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“ Which I believed was from above; but he
“Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaimed
“ Me him for it was shown him so from Heaven-
• Me him, whose harbinger he was; and first
“ Refused on me his baptism to confer,
As much his greater, and was hardly won:
But, as I rose out of the laving stream,

280 “Heaven opened her eternal doors, from whence “The Spirit descended on me like a dove; “ And last, the sum of all, my Father's voice,

Audibly heard from Heaven, pronounced me hisMe his beloved Son, in whom alone He was well pleased ; by which I knew the time “Now full, that I no more should live obscure, “But openly begin, as best becomes, “ The authority which I derived from Heaven. And now by some strong motion I am led

290 “ Into this wilderness, to what intent “I learn not yet-perhaps I need not know; For what concerns my knowledge God reveals."

So spake our Morning Star, then in his rise;
And, looking round, on every side beheld
d pathless desert-dusk with horrid shades :
The way he came not having marked, return
Was difficult, by human steps untrod;
And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Accompanied, of things past and to come,

Lodged in his breast, as well might recommend
Such solitude before choicest society.
Full forty days he passed, whether on hill
Sometimes, anon in shady vale, each night
Under the covert of some ancient oak,
Or cedar, to defend him from the dew,
Or harboured in one cave, is not revealed;
Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt,
Till those days ended; hungered then at last
Among wild beasts: they at his sight grew mild, 310
Nor sleeping him, nor waking, harmed; his walk
The fiery serpent fled, and noxious worm;
The lion and fierce tiger glared aloof.

But now an aged man, in rural weeds, Following, as seemed, the quest of some stray ewe, Or withered sticks to gather, which might serve Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen, To warm him, wet returned from field, at eve, He saw approach, who first with curious eye Perused him, then with words thus uttered spake: 320

“Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this place, “ So far from path or road of men, who pass “ In troop or caravan? for single none “ Durst ever, who returned, and dropt not here “His carcass, pined with hunger and with drouth. “ I ask the rather, and the more admire, For that to me thou seemst the man, whom late “Our new baptizing Prophet, at the ford “ Of Jordan, honoured so, and called thee Son “ Of God: I saw and heard, for we sometimes

330 “ Who dwell this wild, constrained by want, come forth “ To town or village nigh (nighest is far), Where aught we hear, and curious are to hear What happens new; fame also finds us out." To whom the Son of God :

" Who brought me hither “Will bring me hence; no other guide I seek.”

By miracle he may,” replied the swain ; “ What other way I see not; for we here Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inured “More than the camel, and to drink go far,

340 “Men to much misery and hardship born: “ But, if thou be the Son of God, command “ That out of these hard stones be made thee bread; “ So shalt thou save thyself, and us relieve With food, whereof we wretched seldom taste."

He ended, and the Son of God replied : “ Thinkst thou such force in bread? Is it not written,

- (For I discern thee other than thou seemst), ""Man lives not by bread only, but each word Proceeding from the mouth of God,' who fed

350 Our fathers here with manna? in the mount “ Moses was forty days, nor eat, nor drank;


“ And forty days Elijah, without food,
“ Wandered this barren waste; the same I now:
“Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust,

Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art ?”

Whom answered thus the Arch-fiénd, now undisguised : “ 'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate, “Who, leagued with millions more in rash revolt,

Kept not my happy station, but was driven “ With them from bliss to the bottomless deep; Yet to that hideous place not so confined

By rigour unconniving, but that oft, “ Leaving my dolorous prison, I enjoy Large liberty to round this globe of Earth, Or range in the Air; nor from the Heaven of Heavens Hath he excluded my resort sometimes. “I came among the sons of God, when he “ Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job, “ To prove him and illustrate his high worth;

370 “ And, when to all his Angels he proposed “ To draw the proud king Ahab into fraud, “ That he might fall in Ramoth, they demurring, “ I undertook that office, and the tongues “ Of all his flattering prophets glibbed with lies “ To his destruction, as I had in charge. “ For what he bids I do: though I have lost “Much lustre of my native brightness-lost “ To be beloved of God; I have not lost “ To love, at least contemplate and admire, “ What I see excellent in good, or fair, “ Or virtuous; I should so have lost all sense: “ What can be then less in me than desire “ To see thee and approach thee, whom I know “ Declared the Son of God,—to hear attent

Thy wisdom, and behold thy godlike deeds? “Men generally think me such a foe “ To all mankind : why should I ? they to me Never did wrong or violence; by them “ I lost not what I lost; rather by them “ I gained what I ve gained, and with them dwell Copartner in these regions of the world,





“ If not disposer; lend them oft my aid;
“ Oft my advice by presages and signs,
And answers, oracles, portents, and dreams,

Whereby they may direct their future life.
Envy they say excites me, thus to gain

Companions of my misery and woe.
“ At first it may be; but, long since with woe
“ Nearer acquainted, now I feel by proof,

400 “ That fellowship in pain divides not smart, “ Nor lightens aught each man's peculiar load. “ Small consolation then, were man adjoined : “ This wounds me most; (what can it less?) that man“ Man fallen shall be restored, -I never more.”

To whom our Saviour sternly thus replied: “ Deservedly thou grievest, composed of lies “ From the beginning, and in lies wilt end; “ Who boastst release from Hell, and leave to come “ Into the Heaven of Heavens:-thou comest indeed 410

(As a poor, miserable, captive thrall “ Comes to the place where he before had sat

Among the prime in splendour), now deposed,

Ejected, emptied, gazed, unpitied, shunned, A spectacle of ruin, or of scorn, “ To all the host of Heaven: the happy place

Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy ;“ Rather inflames thy torment, representing “Lost bliss, to thee no more communicable; “ So never more in Hell than when in Heaven.

420 “ But thou art serviceable to Heaven's King ! “ Wilt thou impute to obedience what thy fear “ Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites? “ What but thy malice moved thee to misdeem “Of righteous Job, then cruelly to afflict him “ With all inflictions ?—but his patience won. “ The other service was thy chosen task, – 66 To be a liar in four hundred mouths; “ For lying is thy sustenance, thy food. “ Yet thou pretendst to truth! All oracles

430 “ By thee are en, and what confessed more

Among the nations ? that hath been thy craft,-

By mixing somewhat true to vent more lies. “ But what have been thy answers ?—what but dark, “ Ambiguous, and with double sense deluding, “ Which they who asked have seldom understood, And not well understood as good not known? Who ever by consulting at thy shrine “ Returned the wiser, or the more instruct, “ To fly or follow what concerned him most,

440 " And run not sooner to his fatal snare? “For God hath justly given the nations up “ To thy delusions ;-justly, since they fell “ Idolatrous : but, when his purpose is Among them to declare his providence “ To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy truth, “ But from him, or his Angels president “ In every province ? who, themselves disdaining “ To approach thy temples, give thee in command What, to the smallest tittle, thou shalt say

450 “ To thy adorers : thou, with trembling fear, “ Or like a fawning parasite, obeyst, “ Then to thyself ascribest the truth foretold. “ But this thy glory shall be soon retrenched; No more shalt thou hy oracling abuse “ The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceased, “ And thou no more with pomp or sacrifice “ Shalt be inquired at Delphos, or elsewhere ;“ At least, in vain, for they shall find thee mute. “God hath now sent his Living Oracle “ Into the world, to teach his final will ; And sends his Spirit of truth henceforth to dwell “ In pious hearts,- -an inward oracle, To all truth requisite for men to know.”

So spake our Saviour ; but the subtle Fiend, Though inly stung with anger and disdain, Dissembled, and this answer smooth returned :

Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke, “ And urged me hard with doings, which not will, “ But misery hath wrested from me. Where

470 Easily canst thou find one miserable, “ And not enforced ofttimes to part from truth,



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