Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mountains of ice, that stop the imagin's way
Beyond Petsora eastward, to the rich
Cathaian coast.

The aggregated soil
Death with his mace petrific, cold and dry,
As with a trident, smote; and fix'd as firm
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 hence 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, his 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 the indignant waves.

Now had they brought the work by wondrous art Pontifical, a ridge of pendant rock, 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, hell
With long reach interpos'd; three several ways
In sight, to each of these three places led.
And now their way to earth they 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 he 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 hoping to escape, but shun The present; fearing, guilty, what his wrath Might suddently inflict ; that past, return'd By night, and listening 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, unhop'd Met, who to meet him came, his offspring dear. Great joy was at their meeting, and at sight Of that stupendous bridge his joy encreas'd. Long he admiring stood, till Sin, his 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 harmony Still moves with thine, join d in connexion sweet, ) That thou on earth hath prosper’d, which thy looks Now also evidence, but straight ) felt, That I must after thee, with this thy son; Such fatal consequence unites 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 hath lost, and fully aveng'd Our foil in heaven; here thou shalt monarch reign, There didst not : there let him still victor sway, As battle hath adjudg’d; from this new world Retiring, by bis own doom alienated; And henceforth monarchy with thee divide Of all things, parted by the empyreal bounds, His quadrature, from thy orbicular world; Or try thee now more dangerous to his throne. »

Whom thus the prince of darkness answer'd glad : « Fair daughter, and thou son and grandchild both; High proof ye now have given to be the race Of Satan, (for 1 glory in the name,

Antagonist of heaven's Almighty King, )
Amply have merited of me, of all
The infernal empire, that so near heaven's door
Triumphal with triumphal act have met,
Mine, with this glorious work; and made one realm,
Hell and this world, one realm, one continent,
Of easy thoroughfare. Therefore while I
Descend through darkness, on your road with ease,
To
my

associate powers, them to acquaint With these successes,

and with them rejoice ; You two this way, among these numerous orbs, All yours, right down to paradise descend; There dwell and reign in bliss ; thence on the earth Dominion exercise and in the air, Chiefly on man, sole lord of all declar'd; Him first make sure your thrall, and lastly-kill. My substitutes I send you, and create Plenipotent on earth, of matchless might Issuing from me; on your joint vigour now My hold of this new kingdom all depends, Through sin to death expos’d by my exploit. If

your joint power prevail, the affairs of hell No detriment need fear; go, and be strong. »

So saying, he dismiss'd them. They with speed Their course through thickest constellations held, Spreading their bane; the blasted stars look'd wan, And planets, planet-struck, real eclipse Then suffer'd. The other way Satan went down The causey to hell-gate : on either side Disparted chaos over-built exclaim'd, And with rebounding' surge the bars assail'd That scorn’d his indignation : through the gate,

Wide open and unguarded, Satan pass'd,
And all about found desolate; for those,
Appointed to sit there had left their charge,
Flown to the upper world; the rest were all
Far to the inland retir'd, about the walls,
Of Pandemonium ; city and proud seat
Of Lucifer, ( so by allusion callid
Of that bright star, to Satan paragon'd;)
There kept their watch the legions, while the grand
In council sat, solicitous what chance
Might intercept their emperor sent; so he
Departing gave command, and they observ'd.
As when the Tartar from his Russian foe,
By Astracan, over the snowy plains,
Retires; or Bactrian Sophi, from the horns
Of Turkish crescent, leaves all waste beyond
The realm of Aladule, in his retreat
To Tauris or Casbeen : so these, the late
Heaven-banish'd host, left desert utmost hell
Many a dark league, reduc'd in careful watch
Round their metropolis; and now expecting
Each hour their great adventurer, from the search
Of foreign worlds. He, through the midst unmark'd,
In show plebeian-angel militant
Of lowest order, pass'd; and from the door
Of that Plutonian hall, invisible
Ascended his high throne; which, under state
Of richest texture spread, at the upper end
Was plac'd in regal lustre. Down a while
He sat, and round about him saw, unseen.

At last, as from a cloud, his fulgent head
And shape star-bright appear’d, or brighter; clad

« PreviousContinue »