Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

We shall be free: th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy,
will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and, in my choice,
To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n!
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
Th' associates and copartners of our loss,
Lie thus astonish'd on th' oblivious pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
In this unhappy mansion; or once more
With rallied arms to try what may be yet
Regain'd in Heav'n, or what more lost in Hell ?" 270
So Satan spake, and him Beelzebub

Thus answer'd. "Leader of those armies bright,
Which but th' Omnipotent none could have foil'd!
If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge
Of hope in fears and dangers, heard so oft
In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge
Of battle when it rag'd, in all assaults.
Their surest signal, they will soon resume
New courage and revive, though now they lie
Groveling and prostrate on yon lake of fire,
As we erewhile, astounded and amaz'd;
No wonder, fall'n such a pernicious height."

285

He scarce had ceas'd, when the superior fiend Was moving toward the shore: his pond'rous shield, Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round, Behind him cast; the broad circumference Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views At evening from the top of Fesolé, Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands, Rivers or mountains in her spotty globe. His spear, to equal which the tallest pine Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast Of some great admiral, were but a wand, He walk'd with, to support uneasy steps Over the burning marle, not like those steps On Heaven's azure; and the torrid clime

260

265

275

280

290

295

305

Smote on him sore beside, vaulted with fire:
Nathless he so endur'd, till on the beach
Of that inflamed sea he stood, and call'd
His legions, angel forms, who lay entranc'd
Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks
In Vallombrosa, where th' Etrurian shades,
High over-arch'd, embow'r; or scatter'd sedge
Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion arm'd
Hath vex'd the Red Sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew
Busiris and his Memphian chivalry,
While with perfidious hatred they pursued
The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld
From the safe shore their floating carcasses
And broken chariot wheels: so thick bestrown,
Abject and lost, lay these, covering the flood,
Under amazement of their hideous change.
He call'd so loud, that all the hollow deep
Of Hell resounded. "Princes, potentates,
Warriors, the flow'r of Heav'n! once yours, now lost,
If such astonishment as this can seize

315

300

310

Eternal spirits; or have ye chos'n this place
After the toil of battle to repose
Your wearied virtue, for the ease you find
To slumber here, as in the vales of Heav'n?
Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
T'adore the conqueror? who now beholds
Cherub and seraph rolling in the flood,
With scatter'd arms and ensigns, till anon
His swift pursuers from Heav'n gates discern
Th' advantage, and, descending, tread us down
Thus drooping, or with linked thunderbolts
Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf.
Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n!"

330

They heard, and were abash'd, and up they sprung Upon the wing; as when men wont to watch On duty, sleeping found by whom they dread, Rouse, and bestir themselves ere well awake. Nor did they not perceive the evil plight In which they were, or the fierce pains not feel;

320

325

335

Yet to their general's voice they soon obey'd,
Innumerable. As when the potent rod
Of Amram's son, in Egypt's evil day,

Wav'd round the coast, up call'd a pitchy cloud 340
Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind,
That o'er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung
Like night, and darken'd all the land of Nile:
So numberless were those bad angels seen
Hov'ring on wing under the cope of Hell,
'Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires;
Till, as a signal giv'n, th' up-lifted spear
Of their great sultan waving to direct
Their course, in even balance down they light
On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain;
A multitude, like which the populous north
Pour'd never from her frozen loins, to pass
Rhene or the Danaw, when her barb'rous sons
Came like a deluge on the south, and spread
Beneath Gibraltar to the Lybian sands.
Forthwith from every squadron and each band
The heads and leaders thither haste where stood
Their great commander; godlike shapes, and forms
Excelling human; princely dignities,

And pow'rs that erst in Heaven sat on thrones;
Though of their names in heav'nly records now
Be no memorial, blotted out and raz'd
By their rebellion from the books of life.
Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve
Got them new names, till, wand'ring o'er the earth, 365
Through God's high suff'rance for the trial of man,
By falsities and lies the greatest part

Of mankind they corrupted to forsake
God their Creator, and th' invisible
Glory of him that made them to transform
Oft to the image of a brute, adorn'd
With gay religions full of pomp and gold,
And devils to adore for deities:

345

350

355

360

370

Then were they known to men by various names,
And various idols through the heathen world.
Say, Muse, their names then known; who first, who

375

last,.

Rous'd from the slumber, on that fiery couch,
At their great emperor's call, as next in worth
Came singly where he stood on the bare strand,
While the promiscuous crowd stood yet aloof.
The chief were those, who, from the pit of Hell
Roaming to seek their prey on earth, durst fix
Their seats long after next the seat of God,
Their altars by his altar; Gods ador'd
Among the nations round; and durst abide
Jehovah thund'ring out of Sion, thron'd
Between the cherubim; yea, often plac'd
Within his sanctuary itself their shrines,
Abominations; and with cursed things
His holy rites and solemn feasts profan'd,
And with their darkness durst affront his light.
First, Moloch, horrid king, besmear'd with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears,

396

Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,
Their children's cries unheard, that pass'd through fire
To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite
Worshipp'd in Rabba and her wat'ry plain,
In Argob and in Basan, to the stream
Of utmost Arnon; nor content with such
Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart
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.
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 flowr'y dale of Sibma clad with vines,
And Elëalé 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

380

385

390

400

405

410

415

420

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
Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names
Of Baälim 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,
Not ty'd or manacled with joint or limb,
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,
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
Bow'd down in battle, sunk before the spear
Of despicable foes. With these in troop
Came Astoreth, whom the Phoenicians 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,
Beguil'd by fair idolatresses, 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
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

425

430

435

440

450

« AnteriorContinuar »