« PreviousContinue »
O'er shields, and helms, and helmed heads he rode Of thrones, and mighty seraphim prostrate, That wish'd the mountains now might be again Thrown on them as a shelter from his ire. Nor less on either side tempestuous fell His arrows, from the fourfold-visag'd Four Distinct with eyes, and from the living wheels Distinct alike with multitude of eyes; One spirit in them glar'd, and every eye Glar'd lightning, and shot forth pernicious fire Among th' accurs'd, that wither'd all their strength, And of their wonted vigour left them drain'd, Exhausted, spiritless, afflicted, fall’n. Yet half his strength he put not forth, but check'd His thunder in mid volley: for he meant Not to destroy, but root them out of heaven. The overthrown he rais'd, and, as a herd Of goats or timorous flock together throng’d, Drove them before him thunder-struck, pursu'd With terrors and with furies, to the bounds, And crystal wall of heaven; which opening wide, Roll'd inward, and a spacious gap disclos'd Into the wasteful deep; the monstrous sight Struck them with horror backward, but far worse Urg'd them behind; headlong themselves they threw Down from the verge of heaven; eternal wrath Burn'd after them to the bottomless pit.
• Hell heard th' unsufferable noise, hell saw Heaven ruining from beaven, and would lave fled Affrighted : but strict Fate bad cast too deep Her dark foundations, and too fast had bound. Ninc days they fell; confounded Chaos roar’d, And felt tenfold confusion in their fall Through his wild anarchy, so huge a rout Encumber'd him with ruin: hell at last Yawning receiv’d them whole, and on them clos'd; Hell, their fit habitation, fraught with fire Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain. Disburden'd beaven rejoie'd, and soon repair'd Hler mural breach, returoing whence it roll’d.
“Sole Victor, from th' expulsion of his foes,
Messiah his triumphal chariot turn'd;
he right band of bliss.
Raphael, at the request of Adam, relates how and wherefore this world was first created ; that God, after the expelling of Satan and his angels out of heaven, declared his pleasure to create another world, and other creatures to dwell therein ; sends his Son with glory and attendance of angels to perform the work of creation in six days: the angels celebrate with hymns the perforınance thereof, and his re-ascension into heaven.
Descend from heaven Urania! by that name,
In darkness, and with dangers compass'd round,
So fail not thou, who thee implores ;
Say, goddess, what ensued when Raphael, The affable archangel, had forewarn’d Adam by dire example to beware Apostacy, by what befell in heaven To those apostates, lest the like befall In Paradise to Adam, or his race, Charg'd not to touch the interdicted tree, If they transgress, and slight that sole command, So easily obey'd, amid the choice Of all tastes else to please their appetite, Though wand'ring. He with his consorted Eve, The story heard attentive, and was fill'd With admiration and deep muse to hear Of things so high and strange, things to their thought So unimaginable as hate in heaven, And war so near the peace of God in bliss, With such confusion; but the evil soon, Driven back, redounded as a flood on those From whom it sprung, impossible to mix With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repcald The doubts that in his heart arose : and now Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know What nearer might concern bim; how this world Of heaven and earth conspicuous first began, When, and whereof created, for what cause; What within Eden, or without was done Before his memory; as one whose drought, Yet scarce allay'd, still eyes the current stream,
Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,
“ Great things, and full of wonder in our ears,
But since thou hast vouchsaf'd Gently for our instruction to impart Things above earthly thought, which yet concern'd Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seem'd, Deign to descend now lower, and relate What may no less perhaps avail us known; How first began this heaven, which we behold Distant so bigh, with moving fires adorn'd Innumerable, and this which yields or fills All space, the ambient air wide interfus'd Embracing round this florid earth; what cause Mov'd the Creator, in his boly rest Through all eternity, so late to build In Chaos, and, the work begun, bow soon Absolv'd; if unforbid thou may’st unfold What we, not to explore the secrets, ask Of his eternal empire, but the more To magnify his work, the more we know. And the great light of day yet wants to run Much of his race tho' steep; suspense in heaven, Held by tby voice, thy potent voice, he hears, And longer will delay to hear thee tell His generation, and the rising birth Of Nature from the unapparent deep: Or if the star of evening and the moon Haste to thy audience, night with ber will bring Silence, and sleep, list'ning to thee, will watch; Or we can bid his absence, till thy song End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine."