Page images
PDF
EPUB

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

640

645

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;
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,

655

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
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
Belch'd fire and rolling smoke; the rest entire
Shone with a glossy scurf, undoubted sign

665

670

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

675

From Heav'n; for e'en in Heav'n his looks and thoughts 680
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

Let none admire

For treasures better hid. Soon had his crew
Open'd into the hill a spacious wound,
And digg'd out ribs of gold.
That riches grow in Hell; that soil may best
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,

685

690

695

700

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 sound-board breathes

BOOK I.

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

[ocr errors][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

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

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

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

730

735

Men call'd him Mulciber; and how he fell

740

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,

745

On Lemnos, th' Egean 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.

750

[blocks in formation]

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

760

765

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,
Pour forth their populous youth about the hive
In clusters; they among fresh dews and flowers
Fly to and fro, or on the smoothed plank,
The suburb of their straw-built citadel,

770

New rubb'd with balm, expatiate and confer

Their state affairs; so thick the aëry crowd

775

Swarm'd and were straiten'd; till, the signal given,

Behold a wonder! They but now who seem'd
In bigness to surpass earth's giant sons,

Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room

780

Throng numberless, like that pygmean race
Beyond the Indian mount; or fairy elves,
Whose midnight revels, by a forest-side
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,

Or dreams he sees, while over head the moon

Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth

785

Wheels her pale course; they, on their mirth and dance

Intent, with jocund music charm his ear;

At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds.

Thus incorporeal spirits to smallest forms

Reduced their shapes immense, and were at large,

790

Though without number still, amidst the hall

Of that infernal court. But far within,
And in their own dimensions like themselves,
The great Seraphic Lords and Cherubim,
In close recess and secret conclave sat,
A thousand Demi-gods on golden seats,
Frequent and full. After short silence then,
And summons read, the great consult began.

795

799

« PreviousContinue »