صور الصفحة
PDF

PARADISE LOST.

BOOK I.

THE ARGUMENT. This first book proposes, first, in brief, the whole subject, Man's disobedience, and

the loss thereupon of Paradise, wherein he was placed : then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of Angels, was, by the command of God, driven out of Heaven, with all his crew, into the great deep. Which action

d over, the poem hastens into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into Hell, described here, not in the centre (for Heaven and Earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed), but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest called Chaos: here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning lake, thunderstruck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him ; they confer of their miserable fall. Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded: they rise, their numbers, array of battle, their chief leaders named, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining Heaven, but tells them lastly of a new world and new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy or report in Heaven ; for that Angels were long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to a full council. What his associates thence attempt. Pandemonium, the palace of Satan, rises suddenly, built out of the deep : the infernal peers there sit in council.

OF Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, heavenly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed,
In the beginning how the heavens and earth
Rose out of Chaos. Or, if Sion hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook, that flow'd
Fast by the oracle of God; I thence

[ocr errors]

Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
And chiefly Thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for Thou knowest: Thou from the first
Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread,
Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast abyss,
And mad'st it pregnant. What in me is dark, 22
Illumine; what is low, raise and support;
That to the height of this great argument
I may assert Eternal Providence, , ,
And justify the ways of God to men.

Say first, for Heaven hides nothing from thy view,
Nor the deep tract of Hell; say first, what cause
Moved our grand parents, in that happy state,
Favor'd of Heaven so highly, to fall off
From their Creator, and transgress his will
For one restraint, lords of the world besides?
Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?
The infernal Serpent: he it was, whose guile,
Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceived
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host
Of rebel angels; by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equall'd the Most Higii,
If he opposed; and, with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God,
Raised impious war in Heaven, and battle proud,
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power

- 44
Hurl'd headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition; there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and night
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquish'd, rolling in the fiery gulf,
Confounded, though immortal. But his doom
Reserved him to more wrath ; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain

55

Torments him: round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witness'd huge affliction and dismay,
Mix'd with obdurate pride and steadfast hate:
At once, as far as angels ken, he views
The dismal situation waste and wild:
A dungeon horrible, on all sides round,
As one great furnace, flamed; yet from those flames
No light; but rather darkness visible
Served only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell; hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed :
Such place Eternal Justice had prepared
For those rebellious; here their prison ordain'd
In utter darkness, and their portion set
As far removed from God and light of Heaven,
As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole.
Oh, how unlike the place from whence they fell!
There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelm'd 76
With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire,
He soon discerns, and, weltering by his side,
One next himself in power, and next in crime,
Long after known in Palestine, and named
Beëlzebub. To whom the Arch-Enemy,
And thence in Heaven call’d Satan, with bold words
Breaking the horrid silence thus began.

“If thou beest he; but oh, how fall’n! how changed
From him, who, in the happy realms of light,
Clothed with transcendent brightness, didst outshine
Myriads though bright! If he whom mutual league, 87
United thoughts and counsels, equal hope
And hazard in the glorious enterprise,
Join'd with ine once, now misery hath join'd
In equal ruin: into what pit thou seest,
From what height fall’n, so much the stronger proved
He with his thunder: and till then who knew
The force of those dire arms? Yet not for those,
Nor what the potent Victor in his rage
Can else inflict, do I repent, or change,
Though changed in outward lustre, that fix'd mind,
And high disdain from sense of injured merit,

[ocr errors]

That with the Mightiest raised me to contend,
And to the fierce contention brought along
Innumerable force of spirits arm’d,
That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring,
Ilis utmost power with adverse power opposed
In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven,
And shook his throne. What though the field be lost:
All is not lost; the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield,

108
And what is else not to be overcome;
That glory never shall his wrath or might
Extort from me To bow and sue for grace
With suppliant knee, and deify his power,
Who from the terror of this arm so late
Doubted his empire; that were low indeed,
That were an ignominy and shame beneath
This downfall; since, by fate, the strength of gods
And this empyreal substance cannot fail;
Since, through experience of this great event,
In arms not worse, in foresight much advanced, 119
We may with more successful hope resolve
To wage, by force or guile, eternal war;
Irreconcilable to our grand foe,
Who now triumphs, and, in the excess of joy
Sole reigning, holds the tyranny of Heaven.”

So spake the apostate angel, though in pain, Vaunting aloud, but rack'd with deep despair: And him thus answer'd soon his bold compeer.

66 O Prince, O Chief of many thronéd Powers! That led the embattled Seraphim to war Under thy conduct, and, in dreadful deeds

130 Fearless, endanger'd Heaven's perpetual King, And put to proof his high supremacy; Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate; Too well I see and rue the dire event, That with sad overthrow and foul defeat Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty lost In horrible destruction laid thus low, As far as gods and heavenly essences Can perish: for the mind and spirit remains Invincible, and vigor soon returns, Though all our glory extinct, ani? jappy state 141

Here swallow'd up in endless misery.
But what if he our Conqueror (whom I now
Of force believe Almighty, since no less
Than such could have o'erpower'd such force as ours)
Have left us this our spirit and strength entire,
Strongly to suffer and support our pains,
That we may so suffice his vengeful ire,
Or do him mightier service as his thralls
By right of war, whate'er his business be,
Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire,

151
Or do his errands in the gloomy deep;
What can it then avail, though yet we feel
Strength undiminish’d, or eternal being,
To undergo eternal punishment?"
Whereto with speedy words the Arch-Fiend replied.

"Fall'n cherub, to be weak is miserable,
Doing or suffering: but of this be sure,
To do aught good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being the contrary to his high will
Whom we resist. If then his providence

162
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labor must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil;
Which ofttimes may succeed, so as perhaps
Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost counsels from their destined aim.
But see! the angry Victor hath recall'd
His ministers of vengeance and pursuit
Back to the gates of Heaven ; the sulphurous hail,
Shot after us in storm, o'erblown, hath laid
The fiery surge, that from the precipice

173 Of Heaven received us falling; and the thunder, Wing'd with red lightning and impetuous rage, Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now To bellow through the vast and boundless deep. Let us not slip the occasion, whether scorn, Or satiate fury, yield it from our foe. Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild, The seat of desolation, void of light, Save what the glimmering of these livid flames Casts pale and dreadful ? Thither let us tend From off the tossing of these fiery waves;

184

« السابقةمتابعة »