Immagini della pagina

To thy

Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade,
And with them comes a third of regal port,
But faded splendour wan? who, by his gait
And fierce demeanour, seems the prince of helli
Not likely to part lence without contest?
Stand firm, for in his look defiance lowers."

He scarce had ended, when those įwo approach'd, And brief related whom they brought, where found, How busied, in what forpi and posture couch'a.

To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake: “ Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescriba

ansgressions, and disturb'd the charge Of others, wbo approve not to transgress By thy example, but have power and right To question thy bold entrance on this place; Employ'd it seems to violate sleep, and those Whose dwelling God hath planted bere in bliss ?”

To whom thus Satan with contemptuous brow: " Gabriel, thou hadst in heavem th' esteem of wise, And such I held thee; but this question ask'd Puts me in doubt. Lives there, who loves his pain? Who would not, finding way, break loose from hell, Though thither doom'd? Thou wouldst thyself, no

doubt, And boidly venture to whatever place Farthest from pain, where thou might'st hope to

change Torment with ease, and soonest recompense Dole with delight, wbich in this place I sought; To thee no reason, who know'st only good, But evil hast not tried; and wilt object His will who bound us ? let bim surer bar His iron gates, if he intends our stay In that dark durance : thus much what was ask'd. The rest is true, they found me where they say ; But that implies not violence or harm."

Thus he in sco The warlike angel mov'd, Disdainfully half-smiling, thus replied:

“ () loss of one in heaven to judge of wise, Since Satan sell, wliom folly overthrew,

And now returns him from his prison 'scap'd,
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither,
Unlicens’d, from his bounds in hell prescrib’d;
So wise he judges it to fly from pain
However, and to 'scape his punishment.
So judge thou still, presumptuous, till the wrath,
Which thou incurr'st by flying, meet thy flight
Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to hell,
Which taught thee yet po better, that no pain
Can equal anger infinite provok’d.
But wherefore thou alone? wherefore with thee
Came not all hell broke loose?

pain to them
Less pain, less to be fed ? or thou than they
Less hardy to endure? Courageous chief,
The first in flight from pain, badst tlou alleg'd
To thy desertid bost this cause of Aight,
Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive."

To which the fiend thus answer'd, frowning stern :
“Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain,
Insulting angel: well thou know'st I stood
Thy fiercest when in battle to thy aid
The blasting vollied thunder made all speed,
And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.
But still thy words at random, as before,
Argue thy inexperience, what behooves,
From hard assays and ill successes past,
A faithful leader, not to hazard all
Through ways of danger by himself untried:
I therefore, I alone first undertook
To wing the desolate alvyss, and spy
This new-created world, whereof in hell
Faine is not sitent, here in hope to find
Better abode, and my afflicted powers
To settle here on earth, or in 'mid air;
Though for possession pat to try once more
What thou and thy gay legions dire against;
Wiose easier business were to serve their Lord
Hizb up in heaven, with songs to hymn his throne,
And practis'd distances, to cringe, not figlit."

To whoin the warrior angel soon replied ;*

“ To say and straight unsay, pretending first
Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy,
Argues no leader but a liar trac'd,
Satan ; and couldst thou faithful add?

O name,
O sacred name of faithfulness profan'd!
Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew ?
Army of fiends, fit body to fit head.
Was this your discipline and faith engag'd,
Your military obedience, to dissolve
Allegiance to th' acknowledg'd power supreme?
And thou, sly hypocrite! who now wouldst seem
Patron of liberty, who more than thou
Once fawn'd, and cring'd, and servilely ador'd
Heaven's awful Monarch ? wherefore, but in hope
To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?
But mark what I areed thee now-Avaunt!
Fly thither whence thou fledst! if from this hour
Within these hallow'd limits thou appear,
Back to th' infernal pit I drag thee chain’d,
And seal thee so, as henceforth not to scoru
The facile gates of hell too slightly barr’d."

So threaten'd he; but Satan to no threats Gave heed, but waxing more in rage replied: “ Then when I am thy captive talk of chains, Proud limitary cherub, but ere then Far heavier load thyself expect to feel From my prevailing arın; though heaven's King Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy compeers Us’d to the yoke, draw'st his triumphant wheels In progress through the road of heaven star-pav'd.”

While thus he spake the angelic squadron bright Turn'd fiery red, sharp'ning in mooned horns Their phalanx, and began to hem him round With ported spears, as thick as when a field Of Ceres ripe for barvest waving bends Her bearded grove of ears, which way the wind Sways them; the careful ploughman doubting stands, Lest on the threshing-floor his hopeful sheaves Prove chaff. On th' other side, Satan alarm'd, Collecting all his might, dilated stood, Like Teneriff or Atlas unremov'd:

[ocr errors]

His stature reach'd the sky, and on his crest
Sar horror plum'd; nor wanted in his grasp
What seem'd both spear and shield. Now dreadful
Might have ensu’d; not only Paradise (deeds
In this commotion, but the starry cope
Of heaven perhaps, or all the elements,
At least had gone to wrack, disturb'd, and torn
With violence of this conflict, bad not soon
Th’ Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,
Hung forth in heaven his golden scales, yet seen
Betwixt Astrea and the Scorpion sign,
Wherein all things created first he weigh'd,
The pendulous round earth with balanc'd air
Id counterpoise, now ponders all events,
Battles and realms. In these he put two weights,
The sequel each of parting and of fight;
The latter quick up flew, and kick'd the beam;
Which Gabriel spying, thus bespake the fiend :
“ Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know'st

Neither our own, but given : what folly then
To boast what arms can do? since thine no more
Than heaven permits, nor mine, tho' doubled now
To trample thee as mire: for proof look up,
And read thy lot in yon celestial sign, (weak,
Where thou art weigh’d, and shown how light, how
If tbou resist.”

The fiend look'd up, and knew His mounted scale aloft : nor more ; but filed Murmuring, and with him fled the shades of night, PARADISE LOST.



Moming approached, Eve relates to Adam her troublesome dream; he likes it not, yet comforts her. They come forth to their day labours: their murning hymn at the door of their boxer. God, to render man inexcusable, sends Raphael to admonish him of his obedience; of his free estate; of his enemy plear at hand, who he is, and why his enemy; and whatever else Inay avail Adam to know. Raphael comes down to l'aradise ; his appearance described; his coming discerned by Adam afar off, sitting at the door of his bower; he goes out to meet him, brings him to his lodge, entertains him with the choicest fruits of Paradise got together by Eve; their discourse at table. Raphael performs his message, minds Adam of his state, and of his enemy; relates, at Adam's request, who that enemy is, and how he came to be so, beginning from his first revolt in heaven, and the occasion thereof; how he drew his legions after him to the parts of the north, and there incited them to rebel with him, persuading all but only Abdiel, a seraph, who in argument dissuades and opposes him, then forsakes him.

Now Morn her rosy steps in th’ eastern clime
Advancing, sow'd the earth with orient pearl,
When Adam wak’d; so custom’d, for his sleep
Was airy-light, from pure digestion bred,
And temp'rate vapours bland, which the only sound
Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan,
Lightly.dispers'd, and the shriil matin song
Of birds on every bough: so much the more
His wonder was to find unwaken'd Eve
With tresses discompos'd, and glowing cheek,
As through unquiet rest. He, on his side
Leaning half-rais'd, with looks of cordial love,
llung over her enamour'd; and bebeld
Beauty, which, whether waking or asleep,
Shot forth peculiar graces; then, with voice
Mild as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes,
ller hand soft touching, whisper'd thus: “ Awake,
My fairest, my espous'd, my latest found,

« IndietroContinua »