Immagini della pagina
[ocr errors]

Though in mysterious terms, judg'd as then best;
And on the serpent thus his curse let fall :

“ Because thou hast done this, thou art accurs'd
Above all cattle, each beast of the field;
Upon thy belly grov'ling thou shalt go,
And dust shalt eat all the days of thy life.
Between thee and the woman I will put
Enmity, and between thine and her seed;
Her seed shall bruise thy head, thou bruise his heel!"

So spake this oracle, then verified
When Jesus, son of Mary, second Eve,
Saw Satan fall like liglitning down from heaven,
Prince of the air ; then rising from his grave
Spoild principalities and powers, triumph'd
In open show, and with ascension bright
Caprivity led captive through the air,
The realm itself of Satan long usurp'd,
Whom he shall tread at last under our feet;
Even he who now foretold his fatal bruise,
And to the woman thus his sentence turn'd:

“ Thy sorrow I will greatly multiply
By thy conception; children thou shalt bring
In sorrow forth; and to thy husband's will
Thine shall submit; he over thee shall rule."

On Adam last this judgment tie pronounc'd :
« Because thou' hast bearken'd to the voice of thy
And eaten of the tree, concerning which (wife,
I charg'd thee saying, “Thou shalt not eat thereof;'
Curs’d is the ground for thy sake; thou in sorrow
Shalt eat thereof all the days of thy life;
Thorns also' and thistles it shall bring thee forth
Unbid; and thou shalt eat th'herb of the field,
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,
Till thou return unto the ground; for thou
Out of the ground wast taken; know thy birth,
For dust thou art, and shalt to dust return."

So judg'd he man, both Judge and Saviour sent,
And th' instant stroke of death, denounc'd, that day
Remov’d far off; then pitying how they stood
Before him naked to the air, that now
Must suffer change, disdain'd not to begin


Thenceforth the form of servant to assume,
As when he wash'd his servants' feet; so now
As father of his family, be clad
Their nakedness with skins of beasts, or slain,
Or as the spake with youthful coat repaid ;
And thought not much to clothe bis enemies :
Nor he their outward only with the skins
Of beasts, but inward nakedness, much inore
Opprobrious, with his robe of righteousness,
Arraying, cover'd from his Father's sight.
To him with swift ascent he up return’d,
Into his blissful bosom reassum'd
In glory as of old ; to him appeas'd,
All, though all-knowing, what bad pass'd with maa
Recounted, mixing intercession sweet.

Meanwhile, ere thus was sinn'd and judg'd on earth,
Within the gates of hell sat Şin and Death,
In counterview within the gates, that now
Stood open wide, belehing outrageous fame
Far into Chaos, since the fiend pass'd through,
Sin opening, who thus now to Death began :

O Son, why sit we here each other viewing
Idly, while Satan our great author thrives
In other worlds, and bappier seat provides
For us his offspring dear! It cannot be
But that success attends him; if mishap,
Ere this he had return’d, with fury driven
By his avengers, since no place like this
Can fit his punishment or their revenge,
Methinks I feel new strength within me rise,
Wings growing, and dominion given me large
Beyond this deep ; whatever draws me on,
Or sympathy, or some connat'ral force
Powerful at greatest distance to unite
With secret amity things of like kind
By secretest conveyance. Thou, my shade
Inseparable, must with me along:
For Death from Sin no power can separate,
But lest the difficulty of passing back
Stay his return, perhaps, over this gulf
Jinpassible, impervious, let us iry


Advent'rous work, yet to thy power and mine
Not unagreeable, to found a path
Over this main from hell to that new world
Where Satan now prevails, a monument
Of merit high to all th' infernal host,
Easing their passage hence, for intercourse,
Or transmigration, as their lot shall lead.
Nor can I miss the way, so strongly drawn
By this new-felt attraction and instinet."

Whom thus the meagre Shadow answer'd soon :
“ Go whitber fate and inclination strong
Leads thee; I shall not lag bebind, nor err
The way, thou leading, such a scent I draw
Of carnage, prey innumerable, and laste
The savour of death from all things there that live :
Nor shall I to the work thou enterprisest
Be wanting, but afford thee equal aid.”

