Page images

Beelzebub. To whom th' Arch-Enemy,

And thence in Heav'n call'd Satan, with bold words
Breaking the horrid silence thus began:

If thou beest he; but O how fallen! how changed
From him who, in the happy realms of light
Cloth'd with transcendent brightness didst outshine
Myriads though bright! If he whom mutual league,
United thoughts and counsels, equal hope
And hazard in the glorious enterprise,
Join'd with me once, now misery hath join'd
In equal ruin: into what pit thou seest

From what height fall'n, so much the stronger proved
He with his thunder: and till then who knew
The force of those dire arms? yet not for those
Nor what the potent victor in his rage

[blocks in formation]

Can else inflict, do I repent or change,

Though changed in outward lustre, that fix'd 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 arm'd,


That durst dislike his reign, and me preferring

His utmost pow'r with adverse pow'r opposed

In dubious battle on the plains of Heav'n,

And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?

All is not lost; th' unconquerable will


And study of revenge, immortal hate,

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 pow'r,
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,
Irreconcileable to our grand foe,
Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the tyranny of heav'n.

So spake th' apostate Angel, though in pain,
Vaunting aloud, but rack'd with deep despair:
And him thus answer'd soon his bold compeer.

O Prince, O Chief of many throned powers!
That led th' embattled Seraphim to war
Under thy conduct, and in dreadful deeds




Fearless, endanger'd heav'n'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 heav'n, and all this mighty host

[blocks in formation]

Here swallow'd up in endless misery.

But what if he our conqu'ror (whom I now

Of force believe almighty, since no less

Than such could have o'erpower'd 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 undiminish'd, or eternal being


To undergo eternal punishment?

Whereto with speedy words th' Arch-Fiend reply'd:

Fall'n 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 labour must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil;
Which oft-times 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 recall'd
His ministers of vengeance and pursuit
Back to the gates of Heav'n; the sulph'rous hail
Shot after us in storm, o'erblown hath laid
The fiery surge, that from the precipice


Of Heav'n received us falling; and the thunder,
Wing'd with red lightning and impetuous rage,
Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now
To bellow through the vast and boundless deep,,
Let us not slip th' occasion, whether scorn
Or satiate fury yield it from our foe.


Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
The seat of desolation, void of light,


Save what the glimm'ring of these livid flames
Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend
From off the tossing of these fiery waves,
There rest, if any rest can harbour there,
And reassembling our afflicted powers,
Consult how we may henceforth most offend
Our enemy, our own loss how repair,
How overcome this dire calamity,


What reinforcement we may gain from hope,
If not what resolution from despair.


Thus Satan talking to his nearest mate
With head uplift above the wave, and eyes
That sparkling blazed, his other parts besides
Prone on the flood, extended long and large,
Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
As whom the fables name of monstrous size;
Titanian, or Earth-born, that warr'd on Jove,
Briareos, or Typhon, whom the den
By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim the ocean stream;
Him haply slumb'ring on the Norway foam
The pilot of some small night-founder'd skiff
Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind




Moors by his side under the lee, while night

Invests the sea, and wished morn delays:

So stretch'd out huge in length the Arch-Fiend lay

Chain'd on the burning lake, nor ever thence


Had ris'n or heaved his head, but that the will

And high permission of all-ruling Heav'n
Left him at large to his own dark designs,
That with reiterated crimes he might
Heap on himself damnation, while he sought
Evil to others, and enraged might see
How all his malice served but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy shown
On Man, by him seduced; but on himself


Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance pour'd.


Forthwith upright, he rears from off the pool

His mighty stature; on each hand the flames

Driv'n backward slope their pointing spires, and roll'd

In billows, leave i' th' midst a horrid vale.

Then with expanded wings he steers his flight


Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air,

That felt unusual weight; till on dry land

He lights, if it were land that ever burn'd

With solid, as the lake with liquid fire;

And such appear'd in hue, as when the force
Of subterranean wind transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shatter'd side
Of thund'ring Etna, whose combustible
And fuel'd entrails thence conceiving fire,
Sublimed with min'ral fury, aid the winds,
And leave a singed bottom all involved

With stench and smoke: such resting found the sole
Of unblest feet. Him follow'd his next mate,
Both glorying to have 'scap'd the Stygian flood
As Gods, and by their own recover'd strength,
Not by the suffrance of Supernal Power.

Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,




Said then the lost Arch-Angel, this the seat

That we must change for heav'n, this mournful gloom

For that celestial light? Be it so, since he


Who now is Sovran can dispose and bid

What shall be right: farthest from him is best,

Whom reason hath equall'd, force hath made supreme

Above his equals. Farewell happy fields,

Where joy for ever dwells: Hail horrors, hail


Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell

Receive thy new possessor; one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,


And what I should be, all but less than he

Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built

Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition, though in hell;
Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
Th' associates and copartners of our loss,



« PreviousContinue »