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His ministers of vengeance and pursuit 1TO

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, 175

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 yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild, 18°

The seat of desolation, void of light,

Save what the glimmering of these livid flames

Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend

From off the tossing of these fiery waves;

There rest, if any rest can harbor there; 185

And, reassembling 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, 19°

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, 19s Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge His huge

As whom the fables name of monstrous size, bulk.

Titanian, or Earth-born, that warred on Jove,
Briareos, or Typhon, whom the den
By ancient Tarsus held; or that sea-beast M0

Leviathan, which God of all his works

Created hugest that swim the ocean stream1.

Him, haply slumbering on the Norway foam,

The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff,

Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell, 205

With fixed anchor in his scaly rind,

Moors by his side under the lee, while night

Invests the sea, and wished morn delays.

So stretched out huge in length the Arch-Fiend

lay,
Chained on the burning lake; nor ever thence 21°
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 21S
Evil to others, and enraged might see
How all his malice served but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shewn
On man by him seduced, but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance poured. 220

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 i' the midst a horrid vale. Then with expanded wings he steers his flight 225 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, The burning ^nd gucj1 appeared in hue as when the force 230

land on which .

they alight Of subterranean wind transports a hill

Torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side

Of thundering ^Etna, whose combustible

And fueled entrails thence conceiving fire,

Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds, 235

And leave a singed bottom, all involved

With stench and smoke. Such resting found the

sole
Of unblest feet. Him followed his next mate;
Both glorying to have scaped the Stygian flood
As gods, and by their own recovered strength, 240
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 mourn-
ful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so, since He 245
Who now is sovran can dispose and bid
What shall be right; farthest from Him is best,
Whom reason hath equaled, force hath made

supreme
Above His equals. Farewell, happy fields,
Where j"Y tar *»w Hwpiis 1 Ilnil, horrors ! hail, 250

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
ca make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. 255
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; 260

[merged small][graphic]

Beelzebub's confidence in Satan's power to inspire.

Satan's spear and shield.

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, 265

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
Regained in Heaven, or what more lost in Hell?'
So Satan spake; and him Beelzebub 271

Thus answered : —' Leader of those armies bright
Which, but the Omnipotent, none could have

foiled!
If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge
Of hope in fears and dangers .— heard so oft 275
In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge
Of battle, when it raged, in all assaults
Their surest signal —. they will soon resume
New courage and revive, though now they lie
Grovelling and prostrate on yon lake of fire, 280
As we erewhile, astounded and amazed;
No wonder, fallen such a pernicious highth.'

He scarce had ceased when the superior Fiend
Was moving toward the shore; his ponderous

shield,
Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round, 285

Behind him cast. The broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views
At evening, from the top of Fesole,
Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands, 290
Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.
His spear — to equal which the tallest pine
Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast
Of some great ammiral, were but a wand —
He walked with, to support uneasy steps 295

Over the burning marl,—not like those steps
On Heaven's azure; and the torrid clime
Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire.

Nathless he so endured, till on the beach
Of that inflamed sea he stood, and called 300

His legions — Angel Forms, who lay entranced _,.
Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks 0f his reclin-
In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades inghost.

High overarched embower; or scattered sedge
Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion armed 305
Hath vexed the Red Sea coast, whose waves

o'erthrew
Busiris and his Memphian chivalry,
While with perfidious hatred they pursued
The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld
From the safe shore their floating carcasses 310
And broken chariot-wheels. So thick bestrown,
Abject and lost, lay these, covering the flood,
Under amazement of their hideous change.

He called so loud that all the hollow deep
Of Hell resounded: —' Princes, Potentates, 315
Warriors, the Flower of Heaven — once yours,

now lost,
If such astonishment as this can seize
Eternal Spirits! Or have ye chosen this place
After the toil of battle to repose
Your wearied virtue, for the ease you find 320

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