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RAPHAEL'S DESCENT from Heaves to PARADISE.
So spake th' eternal Father, and fulfill'd
All justice: nor delay'd the winged Saint
After his charge receiv'd; but from among
Thousand celestial Ardors, where he stood
Veil'd with his gorgeous wings, up springing light
Flew thro' the midst of Hearen ; th' angelic choirs,
On each hand parting, to his speed gave way
Through all the empyreal road ; till at the gate
Of Heav'n arriv’d, the gate self-open’d wide
On golden hinges turning, as by work
Divine the sov'reign Architect had fram'd.
From hence, no cloud, or, to obstruct his sight,
Star interpos’d, however small, he sees,
Not unconform to other shining globes,
Earth and the gard’n of God, with cedars crown'd
Above all hills. As when by night the glass
Of Galileo, less assur’d, observes
Imagin'd lands, and regions in the moon :
Or pilot, from amidst the Cyclades,
Delos or Samos first appearirg, kens
A cloudy spot. Down thither prone in flight
He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky
Sails between worlds and worlds, with steady wing
Now on the polar winds, then with quick fan
Winnows the buxom air; till within soar
Of tow'ring eagles, t'all the fowls he seems
A Phænix, gaz'd by all, as that sole bird,
When to inshrine his reliques in the sun's
Bright temple, to Egyptian Thebes he flies.
At once on th' eastern cliff of Paradise
He lights, and to his proper shape returns,
A Seraph wing'd: six wings he wore, to shade
His lineaments divire; the pair, that clad
Each shoulder broad, came mantling o'er his breast
With regal ornement; the middle pair
Girt like a starry zone his waist, and round
Skirted his loins and thighs with downy gold,
And colours dipt in Heav'n ; the third his feet
Shadow'd from either heel with feaiher'd mail,
Sky-tinctur'd grain. Like Maia's son he stood,
And shook his plumes, that heav'nly fragrance fill'd
The circuit wide. Strait knew him all the bands
Of Angels under watch ; and to his state,
And to his message high, in honour rise ;
For on some message high they guess'd him bound.
Their glittering tents he pass'd, and now is come
Into the blissful field, through groves of myrrh,
And flow'ring odours, cassia, nard, and balm ;.
A wilderness of sweets; for nature here
Wanton'd as in her prime, and play'd at will
Her virgin fancies, pouring forth more sweet;
Wild above rule or art; enormous bliss.
ENCOUNTER between ABDIEL and SATAN : BEGINNING OF THE FIRST BATTLE OF THE ANGELS.
So saying, a noble stroke he lifted high,
Which hung not, but so swift with tempest felli
On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight,
Nor motion of swift thought, less could his shield
Such ruin intercept: ten paces huge
He back recoil'd; the tenth on bended knee
His massy spear upstay'd ; as if on earth
Winds under ground, or waters forcing way,
Sidelong had push'd a mountain from his seat;
Half sunk with all his pines. Amazement seiz'd
The rebel Thrones, but greater rage, to see
Thus foil'd their mightiest; ours joy fill'd, and shout,
Presage of victory, and fierce desire
Of battle ; whereat Michaël bid sound:
Th’ Arch-Angel trumpet ; through the vast of heaven
It sounded, and the faithful armies rung
Hosannab to the Highest: nor stood at gaze
The adverse legions, nor less hideous join'd
The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose,
And clamour, such as heard in Heav'n till now
Was never; arms on armour clashing bray'd
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots rag'd ; dire was the noise.
Of conflict; over bead the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming vollies flew,
And flying vaulted either host with fire.
So under fiery cope together rush'd
Both battles main, with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage ; all Heaven
Resounded, and had Earth been then, all Earth
Had to her center shook.
ENCOUNTER between Michael and Satan.
THEY ended parle, and both address'd for fight
Unspeakable ; for who, though with the tongue
Of Angels, can relate, or to what things
Liken on Earth conspicuous, that may lift
Human imagination to such height
Of Godlike pow'r? for likest Gods they seem'd,
Stood they or mov'd, in stature, motion, arms,
Fit to decide the empire of great Heaven.
