« PreviousContinue »
But what created mind can comprehend
Their number, or the wisdom infinite
That brought them forih, but hid their causes deep?
I saw when at his word the formless mass,
This world's material mould, came to a heap:
Confusion heard his voice, and wild uproar
Stood rul'd, stood vast infinitude confin'd;
Till at his second bidding darkness fed,
Light-shone, and order from disorder sprung.
Swift to their several quarters hasted then
The cumbrous elements, earth, flood, air, fire,
And this etbereal-quintessence of heaven
Flew upward, spirited with various forms,
That rollid orbicular, and turn'd to stars
Numberless, as thou seest, and how they move;
Each had his place appointed, each bis course;
The rest in circuit walls this universe.
Look downward on that globe, whose bither side
With light from hence, tho’ but reflected, shines :
That place is Earth, the seat of man; that light
His day, which else, as th' other hemisphere,
Night would invade; but there the neighb'ring
(So call that opposite fair star) her aid [moon
Timely'interposes, and her monthly round
Still ending, still renewing, through mid heaven,
With barrow'd light her countenance triform
Hence fills and empties to enlighten th' earth,
And in her pale dominion checks the night.
Tbat spot to which I point is Paradise,
Adam's abode, thosc lofty shades his bower.
Tny w.thou canst not miss, ine mine requires."
Thus said, he turn'd; and Satan bowing low,
As to superior spirits is wont in heaven,
Where honour due and reverence rone neglects,
Took leave, and tow'rd the coast of earth beneath,
Down from th'ecliptic, sped with hop'd success,
Throws his steep fliglit in many an airy wheel,
Nor staid, till on Niphates' top he lights.
Satan, now in prospect of Eden, and nigh the place where he must now attempt the bold enterprise which he undertook alone against God and Man, fails into many doubts with himself, and many passions, fear, envy, and despair; but at length confirms himself in evil, journeys on to Paradise, whose outward prospect and situation is described, overleaps the bounds, sits in the shape of a cormorant on the tree of life, as highest in the garden, to look about him. The yarden described; Satan's first sight of Adam and Eve; his wonder at their excellent form and happy state, but with resolution to work their fall; overhcars their discourse, thence gathers that the tree of knowledge was for. bidden them to eat of, under penalty of death; and thereon intends to found his temptation, by seducing them to transgress: then leaves them a while, to know further of their state by some other means. Meanwhile Uriel, descending on a sun-beam, warns Gabriel, who had in charge the gate of Paradise, that some evil spirit had escaped the deep, and passed at noon by his sphere, in the shape of a good angel, down to Paradise, disco. vered after by his furious gestures in the mount. Gabriel pro. mises to find him ere morning. Night coming on, Adam and Eve discourse of going to their rest : their bower described ; their evening worship. Gabriel, drawing forth his bands of night-watch to walk the rounds of Paradise, appoints two strong angels to Adam's bower, lest the evil spirit should be there doing some harm to Adam or Eve sleeping; there they find him at the ear of Eve, tempting her in a dreain, and bring him, though unwilling, to Gabriel; by whom questioned, he scornfully answers, prepares resistance, but, bindered by a sign from heaven, flies out of Paradise.
O ror that warning voice, which he who saw
Th’ Apocalypse heard cry in beaven aloud,
Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,
Came furious down to be reveng'd on men,
“ Woe to th' inhabitants of earth!" that now,
Wbile time was, our first parents had been warn'd
The coming of their secret foe, and 'scap'd,
Haply so 'scap'd his mortal snare : for now
Satan, now first inflam'd with rage, came down,
The tempter ere th' accuser of mankind,
To wreak on invocent trail man Lis loss
Of that first battle and his flight to hell.
Yet noi rejoicing in his speed, though bold,
Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,
Begins bis dire attempt; which nigh the birth
Now rolling, boils in his tumultuous breast,
And like a devilish engine back recoils
Upon himself: horror and doubt distract*
His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir
The bell within him; for within him hell
He brings, and round about him, nor from hell
One step, no more than from himself, can fly
By change of place: now conscience wakes despair
That slumber'd; wakes the bitter memory
Of what he was, what is, and what must be,
Worse ! of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue.
