Page images
PDF

- PARADISE LOST.

BOOK I.

Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our wo,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, heav'nly Muse, that on tha sacred top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That Shepherd,* who first taught the chosen seed,
In the beginning, how the heav'ns and earth
Rose out of chaos: or if Sion hill,
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook, that flow'd
Fast by the oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th’ Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet, in prose or rhyme. .
And chiefly Thou, O Spirit, that dost preser ..
Before all temples th’ upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for thou know'st ; Thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread,
Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast abyss,
And mad'st it pregnant : what in me is dark,
Illumine; what is low raise and support;
That to the height of this great argument

*"'Thut Shepherd." Moses, who kept the flock of Jethro.

I may asseri eternal providence,
And justify the ways of God to men.

Say first, for heav'n hides nothing from thy view
Nor the deep tract of hell; say first, what cause
Mov'd our grand parents, in that happy state,
Favour'd of heav'n so highly, to fall off
From their Creator, and transgress his will
For one restraint, lords of the world besides ?
Who first seduc'd them to that foul revolt ?
Th’infernal serpent; he it was, whose guile,
Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceiv'd
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host
Of rebel angels : by whose aid, aspiring
To set himself in glory, above his peers,
He trusted to have equall'd the Most High,
If he oppos'd; and, with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God,
Rais'd impious war in heav'n, and battle proud,
With vain attempt. Him the almighty power
Hurl'd headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and nigbar
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquish'd, rolling in the fiery gulf,
Confounded, though immortal : but his doom
Reserv'd him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness, and lasting pain,
Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witness'd huge affliction and dismay,
Mix'd with obdurate pride and steadfast hate :
At once, as far as angels ken, he views
The dismal situation waste and wild ;
A dungeon horrible on all sides round,
As one great furnace flam'd; yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible

Serv'd only to discover sights of wo, Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace And rest can never dwell, hope never comes That comes to all; but torture without end Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed With ever-burning sulphur unconsum'd: Such place eternal justice had prepar'd For those rebellious; here their pris'n ordain'd In utter darkness, and their portion set As far remov'd from God and light of heav'n, As from the centre thrice to th’ utmost pole. O how unlike the place from whence they fell! There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelm'd With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire, He soon discerns; and welt’ring by his side One next himself in pow'r, and next. in crime, Long after known in Palestine, and nam'd Beelzebub. To whom th' arch-enemy, And thence in heav'n called Satan, with bold woras · Breaking the horrid silence, thus began :

If thou beest he; but O how fall'n! how changid From him, who, in the happy realms of light, Cloth'd with transcendent brightness, didst outshine Myriads though bright! If he whom mutual league, United thoughts and counsels, equal hope And hazard in the glorious enterprise Join'd with me once, now misery hath joili'd in equal ruin! Into what pit thou seest, From what height fall’n; so much the stronger provid He with his thunder : and till then who knew The force of those dire arms ? yet not for those, Nor what the potent victor in his rage Can else inflict, do I repent or change. Though chang’d in outward lustre, that fix'd mind, And high disdain from sense of injur'd merit, That with the mightiest rais'd me to conteid, And to the fierce contention brought along Innumerable force of spirits arın'd, That Jurst dislike his reign, and, me preferring,

His utmost pow'r with adverse pow'r oppos'd
In dubious battle on the plains of heav'n,
And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?
All is not lost : th' unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield,
And what is else not to be overcome;
That glory never shall his wrath or might
Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace
With suppliant knee, and deify his power,
Who from the terror of this arm so late
Doubted his empire; that were low indeed,
That were an ingnominy, and shame beneath
This downfal; since, by fate, the strength of gods
And this empyreal substance cannot fail ;
Since, through experience of this great event,
!n arms not worse, in foresight much advanc'd,
We may with more successful hope, resolve
To wage, by force or guile, eternal war,
Irreconcileable to our grand foe,
Who now triumphs, and, in th’excess of joy
Sole reigning, holds the tyranny of heaven.

So spake th’apostate angel, though in pain,
Vaunting aloud, but rack'd with deep despair :
And him thus answer'd soon his bold compeer

O prince, O) chief of many throned powers, That led th’embattl'd seraphim io war, Under thy conduct, and, in dreadful deeds Fearless, endanger'd heav'n's perpetual King, And put to proof his high supremacy, Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate foo well I see and rue the dire event, chat with sad overthrow and foul defeat Hath lost us Heav'n, and all this mighty host lo horrible destruction laid thus low, As far as gods and heav'nly essences Can perish: for the mind and spirit remain Invincible, and vigour soon returns, though all our glory extinct, and happy state

Here swallow'd up in endless misery.
But what if he our conqueror (whom, I now .
Of force believe Almighty, since no less
Than such could have o'erpower'd such force as ours
Have left us in this our spirit and strength entire,
Strongly to suffer and support our pains,
That we may so suffice his vengeful ire,
Or do him mightier service as his thralls
By right of war, whate'er his bus'ness be,
Here in the heart of hell to work in fire,
Or do his errands in the gloomy deep;
What can it then avail, though yet we feel
Strength undiminish’d, or eternal being,

To undergo eternal punishment ? 1 - Whereto with speedy words th' arch-fiend replied:

Fall'n cherub! to be weak is miserable, Doing or suff'ring; but of this be sure, To do aught good, never will be our task, But ever to do ill our sole delight, As being the contrary to his high will Whom we resist. If then his providence Out of our evil seek to bring forth good, Our labour must be to pervert that end, And out of good still to find means of evil; Which oft-times may succeed, so as perhaps Shall grieve hin, if I fail not, and disturb His inmost counsels from their destin'd aiin. But see! the angry victor hath recallid His ministers of vengeance and pursuit, Back to the gates of heav'n; the sulphurous hai!, Shot afte: us in storm, o'erblown, hath laid The Lery surge, that from the precipice Of neav'n receiv'd us falling; and the thundri, Wing’d with red lightning and impetuous rage, Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now To bellow through the vasi and boundless deep Let us not slip th' occasion whether scorn, Or satiate fury, yield it from be. Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild

« PreviousContinue »