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And mad despite to be so oft repell'd.
Him walking on a sunny hill he found,
Back'd on the north and west by a thick wood;
Out of the wood he starts in wonted1 shape,
And in a careless mood thus to him said.

Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God,
After a dismal night; I heard the wrack,
As earth and sky would mingle; but myself
Was distant; and these flaws,2 though mortals fear them
As dangerous to the pillar'd frame of Heaven,
Or to the earth's dark basis underneath,
Are to the main3 as inconsiderable
And harmless, if not wholesome, as a sneeze
To man's less universe, and soon are gone;
Yet, as being oft times noxious where they light
On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent,
Like turbulencies in the affairs of men,
Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point,
They oft fore-signify and threaten ill:
This tempest at this desert most was bent;
Of men at thee, for only thou here dwell'st.
Did I not tell thee, if thou didst reject
The perfect season offer'd with my aid
To win thy destin'd seat, but wilt prolong
All to the push of fate, pursue thy way
Of gaining David's throne no man knows when,—
For both the when and how is no where told,—
Thou shalt be what thou art ordain'd, no doubt;
For Angels have proclaim'd it, but concealing
The time and means. Each act is rightliest done,
Not when it must, but when it may be best:
If thou observe not this, be sure to find,

1 'Wonted:' his own proper form.—2' Flaws:' gusts.—*' The main:' i. e., the great whole.


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,1 bore through the air sublime, Over the wilderness and o'er the plain, Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,

1 ' 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 Antteus (to compare Small things with greatest), in Irassa strove With Jove's Alcides,1 and, oft foil'd, 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.—'' Ismenian:' a hill called so from the river Ismenus, near Thebes. 1 'Debel:' defeat.

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,1 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.

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