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Of Phlegra with th' 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
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,
When Charlemagne with all his peerage 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 Arch-angel: but his face
Deep scars of thunder had intrench'd, and care
Sat on his faded cheek; but under brows
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 b held in bliss), condemn'd
For ever now to ave their lot in pain:
Millions of Spirits for his fault amerced
Of heaven, and from eternal splendours flung
For his revolt, vet faithful how they stood,
Their glory wither'd: as when Heav'n's fire
Hath scath'd the forest oaks, or mountain pines,
577. Phlegra was a city of Macedonia.
580. Uther's son was King Arthur: this and the following allusions are derived from the old romances on the subject. Charlemagne is aid not to have died at Fontarabia, but some years after, and in peace.
609. Amercea, deprived of.
611. The construction requires a reference to the verb, behold, at line 605.
With singed top their stately growth tho' bare
Stands on the blasted boath. He how prepared 615
To speak; whereat their doubled ranks they bend
From wing to wing, and half inclose him round
With all his peers. Attention held them mute.
Thrice he assay'd, and thrice, in spite of scorn,
Tears, such as angels weep, burst forth. At last
Words interwove with sighs found out their way.
O myriads of immortal Spirits, O Powers
Matchless, but with th' Almighty, and that strife
Was not inglorious, though th' event was dire,
As this place testifies, and this dire change,
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;
For who can yet believe, though after loss,
That all these puissant legions, whose exile
Hath emptied Heav'n, shall fail to re-ascend
Self-raised, and repossess their native seat?
For me, be witness all the host of Heav'n,
If counsels different, or danger shunn'd
By me, have lost our hopes. But he who reigns
Monarch in Heav'n, 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 conceal'd,
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
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 Heav'n that he ere long Intended to create, and therein plant
A generation, whom his choice regard
Should favour equal to the sons of Heav'n:
633. A third part of the angels is supposed to have fallen. ses Rev. xii. 4.
Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps
Our first eruption, thither or elsewhere:
For this infernal pit shall never hold
Celestial Spirits in bondage, nor th' abyss
Long under darkness cover. But these thoughts Full counsel must mature: Peace is despair'd, 600 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 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 tow'rd 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 num'rous brigade hasten'd: as when bands
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
From Heav'n; for e'en in Heav'n his looks and
Were always downward bent, admiring more
The riches of Heav'n'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,
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
664. Drawn from the thighs, a Greek and poetical mode of expressing this idea.
673. Womb is here used in the wide sense of the Latin Uterus. 678. Mammon is a Syrian word, and means riches.
684. The miners believe in a sort of Devils who frequent the mines, and sometimes work there
Deserve the precious bane. And here let those
Who boast in mortal things, and wond'ring tell
Of Babel, and the works of Memphian kings,
Learn how their greatest monuments of fame,
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,
That underneath had veins of liquid fire
Sluiced from the lake, a second multitude
With wond'rous art founded the massy ore,
Severing each kind, and scumm'd the bullion dross;
A third as soon had form'd within the ground
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 sound-board 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
Their kings, when Egypt with Assyria strove
In wealth and luxury. Th' ascending pile
Stood fix'd her stately height; and straight the doors,
Op'ning their brazen folds, discover wide
Within her ample spaces, o'er the smooth
And level pavement. From the arched roof,
Pendant by subtle magic, many a row
Of starry lamps and blazing cressets, fed
695. Strength and art are to be construed with monuments in the nominative.
708. A new and beautiful comparison-Milton was a performer on the organ himself.
720. Belus was the son of Nimrod, and the first man wor shipped as a God. He was called Bel, and Baal.
728. Cresset, any great light.
With Naphtha and Asphaltus, yielded light
As from a sky. The hasty multitude
Admiring enter'd; and the work some praise,
And some the architect: his hand was known
In heaven by many a tower'd structure high,
Where sceptred angels held their residence,
And sat as princes; whom the supreme King
Exalted to such power, and gave to rule,
Each in his hierarchy, the orders bright.
Nor was his name unheard or unadored
In ancient Greece; and in Ausonian land
Men call'd him Mulciber; and how he fell
From heaven, they fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o'er the crystal battlements: from morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer's day; and with the setting sun
Dropt from the zenith like a falling star,
On Lemnos, th' Ægean isle: thus they relate,
Erring; for he with this rebellious rout
Fell long before; nor ought avail'd him now
T' have built in heav'n high tow'rs; nor did he 'scape
By all his engines, but was headlong sent
With his industrious crew to build in hell.
Meanwhile, the winged heralds, by command
Of sovereign power, with awful ceremony
And trumpet's sound, throughout the host proclaim
A solemn council, forthwith to be held
At Pandemonium, the high capital
Of Satan and his peers: their summons call'd
From every band and squared regiment
By place or choice the worthiest: they anon,
With hundreds and with thousands, trooping came,
Attended: all access was throng'd: the gates
And porches wide, but chief the spacious hall
(Though like a cover'd field, where champions bold
Wont ride in arm'd, and at the soldan's chair
Defied the best of Panim chivalry
To mortal combat, or career with lance),
Thick swarm'd, both on the ground and in the air,
Brush'd with the hiss of rustling wings. As bees
In spring time, when the sun with Taurus rides,
768. This simile is a imitation of Homer, Il. fi. 87.