Page images
[ocr errors]

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


have received, 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 despised, Yet envied : against me is all their rage, Because the Father, to whom in heav'n 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 terror changed His count'nance, too severe to be beheld And full of wrath bent on his enemies. At once the Fouro 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 steadfast empyrean shook throughout, All but the throne itself of God. Full soon Among them He arrived, in His right hand Grasping ten thousand thunders, which He sent

1 Deut. xxxii. 35. Rom. xii. 19.

2 The four Cherubim. Ezek. i.

[ocr errors]

Before Him, such as in their souls infix'd
Plagues: they astonish'd all resistance lost,
All courage; down their idle weapons droppid;
O'er shields, and helms, and belméd heads He rode
Of thrones and mighty seraphim prostrate,
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 visaged Four,
Distinct with eyes, and from the living wheels
Distinct alike with multitude of eyes ;
One spirit in them ruled, and every eye
Glared light'ning, and shot forth pernicious fire
Among th' accurst, that wither'd all their strength,
And of their wonted vigour left them drain’d,
Exhausted, spiritless, afflicted, fallin.
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 heav'n.
The overthrown He raised, and as a herd
Of goats or timorous flock together throng'd
Drove them before Him thunder-struck, pursued
With terrors and with furies to the bounds
And crystal wall of heav'n, which op’ning wide
Roll'd inward, and a spacious gap disclosed
Into the wasteful deep; the monstrous sight
Struck them with horror backward; but far worse
Urged them behind; headlong themselves they threw
Down from the verge of heav'n, eternal wrath
Burn’d after them to the bottomless pit.
Hell heard th' unsufferable noise, hell saw
Heav'n ruining from heav'n, and would have fleu
Affrighted; but strict fate had cast too deep
Her dark foundations, and too fast had bound.
Nine days they fell; confounded Chaos roar'd,
And felt tenfold confusion in their fall-
Through his wild anarchy; so huge a rout
Incumber'd him with ruin : hell at last

1 Rev. vi, 16.

Yawning received them whole, and on them closed;
Hell their fit habitation, fraught with fire
Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain.
Disburden'd heav'n rejoiced, and soon repair'd
Her mural breach, returning whence it roll’d.

Sole victor from th' 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 advanced; 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 heav'n, into the courts
And temple of His mighty Father throned
On high; who into glory Him received,'
Where now He sits at the right hand of bliss.

Thus measuring things in heav'n by things on earth,
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 befell, and war in heav'n
Among th' angelic 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

Thee also from obedience, that with him
Bereaved 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 Highi,
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.


1 1 Tim, iii. 16. Heb. i. 3.



Raphael, at the request of Adam, relates how, and wherefore, this world was first created ; that God, after the expelling of Satan and his angels out of heaven, declared his pleasure to create another world, and other creatures to dwell therein; sends his Son with glory and attendance of angels to perform the work of creation in six days: the angels celebrate with hymns the performance thereof, and his reascension into heaven.



DESCEND from heav'n, Urania,' by that name
If rightly thou art call’d, whose voice divine
Following, above th’ Olympian hill I soar,
Above the flight of Pegasean wing.?
The meaning, not the name, I call: for thou
Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top
Of old Olympus dwell'st, but heav'nly born,
Before the hills appear’d, or fountain flow'd,
Thou with eternal Wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of th' almighty Father, pleased
With thy celestial song. Up led by thee
Into the heav'n of heav'ns I have presumed,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air
Thy temp’ring; with like safety guided down
Return me to my native element:
Least from this flying steed unrein'd, as once
Bellerophon, though from a lower clime,
Dismounted, on the Aleian field I fall
Erroneous, there to wander and forlorn.


i The word “Urania” signifies heavenly. Here the Poet means Heavenly Muse.

2 The winged horse, Pegasus, said to belong to the Muses, was emblematical of nights of imagination.

Urania, amongst the Muses, was the patroness of Astronomy.

4 Bellerophon, the son of Glaucus, was a beautiful youth, who was falsely accused by Sthenobæa, Queen of Argos, to her hus.

band. Proetus, King of Argos, sent him, in consequence, into Lycia with letters commanding that he should be exposed to destruction. He escaped from many perilous enterprises forced on him ; but when he attempted to mount to heaven on the winged horse, Pegasus (incited to the trial by vain-glory), he was thrown off, and wandered on the Aleian plains for the remainder of his life. The Aleian plains were in Cilicia.

Half yet remains unsung, but narrower bound,
Within the visible diurnal sphere;
Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,
More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchanged
To hoarse or mute, though fall'n on evil days,
On evil days though fall'n and evil tongues ;
In darkness, and with dangers compast round,
And solitude; yet not alone, while thou
Visit'st my slumbers nightly, or when morn
Purples the east. Still govern thou my song,
Urania, and fit audience find, though few.
But drive far off the barbarous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race
Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard
In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears
To rapture, till the savage clamour drown'd
Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend
Her son. So fail not thou, who thee implores :
For thou art heav'nly, she an empty dream.
Say, Goddess, what ensued when Raphael,
The affable arch-angel, had forewarn’d
Adam by dire example to beware
Apostasy, by what befell in heav'n
To those apostates, lest the like befall
In Paradise to Adam or his race,
Charged not to touch the interdicted tree,
If they transgress, and slight that sole command,
So easily obey'd, amid the choice
Of all tastes else to please their appetite,
Though wand'ring. He with his consorted Eve
The story heard attentive, and was fillid
With admiration and deep muse, to hear
Of things so high and strange, things to their thought
So unimaginable as hate in heav'n,
And war so near the peace of God in bliss
With such confusion : but the evil soon

1 Orpheus was torn to pieces by the Bacchanalian women of Rhodope, a mountain of Thrace ; nor could sis

mother, the Muse Calliope, save him. Newton thinks that Nilton bere alludes to the dissolute Court of Charles II.

« PreviousContinue »