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Yet on the other side fain would he start

Above his fears, and think it cannot be :
He studies Scripture, strives to sound the heart,
And feel the pulse of every prophecy.
He knows (but knows not how, or by what art)
The Heaven-expecting ages hope to see

A mighty Babe, Whose pure, unspotted birth,
From a chaste virgin womb should bless the Earth


But these vast mysteries his senses smother,

And reason (for what 's faith to him?) devour,
How she that is a maid should prove a mother,
Yet keep inviolate her virgin flower;

How God's Eternal Son should be man's brother,
Poseth his proudest intellectual power;

How a pure Spirit should incarnate be,
And Life itself wear Death's frail livery.


That the great angel-blinding Light should shrink
His blaze, to shine in a poor shepherd's eye;
That the unmeasured God so low should sink,
As prisoner in a few poor rags to lie;

That from His mother's breast He milk should drink,
Who feeds with nectar Heaven's fair family;

That a vile manger His low bed should prove,
Who in a throne of stars thunders above;


That He Whom the Sun serves should faintly peep
Through clouds of infant flesh: that He, the old
Eternal Word, should be a child, and weep:

That He Who made the fire should fear the cold:
That Heaven's High Majesty His court should keep
In a clay-cottage, by each blast controll'd:

That Glory's Self should serve our griefs and fears:
And free Eternity submit to years:


And further, that the Law's eternal Giver
Should bleed in His Own law's obedience:
And to the circumcising knife deliver

Himself, the forfeit of His slave's offence.
That the unblemish'd Lamb, blessed for ever,
Should take the mark of sin, and pain of sense :
(These are the knotty riddles, whose dark doubt
Entangles his lost thoughts, past getting out.


While new thoughts boiled in his enragèd breast,
His gloomy bosom's darkest character

Was in his shady forehead seen exprest.

The forehead's shade in Grief's expression there,

Is what in sign of joy among the blest

The face's lightning, or a smile is here.

Those stings of care that his strong heart opprest,
A desperate, 'Oh me!' drew from his deep breast.


'Oh me!' (thus bellow'd he) 'Oh me! what great
Portents before mine eyes their powers advance?
And serves my purer sight only to beat

Down my proud thought, and leave it in a trance?
Frown I; and can great Nature keep her seat,
And the gay stars lead on their golden dance?
Can His attempts above still prosperous be,
Auspicious still, in spite of Hell and me?


'He has my Heaven (what would He more?) whose bright
And radiant sceptre this bold hand should bear,
And for the never-fading fields of light,

My fair inheritance, He confines me here,
To this dark house of shades, horror, and night,
To draw a long-lived death, where all my cheer
Is the solemnity my sorrow wears,

That mankind's torment waits upon my tears.


'Dark, dusky Man He needs would single forth,
To make the partner of His Own pure ray :
And should we powers of Heaven, spirits of worth,
Bow our bright heads before a king of clay?
It shall not be, said I, and clomb the North,

where hell

Where never wing of angel yet made way.
What though I miss'd my blow? yet I strook high,
And to dare something is some victory.



'Is He not satisfied? means He to wrest Hell from me too, and sack my territories? Vile human nature, means He not t' invest

(O my despite !) with His divinest glories? And rising with rich spoils upon His breast, With His fair triumphs fill all future stories?

Must the bright arms of Heaven rebuke these eyes?
Mock me, and dazzle my dark mysteries?


'Art thou not Lucifer? he to whom the droves

Of stars that gild the Morn, in charge were given? The nimblest of the lightning-winged loves?

The fairest, and the first-born smile of Heaven?
Look in what pomp the mistress planet moves
Reverently circled by the lesser seven ;

Such, and so rich, the flames that from thine eyes
Oppressed the common people of the skies.


'Ah, wretch! what boots thee to cast back thy eyes, Where dawning hope no beam of comfort shows?

While the reflection of thy forepast joys,

Renders thee double to thy present woes;

Rather make up to thy new mysteries,

And meet the mischief that upon thee grows;

If Hell must mourn, Heaven sure shall sympathise ;

What force cannot effect, fraud shall devise.


'And yet whose force fear I? have I so lost
Myself? my strength too with my innocence?
Come, try who dares, Heaven, Earth, whate'er doth boast
A borrowed being, make thy bold defence:
Come thy Creator too; what though it cost

Me yet a second fall? we'd try our strengths;
Heaven saw us struggle once; as brave a fight
Earth now should see, and tremble at the sight.'


Thus spoke th' impatient prince, and made a pause;
His foul hags raised their heads, and clapped their hands;
And all the powers of Hell in full applause

Flourish'd their snakes and tossed their flaming brands. 'We' (said the horrid sisters) 'wait thy laws,

Th' obsequious handmaids of thy high commands;
Be it thy part, Hell's mighty lord, to lay
On us thy dread commands, ours to obey.


'What thy Alecto, what these hands can do,

Thou madest bold proof upon the brow of Heaven,
Nor should'st thou bate in pride, because that now,
To these thy sooty kingdoms thou art driven :
Let Heaven's Lord chide above louder than thou
In language of His thunder, thou art even

With Him below: here thou art lord alone,
Boundless and absolute: Hell is thine own.

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