Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

Of high Olympus; thence by Saturn driven,
And Ops, ere yet Dictæan Jove was born.

Meanwhile in Paradise the hellish pair
Too soon arriv'd; Sin there in power before,
Once actual, now in body, and to dwell
Habitual habitant; behind her Death
Close following pace for pace, not mounted yet
On his pale horse; to whom thus Sin began :

“ Second of Satan sprung, all-conqu’ring Death!
What think'st thou of our empire now, tho' earn'd
With travel difficult, not better far
Than still at hell's dark threshold to have sat watch,
Unnam’d, undreaded, and thyself half-starv'd ?"

Whom thus the sin-born monster answer'd soon: “ To me, who wish eternal famine pine, Alike is hell, or Paradise, or heaven, There best where most with ravine I may meet; Which here though plenteous, all too litile seems To stuff this maw, this vast unhide-bound corpse."

To whom th’incestuous mother thus replied : “ Thou therefore on these herbs, and fruits, and

flowers, Feed first, on each beast next, and fish, and fowl, No homely morsels; and whatever thing The scythe of Time mows down, devour unspar'd; Till I, in man residing, through the race, His thoughts, his looks, words, actions, all infect, And season him thy last and sweetest prey."

Tbis said, they both betook them several ways, Both to destroy or unimmortal make All kinds, and for destruction to mature Sooner or later; whicla th' Almighty seeing, From his transcendent seat the saints among, To those bright orders utter'd thus his voice :

See with what heat these dogs of hell advance To waste aud havoc yonder world, which I So fair and good created, and had still Kept in that state, bad not the folly' of man, Lei in these wasteful furies, who impute Folly to me: so doth the prince of hell And his adberents, that with so much ease

[ocr errors]

I suffer them to enter and possess
A place so heavenly, and conniving seem
To gratify my scornful enemies,
That laugh, as if, transported with some fit
Of passion, I to thein had quitted all,
At random yielded up to their misrule;
And know not that I callid and drew them thither,
My hell-hounds, to lick up the draff and filth
Which man's polluting sin with taint hath shed
On what was pure, till cramm’d and gorg’d, nigli
With suck'd and glutted offal, at one sling [burst
Of thy victorious arm, well-pleasing Son,
Both Sin and Death, and yawning grave, at last,
Through Chaos burl'd, obstruct the mouth of hell
For ever, and seal up his ravenous jaws.
Then heaven and earth renew'd shall be made pure
To sanctity that shall receive no stain :
Till then the curse pronounc'd on both precedes.”

Ile ended, and the heavenly audience loud
Sung hallelujah, as the sound of seas,
Through multitude that sung: “ Just are thy ways,
Righteous are thy decrees ou all thy works;
Who can extenuate thee?" Next, to the Son,
Destin'd restorer of mankind, by whom
New heaven and earth shall to the ages rise, [sung,
Or down from heaven descend." Sucb was their
While the Creator, calling forth by name
His mighty angels, gave them several charge,
As sorted best with present things. The sun
llad first his precept so to move, so shine,
As might affect the earth with cold and heat
Scarce tolerable; and from the north to call
Decripit winter, from the south to bring
Solstitial summer's heat. To the blank moon
Fler office they prescrib'd, to th’ other five
Their planetary motions and aspects,
In sextile, square, and trine, and opposite,
Of noxious efficacy, and when to join
In synod unbenign; and taught the fix'd
Their influence malignant when to shower,
Which of them rising with the sun, or falling,

