Page images
PDF
EPUB

Heaven, witness thou anon! while we discharge
Freely our part : ye, who appointed stand,
Do as you have in charge, and briefly touch
What we propound, and loud that all may hear !

So scoffing in ambiguous words, he scarce
Had ended; when to right and left the front
Divided, and to either flank retired :
Which to our eyes discovered, new and strange!
A triple mounted row of pillars, laid
On wheels (for like to pillars most they seemed,
Or hollowed bodies made of oak or fir,
With branches lopped, in wood or mountain felled,)
Brass, iron, stony mould, had not their mouths
With hideous orifice gaped on us wide,
Portending hollow truce : at each behind
A Seraph stood, and in his hand a reed
Stood waving tipt with fire; while we, suspense,
Collected stood, within our thoughts amused;
Not long; for sudden all at once their reeds
Put forth, and to a narrow vent applied
With nicest touch : immediate in a flame,
But soon obscured with smoke, all Heaven appeared,
From those deep-throated engines belched, whose

roar Embowelled with outrageous noise the air, And all her entrails tore, disgorging foul Their devilish glut, chained thunderbolts and hail Of iron globes ; which, on the victor host Levelled, with such impetuous fury smote, That, whom they hit, none on their feet might stand, Though standing else as rocks, but down they fell

By thousands, Angel on Arch-Angel rolled ;
The sooner for their arms; unarmed, they might
Have easily, as Spirits, evaded swift
By quick contraction or remove; but now
Foul dissipation followed, and forced rout;
Nor served it to relax their serried files.
What should they do? if on they rushed, repulse
Repeated, and indecent overthrow
Doubled, would render them yet more despised,
And to their foes a laughter; for in view
Stood ranked of Seraphim another row,
In posture to displode their second tire
Of thunder : back defeated to return
They worse abhorred. Satan beheld their plight,
And to his mates thus in derision called.

O Friends ! why come not on these victors proud ?
Ere while they fierce were coming; and when we,
To entertain them fair with open front
And breast, (what could we more?) propounded

terms Of composition, straight they changed their minds, Flew off, and into strange vagaries fell, As they would dance; yet for a dance they seemed Somewhat extravagant and wild; perhaps For joy of offered peace: but I suppose, If our proposals once again were heard, We should compel them to a quick result.

To whom thus Belial, in like gamesome mood. Leader! the terms we sent were terms of weight, Of hard contents, and full of force urged home; Such as we might perceive amused them all,

And stumbled many: who receives them right,
Had need from head to foot well understand;
Not understood, this gift they have besides,
They shew us when our foes walk not upright.

So they among themselves in pleasant vein
Stood scoffing, hightened in their thoughts beyond
All doubt of victory: Eternal Might
To match with their inventions they presumed
So easy, and of his thunder made a scorn,
And all his host derided, while they stood
A while in trouble : but they stood not long;
Rage prompted them at length, and found them arms
Against such hellish mischief fit to oppose.
Forthwith (behold the excellence, the power,
Which God hath in his mighty Angels placed !)
Their arms away they threw, and to the hills
(For Earth hath this variety from Heaven,
Of pleasure situate in hill and dale,)
Light as the lightning glimpse they ran, they few;
From their foundations loosening to and fro,
They plucked the seated hills, with all their load,
Rocks, waters, woods, and by the shaggy tops
Up-lifting, bore them in their hands : amaze,
Be sure, and terrour, seized the rebel host,
When coming towards them, so dread they saw
The bottom of the mountains upward turned;
Till on those cursed engines' triple-row
They saw them whelmed, and all their confidence
Under the weight of mountains buried deep :
Themselves invaded next, and on their heads
Main promontories Aung, which in the air

Came shadowing, and oppressed whole legions armed:
Their armour helped their harm, crushed in and bruised
Into their substance pent, which wrought them pain
Implacable, and many a dolorous groan ;
Long struggling underneath, ere they could wind
Out of such prison, though Spirits of purest light,
Purest at first, now gross by sinning grown.
The rest, in imitation, to like arms
Betook them, and the neighb'ring hills up tore:
So hills amid the air encountered hills,
Hurled to and fro with jaculation dire;
That under ground they fought in dismal shade;
Infernal noise ! war seemed a civil game
To this uproar; horrid confusion heaped
Upon confusion rose : and now all Heaven
Had gone to wrack, with ruin overspread,
Had not the Almighty Father, where he sits
Shrined in his sanctuary of Heaven secure,
Consulting on the sum of things, foreseen
This tumult, and permitted all, advised :
That his great purpose he might so fulfil,
To honour his anointed Son, avenged
Upon his enemies, and to declare
All power on him transferred: whence to his Son,
The Assessour of his throne, he thus began.

Effulgence of my glory, Son beloved,
Son, in whose face invisible is beheld
Visibly, what by Deity I am ;
And in whose hand what by decree I do,
Second Omnipotence ! two days are past,
Two days, as we compute the days of Heaven,

Since Michael and his Powers went forth to tame
These disobedient : sore hath been their fight,
As likeliest was, when two such foes met armed;
For to themselves I left them; and thou know'st,
Equal in their creation they were formed,
Save what sin hath impaired; which yet hath wrought
Insensibly, for I suspend their doom :
Whence in perpetual fight they needs must last
Endless, and no solution will be found.
War wearied hath performed what war can do,
And to disordered rage let loose the reins,
With mountains, as with weapons, armed; which makes
Wild work in Heaven, and dangerous to the main.
Two days are therefore past, the third is thine ;
For thee I have ordained it; and thus far
Have suffered, that the glory may be thine
Of ending this great war, since none but Thou
Can end it. Into thee such virtue and grace
Immense I have transfused, that all may know
In Heaven and Hell thy power above compare ;
And, this perverse commotion governed thus,
To manifest thee worthiest to be Heir
Of all things; to be Heir, and to be King
By sacred unction, thy deserved right.
Go then, Thou Mightiest, in thy Father's might !
Ascend my chariot, guide the rapid wheels
That shake Heaven's basis, bring forth all my war,
My bow and thunder, my almighty arms
Gird

on, and sword upon thy puissant thigh : Pursue these sons of darkness, drive them out From all Heaven's bounds, into the utter deep :

« PreviousContinue »