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Our enemy, our own loss how repair,
How overcome this dire calamity,
What reinforcement we may gain from hope,
If not, what resolution from despair.
Thus Satan talking to his nearest mate,
With head up-lift above the wave, and eyes
That sparkling blazed; his other parts besides
Prone on the flood, extended long and large,
Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
As whom the fables name of monstrous size,
Titanian, or Earth-born, that warr'd on Jove,1
Briareus, or Typhon, whom the den
By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim th' ocean stream:
Him haply slumb'ring on the Norway foam
The pilot of some small night-founder'd skiff
Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind
Moors by his side under the lee, while night
Invests the sea, and wishèd morn delays:2
So stretch'd out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay,
Chain'd on the burning lake, nor ever thence
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
Evil to others, and enraged might see
How all his malice served but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy shown
On man by him seduced; but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance pour'd.
Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
His mighty stature; on each hand the flames
Driven backward slope their pointing spires, and roll'd
1 The Titans were monstrous giants, said to have made war against the gods. Briareus had a hundred hands. Typhon was the same as Typhoeus, who was
imprisoned by Jupiter in a cave near Tarsus, in Cilicia.
2 The whale is evidently here intended.
In billows leave i' th' midst a horrid vale.
Then with expanded wings he steers his flight
Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air,
That felt unusual weight, till on dry land
He lights, if it were land that ever burn'd
With solid, as the lake with liquid, fire;
And such appear'd in hue, as when the force
Of subterranean wind transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shatter'd side
Of thund'ring Etna, whose combustible
And fuel'd entrails thence conceiving fire,
Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds,
And leave a singèd bottom, all involved
With stench and smoke: such resting found the sole
Of unbless'd feet. Him follow'd his next mate,
Both glorying to have 'scaped the Stygian flood,
As Gods, and by their own recover'd strength,
Not by the sufferance of supernal power.
Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,
Said then the lost Arch-Angel, this the seat
That we must change for heav'n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? be it so, since he,
Who now is Sov'reign, can dispose and bid
What shall be right: farthest from him is best,
Whom reason hath equall'd, force hath made supreme
Above his equals. Farewell happy fields,
Where joy for ever dwells: hail horrors; hail
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
Can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n.2
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; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
1 Capo di Faro, in Sicily.
2 "There's nothing either good or bad, but Thinking makes it so."-SHAKESPEARE.
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 heav'n.
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
Th' associates and copartners of our loss,
Lie thus astonish'd on th' 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
Regain'd in heav'n, or what more lost in hell?
So Satan spake, and him Beelzebub
Thus answer'd: Leader of those armies bright,
Which but th' Omnipotent none could have foil'd,
If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge
Of hope in fears and dangers, heard so oft
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
Grov❜ling and prostrate on yon lake of fire,
As we erewhile, astounded and amazed,
No wonder, fall'n 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,
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist2 views
At ev'ning, from the top of Fesole
Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,
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 walk'd with to support uneasy steps
Over the burning marle, not like those steps
On heaven's azure, and the torrid clime
2 Galileo. Milton became acquainted with the great astronomer when travel
ling in Italy. Optic-glass was the name given then and some time after to the telescope.
Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire.
Nathless he so endured, till on the beach
Of that inflamèd sea he stood, and call'd
His legions, Angel forms, who lay entranced,
Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks
In Vallombrosa,' where th' Etrurian shades
High overarch'd embower; or scatter'd sedge
Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion arm'd2
Hath vex'd the Red-sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew
Busiris3 and his Memphian chivalry,
While with perfidious hatred they pursued.
The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld
From the safe shore their floating carcases
And broken chariot wheels: so thick bestrown
Abject and lost lay these, covering the flood,
Under amazement of their hideous change.
He call'd so loud, that all the hollow deep
Of hell resounded: Princes, Potentates,
Warriors, the flow'r of heav'n, 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
To slumber here, as in the vales of heav'n ?
Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
To adore the conqueror ? who now beholds
Cherub and Seraph rolling in the flood
With scatter'd arms and ensigns, till anon
His swift pursuers from heav'n gates discern
Th' advantage, and descending tread us down
Thus drooping, or with linkèd thunderbolts
Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf.
Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n.
They heard, and were abash'd, and up they sprung
Upon the wing, as when men wont to watch
On duty, sleeping found by whom they dread,
2 Orion is the constellation_representing an armed warrior. "It was supposed to be attended with stormy
weather. Assurgens fluctu nimbosus Orion,' VIR. n. I. 539."-NEWTON.
3 The Pharaoh of Exodus xiv.
Rouse and bestir themselves ere well awake.
Nor did they not perceive the evil plight
In which they were, or the fierce pains not feel;
Yet to their General's voice they soon obey'd,
Innumerable. As when the potent rod
Of Amram's Son, in Ægypt's evil day,
Waved round the coast up call'd a pitchy cloud
Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind,
That o'er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung
Like night, and darken'd all the land of Nile:'
So numberless were those bad angels seen
Hovering on wing under the cope of hell,
"Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires;
Till, as a signal given, th' uplifted spear
Of their great Sultan waving to direct
Their course, in even balance down they light
On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain;
A multitude like which the populous north?
Pour'd never from her frozen loins, to pass
Rhene or the Danaw,3 when her barbarous sons1
Came like a deluge on the south, and spread
Beneath Gibraltar to the Libyan sands.
Forthwith from ev'ry squadron and each band
The heads and leaders thither haste, where stood
Their great Commander; God-like shapes and forms
Excelling human, Princely Dignities,
2 The "populous north," as the northern parts of the world are observed to be more fruitful of people than the hotter countries. Sir William Temple calls it "the northern hive." "Poured never;" a very proper word to express the inundations of these northern nations. "From her frozen loins ;" it is the Scripture expression of children and descendants "coming out of the loins," as Gen. xxxv. 11, "Kings shall come out of thy loins ;" and these are called frozen loins only on account of the coldness of the climate.-NEWTON.
3 "To pass Rhene or the Danaw." He might have said, consistently with his verse, the Rhine or Danube, but he chose the more uncommon names, Rhene, of the Latin, and Danaw, of the
German, both which words are used, too, in Spenser.-NEWTON.
4" When her barbarous sons," &c. They were truly barbarous; for, besides exercising several cruelties, they destroyed all the monuments of learning and politeness wherever they came. "Came like a deluge." Spenser, describing the same people, has the same simile, "Faerie Queen," B. II. cant. 1st. 15:"And overflowed all countries far away, Like Noye's great flood, with their importune sway."
They were the Goths, and Huns, and Vandals, who overran all the southern provinces of Europe, and, crossing the Mediterranean beneath Gibraltar, landed in Africa, and spread themselves as far as Libya. Beneath Gibraltar means more southward.-NEWTON.