« PreviousContinue »
Silence crept stilly through the ranks.--The breeze
Spake most distinctly. As the sailor stands, When all the midnight gasping from the seas
Break boding sobs, and to his sight expands
High on the shrouds the spirit that commands The ocea
ean-farer's life; so stiff-so sear Stood each dark power;--while through their nu
merous bands Beat not one heart, and mingling hope and fear Now told them all was lost, now bade revenge appear.
One there was there, whose loud defying tongue
Nor hope nor fear had silenced, but the swell Of overboiling malice. Utterance long
His passion mock'd, and long he strove to tell
His labouring ire; still syllable none fell From bis pale quivering lip, but died away
For very fury; from each hollow cell Half sprang his eyes, that cast a flamy ray, And
“ This comes,” at length burst from the furious chief,
“ This comes of distant counsels! Here behold “ The fruits of wily cunning! the relief
“ Which coward policy would fain unfold,
“ And lo! our prince-the mighty and the bold, “There stands he, spell struck, gaping at the air, “ Whilė Heaven subverts his reign, and plants her stan
Here, as recover’d, Satan fix'd his eye
Full on the speaker; dark it was and stern; He wrapt his black vest round him gloomily,
And stood like one whom weightiest thoughts concern.
Him Moloch mark’d, and strove again to turn His soul to rage. Behold, behold, he cried,
The lord of Hell, who bade these legions spurn Almighty rule-behold he lays aside The spear of just revenge, and shrinks, by man defied.
Thus ended Moloch, and his [burning] tongue
Hung quivering, as if [mad] to quench its heat
The famish'd tiger pants, when near his seat,
Had from its scabbard sprung; but toward the seat Of the arch-fiend all turn'd with one accord, As loud he thus harangued the sanguinary horde.
Ye powers of Hell, I am no coward. I proved this of old; who led your forces against the armies of Jehovah? Who copied with Ithuriel, and the thunders of the Almighty? Who, when stunned and confused ye lay on the burning lake, who first awoke, and collected your scattered powers? Lastly, who led you across the unfathomable abyss to this delightful world, and established that reign here which now totters to its base. How, therefore, dares yon treacherous fiend to cast a stain on Satan's bravery? he who preys only on the defencelesswho sucks the blood of infants, and delights only in acts
of ignoble cruelty and unequal contention. Away with the boaster who never joins in action, but, like a cormorant, hovers over the field, to feed upon the wounded, and overwhelm the dying. True bravery is as remote from rashness as from hesitation; let us counsel coolly, but let us execute our counselled purposes determinately. In power we have learnt, by that experiment which lost us Heaven, that we are inferior to the Thunder-bearer; In subtlety-in subtlety alone we are his equals. Open war is impossible.
Thus we shall pierce our Conqueror, through the race
Which as himself he loves; thus if we fall, We fall not with the anguish, the disgrace,
Of falling unrevenged. The stirring call
Of vengeance rings within me! Warriors all, The word is vengeance, and the spur despair.
Away with coward wiles!-Death's coal-black pall Be now our standard !-Be our torch, the glare Of cities fir’d! our fifes, the shrieks that fill the air!
Him answering rose Merashpim, who of old,
Far in the silence of Chaldea's groves, Was worshipp'd, God of Fire, with charms untold
And mystery. His wandering spirit roves,
Now vainly searching for the fame it loves, And sits and mourns like some white robed sire,
Where stood his temple, and where fragrant cloves And cinnamon upheap'd the sacred pyre, And nightly magi watch'd the everlasting fire.
He wav'd bis robe of flame, be cross'd his breast,
And sighing-bis papyrus scarf survey'd, Woven with dark characters; then thus address’d
The troubled counsel.