Imatges de pàgina
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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
With orient colours waving: with them rose
A forest huge of spears; and thronging helms
Appear’d, and serried shields, in thick array
Of depth immeasurable: anon they move
In perfect phalanx to the Dorian mood
Of flutes and soft recorders ; such as rais'd
To height of noblest temper heroes old
Arming to battle; and instead of rage
Deliberate valour breath'd, firm and unmou'd
With dread of death to flight or foul retreat;
Nor wanting power to mitigate and swage
With solemn touches troubled thoughts, and chase
Anguish, and doubt, and fèar, and sòrrow, and pain,
From mortal or immortal minds. Thus they
Breathing united force, with fixed thought,
Mov'd on in silence to soft pipes, that charm'd
Their painful steps o'er the burnt soil : and now
Advanc'd in view they stand, a horrid front
Of dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guise
Of warriors old with order'd spear and shield;
Awaiting what command their mighty chief
Had to impose : he through the armèd files
Darts his experienc'd eye, and soon traverse
The whole battalion views; their order due;
Their visages and stature as of gods ;
Their number last he sums. And now his heart

Distends with pride, and hardening in his strength,
Glories : for never, since created man,
Met such embodied force, as nam'd with these
Could merit more than that small infantry
Warr'd on by cranes; though all the giant brood
Of Phlegra with the heroic race were join'd
That fought at Thebes and Ilium, on each side
Mix'd with auxiliar gods; and what resounds
In fable or romance of Uther's son
Begirt with British and Armorick knights ;
And all who since, baptiz'd or infidel,
Jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban,
Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond,
Or whom Biserta sent from Africk shore,
When Charlemain with all his peerage fell
By Fontarabbia. Thus far these beyond
Compare of mortal prowess, yet observ'd
Their dread commander: he, above the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tower : his form had yet not lost
All her original brightness; nor appear'd
Less than arch-angel ruin'd, and the excess
Of glory obscur’d: as when the sun, new risen,
Looks through the horizontal misty air
Shorn of his beams; or from behind the moon,
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs. Darken'd so, yet shone
Above them all the arch-angel: but his face
Deep scars of thunder had intrench'd; and care
Sat on his faded cheek; but under brows
Of dauntless courage, and considerate pride,
Waiting revenge.

VULCAN.

Nor was his name unheard, or unador'd
In ancient Greece;-and in Ausonian land
Men call'd him Mulciber; and how he fell
From heaven, they fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o'er the crystal battlements. From morn
To noon he fell ;—from noon to dewy eve,
A summer's day; and with the setting sun
Dropt from the zenith like a falling star.

THE FALLEN ANGELS HEARD RISING FROM COUNCIL.

Their rising all at once was as the sound
Of thunder heard remote.

SATAN ON THE WING FOR EARTH.

Meanwhile the adversary of God and man,
Satan, with thoughts inflam’d of highest design,
Puts on swift wings, and towards the gates of hell
Explores his solitary flight: sometimes
He scours the right-hand coast, sometimes the left;
Now shaves with level wing the deep ; then soars
Up to the fiery concave towering high.
As when far off at sea a fleet descried
Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds
Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles
Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs; they, on the trading flood,

Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape,
Ply stemming nightly towards the pole: So seem'd
Far off the flying Fiend.

THE MEETING OF SATAN AND DEATH.

The other shape,
If shape it might be call'd that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
Or substance might be calld that shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either : black it stood as Night,
Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,
And shook a dreadful dart ; what seem'd his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand, and from his seat !
The monster moving onward came as fast
With horrid strides ; Hell trembled as he strode.
The undaunted Fiend what this might be admir’d,
Admir'd, not fear'd; God and his Son except,
Created thing nought valued he, nor shunn'd;
And with disdainful look thus first began :-

“ Whence and what art thou, execrable shape !
That dar’st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated front athwart my way
To yonder gates? through them I mean to pass,
That be assur'd, with leave unask'd of thee:
Retire, or taste thy folly; and learn by proof,
Hell-born! not to contend with Spirits of Heaven."

To whom the Goblin, full of wrath, replied :-
“ Art thou that Traitor-angel ; art thou he
Who first broke peace in heaven, and faith, till then
Unbroken; and in proud rebellious arms
Drew after him the third part of Heaven's sons
Conjur'd against the Highest; for which both thou

And they, outcast from God, are here condemn'd
To waste eternal days in woe and pain ?
And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits of Heaven,
Hell-doom'd! and breath'st defiance here and scorn,
Where I reign king, and to enrage thee more,
Thy king and lord ? Back to thy punishment,
False fugitive ! and to thy speed add wings,
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart,
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before."

So spake the grizly Terror, and in shape
So speaking and so threatening, grew ten-fold
More dreadful and deform. On the other side
Incens’d with indignation, Satan stood
Unterrified, and like a comet burn'd,
That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In the arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head
Levelled his deadly aim; their fatal hands
No second stroke intend ; and such a frown
Each cast at the other, as when two black clouds
With Heaven's artillery fraught, come rattling on
Over the Caspian, then stand front to front,
Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow
To join their dark encounter in mid air:
So frown'd the mighty combatants, that hell
Grew darker, at their frown; so match'd they stood ;
For never but once more was either like
To meet so great a foe: and now great deeds
Had been achiev'd, whereof all hell had rung,
Had not the snaky Sorceress that sat
Fast by hell-gate, and kept the fatal key,
Risen, and with hideous outcry rush'd between.

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