صور الصفحة

She finished, and the subtle fiend his lore
Soon learned, now milder, and thus answered smooth:

"Dear daughter! since thou claim'st me for thy sire, "And my fair son here show'st me, the dear pledge "Of dalliance had with thee in Heaven, and joys "Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change 820 "Befallen us, unforeseen, unthought of; know "I come no enemy, but to set free, "From out this dark and dismal house of pain, "Both him and thee, and all the heavenly host "Of spirits, that, in our just pretences armed, "Fell with us from on high: from them I go "This uncouth errand sole; and, one for all, "Myself expose, with lonely steps, to tread "The unfounded deep, and through the void immense, "To search with wandering quest a place foretold 830

"Should be, and, by concurring signs, ere now
'' Created, vast and round; a place of bliss
"In the purlieus of Heaven, and therein placed
"A race of upstart creatures, to supply
"Perhaps our vacant room; though more removed,
"Lest Heaven, surcharged with potent multitude,
"Might hap to move new broils. Be this, or aught
"Than this more secret, now designed, I haste
"To know; and, this once known, shall soon return,
"And bring ye to the place where thou and Death 840

"Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen
"Wing silently the buxom air, embalmed
"With odours: there ye shall be fed and filled
"Immeasurably; all things shall be your prey."

He ceased; for both seemed highly pleased, and Death
Grinned horrible a ghastly smile, to hear
His famine should be filled, and blessed his maw
Destined to that good hour: no less rejoiced
His mother bad, and thus bespake her sire:

"The key of this infernal pit by due, 850

"And by command of Heaven's all-powerful King,
"I keep, by him forbidden to unlock
"These adamantine gates; against all force
"Death ready stands to interpose his dart,

"Fearless to be o'ermatched by living might.

"But what owe I to his commands above,

"Who hates me, and hath hither thrust me down

"Into this gloom of Tartarus profound,

"To sit, in hateful office here confined,

"Inhabitant of Heaven and heavenly born; 86a

"Here, in perpetual agony and pain,

"With terrors and with clamours compassed round

"Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed?

"Thou art my Father, thou my author, thou

"My being gavest me; whom should I obey

"But thee ?—whom follow? thou wilt bring me soon

"To that new world of light and bliss, among

"The gods who live at ease, where I shall reign

"At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems

"Thy daughter and thy darling, without end." 870

Thus saying, from her side the fatal key,
Sad instrument of all our woe, she took;
And, towards the gate rolling her bestial train,
Forthwith the huge portcullis high up drew,
Which, but herself, not all the Stygian powers
Could once have moved; then in the keyhole turns
The intricate wards, and every bolt and bar
Of massy iron, or solid rock, with ease
Unfastens. On a sudden open fly,

With impetuous recoil and jarring sound, 880

The infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
Of Erebus. She opened; but to shut
Excelled her power: the gates wide open stood,
That with extended wings a bannered host,
Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through,
With horse and chariots ranked in loose array;
So wide they stood, and, like a furnace mouth,
Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.

Before their eyes, in sudden view, appear 890

The secrets of the hoary deep; a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,

Without dimension; where length, breadth, and height,
And time, and place, are lost; where eldest Night

And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold

Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise

Of endless wars, and by confusion stand:

For Hot, Cold, Moist, and Dry, four champions fierce,

Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring

Their embryon atoms; they around the flag 900

Of each his faction, in their several clans,

Light armed or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow,

Swarm populous, (unnumbered as the sands

Of Barca, or Cyrene's torrid soil,

Levied to side with warring winds,) and poise

Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,

He rules a moment: Chaos umpire sits,

And by decision more embroils the fray,

By which he reigns: next him, high arbiter,

Chance governs all. Into this wild abyss, 910

The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave,—

Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,

But all these, in their pregnant causes, mixed

Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,

Unless the Almighty Maker them ordain

His dark materials to create more worlds;—

Into this wild abyss the wary fiend

Stood on the brink of Hell, and looked a while,

Pondering his voyage; for no narrow frith

He had to cross. Nor was his ear less pealed 920

With noises loud and ruinous, (to compare

Great things with small,) than when Bellona storms,

With all her battering engines bent to rase

Some capital city; or less than if this frame

Of Heaven were falling, and these elements,

In mutiny, had from her axle torn

The steadfast Earth. At last his sail-broad vans

He spreads for flight, and, in the surging smoke

Uplifted, spurns the ground; thence many a league,

As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides 930

Audacious; but, that seat soon failing, meets

A vast vacuity: all unawares,

Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb down he drops

Ten thousand fathom deep; and to this hour

Down had been falling, had not, by ill chance,

The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud,

Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him

As many miles aloft: that fury stayed,

Quenched in a boggy syrtis,—neither sea,

Nor good dry land—nigh foundered on he fares, 94a

Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,

Half flying; behoves him now both oar and sail.

As when a gryphon, through the wilderness

With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale,

Pursues the Arimaspian, who, by stealth,

Had from his wakeful custody purloined

The guarded gold; so eagerly the fiend

O'er bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,

With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way;

And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies. 950

At length a universal hubbub wild •
Of stunning sounds, and voices all confused,
Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear
With loudest vehemence: thither he plies,
Undaunted, to meet there whatever power
Or spirit of the nethermost abyss
Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask
Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies,
Bordering on light; when, straight, behold the throne
Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread 960

Wide on the wasteful deep: with him enthroned
Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
The consort of his reign; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon; Rumour next, and Chance,
And Tumult and Confusion all embroiled;
And Discord, with a thousand various mouths.

To whom Satan, turning boldly, thus: "Ye Powers, "And Spirits of this nethermost abyss,

"Chaos and ancient Night! I come no spy, 970

"With purpose to explore, or to disturb
"The secrets of your realm; but, by constraint
"Wandering this darksome desert,—as my way
"Lies through your spacious empire up to light,—
"Alone, and without guide, half lost, I seek

"What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds

"Confine with Heaven; or if some other place,

"From your dominion won, the ethereal King

"Possesses lately, thither to arrive

"I travel this profound: direct my course; 980

"Directed, no mean recompense it brings

"To your behoof, if I that region lost,

"All usurpation thence expelled, reduce

"To her original darkness and your sway,

"Which is my present journey, and once more

"Erect the standard there of ancient Night:

"Yours be the advantage all, mine the revenge!"

Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old, With faltering speech, and visage incomposcd, Answered: "I know thee, stranger, who thou art;— 990

"That mighty leading angel, who of late
"Made head against Heaven's King, though overthrown.,
"I saw and heard; for such a numerous host
"Fled not in silence through the frighted deep,
"With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
"Confusion worse confounded; and Heaven-gates
"Poured out by millions her victorious bands
"Pursuing. I upon my frontiers here
"Keep residence; if all I can will serve
"That little which is left so to defend, 1000

"Encroached on still through your intestine broils
"Weakening the sceptre of old Night: first Hell,
"Your dungeon, stretching far and wide beneath;
"Now lately Heaven and Earth, another World,
"Hung o'er my realm, linked in a golden chain—
"To that side Heaven from whence your legions fell.
"If that way be your walk, you have not far;
"So much the nearer danger: go, and speed!
"Havoc and spoil and ruin are my gain."

He ceased; and Satan stayed not to reply; ioto

But, glad that now his sea should find a shore,
With fresh alacrity, and force renewed,
Springs upward, like a pyramid of fire,
Into the wild expanse; and through the shock
Of fighting elements, on all sides round
Environed, wins his way; harder beset,

« السابقةمتابعة »