Page images

Over their heads à crystal firmament,

Whereon a sapphire throne, inlaid with pure

Amber, and colours of the show'ry arca.

He in celestial panoply all arm'd




Of radiant Urim, work divinely wrought,
Ascended. At his right hand victory
Sat eagle-wing'd; beside him hung his bow
And quiver with three-bolted thunder stored;
And from about him fierce effusion roll'd
Of smoke and bick'ring flame and sparkles dire:
Attended with ten thousand thousand Saints,
He onward came; far off his coming shone;
And twenty thousand (I their number heard)
Chariots of God, half on each hand were seen.
He on the wings of Cherub rode sublime
On the crystalline sky, in sapphire throned,
Illustrious far and wide, but by his own
First seen; them unexpected joy surprised,
When the great ensign of Messiah blazed
Aloft, by Angels borne, his sign in Heav'n;
Under whose conduct Michael soon reduced
His army, circumfused on either wing,
Under their Head embody'd all in one.
Before him pow'r divine his way prepared:
At his command th' uprooted hills retired
Each to his place; they heard his voice, and went
Obsequious; Heav'n his wonted face renew'd,
And with fresh flow'rets hill and valley smiled.
This saw his hapless foes, but stood obdured,
And to rebellious fight rallied their Pow'rs
Insensate, hope conceiving from despair.





In Heav'nly Spirits could such perverseness dwell?
But to convince the proud what signs avail,
Or wonders move th' obdurate to relent?
They, harden'd more by what might most reclaim,
Grieving to see his glory, at the sight
Took envy; and aspiring to his highth,
Stood re-embattled fierce, by force or fraud

760. The Urim and Thummim formed part of Aaron's breast. plate. The former in Hebrew means light, the latter perfection. 765. Ps. xviii. 8. 1. 3. for the next line see Jude 14. Ps. Ixvi. 17. Rev vii. 4. 771. Ps. xviii. 10.

776. Itis doubtful whether Milton alluded to any particular sign here but assuredly, I think, not to the cross, as has been supposed.


[ocr errors]

Weening to prosper, and at length prevail
Against God and Messiah, or to fall

In universal ruin last; and now

To final battle drew, disdaining flight

Or faint retreat; when the great Son of God
To all his host on either hand thus spake :



Stand still in bright array, ye Saints; here stand

Ye Angels arm'd, this day from battle rest:
Faithful hath been your warfare, and of God
Accepted, fearless in his righteous cause;
And as ye have received, so have ye done
Invincibly but of this cursed crew
The punishment to other hand belongs:
Vengeance is his, or whose he sole appoints;
Number to this day's work is not ordain'd,


Nor multitude; stand only and behold
God's indignation on these Godless pour'd


By me; not you, but me, they have despised,
Yet envy'd. Against me is all their rage,

Because the Father, t' whom in Heav'n supreme
Kingdom, and pow'r, and glory appertains,
Hath honour'd me according to his will.
Therefore to me their doom he hath assign'd;
That they may have their wish, to try with me
In battle which the stronger proves; they all,
Or I alone against them, since by strength
They measure all, of other excellence
Not emulous, nor care who them excels;
Nor other strife with them do I vouchsafe.
So spake the Son, and into terror changed
His count'nance, too severe to be beheid,
And full of wrath bent on his enemies.
At once the Four spread out their starry wings
With dreadful shade contiguous, and the orbs
Of his fierce chariot roll'd, as with the sound
Of torrent floods, or of a num'rous host.
He on his impious foes right onward drove,
Gloomy as night: under his burning wheels
The steadfast empyréan shook throughout,
All but the throne itself of God. Full soon
Among them he arrived; in his right hand






832. Gloomy as night, from Homer, who so mentions Apollo and Hector.

Grasping ten thousand thunders, which he sent
Before him, such as in their souls infix'd
Plagues. They astonish'd, all resistance lost,
All courage; down their idle weapons dropt;

O'er shields and helms and helmed heads he rode
Of Thrones and mighty Seraphim prostráte,
That wish'd the mountains now might be again
Thrown on them, as a shelter from his ire.
Nor less on either side tempestuous fell
His arrows, from the fourfold-visaged Four,



Distinct with eyes, and from the living wheels
Distinct alike with multitude of eyes;
One Spirit in them ruled, and ev'ry eye
Glared lightning, and shot forth pernicious fire
Among th' accursed, that wither'd all their strength,
And of their wonted vigour left them drain'd,
Exhausted, spiritless, afflicted, fall'n.