Should prove tempestuous: to the winds they set
Their corners, when with bluster to confound
Sea, air, and shore, the thunder when to roll
With horror through the dark aereal hall.
Some say he bid his angels turn askance
The poles of earth iwice ten degrees and more
From the sun's axle; they with labour push'd
Oblique the centric globe. Some say the sun
Was bid turn reins from th' equinoctial road
Like distan: breadıb to Taurus with the seven
Atlantic Sisters, and the Spartan Twins
Up to the Tropic Crab); thence down amain
By Leo and the Virgin and the Scales,
As deep as Capricorn, to bring in change
Of seasons to each clime; else had the spring
Perpetual smild on earth with verdant flowers,
Equal in days and nights, except to those
Beyond the polar circles; to them day
Had unbenighted shone, while the low sun,
T' recompense his distance, in their sight
Had rounded still th' horizon, and not known
(r east or west, which had forbid the snow
From cold Estotiland, and south as far
Beneath Magellan. At that tasted fruit
The sun, as from Thyestean banquet, turn'd
His course intended; else how had the world
Inhabited, though sinless, more than now,
Avoided pinching cold and scorching heat ?
These changes in the heavens, though slow, produc'd
Like change on sea and land, sideral blast,
Vapour, and mist, and exhalation hot,
Corrupt and pestilent. Now from the north
Of Norumbega, and the Samoed shore,
Bursting their brazen dungeon, arm’d with ice,
And snow and hail, and stormy gust and flaw,
Boreas and Cæcias, and Argestes loud,
And Thrascias, rend the woods, and seas upturn;
With adverse blast upturns them from the south
Notus and Afer, black with thund'rous clouds
From Serra Liona; thwart of these as fierce
Forth rush the Levant and the Ponent winds,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Eurus and Zephyr, with their lateral noise,
Sirocco and Libecchio.

Thus began
Outrage from lifeless things; but Discord first,
Daughter of Sin, among th' irrational
Death introduc'd, through fierce antipathy:
Beast now with beast 'gan war, and fowl with fowl,
And fish with fish; to graze the herb all leaving,
Devour'd each other: nor stood much in awe
Of man, but fled him, or with count'nance grim
Glar'd on bim passing. These were from without
The growing miseries, which Adam saw
Already' in part, though hid in gloomiest shade,
To sorrow'abandon'd, but worse felt within ;
And in a troubled sea of passion toss'd,
Thus to disburden sought with sad complaint:

“O miserable of happy'! is this the end
Of this new g!orious world, and me so late
The glory of that glory, who now become
Accurs'd of blessed ? hide me from the face
Of God, whom to behold was then my height
Of happiness ! yet well, if here would end
The misery; I deserv'd it, and would bear
My own deservings: but this will not serve;
All that I eat or drink, or shall beget,
Is propagated curse. O voice once heard
Delightfully, Increase and multiply,'
Now death to hear ! for what can I increase
Or multiply, but curses on my head ?
Who of all ages to succeed, but feeling
The evil on him brought by me, will curse
My head ? • Ill fare our ancestor impure,
For this we may thank Adam ;' but his thanks
Shall be the execration! so besides
Mine own that bide upon me, all from me
Shall with a fierce reflux on me redound,
On me, as on their natural centre, light
Heavy, though in their place. O joys
Of Paradise, dear bought with lasting woes !
Did I request thee Maker, from my clay
To mould me man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me, or here place

[ocr errors]

In this delicious garden? As my will
Concurr'd not to my being, it were but right
And equal to reduce me to my dust,
Desirous to resign and render back
All I receiv'd, unable to perform
Thy terms too hard, by which I was to hold
The good I sought not. To the loss of that,
Sufficient penalty, why hast thou added
The sense of endless woes? Inexplicable
Thy justice seems: yet, to say truth, too late
I thus contest; then should have been refus'd

;
Those terms whatever, when they were propos'd:
Thou didst accept them; wilt thou enjoy the good,
Then cavil the conditions ? And though God
Made thee without thy leave, what if thy son
Prove disobedient, and reprov'd, retort,
• Wherefore didst thou beget me? I sought it not:
Wouldst tliou admit, for his contempt of thee,
That proud excuse? Yet him not tly election,
But natural necessity begot.
God made thee' of choice his own, and of his own
To serve him; thy reward was of his grace,
Thy punishment then justly' is at his will.
Be’ it so, for I submit; his doom is fair,
That dust I am, and shall to dust return.
O welcome hour whenever! Why delays
His band to execute what his decree
Fix'd on this day? Why do I overlive?
Why am I mock'd with death, and lengthen'd out
To deathless pain? How gladly would I meet
Mortality, my sentence, and be earth
Insensible! How glad would lay me down
As in my mother's lap! There I should rest
And sleep secure; his dreadful voice no more
Would thunder in my ears: no fear of worse
To me and to my offspring would torment me
With cruel expectation. Yet one doubt
Pursues me still, lest all I cannot die,
Lest that pure breath of life, the spirit of man
Which God inspir'd, cannot together perish
With this corporeal clod; then in the grave,

« IndietroContinua »