Page images

Whom we resist. If then His providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labor 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

Of Heaven received us falling, and the thunder,
Winged 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 the occasion, whether scorn,
Or satiate fury, yield it from our Foe.
Seest thou the dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
The seat of desolation, void of light,
Save what the glimmering of these livid flames
Cast pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend
From off the tossing of these fiery waves,
There rest—if any rest can harbor there-
And, re-assembling 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,


[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

Titanian, or Earth-born, that warred on Jove;
Briareus, 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, slumbering on the Norway foam,
The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff,
Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind,

Moors by his side under the lea, while night
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays:-

So stretched out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay
Chained in the burning lake, nor ever thence
Had risen, or heaved his head, but that the will
And high permission of all-ruling Heaven
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, poured.

Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
His mighty stature. On each hand the flames,
Driven backward, slope their pointing spires, and, rolled
In billows, leave in the 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 burned
With solid, as the lake with liquid, fire:
And such appeared in hue as when the force
Of subterranean wind transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side
Of thundering Ætna, whose combustible

And fuelled entrails thence conceiving fire,
Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds
And leave a singed bottom, all involved

With stench and smoke. Such resting found the sole
Of unblessed feet. Him followed his next mate:
Both glorying to have 'scaped the Stygian flood
As gods, and by their own recovered strength,
Not by the sufferance of supernal Power.

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: furthest from Him is best,

Whom reason hath equalled, 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 Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
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; the 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,
The associates and copartners of our loss,
Lie thus astonished on the oblivious pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
In this unhappy mansion; or once more
With rallied arms to try what may be yet

« PreviousContinue »