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And mad despite to be so oft repell'd.
Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God,
1 'Wonted:' his own proper form.—2' Flaws:' gusts.—*' The main:' i. e., the great whole.
What I foretold thee, many a hard assay
So talk'd he, while the Son of God went on
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,
There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright
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
True image of the Father; whether thron'd