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What I foretold thee, many a hard assay
Of dangers, and adversities, and pains,
Ere thou of Israel's scepter get fast hold ;
Whereof this ominous night, that clos'd thee round,
So many terrors, voices, prodigies,
May warn thee, as a sure foregoing sign.
So talk'd he, while the Son of God went on
And staid not, but in brief him answer'd thus.
Me worse than wet thou find’st not; other harm Those terrours which thou speak’st of, did me none; I never fear'd they could, though noising loud And threatening nigh : what they can do, as signs Betokening, or ill boding, I contemn As false portents, not sent from God, but thee; Who, knowing I shall reign past thy preventing, Obtrud'st thy offer'd aid, that I, accepting, At least might seem to hold all power of thee, Ambitious Spirit ! and wouldst be thought my God; And storm'st refused, thinking to terrify Me to thy will! desist (thou art discern'd, And toil'st in vain), nor me in vain molest.
To whom the Fiend, now swoln with rage, replied. Then hear, O Son of David, Virgin-born, For Son of God to me is yet in doubt; Of the Messiah I had heard foretold By all the Prophets; of thy birth at length, Announc'd by Gabriel, with the first I knew, And of the angelick song in Bethlehem field, On thy birth-night that sung thee Saviour born. From that time seldom have I ceas'd to eye Thy infancy, thy childhood, and thy youth, Thy manhood last, though yet in private bred ; Till the ford of Jordan, whither all Flock to the Baptist, I among the rest
(Though not to be baptiz’d), by voice from Heaven
Heard thee pronounc'd the Son of God belov'd.
Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer view
And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn
In what degree or meaning thou art call’d
The Son of God; which bears no single sense.
The Son of God I also am, or was ;
And if I was, I am ; relation stands ;
All men are Sons of God; yet thee I thought
In some respect far higher, so declar'd:
Therefore I watch'd thy footsteps from that hour
And follow'd thee still on to this waste wild ;
Where, by all best conjectures, I collect
Thou art to be my fatal enemy:
Good reason then, if I before-hand seek
To understand my adversary, who
And what he is; his wisdom, power, intent;
By parl or composition, truce or league,
To win him, or win from him what I can :
And opportunity I here have had
To try thee, sift thee, and confess have found thee
Proof against all temptation, as a rock
Of adamant, and, as a center, firm ;
To the utmost of mere Man both wise and good,
Not more; for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory,
Have been before contemn'd, and may again.
Therefore, to know what more thou art than Man,
Worth naming Son of God by voice from Heaven,
Another method I must now begin.
So saying, he caught him up, and, without wing
Of hippogrif, bore through the air sublime,
Over the wilderness and o'er the plain,
Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,
! " Hippogrif:' a fabled horse often used by Ariosto to transport his heroes,
The holy city, lifted high her towers,
And higher yet the glorious temple rear’d
Her pile, far off appearing like a mount
Of alabaster, topt with golden spires:
There, on the highest pinnacle, he set
The Son of God; and added thus in scorn.
There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright
Will ask thee skill; I to thy Father's house
Have brought thee, and highest plac'd; highest is best :
Now show thy progeny; if not to stand,
Cast thyself down; safely, if Son of God:
For it is written, “He will give command
Concerning thee to his Angels, in their hands
They shall up lift thee, lest at any time
Thou chance to dash thy foot against a stone."
To whom thus Jesus: Also it is written,
“ Tempt not the Lord thy God.” He said, and stood:
But Satan, smitten with amazement, fell.
As when Earth's son Antæus (to compare
Small things with greatest), in Irassa strove
With Jove's Alcides,2 and, oft foild, still rose,
Receiving from his mother Earth new strength,
Fresh from his fall, and fiercer grapple join'd,
Throttled at length in the air, expir'd and fell;
So, after many a foil, the Tempter proud,
Renewing fresh assaults amidst his pride,
Fell whence he stood to see his victor fall:
And as that Theban monster,2 that propos'd
Her riddle, and him who solv'd it not devour'd,
That once found out and solv’d, for grief and spite
Cast herself headlong from the Ismenian 3 steep;
So, struck with dread and anguish, fell the Fiend,
1 Alcides :' Hercules, son of Jove and Alcmena.—2 . Theban monster :' the Sphynx,- 3 • Ismenian:' a hill called so from the river Ismenus, near Thebes.
And to his crew, that sat consulting, brought
(Joyless triumphals of his hop'd success)
Ruin, and desperation, and dismay,
Who durst so proudly tempt the Son of God.
So Satan fell; and straight a fiery globe
Of Angels on full sail of wing flew nigh,
Who on their plumy vans receiv'd him soft
From his uneasy station, and upbore,
As on a floating couch, through the blithe air;
Then, in a flowery valley, set him down
On a green bank, and set before him spread
A table of celestial food, divine
Ambrosial fruits, fetch'd from the tree of life,
And, from the fount of life, ambrosial drink,
That soon refresh'd him wearied, and repair’d
What hunger, if aught hunger, had impair’d,
Or thirst; and, as he fed, angelick quire
Sung heavenly anthems of his victory
Over Temptation and the Tempter proud.
True image of the Father ; whether thron'd
In the bosom of bliss, and light of light
Conceiving; or, remote from Heaven, enshrin'd
In fleshly tabernacle, and human form,
Wandering the wilderness; whatever place,
Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing
The Son of God, with God-like force endued
Against the attempter of thy Father's throne,
And thief of Paradise! Him long of old
Thou didst debel,i and down from Heaven cast
With all his army; now thou hast aveng'd
Supplanted Adam, and, by vanquishing
Temptation, hast regain'd lost Paradise,
And frustrated the conquest fraudulent.
He never more henceforth will dare set foot
In Paradise to tempt; his snares are broke :
For, though that seat of eartlıly bliss be fail’d,
A fairer Paradise is founded now
For Adam and his chosen sons, whom thou,
A Saviour, art come down to re-install,
Where they shall dwell secure, when time shall be,
Of Tempter and Temptation without fear.
But thou, infernal Serpent ! shalt not long
Rule in the clouds; like an autumnal star,
Or lightning, thou shalt fall from Heaven, trod down
Under his feet : for proof, ere this thou feel'st
Thy wound (yet not thy last and deadliest wound),
By this repulse receiv'd, and hold'st in Hell
No triumph: in her gates Abaddon1 rues
Thy bold attempt. Hereafter learn with awe
To dread the Son of God: He, all unarm'd,
Shall chase thee, with the terrour of his voice,
From thy demoniack holds, possession foul,
Thee and thy legions; yelling they shall fly,
And beg to hide them in a herd of swine,
Lest he command them down into the deep,
Bound, and to torment sent before their time.-
Hail, Son of the Most High, heir of both worlds,
Queller of Satan! On thy glorious work
Now enter; and begin to save mankind.
Thus they the Son of God, our Saviour meek,
Sung victor, and, from heavenly feast refresh’d,
Brought on his way with joy; he, unobserv’d,
Home to his mother's house private return'd.
1 Abaddon :' the bottomless pit.