Sometimes low'rds Eden, which now in his view
Lay pleasant, his griev'd look he fixes sad;
Sometimes tow'rds heaven, and the full blazing sun,
Which now sat high in bis meridian tower:
Then, much revolving thus in sighs began :
“O thou ! that, with surpassing glory crown’d,
Look’st from thy sole dominion like the god
Of this new world ; at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminish'd heads; to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,
O Sun! to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell; how glorious once above thy sphere!
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down,
Warring in heaven against heaven's matchless King.
Ah, wherefore! he deserved no such return
From me, whom he created wbat I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none; nor was his service liard.
What could be less than to afford him praise,
The easiest recompense, and pay bim thanks,
How due! yet all his good prov'd ill in me,
And wrought but inalice ; lifted up so high
I’sdain'd subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burdensome still paying, still to owe;
l'orgetful what from him I still receiv’d,
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays at once
Indebted and discharg'd: what burden then ?
O had his powerful destiny ordain'd
Me some inferior angel, I had stood
Then bapry! no unbounded hope had rais'd
Ambition. Yet why not? some other power
As great might have aspir'd, and me, though mean,
Drawn to his part : but other powers as great
Fell.not, but stand unshaken, from within
Or from without, to all temptations arm’d.
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand ?
Thou badst! Whom hast thou then, or what, t'accuse
But heaven's free love dealt equally to all ?
Be then his love accurs'd, since love or bate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay, cursd be thou; since against his thy will
Close freely, what it now so justly rues.
Ne miserable! which way shall I fly
Ivfinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Wluich way I fly is hell; myself am beh;
And in the lowest deep a lower deep,
Still threat’ning 10 devour me, opens wide,
To whicb the hell I suffer seems a heaven.
( then at last relent! is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left?
None left but by submission ; and that word
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the spirits beneath, whom I seduc'd
With other promises and other vaunts
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
Th’Omnipotent. Ay me! they liule know
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan,
While they adore me on the throne of hell
With diadem and sceptre high advanc'd,
'The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery; such joy ambition finds!
But say I could repent and could abtair
By act of grace my former state ; how soon
Would height recal high thoughts, bow soon unsay
Wbat feign'd submission swore! ease would recant
Vows made in pain, as violent and voida
For never can true reconcilement grow,
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierc'd so deep
Which would but lead me to a worse relapse
And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear
Short intermission bought with double smart.
This knows my Punisher; therefore as far
From granting he, as I from begging peace:
All bope excluded ibus, behold, instead
Of us, outcast, exil'd, bis new delight,
Mankind created, and for him this world.
So farewell hope! and with hope, farewell fear!
Farewell remorse! all good to me is lost ;
Evil be thou my good! by thee at least
Divided empire with heaven's Kin; I hold,
By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign ;
As man ere long and this new world shall know.”
Thus while he spake each passion dimm’d bis face,
Tbrice chang'd with pale ire, envy, and despair,
Which marrd bis horrow'd visage, and betray'd
Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld:
For heavenly minds from such distempers foul
Are ever clear. Whereof he soon aware,
Each perturbation smooth'd with outward calm,
Artificer of fraud! and was the first
That practis'd falsehood, under saintly show
Derp malice to conceal, couch'd with revenge.
Yet not enough had practis'd, to deceive
Uriel once waru'd; whose eye pursued bim down
The way be went, and on th’ Assyrian mount
Saw him disfigur’d, more than could befall
Spirit of happy sort: his gestures fierce
He mark’d, and mad demeanour, then alone,
As he suppos'd, all unobserv'd, unseen.
So, on he fares; and to the border comes •
Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,
Now pearer, crowns with her enclosure greens
As with a rural mound, the champaign head