Page images
PDF
EPUB

But more desire to hear, if thou consent,
The full relation, which must needs be strange,
Worthy of sacred silence to be heard ;
And we have yet large day, for scarce the fun
Hath finisht half his journey, and scarce begins
His other half in the great zone of heav'n.

Thus Adam made request, and Raphael
After short pause assenting, thus began.

High matter thou injoinst me, O prime of men, Sad talk and hard, for how shall I relate To human sense th'invisible exploits Of warring spirits ; how without remorse The ruin of so many glorious once And perfect while they stood ; how last unfold The secrets of another world, perhaps Not lawful to reveal ? yet for thy good This is dispenc't, and what surmounts the reach Of human sense, I Mall delineate so, By lik’ning spiritual to corporal forms, As may express them best, though what if earth Be but the shadow of heav'n, and things therein Each to other like, more than on earth is thought ? As yet this world was not, and chaos wilde (rests Reign'd where these heav'n's now rowl, where earth now Upon her centre pois'd, when on a day (For time, though in eternitie, appli'd To motion, measures all things durable By present, past, and future) on such day As heav'n's great year brings forth, th'empyreal hoft Of angels by imperial summons call'd, Innumerable before th'almighties throne

Forthwith from all the ends of heav'n appeer'd
Under their hierarchs in orders bright
Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanc'd,
Standards, and gonfalons 'twixt van and reare
Streame in the aire, and for distinction serve
Of hierarchies, of orders, and degrees ;
Or in their glittering tissues bear imblaz'd
Holy memorials, acts of zeal and love
Recorded eminent. Thus when in orbes
Of circuit inexpressible they stood,
Orb within orb, the father infinite,
By whom in bliss imbosom'd sat the son
Amidst as from a flaming mount, whose top
Brightness had made invisible, thus fpake.

Hear all ye angels, progenie of light,
Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers,
Hear my decree, which unrevok’t Thall stand.
This day I have begot whom I declare
My only son, and on this holy hill
Him have anointed, whom ye now behold
· At my right hand ; your head I him appoint ;

And by myself have sworn to him Thall bow
All knees in heav'n, and Thall confess him Lord, .
Under his great vice-gerent reign abide
United as one individual roul
For ever happie : him who disobeys
Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day
Caft out from God and blessed vision, falls
Into utter darkness, deep ingulft, his place
Ordain'd without redemption, without end.

So spake th'omnipotent, and with his words:

All seem d well-pleas?d, all seem'ds but were not all
That day, as other solemn days, they spent
In fong and dance, about the sacred hill,
Mystical dance, which yonder starrię spheare
Of planets and of fixt in all her wheels
Resembles neareft, mazes intricate,
Eccentric, intervoly'd, yet regular
Then most, when most irregular they seem :
And in their motions harmonie divine
So smooths her charming tones; that God's own ear
Listens delighted. Ev’ning now approach'd
(For we have also our ev'ning and our morn,
We ours for change delectable, not need).
Forthwith from dance, to sweet repast they turn,
Desirous, all in circles as they stood,..
Tables are set, and on a sudden pild
With angel's food, and rubied. nectar-flows
In pearle, in diamond, and massie gold,
Fruit of delicious vines, the growth of heay!n.
On fours repos'd, and with fresh flourets crown'd,
They eat, they drink, and in communion sweet,
Quaff immortality and joy, secure
Of surfet where full measure only bounds
Excess, before th'all-bounteous king, who showr'd.
With copious hand, rejoicing in their joyi.
Now when ambrosial night with clouds exhaldi
From that high mount of God, whence light and Made
Spring both, the face of brightest heav'n bad chang!
To grateful twilight (for night comes not there
In darker veil) and roseat dews dispos'd
All but the unsleeping eyes of God to rests.

Wide over all the plain, and wider far
Then all this globous earth in plain outfpread,
(Such are the courts of Ood) th'angelic throng
Disperst in bands and files their campiextend
By living Itreams among the trees of life,
Pavilions numberless, and sudden rear'd,
Celestial tabernacles, where they nept
Fann'd with cool winds, fave those who in their course
Melodious hymns about the fovran throne
Alternate all night long: but not so wak'd
Satan, so-call-him now, his former name
Is heard no more in heav'ns ; he of the first,
If not the first arch-angel, great in power,
In favour and pre-eminence, yet fraught
With envie against the son of God, that day
Honourd by his great father, and proclaim'd
Messiah king anointed, could not beare
Through pride that "fight, and thought himfelf impair’d,
Deep malice thence conceiving and disdain,
Soon as midnight brought on the duskie hour.
Friendliest to fleep and filence, he tesolv'd
With all his legions to dislodge, and leave.
Unworshipt, Franobey'd the throne fuprcáth
Contemptuous, and his next subordinate
Awak’ning, thus to him in recret fpake.

Sleepít thou companion dear, whát Teep can close
Thy eye-lids ? and remembrelt whar decree
Of yesterday, fo late-hath past the lips
Of heav'n's álmighete. Thou to me thy thoughts
Waft wont, 'I mine to thee was wont to impart;
Both waking we wereroné; how then can how

Thy sleep diffent ? new laws thou seest impos'd;
New laws from him who reigns, new minds may raise
In us who serve, new councils, to debate
What doubtful may ensue, more in this place
To utter is not safe. Assemble thou
Of all those myriads which we lead the chief;
Tell them that by command, ere yet dim night
Her shadowie cloud withdraws, I am to hafte,
And all who under me their banners wave,
Homeward with flying march where we poffefs
The quarters of the north, there to prepare
Fit entertainment to receive our king i.
The great Messiah, and his new commands,
Who speedily through all the hierarchies
Intends to pass triumphant, and give laws.

So spake the false arch-angel, and infus'd .
Bad influence into th’unwarie brest
Of his associate ; he together calls,
Or several one by one, the regent powers,
Under him regent, tells, as he was taught,
That the most high commanding, now ere night, .
Now ere dim night had disincumber'd heav'n,
The great hierarchal standard was to move ;
Tells the suggested cause, and casts between
Ambiguous words and jealousies, to found
Or taint integritie ; but all obey'd
The wonted signal, and superior voice
Of their great potentate ; for great indeed
His name, and high was his degree in heav'n;
His count'nance, as the morning star that guides
The starrie flock, allur'd them, and with lyes

« PreviousContinue »