« AnteriorContinuar »
Part hidden veins digg'd up (nor hath this earth
scour, Each quarter to descry the distant foe,
530 Where lodg'd, or whither fled, or if for fight, In motion or in halt. Him soon they met Under spread ensigns moving nigh, in slow But firm battalion. Back with speediest sail Zophiel, of Cherubim the swiftest wing, 535 Came fly'ng, and in mid-air aloud thus cry'd :
Arm, Warriors, arm for fight; the foe at hand, Whom fled we thought, will save us long pursuit This day. Fear not his flight; so thick a cloud He comes, and settled in his face I see
540 Sad resolution and secure. Let each His adamantine coat gird well, and each Fit well his helm, gripe fast his orbed shield,
Borne ev'n or high ; for this day will pour down, If I conjecture aught, no drizzling show'r, 545 But rattling storm of arrows barb’d with fire.
So warn’d he them, aware themselves, and soon In order, quit of all impediment; Instant without disturb they took alarm, And onward mov'd embattl'd; when behold, Not distant far with heavy pace the foe 551 Approaching gross and huge, in hollow cube Training his devilish engin'ry, impaľd On ev'ry side with shadowing squadrons deep, To hide the fraud. At interview both stood 555 A while ; but suddenly at head appear’d Satan, and thus was heard commanding loud:
Vanguard, to right and left the front unfold, That all may see who hate us, how we seek Peace and composure, and with open breast 560 Stand ready to receive them, if they like Our overture, and turn not back perverse ; But that I doubt. However witness Heaven, Heav'n witness thou anon, while we discharge Freely our part; ye who appointed stand, 565 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 retir'd :
570 Which to our eyes discover'd, new and strange, A triple mounted row of pillars laid On wheels (for like to pillars most they seem'd,
Or hollow'd bodies made of oak or fir,
574 With branches lopt, in wood or mountain felld) Brass, iron, stony mould, had not their mouths With hideous orifice gap'd 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 amus'd, Not long, for sudden all at once their reeds Put forth, and to a narrow vent apply'd With nicest touch. Immediate in a flame, But soon obscur'd with smoke,all Heav'n appear'd, From those deep-throated engines belch'd, whose
586 Imbowel'd with outrageous noise the air, And all her entrails tore, disgorging foul Their dev'lish glut, chain'd thunderbolts and hail Of iron globes ; which on the victor host 590 Levell’d, 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 rollid; The sooner for their arms; unarm’d they might Have easily as Sp’rits evaded swift By quick contraction or remove; but now Foul dissipation follow'd and forc'd rout; Nor serv’d it to relax their serry'd files. What should they do? If on they rush'd, repulse Repeated, and indecent overthrow
601 VOL. I.
Doubled, would render them yet more despis’d,
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 611 And breast (what could we more ?) propounded
terms Of composition, straight they chang'd their minds, Flew off, and into strange vagaries fell, As they would dance; yet for a dance they seem'd Somewhat extravagant and wild, perhaps For joy of offer'd peace.
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 urg'd home. Such as we might perceive amus'd 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 show us when our foes walk not upright.
So they among themselves in pleasant vein Stood scoffing, heighten'd in theirthoughts beyond All doubt of victory; eternal might 630
To match with their inventions they presum'd
635 Against such hellish mischief fit to’
oppose. Forthwith (behold the excellence, the pow'r, Which God hath in his mighty Angels plac'd !) Their arms away they threw, and to the hills (For earth hath this variety from Heav'n
640 Of pleasure situate in hill and dale) Light as the lightning glimpse they ran, they flew. From their foundations loos’ning to and fro, They pluck'd the seated hills with all their load, Rocks, waters, woods, and, by the shaggy tops Uplifting, bore them in their hands. Amaze, 646 Be sure, and terror seiz'd the rebel host, When coming towards them so dread they saw The bottom of the mountains upward turn'd; Till on those cursed engines triple-row 650 They saw them whelm’d, and all their confidence Under the weight of mountains bury'd deep; Themselves invaded next, and on their heads Main promontories flung, which in the air Came shadowing, and oppress'd whole legions arm’d.
655 Their armour help'd their harm, crush'd in and
bruis'd Into their substance pent, which wrought them pain