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Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere.
Nor was his ear less peal'd 920 With noises loud and ruinous (to compare Great things with small) than when Bellona storms With all her batt'ring engines bent, to raze Some capital city; or less than it this frame Of Heav'n were falling, and these elements 925 In mutiny had from her axle torn The stedfast earth. At last his sail-broad vans He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoke Uplifted spurns the ground; thence many a league, As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides
930 Audacious; but that seat soon failing, meets A vast vacuity: all unawares Flutt'ring his pennons vain, plumb down he drops Ten thousand fathom deep, and to this hour Down had been falling, had not by ill chance,
935 The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud, Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him As many miles aloft : that fury stay'd, Quench'd in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea, Nor good dry land : nigh founder'd on he fares, 940 Treading the crude consistence, half on foot, Half flying; behoves him now both oar and sail. As when a gryphon through the wilderness
933. Pennons, commonly spelt pinions. 941. There is much in this description similar to that in Spenser of the dragon.
943. A grypho. is a fabulous creature said to guard gold mines, in its upper part it was like an eagle, in its lower like a lion. The Arimaspians were a one-eyed people of Scythia.
With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale,
960 Wide on the wasteful deep; with him enthroned Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things, The consort of his reign; and by them stood Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name Of Demogorgon; Rumour next and Chance, 965 And Tumult and Confusion, all embroild, And Discord, with a thousand various mouths.
T' whom Satan turning boldly, thus: Ye Pow'rs. And Spirits of this nethermost abyss, Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy,
970 With purpose to explore or to disturb The secrets of your realm, but by constraint Wand'ring this darksome desert, as my way Lies through your spacious empire up to light, Alone, and without guide, half lost, I seek 975 What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds Confine with Heav'n; or if some other place From your dominion won, th' ethereal King Possesses lately, thither to arrive I travel this profound; direct my course; 980 Directed no mean recompense it brings To your behoof, if I that region lost, All usurpation thence expell’d, reduce
964. Orcus or Pluto, so called by the ancients. Ades may be taken for any dark place.
965. A deíty among the ancients whose name they supposed capable of producing the most terrible effects.
To her original darkness and your sway
Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old,
1000 Encroach'd on still through your intestine broils, Weak’ning the sceptre of old Night: first Hell Your dungeon stretching far and wide beneath ; Now lately Heav'n and Earth, another world, Hung o'er my realm, link'd in a golden chain 1003 To that side Heav'n from whence your legions fell : If that way be your walk, you have not far; So much the nearer danger; go and speed; Havock, and spoil, and ruin, are my gain.
He ceased, and Satan stay'd not to reply; 1010 But glad that now his sea should find a shore, With fresh alacrity and force renew'd, Springs upward like a pyramid of fire Into the wild expanse, and through the shock Of fighting elements, on all sides round 1018 Environ'd, wins his way; harder beset And more endanger'd than when Argo pass'd Through Bosphorus, betwixt the justling rocks; Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunn'd
1005. Homer mentions a golden chain by which Jupiter could draw up the earth, &c.-See Diad, book 8.
1011. A metaphor to express his satisfaction at concluding his journey.
1017. Argo was the ship in which Jason and his companions sailed to Colchis, in ses.ch of the golden fleece. Bosphorus is the name of the Straits of Constantinople, or the channel of the Black Sea.
Charybdis, and by th’other whirlpool steer'd. 1020
1031 To tempt or punish mortals, except whom God and good Angels guard by special grace. But now at last the sacred influence Of light appears, and from the walls of Heav'n 1035 Shoots far into the bosom of dim Night A glimm'ring dawn. Here Nature first begins Her farthest verge, and Chaos to retire As from her outmost works a broken foe With tumult less, and with less hostile din, 1040 That Satan with less toil, and now with ease, Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light, And like a weather beaten vessel holds Gladly the port, though shrouds and tackle torn; Or in the emptier waste, resembling air, 1045 Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold Far off th' empyreal Heav'n, extended wide In circuit, undetermined square or round, With opal tow'rs and battlements adorn'd Of living sapphire, once his native seat; 1050 And fast by hanging in a golden chain This pendent world, in bigness as a star Of smallest magnitude close by the moon. Tbither full fraught with mischievous revenge, Accursed, and in a cursed hour he hies.
1055 1020. Charybdis, a dangerous part of the sea between Messina and Italy.
1023. Dr. Bentley supposes eleven lines to be inserted here by the Editor of Milton; but if the passage be examined, it will be scen they cannot be an interpolation. His strongest objection is, that the bridge is described again in Book X. 1052. By the pendent world is meant the whole new creation BOOK II.
of heaven and earth. See verse 1004.
THE ARGUMENT. God, sitting on his throne, sees Satan flying towards this world, then newly created ; shews him to the son who sat at his right hand; foretells the success of Satan in perverting mankind; clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created Man free and able enough to have withstood his tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard be felí not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by hím seduced. The Son of God renders praises to his father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards Man; but God again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards Man without the satisfaction of divine justice: Man hath offended the Majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead, and therefore, with all his progeny, devoted to death, must die, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for Man: the Father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all names in Heaven and Earth; commands all the Angels to adore him : they obey, and hymning to their harps in full choir, celebrate the Father and the Son. Meanwhile Satan alights upon the bare convex of this world's outermost orb; where wandering he first finds a place, since called the Limbo of Vanity: what persons and things fiy up thither: thence comes to the gate of Heaven, de. scribed ascending by stairs, and the waters above the firmainent that flow about it: Ais passage thence to the orb of the Sun; he finds there Uriel, the regent of that orb, but first changes him. seli into the shape of a meaner Angel; and pretending a zealous desire to behold the new creation, and Man whom God had placed here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed: alighits first on Mount Niphates. Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heav'n first-born, Or of th' Eternal coeternal beam, May I express thee unblamed ? since God is Light, And never but in unapproached light Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
5 Bright effluence of bright essence increate. Or hear'st thou rather, pure ethereal stream, Whose fountain who shall tell ? Before the Sun, Before the Heav'ns thou wert, and at the voice Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
10 The rising world of waters dark and deep, Won from the void and formless infinite. Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
1. This transition from the fearful gloom and confusion of Hell and Chaos to the worlds of light has a magniticent effect upon the mind. The toueh of sweet and holy feeling with which the Author alludes to his own personal sorrow heightens, rather than diminishes, the impression of awe and delight.
3. See ! John i. 5. and i Tim. vi. 16.