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Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread
Heaven's cheerful face, the low'ring element
Scowls o'er the darken'd landscape snow, or show'r;
If chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet
Extend his ev'ning beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
O shame to men! devil with devil damn'd
Firm concord holds, men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope ⚫
Of heavenly grace; and God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
Wasting the earth, each other to destroy:
As if, which might induce us to accord,
Man had not hellish foes enow besides,
That day and night for his destruction wait.
The Stygian council thus dissolv'd; and forth In order came the grand infernal peers; Midst came their mighty paramount, and seem'd Alone th' antagonist of heaven, nor less Than hell's dread emperor, with pomp supreme 510 And God-like imitated state him round
A globe of fiery seraphim inclos'd
489 sleeps] Hom. Il. v. 524.
ὄφρ' εὔδῃσι μένος Βορέαο. Newton.
490 cheerful] Spens. F. Q. ii. xii. 34.
'And heaven's cheerful face enveloped. Thyer.
512 globe] Virg. Æn. x. 373.
Qua globus ille virûm densissimus urget. Newton.
With bright imblazonry and horrent arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets regal sound the great result:
Toward the four winds four speedy cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchymy,
By haralds voice explain'd: the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of hell
With deaf'ning shout return'd them loud acclaim.
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat
By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers Disband, and wand'ring each his several way Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
Leads him perplex'd, where he may likeliest find 525
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
The irksome hours, till his great chief return.
Part, on the plain or in the air sublime,
Upon the wing or in swift race contend,
As at the Olympian games, or Pythian fields: 530 Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal With rapid wheels, or fronted brigads form.
518 horrent] Virg. Æn. i. 'Horrentia Martis arma,' and En. x. 178. 'Horrentibus hastis.'
528 Part, on the plain] Compare Ovid. Metam. iv. 445, and Fasti. vi. 327.
'Hi temere errabant in opaca vallibus Idæ:
Pars jacet et molli gramine membra levat.
Hi ludunt, hos somnus habet; pars brachia nectit,
Et viridem celeri ter pede pulsat humum.'
531 curb] 'How got they steeds and harps?' v. 548. Bentl. MS.
582 rapid] 'rapid even before the race.' Bentl. MS.
As when to warn proud cities war appears
Wag'd in the troubled sky, and armies rush
To battel in the clouds, before each van
Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their spears
Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms
From either end of heaven the welkin burns.
Others with vast Typhoan rage more fell
Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air 540
In whirlwind: hell scarce holds the wild uproar.
As when Alcides from Echalia crown'd
With conquest felt th' envenom'd robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines,
And Lichas from the top of Eta threw
Into th' Euboic sea. Others more mild,
Retreated in a silent valley, sing
With notes angelical to many a harp
Their own heroic deeds and hapless fall
By doom of battel; and complain that fate
Free virtue should inthral to force or chance
Their song was partial; but the harmony,
What could it less when spirits immortal sing?
Suspended hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet,
For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense,
Others apart sat on a hill retir'd,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
557 others apart] Compare Horat. Od. ii. 13. 23. 'Sedesque discretas piorum.'
558 elevate] Compare Ovidii Metam. xii. 157.
'Non illos Citharæ, non illos carmina vocum,
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate,
Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute;
And found no end, in wand'ring mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy, and glory and shame,
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy;
Yet with a pleasing sorcery could charm
Pain for a while or anguish, and excite
Fallacious hope, or arm th' obdured breast
With stubborn patience as with triple steel.
Another part in squadrons and gross bands,
On bold adventure to discover wide
That dismal world, if any clime perhaps,
Might yield them easier habitation, bend
Four ways their flying march, along the banks
Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge
Into the burning lake their baleful streams;
Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegeton, 580
Longave multifori delectat tibia buxi:
Sed noctem sermone trahunt; virtusque loquendi
566 pleasing sorcery] See Marino's Sl. of the Innocents, I, 4, 8. (1675).
'And with a pleasing tyranny had there
Shed his Lethean water on their sight.'
569 triple] Hor. Od. i. iii. 9.
'Illi robur, et æs triplex
Circa pectus erat.
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage. Far off from these a slow and silent stream, Lethe the river of oblivion, rolls
Her wat'ry labyrinth, whereof who drinks,
Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure, and pain.
Beyond this flood a frozen continent
Lies, dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail; which on firm land
Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice;
A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and mount Casius old,
Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of fire. 595 Thither by harpy-footed Furies hal'd
At certain revolutions all the damn'd
Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,
From beds of raging fire to starve in ice
Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine
Immovable, infix'd, and frozen round,
Periods of time; thence hurried back to fire.
They ferry over this Lethean sound
Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment,
And wish and struggle, as they pass to reach
The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
589 dire hail] Hor. Od. i. ii. 1. 'diræ grandinis.' Newton. 595 Burns] Virg. Georg. i. 93. 'Boreæ penetrabile frigus adurat.' Newton.