So saying, with delight he snuft'd the smell Of mortal change on earth. As when a flock Of ravenous fowl, though many a league remote, Against the day of battle, to a field, Where armies lie encamp'd, come flying, lur'a With scent of living carcasses desigu'd For death, the following day, in bloody fight: So scented the grim Feature, and upturn'd His nostrils wide into the murky air, Sagacious of his quarry from so far. Then both from out hell-gates into the waste Wide anarchy of Chaos damp and dark Flew diverse, and with power (their power was great) Hovering upon the waters, what they met, Solid or slimy, as in raging sea Toss'd up and down, together crowded drove From each side shoaling tow'rds the mouth of hell. As when two polar winds, blowing adverse Upon the Cronian sea, together drive Mountains of ice, that stop th' imagin'd way Beyond Petsora eastward, to the rich Cathaian coast. The aggregated soil Death with bis mace petrific, cold and dry, As with a trident smote, and fix'd as firm

[ocr errors]

As Delos floating once; the rest his look
Bound with Gorgonian rigour not to move;
And with asphaltic slime, broad as the gate,
Deep to the roots of hell, the gather'd beach
They fasten'd, and the mole immense wrought on
Over the foaming deep high-arch'd ; a bridge
Of length prodigious, joining to the wall
Immoveable of this now fenceless world
Forfeit to death : from bence a passage broad,
Smooth, easy, inoffensive, down to hell.
So, if great things to small may be compar'd,
Xerxes, the liberty of Greece to yoke,
From Susa bis Memnonian palace high
Came to the sea, and over Hellespont
Bridging his way, Europe with Asia join'd,
And scourg'd with many a stroke th’indignant waves.
Now had they brought the work by wondrous art
Pontifical, a ridge of pendent roek,
Over the vex'd abyss, following the track
Of Satan to the self-same place where he
First lighted from his wing, and landed safe
From out of Chaos, to the outside bare
Of this round world; with pins of adamant
And chains they made all fast; too fast they made,
And durable! And now in little space
The confines met of empyrean heaven
And of this world, and on the left hand, helt
With long reach interpos'd; three seyeral ways
In sight, to each of these three places led.
And now their way to earth tbey had descried,
To Paradise first tending, when behold
Satan in likeness of an angel bright
Betwixt the Centaur and the Scorpion, steering
His zenith, while the sun in Aries rose:
Disguis'd be came, but those his children dear
Their parent soon discern'd, though in disguise.
He, after Eve seduc'd, unminded slunk
Into the wood fast by, and changing shape
To'observe the sequel, saw his guileful act
By Eve, though all unweeting, seconded
Upon her husband; saw their shame that sought

Vain covertures; but when he saw descend
The Son of God to judge them, terrified
He fled, not boping to escape, but shun
The present; fearing, guilty, what his wrath
Might suddenly inflict : that past, return'd
By night, and list’ning where the hapless pair
Sat in their sad discourse, and various plaint,
Thence gather'd his own doom, which understood
Not instant, but of future time, with joy
And tidings fraught, to hell he now return'd;
And at the brink of Chaos, near the foot
Of this new wondrous pontifice, unbop'd
Met, who to meet bim came, his offspring dear.
Great joy was at their meeting, and at sight
Of that stupendous bridge bis joy increas'd.
Long he admiring stood, till Sin, bis fair
Enchanting daughter, thus the silence broke:

“O parent, these are thy magnific deeds,
Thy trophies, which thou view'st as not thine own;
Thou art their author and prime architect:
For I no sooner in my heart divin'd
(My heart, which by a secret harmoniy
Still moves with thine, join'd in connexion sweet,)
That thou on earth had'st prosperd, which thy looks
Now also evidence, but straight I felt,
Though distant from thee worlds between, yet felt
That I must after thee with this thy son,
Such fatal consequence unités us three :
Hell could no longer hold us in her bounds,
Nor this unvoyageable gulf obscure
Detain from following thy illustrious track.
Thou hast achiev'd our liberty, confin'd
Within hell-gates till now; thou us impower'd
To fortify thus far, and overlay
With this portentous bridge the dark abyss.
Thine now is all this world; thy virtue' hath won
What thy hands builded not, thy wisdom gain'd
With odds what war bath lost, and fully' aveng'd
Our foil in heaven; here thou shalt monarch reign,
There didst not; there let him still victor sway,
As batile hath adjudg’d, from this new world

« IndietroContinua »