Yet half his strength he put not forth, but check'd
His thunder in mid volley; for he meant
Not to destroy, but root them out of Heav'n.
The overthrown he raised, and, as a herd
Of goats or tim'rous flock together throng'd,
Drove them before him thunder-struck, pursued
With terrors and with furies to the bounds
And crystal wall of Heav'n; which opening wide,
Roll'd inward, and a spacious gap disclosed
Into the wasteful deep. The monstrous sight
Struck them with horror backward, but far worse
Urged them behind: headlong themselves they threw
Down from the verge of Heav'n; eternal wrath 865
Burnt after them to the bottomless pit.


Hell heard th' unsufferable noise; Hell saw Heav'n ruining from Heav'n, and would have fled Affrighted; but strict Fate had cast too deep Her dark foundations, and too fast had bound. 870 Nine days they fell: confounded Chaos roar'd, And felt tenfold confusion in their fall Through his wild anarchy, so huge a rout Incumber'd him with ruin. Hell at last

Yawning, received them whole, and on them closed: Hell, their fit habitation, fraught with fire

$42. Rev. vi. 16.

839. Job vi. 4.

868. Ruining, from the Latin ruo, to rush or fall headlong.


Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain.
Disburden'd Heav'n rejoiced, and soon repair'd
Her mural breach, returning whence it roll'd.
Sole victor from th' expulsion of his foes,
Messiah his triumphal chariot turn'd:
To meet him, all his saints, who silent stood
Eye-witnesses of his almighty acts,

With jubilee advanced; and as they went,


Shaded with branching palm, each order bright, 885
Sung triumph, and him sung victorious King,
Son, Heir, and Lord, to him dominion given,
Worthiest to reign. He celebrated rode

Triumphant through mid Heav'n, into the courts
And temple of his Mighty Father throned
On high; who into glory him received;

Where now he sits at the right hand of bliss.


Thus measuring things in Heav'n by things on

At thy request, and that thou may'st beware
By what is past, to thee I have reveal'd
What might have else to human race been hid;
The discord which befel, and war in Heav'n
Among th' Angelic Pow'rs, and the deep fall,
Of those too high aspiring, who rebell'd
With Satan; he who envies now thy state,
Who now is plotting how he may seduce
Thee also from obedience, that with him
Bereaved of happiness thou may'st partake
His punishment, eternal misery:



Which would be all his solace and revenge,
As a despite done against the Most High,
Thee once to gain companion of his woe.
But listen not to his temptations, warn


Thy weaker; let it profit thee to' have heard,
By terrible example, the reward


Of disobedience. Firm they might have stood,
Yet fell; remember, and fear to transgress.

888. Rev. iv. 11.

900. Him is understood after envies-or, it is after he.


Raphael, at the request of Adam, relates how and wherefore this world was first created: that God after the expelling of Sa tan and his Angels out of Heaven, declared his pleasure to create another world and other creatures to dwell therein; sends his Son with glory and attendance of Angels to perform the work of creation in six days; the Angels celebrate with hymns the per formance thereof, and his reascension into Heaven.


DESCEND from Heav'n, Urania, by that name
If rightly thou art call'd, whose voice divine
Following, above th' Olympian hill I soar,
Above the flight of Pegaséan wing.
The meaning. not the name I call; for thou
Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top
Of old Olympus dwell'st, but heav'nly born:
Before the hills appear'd, or fountain flow'd,
Thou with eternal Wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of th' Almighty Father, pleased
With thy celestial song. Up led by thee
Into the Heav'n of Heav'ns I have presumed,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy temp'ring. With like safety guided down, 15
Return me to my native element;

Lest from this flying steed, unrein'd (as once
Bellerophon, though from a lower clime),


1. Milton has, throughout his poem, shewn the most admirable skill in adapting to his purpose, such parts of the classical mythology as he wished to employ. He has been much blamed for his frequent, and, as it is thought, affected display of learning in this particular; but there is a circumstance which has not, I believe, struck the minds of his commentators, which goes far to justify him in this respect. Milton's imagination, filled with the rich antiquity of his theme, was necessarily frequently occupied by the splendid pomps with which superstition crowds her temple, but he could not contemplate a single part of his subject, without putting the truth of nature and revelation in juxta position with the corruptions of both. Hence many of his most beautiful ideas are mixed up with these allusions, and it can hardly fail the notice of a reflecting reader, that the mind never once losing sight of the various forms under which the enemies of God have appeared, comprehends the compass of the poem more closely than it could otherwise have done.

8 Proverbs viii. 24.

18. Bellerophon; he attempted, it is said, to mount to heaven on the winged horse Pegasus, and fell in the Aleian field or-in Cilicia.

« PreviousContinue »