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self-esteem), so Milton's great poem never has been, and never can be popular (sectarianism apart) compared with his minor ones; nor does it, in the very highest sense of popularity, deserve to be. It does not work out the very piety it proposes; and the piety which it does propose wants the highest piety of an intelli. gible charity and reliance. Hence a secret preference for his minor poems among many of the truest and selectest admirers of Paradise Lost,—perhaps with all who do not admire power in any shape above truth in the best; hence Warton's fond edition of them, delightful for its luxurious heap of notes and parallel passages; and hence the pleasure of being able to extract the finest of them, without misgiving, into a volume like the present.
SATAN'S RECOVERY FROM HIS DOWNFALL.
He scarce had ceas’d, when the superior Fiend
Was moving toward the shore, his ponderous shield
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 ammiral, 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
Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire:
Nathless he so endur'd, till on the beach
Of that inflamèd 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 the Etrurian shades,
High over-arch’d, embower; 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 flower of Heaven, once yours, now lost,
If such astonishment as this can seize
Eternal Spirits ; or have ye chosen 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 Heaven?
Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
To 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 heaven-gates discern
The advantage, and, descending, tread us down,
Thus drooping, or with linkèd thunderbolts
Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf.
Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen!
THE FALLEN ANGELS GATHERED AGAIN TO WAR.
All these and more came flocking ; but with looks
Downcast and damp; yet such wherein appear'd
Obscure, some glimpse of joy, to have found their chief
Not in despair; which on his countenance cast
Like doubtful hue; but he, his wonted pride
Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore
Semblance of worth, not substance, gently rais'd
Their fainting courage, and dispell’d their fears.
Then straight commands, that at the warlike sound
Of trumpets loud and clarions be uprear'd
His mighty standard : that proud honor claim'd
Azazel as his right, a cherub tall;
Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurl'd
The imperial ensign; which, full high advanc'd,
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 colors 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 valor breath’d, firm and unmov'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 fear, and sorrow, 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 orderd spear and shield; Awaiting what command their mighty chief Had to impose : he through the armed 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 Armoric knights ; And all who since, baptiz'd or infidel, Jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond, Or whom Biserta sent from Afric 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 appeard
Less than arch-angel ruin'd, and the excess
Of glory obscurd: 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,
Nor was his name unheard, or unador'd
In ancient Greece ;and in Ausonian land
Men call’d hina Mulciber ; and how he fell
From heaven, they fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer oʻer 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 fight: 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 seemed
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 call'd 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 naught valued he, nor shunnid;
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