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"This downfall! since, by fate, the strength of gods1
So spake the apostate angel, though in pain,
"O Prince! O chief of many throned Powers!
"Can perish: for the mind and spirit remains
1 By fate, the strength of gods, &c. Angels are here called gods by Satan. Same term applied, Ps. xcvii. 7: "Worship him all ye gods." Their destiny was, never to be destroyed, being of a refined indestructible substance, fancifully called empyreal, or fiery; compare Ps. civ. 4.
2 So spake.-The contrast between Satan's inward feelings and outward expressions is brought out in these two lines with a sense rising finely in the latter, and has excited the admiration of critics, who give it the preference over classical parallels.
3 Extinct-swallowed. The omission of the substantive verb is noted before these words, for "be extinct, be swallowed."-Pr.
"Here swallowed up in endless misery.
"But what if he our Conqueror, (whom I now "Of force believe almighty, since no less
"Than such could have o'erpowered such force as ours) 145 "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?"
Whereto with speedy words the Arch-fiend1 replied: "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 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 recalled "His ministers of vengeance and pursuit "Back to the gates of Heaven: the sulphurous hail, "Shot after us in storm, o'erblown hath laid "The fiery surge, that from the precipice
1 Arch-fiênă; 1. 209, Arch-fiend: the accent varied to suit the verse, as frequently throughout the poem.
"Of Heaven received us falling; and the thunder,
"Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate,
1 Titanian, or Earth-born.—Titānes, fabled as the Son of Cœlus, (Heaven,) and Terra, (Earth,) among which were Briareus, with his fifty heads and hundred hands, and Typhon, or Typhoeus, with his hundred heads like those of a dragon. The Titanes were of gigantic stature, and celebrated for their wars against the gods. The name is deduced by Pezron from the Celtic, meaning Earth-man, whence the Greek appellation of yŋyeveîs, or Earth-born. On being conquered by Jupiter, Typhon was said to have been thrust under Ætna, or, by some authorities, to be confined to a cave near Tarsus, in Cilicia. The two, Briareus and Typhon, are confounded by some of the ancients, as they are by Milton.
By ancient Tarsus held; or that sea-beast
Moors by his side under the lee, while night
Heap on himself damnation, while he sought
1 Leviathan. This term is used in the book of Job to denote the crocodile, if the opinion of the best critics may be relied on. Milton seems to designate by it some animal much larger than the crocodile; an inhabitant, not or rivers, but of the ocean, and of such dimensions as to be easily mistaken for an island-a mistake of which he may have read instances in the works of Olaus Magnus. He casts the responsibility for the truth of these stories on their narrators, 1. 205; but the circumstance alluded to, even if fabulous, serves to illustrate his idea of Satan's vast bulk.
2 Under the lee.-Under that side not exposed to the wind, from which the size of the creature sheltered the ship.
3 The structure of this line, consisting of monosyllables, chiefly long, is well adapted to the subject described, independently of the meaning.
Then with expanded wings he steers his flight
"Is this the region, this the soil, the clime," Said then the lost archangel, "this the seat "That we must change for heaven? 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,3 "Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme "Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields,
"Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail, 250 "Infernal world! and thou, profoundest hell,
1 Pelorus.-A promontory of Sicily, now Capo di Faro, washed by the Straits of Messina, which are believed to have been formed by a convulsion of nature, separating Sicily from Italy. According to Ovid, the right hand of the giant Typhōeus was buried under this spot.
2 Sovran.-Milton seems to have preferred this orthography, borrowed directly from the Italian Sovrano, without the French modification which has given us the form in present use, and which has been adopted by many modern editors.
3 Farthest from him is best.-Bentley refers to a Greek proverb, "Far from Jupiter, far from thunder."