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Struck with these great concurrences of things,
Symptoms so deadly unto Death and him;
Fain would he have forgot what fatal strings
Eternally bind each rebellious limb.
He shook himself, and spread his spacious wings:
Which like two bosom'd sails, embrace the dim
Air, with a dismal shade; but all in vain :
Of sturdy adamant is his strong chain.
While thus Heaven's highest counsels, by the low
Footsteps of their effects, he traced too well,
He toss'd his troubled eyes: embers that glow
Now with new rage, and wax too hot for Hell: With his foul claws he fenced his furrow'd brow, And gave a ghastly shriek, whose horrid yell
Ran trembling through the hollow vaults of Night.
("SOSPETTO D'HERODE," FROM ST. XXV.-XXXII.)
WHILE new thoughts boil'd 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 prosp❜rous 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.
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
Rev'rently circled by the lesser seven :
Such, and so rich, the flames that from thine eyes,
Oppress'd the common-people of the skies.
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 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.
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 miseries,
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.
THE FURY "CRUELTY."
("SOSPETTO D'HERODE," FROM ST. XXXVII.-XLVIII.)
FOURTH of the cursed knot of hags is she,
Or rather all the other three in one;
Hell's shop of slaughter she does oversee,
And still assist the execution.
But chiefly there does she delight to be,
Where Hell's capacious cauldron is set on :
And while the black souls boil in their own gore,
To hold them down, and look that none seethe o'er.
'Mongst all the palaces in Hell's command,
No one so merciless as this of hers.
The adamantine doors, for ever stand
Impenetrable, both to prayers and tears;
The walls' inexorable steel, no hand
Of Time, or teeth of hungry Ruin fears.
Their ugly ornaments are the bloody stains
Of ragged limbs, torn skulls, and dash'd-out brains.
There has the purple Vengeance a proud seat,
Whose ever-brandish'd sword is sheath'd in blood:
About her Hate, Wrath, War, and Slaughter sweat;
Bathing their hot limbs in life's precious flood:
There rude impetuous Rage does storm and fret,
And there as master of this murd'ring brood,
Swinging a huge scythe, stands impartial Death:
With endless business almost out of breath.
The foul queen's most abhorrèd maids of honour,
Medæa, Jezabel, many a meagre witch,
With Circe, Scylla, stand to wait upon her:
But her best housewives are the Parcæ, which
Still work for her, and have their wages from her :
They prick a bleeding heart at every stitch.
Her cruel clothes of costly threads they weave,
Which short-cut lives of murder'd infants leave.
She rose, and with her to our World did bring
Pale proof of her fell presence; th' air too well
With a changed countenance witnessed the sight,
And poor fowls intercepted in their flight.
Heaven saw her rise, and saw Hell in the sight:
The fields' fair eyes saw her, and saw no more,
But shut their flowery lids for ever: Night
And Winter strow her way: yea, such a sore Is she to Nature, that a general fright,
An universal palsy spreading o'er
The face of things, from her dire eyes had run,
Had not her thick snakes hid them from the sun.
("SOSPETTO D'HERODE," ST. XLIX.)
Now had the Night's companion from her den,
Where all the busy day she close doth lie,
With her soft wing wiped from the brows of men
Day's sweat; and by a gentle tyranny
And sweet oppression, kindly cheating them
Of all their cares, tamed the rebellious eye
Of Sorrow, with a soft and downy hand,
Sealing all breasts in a Lethæan band.