« PreviousContinue »
And to rebellious fight rallied their Powers,
Insensate, hope conceivingfrom despair.
In heavenly Spirits could such perverseness dwell?
But to convince the proud what signs avail,
Or wonders move the obdurate to relent?
They, harden'd more by what might most reclaim,
Grieving to see his glory, at the sight
Took envy; and, aspiring to his highth,
Stood re-embattled fierce, by force or fraud
Weening to prosper, and at length prevail
Against God and Messiah, or to fall
In universal ruin lost; and now
To final battle drew, disdaining flight,
Or faint retreat; when the great Son of God
To all his host on either hand thus spake.
Stand still in bright array, ye Saints ; here stand,
Ye Angels arm’d; this day from battle rest;
Faithful hath been your warfare, and of God
Accepted, fearless in his righteous cause
And as ye have receiv'd, so have ye done,
Invincibly: But of this cursed crew
The punishment to other hand belongs ;
Vengeance is his, or whose he sole appoints ;
Number to this day's work is not ordain'd,
Nor multitude; stand only and behold
God's indignation on these godless pour'd
By me; not you, but me, they have despis’d,
Yet envied; against me is all their rage,
Because the Father, to whom in Heaven supreme
Kingdom, and power, and glory appertains,
Hath honour'd me, according to his will.
Therefore to me their doom he hath assign'd;
That they may have their wish, to try with me
In battle which the stronger proves; they all,
Or I alone against them ; since by strength
They measure all, of other excellence
Not emulous, nor care who them excels;
Nor other strife with them do I vouchsafe.
So spake the Son, and into terrour chang'd
His countenance too severe to be beheld,
And full of wrath bent on his enemies.
At once the Four spread out their starry wings
With dreadful shade contiguous, and the orbs
Of his fierce chariot roll'd, as with the sound
Of torrent floods, or of a numerous host.
He on his impious foes right onward drove,
Gloomy as night; under his burning wheels
The stedfast empyréan shook throughout,
All but the throne itself of God. Full soon
Among them he arriv'd ; in his right hand
Grasping ten thousand thunders, which he sent
Before him, such as in their souls infix'd
Plagues : They, astonish’d, all resistance lost,
All courage; down their idle weapons dropt:
O'er shields, and helms, and helmed heads he rode
Of Thrones and mighty Seraphim prostràte,
That wish'd the mountains now might be again
Thrown on them, as a shelter from his ire.
Nor less on either side tempestuous fell
His arrows, from the fourfold-visag'd Four
Distinct with eyes, and from the living wheels
Distinct alike with multitude of eyes;
One Spirit in them rul'd; and every eye
Glar'd lightning, and shot forth pernicious fire
Among the accurs’d, that wither'd all their strength
And of their wonted vigour left them drain'd,
Exhausted, spiritless, afflicted, fallen.
Yet half his strength he put not forth, but check'd
His thunder in mid volley; for he meant
Not to destroy, but root them out of Heaven:
The overthrown he rais’d, and as a herd
Of goats or timorous flock together throng'd
Drove them before him thunder-struck, pursued
With terrours, and with furies, to the bounds
And crystal wall of Heaven; which, opening wide,
Rolld inward, and a spacious gap disclos’d
Into the wasteful deep: The monstrous sight
Struck them with horrour backward, but far worse
Urg'd them behind : Headlong themselves they
Down from the verge of Heaven; eternal wrath
Burnt after them to the bottomless pit.
Hell heard the unsufferable noise, Hell saw Heaven ruining from Heaven, and would have fled
Affrighted; but strict Fate had cast too deep
Her dark foundations, and too fast had bound.
Nine days they fell : Confounded Chaos foard,
And felt tenfold confusion in their fall
Through his wild anarchy, so huge á rout
Incumber'd him with ruin: Hell at last
Yawning receiv'd them whole, and on them clos'd;
Hell, their fit habitation, fraught with fire
Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain.
Disburden'a Heaven rejoic'd, and soon repair'd
Her mural breach, returning whence it roll'a.
Sole victor, frön the expulsion of his foes,
Messiah his triumphal chariot turn’d:
To meet him all his Saints, who silent stood
Eye-witnesses of his almighty acts,
With jubilee advanc'd; and, as they went,
Shaded with branching palm, each Order bright,
Sung triumph, and him sung victorious King,
Son, Heir, and Lord, to him dominion given,
Worthiest to reign: He, celebrated, rode
Triumphant through mid Heaven, into the courts
And temple of his Mighty Father thron'd
On high; who into glory him receiv’d,
Where now he sits at the right hand of bliss.
Thus, measuring things in Heaven by things on
At thy request, and that thou may'st beware
By what is past, to thee I have reveal'd
What might have else to human race been hid;
The discord which befel, and war in Heaven
Among the angelick Powers, and the deep fall
Of those too high aspiring, who rebell’d
With Satan; he who envies now thy state,
Who now is plotting how he may seduce
Thee also from obedience, that, with him
Bereav'd of happiness, thou may'st partake
His punishment, eternal misery;
Which would be all his solace and revenge, ,
As a despite done against the Most High,
Thee once to gain companion of his woe.
But listen not to his temptations, warn
Thy weaker; let it profit thee to have heard,
By terrible example, the reward
Of disobedience; firm they might have stood,
Yet fell; remember, and fear to transgress. 912