Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

On other surety none. Freely we serve,
Because we freely love, as in our will
To love or not; in this we stand or fall.

540
And some are fall'n, to disobedience fall’n,
And so from Heav'n to deepest Hell. O fall,
From what high state of bliss into what woe!

To whom our great progenitor: Thy words Attentive, and with more delighted ear, 545 Divine Instructor, I have heard, than when Cherubic songs by night from neighb'ring hills Aereal music send: nor knew I not To be both will and deed created free; Yet that we never shall forget to love 550 Our Maker, and obey him whose command Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts Assur'd me', and still assure: tho'what thou tell'st Hath pass'd in Heav'n, some doubt within me

move, But more desire to hear, if thou consent, 555 The full relation, which must needs be strange, Worthy of sacred silence to be heard ; And we have yet large day; for scarce the Sun Hath finish'd half his journey', and scarce begins His other half in the great zone of Heav'n. 560

Thus Adam made request : and Raphael, After short pause, assenting, thus began : High matter thou enjoin'st me', O prime of

men, Sad task and hard; for how shall I relate To human sense th' invisible exploits 565

Of warring Spirits ? How without remorse
The ruin of so many, glorious once
And perfect while they stood ? How last unfold
The secrets of another world, perhaps
Not lawful to reveal ? yet for thy good 570
This is dispens'd; and what surmounts the reach
Of human sense, I shall delineate so,
By lik’ning spiritual to corp'ral forms,
As may express them best : tho' what if Earth
Be but the shadow of Heav'n, and things therein
Each to'other like, more than on earth is thought?

As yet this world was not, and Chaos wild Reign'd where these Heav'ns now roll, where

Earth now rests Upon her centre pois’d; when on a day (For time, though in eternity, apply'd To motion, measures all things durable By present, past, and future) on such day As Heav'n's great year brings forth, th' empyreal

host Of angels by imperial summons callid, Innumerable before th’ Almighty's throne 585 Forthwith from all the ends of Heav'n appear'd Under their Hierarchs in orders bright: Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanc'd, Standards and gonfalons 'twixt van and rear Stream in the air, and for distinction serve 590 Of hierarchies, of orders, and degrees ; Or in their glitt’ring tissues bear emblaz’d Holy memorials, acts of zeal and love

580

i

[ocr errors]

Recorded eminent. Thus when in orbs
Of circuit inexpressible they stood,

595
Orb within orb, the Father infinite,
By whom in bliss imbosom'd sat the Son,
Amidst as from a flaming mount, whose top
Brightness had made invisible, thus spake:

Hear, all ye Angels, progeny of light, 600
Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues,

Pow'rs,
Hear my decree, which unreyok'd shall stand:
This day I have begot whom I declare
My only Son; and on this holy hill
Him have anointed, whom ye now behold 605
At my right hand; your Head I him appoint;
And by myself have sworn, to him shall bow
All knees in Heav'n, and shall confess him Lord :
Under his great vicegerent reign abide
United as one individual soul,

610
For ever happy. Him who disobeys,
Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day
Cast out from God, and blessed vision, falls
Into' utter darkness, deep ingulph’d, his place
Ordain'd without redemption, without end. 615

So spake th’ Omnipotent; and with his words
All seem'd well pleas’d; all seem'd, but were

not all.
That day, as other solemn days, they spent
In song and dance about the sacred hill ;
Mystical dance, which yonder starry sphere 620
Of planets and of fix'd in all her wheels

Resembles nearest, mazes intricate,
Eccentric, intervoly'd, yet regular
Then most, when most irregular they seem ;
And in their motions harmony divine 625
Sosmooths her charming tones, that God's own ear
Listens delighted. Ev’ning now approach'd
(For we have also' our ev’ning and our morn,
We ours for change delectable, not need)
Forthwith from dance to sweet repast they turn
Desirous; all in circles as they stood, 631
Tables are set, and on a sudden pil'd
With Angels food, and ruby'd nectar flows
In pearl, in diamond, and massy gold,
Fruit of delicious vines, the growth of Heav'n.
On flow'rs repos'd, and with fresh flow'rets
crown'd,

636 They eat, they drink, and in communion sweet Quaff immortality and joy, secure Of surfeit where full measure only bounds Excess, before th’ All - bounteous King, who show'r'd

640 With copious hand, rejoicing in their joy. Now when ambrosial night with clouds exhald From that high mount of God, whence light and

shade Spring both, the face of brightest Heav'n had

chang’d To grateful twilight (for night comes not there În darker veil) and roseate dews dispos’d 646 All but th' unsleeping eyes of God to rest ;

[blocks in formation]

Wide over all the plain, and wider far
Than all this globous earth in plain outspread
(Such are the courts of God) th' angelic throng,
Dispers'd in bands and files, their

camp

extend
By living streams among the trees of life,
Pavilions numberless, and sudden rear'd,
Celestial tabernacles, where they slept
Fann'd. with cool winds; save those who in
their course

655
Melodious hymns about the sov'reign throne
Alternate all night long: but not so wak'd
Satan; so call him now, his former name
Is heard no more in Heav'n; he of the first,
If not the first Arch-Angel, great in pow'r, 660
In favour, and pre-eminence, yet fraught
With envy 'gainst the Son of God, that day
Honour'd by his great Father, and proclaim'd
Messiah King anointed, could not bear
Through pride that sight, and thought himself
impair’d.

665
Deep malice thence conceiving, and disdain,
Soon as midnight brought on the dusky hour
Friendliest to sleep and silence, he resolv'd
With all his legions to dislodge, and leave
Unworshipp'd, unobey'd the throne supreme 670
Contemptuous, and his next subord’nate
Awak’ning, thus to him in secret spake :
Sleep'st thou, companion dear? What sleep

can close
Thy eye-lids ? and remember'st what decree

[ocr errors][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »