Page images

Arming to battle; and instead of rage
Deliberate valor breathed, firm and unmoved
With dread of death to flight or foul retreat; 555
Nor wanting power to mitigate and s’uage
With solemn touches troubled thoughts, and chase
Anguish, and doubt, and fear, and sorrow, and pain
From mortal or immortal minds.

Thus they,
Breathing united force, with fixed thought, 560
Moved on in silence to soft pipes, that charmd
Their painful steps o’er the burnt soil: and now
Advanced in view they stand; a horrid front
Of dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guise
Of warriors old with order'd spear and shield; 565
Awaiting what command their mighty Chief
Had to impose: He through the armed files
Darts his experienced eye, and soon traverse
The whole battalion views; their order due;
Their visages and stature as of Gods;

570 Their number last he sums. And now his heart Distends with pride, and hardening in his strength Glories for never, since created man, Met such imbodied force, as named with these Could merit more than that small infantry

575 Warr'd on by cranes; though all the giant brood Of Phlegra with the heroic race were join'd That fought at Thebes and Ilium, on each side Mix'd with auxiliar Gods; and what resounds In fable or romance of Uther's son

580 Begirt with British and Armoric knights; And all who since, baptized or infidel, Jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban, Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond, Or whom Biserta sent from Afric shore,

585 When Charlemain with all his


fell By Fontarabia. Thus far these beyond Compare of mortal prowess, yet observed

Their dread Commander; he, above the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,

Stood like a tower; his form had not yet lost
All her original brightness; nor appear’d
Less than Archangel ruin’d, and the excess
Of glory obscured: as when the sun, new risen,
Looks through the horizontal misty air

Shorn of his beams; or from behind the moon,
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs. Darken’d so, yet shone
Above them all the Archangel: but his face 600
Deep scars of thunder had intrench’d; and care

Sat on his faded cheek, but under brows
V Of dauntless courage, and considerate pride
Waiting revenge; cruel his eye, but cast
Signs of remorse and passion, to behold

The fellows of his crime, the followers rather
(Far other once beheld in bliss,) condemn’d
For ever now to have their lot in pain;
Millions of Spirits for his fault amerced
Of heaven, and from eternal splendors flung 610
For his revolt; yet faithful now they stood,
Their glory wither’d: as when Heaven's fire
Hath scathed the forest oaks, or mountain pines;
With singed top their stately growth, though bare,
Stands on the blasted heath. He now prepared 615
To speak; whereat their doubled ranks they bend
From wing to wing, and half enclose him round
With all his peers: Attention held them mute.
Thrice he essay'd, and thrice, in spite of scorn,
Tears, such as Angels weep, burst forth: at last 620
Words interwove with sighs, found out their way.

O Myriads of immortal Spirits! O Powers Matchless, but with the Almighty! and that strife Was not inglorious, though the event was dire,

As this place testifies, and this dire change 625
Hateful to utter: but what power of mind,
Foreseeing or presaging, from the depth
Of knowledge past or present, could have fear’d,
How such united force of Gods, how such
As stood like these, could ever know repulse? 630
For who can yet believe, though after loss,
That all these puissant legions, whose exile
Hath emptied Heaven, shall fail to reascend
Self-raised, and repossess their native seat?
For me, be witness all the host of Heaven, 635
If counsels different, or dangers shunn'd
By me have lost our hopes. But he who reigns
Monarch in Heaven, till then as one secure
Sat on his throne, upheld by old repute,
Consent or custom; and his regal state

Put forth at full, but still his strength conceald,
Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall.
Henceforth his might we know, and know our own,
So as not either to provoke, or dread
New war, provoked: our better part remains 645
To work in close design, by fraud or guile,
What force effected not: that he no less
At length from us may find, who overcomes
By force, hath overcome but half his foe.
Space may produce new worlds; whereof so rife 650
There went a fame in Heaven that he ere long
Intended to create, and therein plant
A generation, whom his choice regard
Should favor equal to the sons of Heaven:
Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps

655 Our first eruption, thither or elsewhere: (For this infernal pit shall never hold Celestial Spirits in bondage, nor the abyss Long under darkness cover. But these thoughts Full counsel must mature: Peace is despair'd; 660

For who can think submission? War then, War
Open or understood must be resolved.

He spake: and, to confirm his words, out flew
Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs
Of mighty Cherubim; the sudden blaze.

665 Far round illumined hell: Highly they raged Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms Clash'd on their sounding shields the din of war, Hurling defiance toward the vault of heaven.

There stood a hill not far, whose grisly top 670 Belch'd fire and rolling smoke; the rest entire Shone with a glossy scurf; undoubted sign That in his womb was hid metallic ore; The work of sulphur. Thither, wing'd with speed A numerous brigade hasten’d: as when bands 675 Of pioneers, with spade and pickaxe arm'd, Forerun the royal camp, to trench a field, Or cast a rampart. Mammon led them on, Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell [thoughts From Heaven; for e'en in Heaven his looks and Were always downward bent, admiring more 681 The riches of Heaven's pavement, trodden gold, Than aught divine or holy else enjoy'd In vision beatific: by him first Men also, and by his suggestion taught,

685 Ransack'd the centre, and with impious hands Rifled the bowels of their mother Earth For treasures, better hid. Soon had his crew Open'd into the hill a spacious wound, And digg'd out ribs of gold. Let none admire 690 That riches grow in Hell; that soil may best Deserve the precious bane. And here let those, Who boast in mortal things, and wondering tell Of Babel, and the works of Memphian kings, Learn how their greatest monuments of fame, 695 And strength, and art, are easily outdone

By Spirits reprobate, and in an hour,
What in an age they with incessant toil
And hands innumerable scarce perform.
Nigh on the plain, in many cells prepared, 700
That underneath had veins of liquid fire
Sluiced from the lake, a second multitude
With wondrous art founded the massy ore,
Severing each kind, and scumm’d the bullion dross:
A third as soon had form’d within the ground 705
A various mould, and from the boiling cells
By strange conveyance fill'd each hollow nook;
As in an organ, from one blast of wind,
To many a row of pipes the soundboard breathes.
Anon, out of the earth, a fabric huge

Rose like an exhalation, with the sound
Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet,
Built like a temple, where pilasters round
Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid
With golden architrave; nor did there want 715
Cornice or frieze, with bossy sculptures graven;
The roof was fretted gold. Not Babylon,
Nor great Alcairo, such magnificence
Equal'd in all their glories, to enshrine
Belus or Serapis, their Gods; or seat

720 Their kings, when Egypt with Assyria strove In wealth and luxury. The ascending pile Stood fix'd her stately height; and straight the doors, Opening their brazen folds, discover, wide Within, her ample spaces, o'er the smooth 725 And level pavement: from the arched roof Pendant by subtle magic, many a row Of starry lamps and blazing cressets, fed With Naphtha and Asphaltus, yielded light As from a sky. The hasty multitude

730 Admiring enterd; and the work some praise, And some the architect: his hand was known

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »