Obrázky stránek




there grows,


No sooner had the Almighty ceased, but all
The multitude of Angels, with a shout
Loud as from numbers without number, sweet
As from blest voices, uttering joy, Heaven rung
With jubilee, and loud Hosannas filled
The eternal regions : lowly reverent
Towards either throne they bow, and to the ground
With solemn adoration down they cast
Their crowns inwove with amaranth and gold;
Immortal amaranth', a flower which once
In Paradise, fast by the tree of life,
Began to bloom ; but soon for man's offence
To Heaven removed, where first it grew,
And flowers aloft, shading the fount of life,
And where the river of bliss through midst of heaven
Rolls o'er Elysian flowers her amber stream ;
With these, that never fade, the Spirits elect
Bind their resplendent locks inwreathed with beams;
Now in loose garlands thick thrown off, the bright
Pavement, that like a sea of jasper shone,
Empurpled with celestial roses smiled.
Then, crowned again, their golden harps they took,
Harps ever tuned, that glittering by their side
Like quivers hung, and with preamble sweet
Of charming symphony they introduce
Their sacred song, and waken raptures high ;
No voice exempt, no voice but well could join
Melodious part, such concord is in Heaven.

Thee, Father, first they sung Omnipotent,
Immutable, Immortal, Infinite,
Eternal King; the Author of all being,
Fountain of light, thyself invisible
Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sit'st
Throned inaccessible, but when thou shad'st
The full blaze of thy beams, and through a cloud
Drawn round about thee like a radiant shrine,
Dark with excessive light thy skirts appear,




125 130

man; but God the Father declares mands the angels to adore him above that man cannot be saved without all names in heaven and earth. the satisfaction of Divine justice. 1 The amaranth, from the duraGod the Son offers himself as a ran- bility of its flowers, was considered by som for man; the Father accepts him, the poets as an emblem of immortality. ordains his incarnation, and com- 2 See book ii, line 181.




Yet dazzle Heaven, that brightest Seraphim
Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes.
Thee, next they sang of all creation first,
Begotten Son, Divine Similitude,
In whose conspicuous countenance, without cloud
Made visible, the Almighty Father shines,
Whom else no creature can behold ; on thee
Impressed the effulgence of his glory abides,
Transfused on thee his ample Spirit rests.
He Heaven of Heavens and all the Powers therein
By thee created; and by thee threw down
The aspiring Dominations ; thou that day
Thy Father's dreadful thunder didst not spare,
Nor stop thy flaming chariot-wheels, that shook
Heaven's everlasting frame, while o'er the necks
Thou drov'st of warring Angels disarrayed.
Back from pursuit thy Powers with loud acclaim
Thee only extolled, Son of thy Father's might,
To execute fierce vengeance on his foes,
Not so on Man: him through their malice fallen,
Father of mercy and grace, thou didst not doom
So strictly, but much more to pity incline:
No sooner did thy dear and only Son
Perceive thee purposed not to doom frail Man
So strictly, but much more to pity inclined,
He to appease thy wrath, and end the strife
Of mercy and justice in thy face discerned,
Regardless of the bliss wherein he sat
Second to thee, offered himself to die
For Man's offence.' O unexampled love,
Love no where to be found less than Divine !
Hail, Son of God, Saviour of men ! Thy name
Shall be the copious matter of my song
Henceforth, and never shall my harp thy praise
Forget, nor froin thy Father's praise disjoin.

Thus they in Heaven, above the starry sphere,
Their happy hours in joy and hymning spent.
Meanwhile, upon the firm opacous globe
Of this round world, whose first convex divides
The luminous inferior orbs, inclosed
From Chaos, and the inroad of Darkness old,
Satan alighted walks : a globe far off
It seemed, now seems a boundless continent,





Dark, waste, and wild, under the frown of Night
Starless exposed, and ever-threatening storms 170
Of Chaos blustering round, inclement sky;
Save on that side which from the wall of Heaven,
Though distant far, some small reflection gains
Of glimmering air less vexed with tempest loud :
Here walked the Fiend at large in spacious field. 175
As when a vulture on Imaüs' bred,
Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,
Dislodging from a region scarce of prey
To gorge the flesh of lambs or yeanling kids,
On hills where flocks are fed, flies toward the springs 180
Of Ganges or Hydaspes?, Indian streams ;
But in his way lights on the barren plains
Of Sericana, where Chineses drive
With sails and wind their cany waggons light:
So, on this windy sea of land, the Fiend

185 Walked


and down alone, bent on his prey ;
Alone, for other creature in this place,
Living or lifeless, to be found was none;
None yet, but store hereafter from the earth
Up hither like aëreal vapours flew

Of all things transitory and vain, when sin
With vanity had filled the works of men:
Both all things vain, and all who in vain things
Built their fond hopes of glory or lasting fame,
Or happiness in this or the other life;
All who have their reward on earth, the fruits
Of painful superstition and blind zeal,
Nought seeking but the praise of men, here find
Fit retribution, empty as their deeds ;
All the unaccomplished works of Nature's hand, 200
Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mixed,
Dissolved on earth, fleet hither, and in vain,
Till final dissolution, wander here;
Not in the neighbouring moon as some have dreamed ;
Those argent fields more likely habitants,

205 Translated Saints, or middle Spirits hold Betwixt the angelical and human kind. Hither of ill-joined sons and daughters born

195 210

1 A mountain of Scythia.

5 Sericana terra, the land of the 2 One of the five rivers of the Pun- Seres, an eastern nation, supposed by jaub, now called the Jhilum, or Bebut. some to have been the Chinese.

First from the ancient world those giants came
With many a vain exploit, though then renowned:
The builders next of Babel on the plain
Of Sennaär, and still with vain design,
New Babels, had they wherewithal, would build :
Others came single ; he, who, to be deemed
A god, leaped fondly into Ætna's flames,
Empedocles ? ; and he, who, to enjoy
Plato's Elysium, leaped into the sea,
Cleombrotus 2; and many more too long,
Embryos, and idiots, eremites 3, and friars
White, black, and gray, with all their trumpery.







All this dark globe the Fiend found as he passed, And long he wandered, till at last a gleam Of dawning light turned thither-ward in haste His travelled steps : far distant he descries Ascending by degrees magnificent Up to the wall of Heaven a structure high ; At top whereof, but far more rich, appeared The work as of a kingly palace-gate, With frontispiece of diamond and gold Embellished; thick with sparkling orient gems The portal shone, inimitable on earth By model, or by shading pencil, drawn. The stairs were such as whereon Jacob saw Angels ascending and descending, bands Of guardians bright, when he from Esau fled To Padan-Aram, in the field of Luz 4 Dreaming by night under the open sky, And waking cried, “ This is the gate of Heaven.” 5 Each stair mysteriously was meant, nor stood There always, but drawn up to Heaven sometimes 240 Viewless ; and underneath a bright sea flowed Of jasper, or of liquid pearl, whereon Who after came from earth, sailing arrived Wafted by Angels, or flew o'er the lake Rapt 6 in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds. 1 A philosopher of Agrigentum, in 3 Eremite, a hermit; one who Sicily, who flourished about 444 years lives in solitude, from leñuos, a desert. before Christ.

4 The original name of Bethel, a 2 An academic philosopher of Am- border city between the tribes of bracia, who is said to have thrown Ephraim and Benjamin. himself down a precipice to exchange 5 See Genesis xxviii. 10–12. &c. this life for a better.

6 Hurried along (Lat. raptus).

245 250




The stairs were then let down, whether to dare
The Fiend by easy ascent, or aggravate
His sad exclusion from the doors of bliss :
Direct against which opened

from beneath,
Just o'er the blissful seat of Paradise,

down to the Earth, a passage wide,
Wider by far than that of after times
Over mount Sion, and, though that were large,
Over the Promised Land to God so dear;
By which, to visit oft those happy tribes,
On high behest his angels to and fro
Passed frequent, and his eye with choice regard
From Paneas?, the fount of Jordan's flood,
To Beërsheba ?, where the Holy Land
Borders on Egypt and the Arabian shore ;
So wide the opening seemed, where bounds were set
To darkness, such as bound the ocean wave.
Satan from hence, now on the lower stair,
That scaled by steps of gold to Heaven gate,
Look down with wonder at the sudden view
Of all this world at once. As when a scout,
Through dark and desert ways with peril gone
All night, at last by break of cheerful dawn
Obtains the brow of some high-climbing hill,
Which to his eye discovers unaware
The goodly prospect of some foreign land
First seen, or some renowned metropolis
With glistering spires and pinnacles adorned,
Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams :
Such wonder seized, though after Heaven seen,
The Spirit malign, but much more envy seized,
At sight of all this world beheld so fair.
Round he surveys (and well might where he stood
So high above the circling canopy
Of night's extended shade,) from eastern point
Of Libra to the fleecy star that bears
Andromeda 3 far off Atlantic seas





1 The Jordan is formed by the miles S. of Hebron; at the S. exjunction of two small streams; one tremity of Canaan. issuing from a spacious cavern near 3 A daughter of Cepheus, king of the village of Paneas; the other rising Ethiopia. To free the country from at Tel-el-Kadi, about three miles west an inundation, she was bound to a of Paneas.

rock, and delivered over to a sea 2 A town in Judæa, twenty-seven monster. Perseus slew the monster,

« PředchozíPokračovat »