Page images
PDF
EPUB

Worshipp'd in Rabba and her watry plain,
In Argob and in Basan, to the stream
Of utmost Arnon. Nor content with such
Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart 400
Of Solomon he led by fraud to build
His temple right against the temple of God
On that opprobrious hill, and made his grove
The pleasant valley' of Hinnom, Tophet thence
And black Gehenna call’d, the type of Hell. 405
Next Chemos, th' obscene dread of Moab's sons,
From Aroar to Nebo, and the wild
Of southmost Abarim; in Hesebon
And Horonaim, Seon's realm, beyond
The flow'ry dale of Sibma clad with vines, 410
And Eleälé to th' Asphaltic pool.
Peor his other name, when he entic'd
Israel in Sittim on their march from Nile
To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe.
Yet thence his lustful orgies he enlarg'd

415
Ev'n to that hill of scandal, by the grove
Of Moloch homicide, lust hard by hate;
Till good Josiah drove them thence to Hell.
With these came they, who from the bord'ring flood
Of old Euphrates to the brook that parts

420 Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names Of Baalim and Ashtaroth, those male, These feminine. For Spirits when they please Can either sex assume, or both; so soft And uncompounded is their essence pure,

425 Not ty'd or manacled with joint or limb,

440

Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones,
Like cumbrous flesh; but in what shape they choose
Dilated or condens’d, bright or obscure,
Can execute their airy purposes,

430
And works of love or enmity fulfil.
For those the race of Israel oft forsook
Their living strength, and unfrequented left
His righteous altar, bowing lowly down
To bestial Gods; for which their heads as low 435
Bow'd down in battle, sunk before the spear
Of despicable foes. With these in troop
Came Astoreth, whom the Phænicians call'd
Astarte, queen of Heav'n, with crescent horns ;
To whose bright image nightly by the moon
Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs,
In Sion also not unsung, where stood
Her temple on th' offensive mountain, built
By that uxorious king, whose heart though large,
Beguild by fair idolatressés, fell

445 To idols foul. Thammuz came next behind, Whose annual wound in Lebanon allur'd The Syrian damsels to lament his fate In amorous ditties all a summer's day, While smooth Adonis from his native rock 450 Ran purple to the sea, suppos'd with blood Of Thammuz yearly wounded: the love-tale Infected Sion's daughters with like heat, Whose wanton passions in the sacred porch Ezekiel saw, when by the vision led

453 His eye survey'd the dark idolatries

460

470

Of alienated Judah. Next came one
Who mourn'd in earnest, when the captive ark
Maim'd his brute image, head and hands lopt off
In his own temple, on the grunsel edge,
Where he fell flat, and sham'd his worshippers:
Dagon his name, sea monster, upward man
And downward fish : yet had his temple high
Rear'd in Azotus, dreaded through the coast
Of Palestine, in Gath and Ascalon,

465
And Accaron and Gaza's frontier bounds.
Him follow'd Rimmon, whose delightful seat
Was fair Damascus, on the fertile banks
Of Abbana and Pharphar, lucid streams.
He also' against the house of God was bold:
A leper once he lost, and gain'd a king,
Ahaz his sottish conqu’ror, whom he drew
God's altar to disparage and displace
For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn
His odious offerings, and adore the Gods

475 Whom he had vanquish'd. After these appear'd A crew who under names of old renown, Osiris, Isis, Orus, and their train, With monstrous shapes and sorceries abusid Fanatic Egypt and her priests, to seek

480 Their wand'ring Gods disguis’d in brutish forms Rather than human Nor did Israel 'scape Th’infection, when their borrow'd gold compos'd The calf in Oreb; and the rebel king Doubled that sin in Bethel and in Dan,

485 Likening his Maker to the grazed ox,

Jehovah, who in one night when he pass'd
From Egypt marching, equal'd with one stroke
Both her first-born and all her bleating Gods.
Belial came last, than whom a Spirit more lewd 490
Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for itself: to him no temple stood
Or altar smok’d; yet who more oft than he
In temples and at altars, when the priest
Turns atheist, as did Eli's sons, who fill'd

495
With lust and violence the house of God?
In courts and palaces he also reigns,
And in luxurious cities, where the noise
Of ri'ot ascends above their loftiest towers,
And injury and outrage: and when night 500
Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons
Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine.
Witness the streets of Sodom, and that night
In Gibeah, when the hospitable door
Expos’d a matron to avoid worse rape.

505
These were the prime in order and in might;
The rest were long to tell, though far renown'd,
Th' Ionian Gods, of Javan's issue held
Gods, yet confess'd later than Heaven and Earth,
Their boasted parents : Titan Heav'n's first-born, 510
With his enormous brood, and birth-right seiz'd
By younger Saturn; he from mightier Jove
His own and Rhea's son like measure found;
So Jove usurping reign'd: these first in Crete
And Ida known, thence on the snowy top 515
Of cold Olympus rul'd the middle air,

[merged small][ocr errors]

Their highest Heav'n; or on the Delphian cliff,
Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds
Of Doric land; or who with Saturn old
Fled over Adria to th' Hesperian fields,

320 And o'er the Celtic roam'd the utmost isles.

All these and more came flocking; but with looks Down-cast and damp, yet such wherein appear'd Obscure some glimpse of joy, to' have found their chief Not in despair, to' have found themselves not lost 525 In loss itself; which on his count'nance cast Like doubtful hue : but he his wonted pride Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore Semblance of worth not substance, gently rais’d Their fainting courage, and dispell’d their fears. 530 Then straight commands that at the warlike sound Of trumpets loud and clarions be uprear’d His mighty standard : that proud honour claim'd Azazel as his right, a Cherub tall; Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurl'd 535 Th' imperial ensign, which full high advanc'd Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind, With gems and golden lustre rich emblaz’d, Seraphic arms and trophies; all the while Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds : At which the universal host up sent A shout, that tore Hell's concave, and beyond Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night. All in a moment through the gloom were seen Ten thousand banners rise into the air

545 With orient colours waving : with them rose

540

« PreviousContinue »