Billeder på siden
PDF

Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,
By herald's voice explain'd ; the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell
With deafening shout return'd them loud acclaiin. 520
Taence more at case their minds, and somewhat raised
By false presumptuous liope, the ranged Powers
Disband; and, wandering, each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
Leads him perplex’d, where he may likeliest find 525
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
The irksome hours till his great Chief return.
Part on the plain, or in the air sublime,
Upon the wing, or in swift race contend,
As at the Olympian games or Pythian fields; 530
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brigades form.
As when, to warn proud cities, war appears
Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush
To battle in the clouds, before each van

535
Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their spears
Till thickest legions close ; with feats of arms
From either end of Heaven the welkin burns.
Others, with vast Typhæan rage more fell,
Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air 540
In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar.
As when Alcides, from Echalia crown'd
With conquest, felt the envenom'd robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines ;
And Lichas from the top of Eta threw

546 Into the Euboic sca. Others more mild, Retreated in a silent valley, sing With notes angelical to many a harp Their own heroic deeds and hapless fall By doom of battle ; and complain that fate 558 r'rce virtue should enthral to force or chance. Their song was partial; but the harmony What could it lass when spirits inmortal sing ?)

Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more svent
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense,) 550
Others apart sat on a hill retired,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate;
Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute; 500
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then.
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy, and glory and shame,
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy !

563
Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm
Pain for a while or anguish, and exite
Fallacious hope, or arm the obdured breast
With stubborn patience, as with triple steel.
Another part, in squadrons and gross bands, 570
On bold adventure to discover wide
That dismal world, if any clime perhaps
Might yield them easier habitation, bend
Four ways their flying march, along the banks
Of four infernal rivers that disgorge

575 Into the burning lake their baleful streams; Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate; Sad Acheron, of sorrow, black and deep; Cocytus, named of larnentation loud Heard on the rueful stream ; fierce Phlegethon, 680 Whose waves of torrent fire infiame with rago. Far off from these, a slow and silent stream, Lothe, the river of oblivion, rolls Hor watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks Forthwith his former state and being forgets, 595 Forgots both joy and grief, pleasure and pain. Beyond this flood a frozen continent Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin secns.690 Of anciert pile, or else deen snow and ice,

A gulf profound, as that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and mount Casius ole',
Where armies whole have sunk · The parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs the effect of fire. 595
Thither by harry-footed furies lialed,
At certain revolutions, all the damn'd
Aro hrought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,
From beds of raging fire, to starve in ice

600
Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine
Immoyable, infix'd, and frozen round,
Periods of time, thence hurried back to fire.
They ferry over this Lethean sound
Both to anù fro, their sorrow to augment,
And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach
l'he tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,
All in one moment, and so near the brink;
But fate withstands, and to oppose the attempt 010
Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards
The ford, and of itself the water flies
All taste of living wight, as once it fled
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on
In confused march forlorn, the adventurous bands, 615
With shuddering horror pale, and eyes aghast,
View'd first their lamentable lot, and found
No rest : through many a dark and dreary vale
They pass'd, and many a region dolorous,
O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp

620 Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death, A universe of death : which God by curse Created evil, for evil only good; Where all life dies, death lives, and nature hrceds, Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things, 625 Abominable, inutterable, and worse I han fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceived, Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire. .

Meanwhile the adversary of God and Man

Satun, with thoughts inflamed of highest design, 639
Puts on swift wings, and towards the gates of Hell
Explores his solitary flight : sometimes
He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left,
Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars
Up to the fiery concave towering high.

635
As when far off at sea a fleet duscried
Hangs on the clouds, by equinoctial winds
Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles
Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs; they, on the trading flood, 040
Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape,
Ply stemming nightly toward the pole : so seem'd
Far off the flying Fiend. At last appear
Hell bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof,
And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass,
'Three iron, three of adamantine rock . 616
impenetrable, impaled with circling fire,
Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat,
On either side a formidable shape :
The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair ; 650
But ended fou m many a scaly fold
Voluminous and vast ; a serpent arm'd
With mortal sting: About her middle round
A cry of Hellhounds never ceasing bark'd
With wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rung S55
A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturb’d their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there, yet there still bark'd and howlid,
Within, unseen. Far less abhorr'd than these
Vex'd Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts 670
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore;
Nor uglier follow the night hag, when, call’d
In secret, riding through the air she comes,
Lured with the 'smell of infant blood, to dance
With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon 669
Eclipses at their charms. The other shape,
If shape it might be call’d that shape had none

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Dibuirguishable in member, joint, or limb;
Or substarce might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either; black it stood as Night, 670
Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,
And shook a dreadful doa; what seem'd his head
T'he likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
The monster moving onward came as fast
With horrid strides; Hell trembled as he sirodo
The undaunted Fiend what this night be admired;
Admired, not fear'd; God and his Son except,
Created thing nought valued he, nor shunn'd;
And with disdainful look thus first began : *

Whence and what art thou, execrable shape !
That darest, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated front athwart my way.
To yonder gates? through them I mean to pass,
That be assured, without leave ask'd of thee: 685
Retire or taste thy folly; and learn by proof,
Hell-born ! not to contend with Spirits of heaven.

To whom the Goblin full of wrath replied: Art thou that Traitor-Angel, art thou He Who first broke peace in Heaven, and faith, till then Unbroken; and in proud rebellious arms Drew after him the third part of Heaven's sons Conjured against the Highest ; for which both thou And they, outcast from God, are here condemn'd To waste eternal days in woe and pain ?

695 And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits of Heaven, Hell-doom'd! and breathest defiance here and scorn, Where I reign king; and, to enrage thee more, Thy king and lord ? Back to thy punishment, False fugitive ! and to thy speed add wings; Loest with a whip of scorpions I pursue Thy lingering ; or with one stroke of this dart Etrange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt beforo.

So spake the grisly Terror, and in shape, So speaking and so threatening, grew tuntold 706

[ocr errors]

700

« ForrigeFortsæt »