Now wav'd their fiery swords, and in the air
Made horrid circles; two broad suns their shields
Blaz'd opposite, while expectation stood
In honor; from each hand with speed retir'd,
Where erst was thickest bght, th' angelic throag,
And left large field, unsafe within the wind
Of such corumotion ; such as, to set forth
Great things by small, if nature's concord broke,
Among the constellations war were sprung,
'Two planets, rushing from aspect maligu
Of fiercest opposition, in mid sky
Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound.
Together both with next t almighty arm
Up-lifted imminent, one stroke they aim'd
That might determine, and not need repeat,
As not of pow'r at once ; nor odds appear'd
In might or swift prevention; but the sword
Of Michael from the armoury of God
Was given him temper'd so, that neither keen
Nor solid might resist that edge: it met
The sword of Satan, with steep force to smite
Descending, and in half cut sheer ; nor stay'd,
But with swift wheel reverse, deep ent'ring, shar'd
All his right side: then Satan first knew pain,
And writh'd him to and fro-convolv'd; so sore
The griding sword with discontinuous wound
Pass'd thro' him: but th' ethereal substance clos'd,
Not long divisible; and from the gash
A stream of nect'rous humour issuing flow'd
Sanguine, such as celestial Sp'rits may bleed,
And all his armour stain'd, ere while so bright.
Forthwith on all sides to his aid was run
By Angels many and strong, who interpos'd
Defence; while others bore him on their shields
Back to his chariot, where it stood retir'd
From off the files of war: there they him laid
Gnashing for anguish, and despite, and shame,
To find himself not matchless, and his pride
Humbled by such rebuke, so far beneath
His confidence to equal God in power.
Yet soon he heald; for Sp'rits that live throughoyt
Vital in every part, not as frail man
In entrails, heart or head, liver or reins,
Cannot but by annihilating die;
Nor in their liquid texture mortal wound.
Receive, no more than can the fluid air ;
All heart they live, all head, all eye, all ear,
All intellect, all sense ; and as they please,
They limb themselves, and colour, shape, or size
Assume, as likes them best, condense or rare.
ADDRESS to the Muse URANIA.
DESCEND from Heav'n, Urania, by that name:
If rightly thou art call’d, whose voice divine
Following, above th' Olympian hill I soar,
Above the flight of Pegasean wing.
The meaning, not the name I call: for thou.
Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top
Of old Olympus dwell'st; but heav'nly born,
Before the hills appear'd, or fountains flow'd,
Thou with eternal wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of th' almighty Father, pleasd
With thy celestial song. Up led by thee,
Into the Heav'n of Heav'ns I have presum’d,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy temp'ring; with like safety guided down
Return me to my native element:
Lest from this flying steed unrein'd, (as once:
Bellerophon, though from a lower clime)
Dismounted, on th' Aleian field I fall,
Erroneous there to wander, and forlorn.
Half yer remaiirs unsung, but narrower bound
Within the visible diurnal sphere;
Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,
More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchang'd
To boarse or mute, though fall'n on evil days,
On evil days though fall'n, and evil tongues ;
In darkness, and with dangers compass 'd round,
And solitude ; yet not alone, while thou
Visit'st my slumbers nightly, or when morn
Purples the east : still govern thou my song,
Urania, and fit audience find, though few.
But drive far off the barbarous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race
Of that wild Rout that tore the Thracian bard
In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears
To rapture, till the savage clamour drown'd
Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend
Her son. So fail not thou, who thee implores :
For thou art heav'nly, she an empty dream.
The Creation of the World described.
-MEANWHILE the Son
On his great expedition now appear'd,
Girt with omnipotence, with radiance crown'd;
Of Majesty divine; sapience and love
Immense, and all his Father in him shone.
About his chariot numberiess were pour'd
Cherub and Seraph, Potentates and Thrones,
And Virtues, winged Sp'iits, and Chariots wing'd
From the armoury of God; where stand of old
Myriads. between two brazen mountains lodg'd.
Against a solemn day, harness:d at hand,
Celestial equipage ; and now caine forth
Spontaneous, for within them spirit liv'd,
Attendant on their Lord : Heav'n open'd wide
Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound
On golden hinges moving, to let forth
The King of Glory in his pow'rful Word :
And Spirit coming to create new worlds.
Oa heav'nly ground they stood, and from the shore.
They view d the vast immeasurable abyss