Page images
PDF
EPUB

I may assert Eternal Providence,

memorge And justify the ways of God to men

Fall
demanded.

25

Say first for Heaven hides nothing from thy view,

Cause of the Nor the deep tract of Hell say first what cause
Moved our grand Parents, in that happy state,
Favored of Heaven so highly, to fall off
From their Creator, and transgress His will
For one restraint, lords of the World besides.
Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?
The infernal Serpent; he it was whose guile,
Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host
Of rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

30

35

40

To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equaled the Most High,
If He opposed, and, with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God,
Raised impious war in Heaven and battle proud,
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky, 45
With hideous ruin and combustion, down

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell

In adamantine chains and penal fire,

Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.

Nine times the space that measures day and

night

To mortal men, he, with his horrid crew,

Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf,

50

But his doom

Confounded, though immortal.

55

Reserved him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain
Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witnessed huge affliction and dismay,
Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate.
At once, as far as Angel's ken, he views
The dismal situation waste and wild.

A dungeon horrible on all sides round

Satan in the

60 fiery prison of

As one great furnace flamed; yet from those

flames

No light; but rather darkness visible

Served only to discover sights of woe,

Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace 65
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all, but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed

With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed.
Such place Eternal Justice had prepared

70

For those rebellious; here their prison ordained
In utter darkness, and their portion set,
As far removed from God and light of Heaven,
As.from the centre thrice to the utmost pole.
Oh how unlike the place from whence they fell!
There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelmed
With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire,
He soon discerns; and, weltering by his side,
One next himself in power, and next in crime,

74

[merged small][ocr errors]

80

Long after known in Palestine, and named
Beelzebub. To whom the Arch-Enemy,

Beelzebub,

And thence in Heaven called Satan, with bold Satan's near

words

est mate.

Breaking the horrid silence, thus began:—

If thou beest he- but oh how fallen! how

changed

From him who, in the happy realms of light, 85
Clothed with transcendent brightness, didst out-

shine

Myriads, though bright!—if he, whom mutual league,

United thoughts and counsels, equal hope

And hazard in the glorious enterprise,

Joined with me once, now misery hath joined 90
In equal ruin -into what pit thou seest
From what highth fallen so much the stronger

proved

He with His thunder; and till then who knew
The force of those dire arms?

those,

Yet not for

Satan reveals Nor what the potent Victor in His rage
his character. Can else inflict, do I repent, or change,

[ocr errors]

95

Though changed in outward lustre, that fixed
mind,

And high disdain from sense of injured merit
That with the Mightiest raised me to contend,
And to the fierce contention brought along
Innumerable force of spirits armed,

100

That durst dislike His reign, and, me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power opposed
In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven,

And shook His throne.

be lost?

What though the field

is not lost the unconquerable will, And study of revenge, immortal hate,

105

110

And courage never to submit or yield,
And what is else not to be overcome;
That glory never shall His wrath or might
Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace
With suppliant knee, and deify His power
Who, from the terror of this arm, so late
Doubted His empire - that were low indeed;
That were an ignominy and shame beneath
This downfall; since, by fate, the strength of Gods,
And this empyreal substance, cannot fail;
Since, through experience of this great event,
In arms not worse, in foresight much advanced,
We may with more successful hope resolve

To wage by force or guile eternal war,
Irreconcilable to our grand Foe,

Who now triumphs, and in the excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heaven.'

115

120

So spake the apostate Angel, though in pain, 125
Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair;
And him thus answered soon his bold compeer: —
'O Prince, O Chief of many throned Powers
That led the embattled Seraphim to war
Under thy conduct, and, in dreadful deeds
Fearless, endangered Heaven's perpetual King,
And put to proof His high supremacy,

Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate!
Too well I see and rue the dire event
That, with sad overthrow and foul defeat,
Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty host
In horrible destruction laid thus low,

As far as Gods and Heavenly Essences

Can perish for the mind and spirit remains

130

135

Beelzebub's

gloomy questioning.

Satan's

indomitable

purpose.

Invincible, and vigor soon returns,

Though all our glory extinct, and happy state
Here swallowed up in endless misery.

But what if He our Conqueror (whom I now
Of force believe almighty, since no less

140

Than such could have o'erpowered such force as

ours)

Have left us this our spirit and strength entire,
Strongly to suffer and support our pains,
That we may so suffice His vengeful ire,
Or do him mightier service as His thralls
By right of war, whate'er His business be,
Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire,
Or do His errands in the gloomy Deep?
What can it then avail, though yet we feel
Strength undiminished, or eternal being

To undergo eternal punishment?'

145

150

155

Whereto with speedy words the Arch-Fiend

replied:

[ocr errors]

Fallen Cherub, to be weak is miserable,
Doing or suffering; but of this be sure
To do aught good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being the contrary to His high will
Whom we resist. If then His providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labor must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil;
Which ofttimes may succeed so as perhaps
Shall grieve Him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost counsels from their destined aim.
But see! the angry Victor hath recalled

160

165

« PreviousContinue »