this arbour, or direct The clasping ivy where to climb; while I In yonder spring of roses intermixed With myrtle find what to redress till noon. For, while so near each other thus all day Our task we choose, what wonder if so near Looks intervene and smiles, or object new Casual discourse draw on, which intermits



« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »